Damaging Over-reaction

Papers revealed by the high court showed that both Ed Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, and Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, told porkies in asserting that our security services neither practise torture nor solicit others to torture people on our behalf. Behind this hideous mess lies Tony Blair’s revealing statement that 9/11 changed everything. Defining this criminal act as a “war between states” unleashed two of the most destructive, costly and prolonged state-on-state aggressions in half a century. Bush and Blair were brazenly unconcerned with international law and the Geneva conventions. Thus hard-won restraints on the practice of war, such as not bombing civilian targets, not assassinating leaders, respecting cultural sites, treating prisoners humanely, and sustaining the rule of law back home, were casually set aside. What is extraordinary is the reluctance of New Labour even today to bring a sense of proportion to the terrorist threat. Every agency of democracy is directed at exaggerating the status and menace of al-Qaida and thus at doing Osama bin Laden’s work for him. Gordon Brown’s oft repeated statement that the bloodbath in Afghanistan is “making the streets of London safe” is frankly deranged. Thus an enemy posing no concerted threat to western territory has been allowed to damage our liberal tradition.

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