War on Terror into the Dustbin of History?

In both a Guardian op-ed and a speech in Mumbai, both today, British foreign secretary David Milibrand says that the “war on terror” was a bad idea.

In my New Atlanticist essay, “Time to Lose War on Terror?” I disagree.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Strategic ambiguity has its advantages.

  2. tom p says:

    You said in your NA piece:

    Seven-plus years later, I haven’t the slightest idea what the GWOT entails.
    That, not the phrase itself, is the problem.

    To some extent, I have to disagree, because it is not the phrase, so much as the thought processes behind it and the phrase is indicative of that thinking.

    For starters, as dangerous as Al Quaeda is, they are no where near the threat to us as Germany and Japan were in WW II. To raise them to that level imparts a certain “legitamacy” to thier “cause” and creates a great recruiting tool for them to use.

    Besides, how does one declare war against an idealogy or a tactic? And as Dave said,

    Strategic ambiguity has its advantages.

    Especially for the “military-industrial complex”.

  3. Brett says:

    I can’t really see any alternative to what we did after the 9/11 attack except to send tons of American troops into Afghanistan (which would have taken longer) as opposed to providing air cover for the dissident former warlords. America had to wipe out the Taliban regime and try to hit at Bin Laden, or our blood would have been in the water for any group out there with a grievance against the US. We couldn’t simply work on our own security like how the Spanish did after the 3/11 attacks – the US is the hegemon.

    Of course, that all changed in 2002, when they decided to get ready to go after Iraq. I still think that was needless escalation.

    You’d be right, though, to question how effective actually fighting a military “War on Terror” (sort of like how we’ve been fighting a war on drugs, with military aid and support in South America) actually is. There were a number of signs of the 9/11 attacks, after all, before they happened – it’s interesting to think what would have happened had, say, the INS picked up on the expired visas of some of the plotters, and grabbed them to send home.

  4. SavageView says:

    Let’s see. You have a post that is academic twaddle. The Foreign Secretary of HMG has sais your phrase is twaddle.

    Tough choice.