The Police Action Against Terrorism

This morning, while driving my wife and son to O’Hare Airport, I heard Britain’s Home Secretary John Reid speak about his decision to move against the people who plotted to blow up airliners over the Atlantic. In calm, measured tones and a thick as haggis Scottish burr, he explained his decision to give the arrest order perilously close to the "execution phase" of the plot. He made the most dramatic arrest since 9/11 sound like a move against a meth lab. I didn’t hear George Bush’s sour twang remind us we’re at war with "Islamic fascists" "who hate our freedoms," but it was dismaying to read his statement with its holy war language raising a police action against band of deluded Pakistani malcontents to the level of a clash of civilizations. This type of language serves the power interests both of the terrorists, who get confirmation of their grandiose delusions, and the Republican Party, which is taken a beating on its incompetence and bad faith in the War on Terror. The War on Terror is coming to grief on the streets of Baghdad. What we need is a police action on terror, preferably run by competent professionals making informed, sober decisions–and modulating their language when talking about murderous zealots who threaten all civilizations.

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