UK Government Says the "War on Terror" is Over

Top UK cabinet official Hilary Benn (son of the inestimable old Labour lion, Tony Benn), has finally admitted in public what every sentient being realized more than five years ago: that the "War on Terror" is a propaganda ploy that has only enhanced the stature and support of Islamic extremists, by imputing world-historical significance to criminal acts by small groups.

As noted, this is extremely old news; but the self-evident bullshit of the "War on Terror" trope has not prevented it from permeating public discourse and distorting public policy across the globe. Practically every government in the world has used the "War on Terror" as a justification for augmenting its power, repressing dissent and stifling the liberty of its people. And, as Benn notes, it has given every little knot of religious cranks a heady dose of inflated self-importance, being told that they have the power to bring down Western civiliation if they aren't stopped – much as the yellow elephants of America's trembly Cheeto Brigade bloggers have been puffed up by the notion that they are engaging in World War III (or IV, depending on the flavor of crankery) against the Islamofascists, just like Grandpappy facing down Hitler. (Except, you know, without all the bullets and blood and marching and stuff.)

I suppose Benn's remarks, and the change in the UK's official policyspeak, should be welcomed in the "better late than never" department. But this change in rhetoric will certainly not stop the British government – under Blair or his long-time co-conspirator, Gordon Brown – from continuing its construction of a modern-day "police state lite" whose draconian strictures already make the Bush Administration look like, well, Tony Benn or Tom Paine. Nor does Hilary Benn acknowledge the also obvious and oft-confirmed role of the policies of the Anglo-American coalition in fomenting and exacerbating terrorism as the angry and revengeful asymmetrical response to state terror on a massive scale, as in the monstrous war crime in Iraq, which has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and sparked a Biblical-scale exodous of refugees fleeing the conquered land.

Still, in these degraded times, one less dollop of bullshit, however tiny, is better than nothing, I guess.

Excerpts from the BBC: 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 will say. The international development secretary will tell 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, will confirm that UK officials will stop using the term. The White House coined the phrase after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

Mr Benn will say: "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...By letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength..."

In a New York meeting organised by the Center on International Cooperation think-tank, Mr Benn will urge world leaders to find common ground with potential enemies, rather than relying on "hard" military power. "The fight for the kind of world that most people want can, in the end, only be won in a different battle - a battle of values and ideas."

Mr Bush first outlined the concept of a "war on terror" shortly after New York and the Pentagon were attacked by Islamist terror group al-Qaeda on 11 September 2001. "Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there," he told Congress nine days after the attacks. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."