Azara Blog: Hilary Benn derides the concept of the "war on terror"

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Date published: 2007/04/16

The BBC says:

President George W Bush's concept of a "war on terror" has given strength to terrorists by making them feel part of something bigger, Hilary Benn has said.

The international development secretary told a meeting in New York the phrase gives a shared identity to small groups with widely differing aims.

And Mr Benn, a candidate for Labour's deputy leadership, confirmed that UK officials would stop using the term.

The White House coined the phrase after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

Mr Benn said: "In the UK, we do not use the phrase 'war on terror' because we can't win by military means alone.

"And because this isn't us against one organised enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives."

It is "the vast majority of the people in the world" against "a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common", he said.

"What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others, without dialogue, without debate, through violence.

"And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength."

All totally obvious. Of course the US and UK have also tried "to force their individual and narrow values on others ... through violence" (although they had a minimal amount of misleading debate). And the US and UK are responsible for many more deaths than the terrorists. But Benn could not mention those equally obvious points. Bush of course wanted a "war on terror" so that he could be a war president and thus play the patriotism card and also give himself unwarranted powers to detain, torture and kill people. Blair was happy to play along but perhaps the Labour Party is now ready to move on from this dreadful position.

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