Britain stops fighting “War on Terror”

Though I haven’t seen this story widely reported, I think it’s very significant:

Britain Drops ‘War on Terror’ Label

“The people who were murdered on July 7 were not the victims of war. The men who killed them were not soldiers,” Macdonald said. “They were fantasists, narcissists, murderers and criminals and need to be responded to in that way.”

For a long time, folks like David Cortright and Ron Mock have been saying that the first step in taking effective action against terrorism is ending the war metaphor and shifting to a criminal justice one. Miraculously, British officials seem to have caught on. Mock and Cortrigth lay out a whole lot of good reasons for using the court systems to pursue terrorists rather then the military and British officials seem to have picked up on at least two of them:

His remarks signal a change in emphasis across Whitehall, where the “war on terror” language has officially been ditched.

Officials were concerned it could act as a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda, which is determined to manufacture a battle between Islam and the West.

The term “Islamic terrorist” will also no longer be used. Officials believe it is unhelpful because it appears to directly link the religion to terrorist atrocities.

Now if Britain could use their “special relationship” to convince the US to do this too, it would make up for a whole lot of nasty codependency issues we’ve been having recently. (via Boing Boing)

Comments (4)

  1. BlueStarFish

    Thank you for posting this. I had managed to miss it by being out of the country. It’s lovely to get some encouraging news once in a while!

    Language is such an important part of our perception and I’m really glad the war imagery has been dropped.

  2. RonL

    I’m glad also that the U.K. has taken the more reasonable path of naming it what it really is, rather than stretching the definition of war to include criminal acts.

    However, the choice of the words “War on Terror” was not an accident. It was deliberately chosen. The day after 911, President Bush announced that it was more than a tragedy, it was an act of war. This was a deliberate choice of words to help justify the wars that were to come.

    An act of war justifies war in retalition, in many people’s minds. If you want to have a war, then you need to tell the population they are under attack in a war and they will be more likely to go along with the war, which in reality you are starting.

    Acts of war are dealth with by the military, not the police. By deliberately using the “war” language, it enabled the Bush Administration to justify several wars in “retaliation”. That way, it looks less like an unprovoked attack on a foreign country, and more like a justified response to an act of war.

    The fact that the war terminology is counter-productive is not important if your goal is to start a war, not to stop the terrorists. We have a system whereby defense contractors lose money if wars are ended and tensions ease. The system itself encourages wars because a lot of people’s jobs and lots of corporate profits are dependent on military expenditures.

    If you consider the other ways in which the war terminology is used, it is clear that the war metaphor is inappropriate, even when applied to other “wars”, such as the war on poverty, war on crime, war on drugs, war on cancer, etc.

    Consider each of these problems- poverty, crime, drugs, cancer. Have any of these problems been solved by committing billions of dollars to them? The answer is that the war terminology is meant to bring massive amounts of money to certain groups (police, bureaucracies, research institutions, etc.), not to actually solve the problem.

    The problem is the approach, not the amount of money. If a small amount of money isn’t working to fix something, throwing lots of money at the problem is just going to fail also, but on a larger scale. A different approach is needed, not more money. But, the political will often isn’t there for the different approach, so instead there is lots of money for a failed approach.

    If the problem were actually solved, then the people working on the war (cancer research field, law enforcement, etc.) would lose their jobs. They don’t have an actual incentive to solve the problem and instead make minor efforts to show that they are working hard on the problem but there is still a long way to go.

    Likewise, the military-industrial complex doesn’t want the war on terror to go away, unless they have another war they can use to sell their goods to the government. So, there is no incentive to use effective language in this case.

    In this sense, the U.S. military-industrial complex and the terrorists are on the same side- the side of war and violence. They both want the war on terror. It creates profits for the military-industrial complex and it helps the terrorists since they are seen as warriors, not criminals (heightened prestige), so they get more recruits and more money to finance their efforts.

    Sorry to be so negative when your post was about a positive point. Perhaps if Britain can make rational policy decisions despite their own military-industrial complex, maybe there is hope that U.S. policy can change.

    Thank you for the info. Hopefully the British can lead the U.S. on this instead of the other way around.


  3. SRudy

    Thank you Ron L for that comment. It does lead off from the main heading a bit, but I would like to affirm what he has posted and I think that it is really true.

    If you think about it most, if not all, of the wars the United States have fought have been economically motivated. Ok, so lets pull out an example from history, say, the Vietnam War. The “original” reason was to stop the spread of Communism from the Soviet Union. The many people in the US were afraid that the “domino theory” would fall into play across Asia, Europe and different parts of the world. The theory in essence is that when one country “falls” to communism, others will follow suit like dominos. China fell to communism, and soon Vietnam started showing signs of the influence of communism. So the US propagated their “domino theory”, falsified (or extremely exagerated) an attack on a US warship (known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident. This justified the US to jump into Vietnam because we “were provoked first”.

    Now if you think about it, why was the US so scared that Vietnam would fall to communism? Why were we so scared of communism at all? Because it challenged our very nature of the way our country ran. Our country runs on capitalism. Lets face it, the economy controls so much more than we can acutely see now. I think you were dead on, Ron, when you said that “If the problem were actually solved, then the people working on the war (cancer research field, law enforcement, etc.) would lose their jobs. They don’t have an actual incentive to solve the problem and instead make minor efforts to show that they are working hard on the problem but there is still a long way to go.” And by them having their jobs, they fuel the economy, they expand the middle class, make the wealthy richer.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I am not against a stable economy, or the capitalist system for that matter. I am just kind of sick of the US (and other countries have done this as well) giving a reason for attacking or invading a country, when the reason is blatantly greed driven.

    In my opinion, there are FAR BETTER ways to go about stimulating and fueling the economy than destroying lives and displacing people. That is what God gave us a moth for, to talk and NEGOTIATE. And I think that we as Anabaptists really need to emphasize and continue to be an example to others that talking and negotiating really works. Its so much easier to pull the trigger of a gun, but the consequences of that action may leave you in a worse situation that you started with.

    Hope I haven’t offended anyone in any way, but I really believe that diplomacy and negotiation are so so important, especially this day and age. Peace.

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