UK abandons 'war on terror' phrase

Hilary Benn says expression makes terrorists feel they are part of a larger struggle.

    Benn called on the US to use "soft power" along with military strength to defeat extremist groups [EPA]

    The phrase "war on terror" was popularised by George Bush, the US president, after the September 11 attacks.

     

    'Shared identity'

     

    "What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others without dialogue, without debate, through violence"

    Hilary Benn, Britain's international development secretary

    Benn said a variety of disparate minority radical groups have gained exposure by sharing a "distorted view of the world" with similar organisations.

     

    "What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others without dialogue, without debate, through violence.

     

    "And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength."

     

    An official spokesman for Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, said he was unsure when Blair had last used the phrase.

     

    "We all use our own phraseology, and we talk about terrorism, we talk about the fight against terrorism, but we also talk about trying to find political solutions to political problems," he said on condition of anonymity.

     

    'Soft' power appeal

     

    Benn called on the US to use the "soft power" of values and ideas as well as the "hard power" of military strength to defeat extremist groups.

     

    He also highlighted Britain's support for the International Criminal Court (ICC), which the US has refused to join to protect US soldiers and officials from prosecution, and appealed for the closure of the US' Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

     

    Benn's speech was partly an appeal to Labour party members, who are largely opposed to the war in Iraq and Blair's close relationship with Bush.

     

    Benn is widely expected to become Labour's deputy leader in a party election after Blair steps down as prime minister later this year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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