Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rethinking the "war on terror"

A really interesting perspective by the British foreign minister, worth reading in its entirety.

A snippet:

"As you know and I know, terrorism was not invented or started on 9/11. But since then, the notion of a "war on terror" has defined the terrain," said Miliband at the Taj Mahal hotel, the site of a 60-hour siege in November.

"The phrase had some merit: it captured the gravity of the threats we faced, the need for solidarity amongst allies, and the need to respond urgently -- and where necessary, with force."

But for a couple of years now, the British government has used neither "the idea nor the phrase," he said, because ultimately, the notion is misleading and mistaken....

"The issue is not whether we need to attack the use of terror at its roots, with all the tools available. We must! The question is how we best do so," he said, after meeting with some of the hotel's staff who shielded and saved guests during the Mumbai attack....

A "war on terror" also implied the correct response was primarily military, he said.

"But as (U.S.) General (David) Petraeus said to me and others in Iraq, the coalition there could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife," he said.

Read the whole thing.

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