David Miliband, British Foreign Secretary and mini-Blair, is a bit of a twat. But today he published an op-ed in the Guardian (via Kevin Drum), which is eloquent in staking out long-lost grounds of sanity and humanity when it comes to the “War on Terror”.
It’s called, simply: ‘War on terror’ was wrong.
The idea of a “war on terror” gave the impression of a unified, transnational enemy, embodied in the figure of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The reality is that the motivations and identities of terrorist groups are disparate. Lashkar-e-Taiba has roots in Pakistan and says its cause is Kashmir. Hezbollah says it stands for resistance to occupation of the Golan Heights. The Shia and Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq have myriad demands. They are as diverse as the 1970s European movements of the IRA, Baader-Meinhof, and Eta. All used terrorism and sometimes they supported each other, but their causes were not unified and their cooperation was opportunistic. So it is today.
The more we lump terrorist groups together and draw the battle lines as a simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists, or good and evil, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common. [..]
The “war on terror” also implied that the correct response was primarily military. But as General 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. [..]
We must respond to terrorism by championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, for it is the cornerstone of the democratic society. We must uphold our commitments to human rights and civil liberties at home and abroad. That is surely the lesson of Guantánamo and it is why we welcome President-elect Obama’s commitment to close it.
Bold words, even now. Yeah, if he and his New Labour peers had spoken up sooner, it would have saved lives. But it’s still a message that deserves to be repeated over and again, because there are still far too many people who will not hear.
It also suggests the Brits are really, really glad to see Bush and his administration go…