David Milband: Calling It “The War On Terror” Was A Mistake

But, before you go “@#$&*$ you, David, you must be a terrorist lover!,” let’s sit back for a moment and consider. ‘War on terror’ was wrong: The phrase gives a false idea of a unified global enemy, and encourages a primarily military reply

Seven years on from 9/11 it is clear that we need to take a fundamental look at our efforts to prevent extremism and its terrible offspring, terrorist violence. Since 9/11, the notion of a “war on terror” has defined the terrain. The phrase had some merit: it captured the gravity of the threats, the need for solidarity, and the need to respond urgently – where necessary, with force. But 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.

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. (snip)

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.

Read the whole thing, first. Now, he does have some points. We can’t kill our way out of organized terrorism, though it is wonderful thought (that probably gives Progressives the heeby-jeebies). Even if we had gotten the two biggest fish, Obama, er, Osama, and Zawahir, there would still be an organized al Qaeda. You can kill the queen bee, but, the workers will just hatch another. There must be other methods, such working to eradicate the extremist Islamic schools, pressure on Islamist countries and their leaders, and here is a big one, the acknowledgement that the majority of terrorism and terrorist groups on the planet are based on the teachings of Mohammed. And there is much, much more that could be done.

Of course, so many on the Left think it is Christianity that is the bad guy, but, since they are idiots who have pushed their War On Poverty for over 40 years and gotten nowhere, their opinions do not count.

Oh, BTW, David Miliband is the UK foreign secretary.

The call for a “war on terror” was a call to arms, an attempt to build solidarity for a fight against a single shared enemy. But the foundation for solidarity between peoples and nations should be based not on who we are against, but on the idea of who we are and the values we share. Terrorists succeed when they render countries fearful and vindictive; when they sow division and animosity; when they force countries to respond with violence and repression. The best response is to refuse to be cowed.

Sort of. Starts to get a little sappy, and misses the point that hardcore Islamists really do not care about any of that. You either join, be a dhimmi, or die. Period. You submit to the Will of Allah. You follow their proclamations.

The big point David does not discuss is what to call the War On Terror. I’ve emailed him, hopefully he will have a response for this tiny blogger. But, the overall point that calling it the War on Terror was a mistake is correct. Perhaps it should have been called “The War Against Islamic Terrorism.” Or maybe some touchy feely goodness that engages the liberals around the world, like “The Attempt To Bring The Disciples of The Religion Of Peace Enlightenment And Care.”

But, his other point, that it has done more harm then good is ridiculous, and misses the point about what happened on September 11, 2001. Would he have preferred that we sit back and getting the Pentagon and CIA marketing departments to spend time thinking of a perfect name? Maybe they could have used the one going around in Leftist circles “What DId America Do Wrong And How Can We Make Islamists Like Us?”

Weasel Zippers breaks it down succinctly.

MyDD is, of course, taking the opinion that it was a mistake, and that foreign policy needs to be more nuanced.

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