MUMBAI - Britain's foreign secretary strongly criticized the U.S.-led war on terror yesterday as he called for the international community to respond to future attacks by "championing the rule of law, not subordinating it."
David Miliband also called for the shuttering of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the launch of new era of "democratic opportunity rather than oppression," according to The Associated Press.
Miliband's speech in Mumbai - the site of a November terrorist attack that left 164 dead - was among the first public remarks from a senior British official criticizing how the battle against terrorism has been conducted since 2001. Miliband wrote an editorial published yesterday in The Guardian newspaper that made a similar argument.
Britain's government hasn't used the phrase "war on terror" since 2006 because Miliband said "the notion is misleading and mistaken." "Historians will judge whether it has done more harm than good. But we need to move on to meet the challenges we face," he said. Miliband's speech was a sharp rebuke to the counterterrorism doctrine advocated by Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, but Miliband has denied suggestions that he timed his remarks to coincide with Bush's final days in office.
"The idea of a 'war on terror' gave the impression of a unified, transnational enemy, embodied in the figure of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The reality is that the motivations and identities of terrorist groups are disparate," Miliband wrote in The Guardian. "The more we lump terrorist groups together and draw the battle lines as a simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists or good and evil, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common."