UK drops “war on terror” shock!

Can it be a coincidence that the Foreign Secretary David Miliband waited until Dubya’s presidency had only six days to run before formally dropping the concept of “ war on terror?”

Can it hell. Intended to foster the notion of an independent UK foreign policy, the timing merely reinforces the idea of Britain as America’s poodle, jumpin

g easily from the lap of one master GW Bush to another, Barack Obama’s. Miliband’s new tilt on terrorism also allows the UK to offer tears and sympathy to Gazans without attacking Israel outright. Quotes below from Miliband’s Guardian article.

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.

This is what divides supporters and opponents of the military action in Gaza. Similar issues are raised by the debate about the response to the Mumbai attacks. Those who were responsible must be brought to justice and the government of Pakistan must take urgent and effective action to break up terror networks on its soil. But on my visit to south Asia this week, I am arguing that the best antidote to the terrorist threat in the long term is cooperation.

Predictably Miliband has been attacked from the right, by among others the polemicist Melanie Phillips.

It is as absurd therefore to say as Miliband does that “ the best antidote to the terrorist threat in the long term is co-operation” as it would have been to say that the best antidote to Nazism in the 1930s was co-operation. Does he really think that we should be sending out the police to arrest Osama bin Laden?

Phillips also attacked former UN ambassador and UK rep in Iraq Sir Jeremy Greenstock for remarks in his seminal Today programme interview (0 834 Monday 12 January) for the failure to coax Hamas “down the route of IRA to Sinn Fein” during the six months of the ceasefire, when in his view, it would have been possible .

This analogy is absurd and inappropriate for two principal reasons. First, the Northern Ireland ‘peace process’ became possible only when the IRA declared ‘the war is over’ and asked to become part of the political process instead; and that was only because it had been beaten into at least a stalemate by the British Army and concluded that joining the political process was the only way to achieve its goals.* That is patently not the case with Hamas which is waging uninterrupted war.

Second, and most important, the IRA’s goal was an independent Ireland. It did not want to destroy and conquer the UK and turn it into a Catholic state.

So the local parallels such as they are have been noticed by more than Slugger! Indeed Mark Steyn a Canadian writer for many US and UK outlets including the Spectator, has noticed our latest local spasms which reduce the Israel/Gaza crisis to a proxy for our own sad little sectarian tussles, in which some of the protagonists still posture as players on the world stage.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London