[JURIST] UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband [official profile] said Thursday in a Guardian editorial [text] that the "war of terror" embraced by the US and UK governments in recent years was a "misleading and mistaken" term and that terrorism should be fought
by championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, for it is the cornerstone of the democratic society. We must uphold our commitments to human rights and civil liberties at home and abroad. That is surely the lesson of Guantánamo and it is why we welcome President-elect Obama's commitment to close it...Miliband's comments come just two days after the release of a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] by the US House Judiciary Committee [official website] which says the Bush administration engaged in numerous abuses [press release] in its terms of office, including the use of torture and extraordinary rendition in the "war on terror", and that the incoming Obama administration should launch a criminal investigation to determine whether any laws were violated. Obama has said that he has not ruled out [JURIST report] prosecuting officials for rights abuses committed under the Bush administration, but many observers expect little action will be taken.
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.