British Defense Secretary John Reid has come out and saying something needs to be done to address contemporary conflict to avoid the risk of "continuing to fight a 21st Century conflict with 20th Century rules." His three areas "for re-examination" read like talking points from the White House:
- The treatment of international terrorists
- The definition of an 'imminent threat' to make it easier to take pre-emptive action
- When to intervene to stop a humanitarian crisis
It is unfortunate, and telling, that he used the word terrorist as he is really trying to address a much broader group of actors. The punk who gets paid to fire an RPG at American troops isn't a terrorist. The 'insurgent' nominally acting as a 'citizen' soldier, but wearing civilian clothing, isn't a terrorist either.
As this discussion continues, because it has been an open debate and will continue to be such, we must keep in mind what we stand for and how our actions are seen by world. Perceptions matter and if we are perceived to descend to the level of the 'terrorist', in radical sense, we give ammunition to the 'other side'.