A few years back, when the American response to the horrors of September 11 reached its muscular zenith, dissenters from the cause liked to issue a pithy cri de coeur. “You can fight a nation or a person,” they would say with palpable indignation, “but you can’t declare war on an abstract noun.” The “War on Terror,” they would conclude, is little more than a marketing exercise for a preexisting disposition.
At the root of this objection was the fear that governments that cannot easily define what they are fighting will eventually come to be at war with everyone and everything.
What, after all, constitutes “terror” — an inherently subjective term? How, pray, can we know when it has been truly vanquished? And which borders — physical, philosophical, and political — must we respect in the course of combat? These, I’d venture, were fair questions.
“The essence of tyranny is not iron law,” Christopher Hitchens observed. “It is capricious law.”
Now, as in the time of King John, free people should demand some ground rules…
Miliband is simply vote-whoring, a time-honoured tradition itself.