UK Liberty

Tim Collins on terrorism

Posted in detention without charge, law and order, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on July 4, 2008

[hat-tip Aaron Heath]

At the risk of playing celebrity terrorism commentator top trumps, here is Tim Collins writing in the Telegraph:

… [David] Davis fears that repressive measures, such as the unnecessary extension to 42 days, risk doing the terrorists’ job for them. He is right.

Defeating terrorism means defeating it on all fronts – military, law enforcement, political and propaganda. The 19th-century Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz, famously wrote that “war is the continuation of politics by other means”.

Modern terrorists have learnt this lesson well. They want to provoke a political response, an authoritarian reaction that justifies their existence. The core tenet of the fight against terror – from Malaya to Northern Ireland – was always “defeat the ideology and not the insurgent”. But how do we win “hearts and minds” in today’s struggle with al-Qa’eda?

In parliamentary democracies such as the UK, a system of checks and balances – including the protection of fundamental liberties – guarantees the rule of law and prevents the arbitrary abuse of power for political ends. This is a weapon in the propaganda war.

When the state steps aside from this and adopts law or policies that seem arbitrary, it feeds the narrative that terrorists thrive on. That is why Lord Dear, a former chief inspector of police, called 42 days a “propaganda coup for al-Qa’eda”. …

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