"Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God come near me"
Is there a War on Terror?
Sir Ken Madonald, Director of Public Prosecutions, thinks not and has called for "a culture of legislative restraint". He is concerned with saving "fair trials", "human rights", the "consensual rule of law" and "fundamental values".
Meanwhile, George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address, has widened the scope of the current war, in which the whole world is already implicated. He said:
" Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in Nine-Eleven is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war."
So it's not terror we're fighting now, nor terrorist actions. We're fighting Evil. Bush's enemies are defined by the effect they have on others and even their thoughts. Inspiring or rejoicing at evil actions makes you an enemy of the United States. Complexity has been abolished in Bush's world-view. It's good versus evil, light versus darkness, us versus them.
The House of Commons debates the Iraq war this afternoon. Tony Blair, the Prime Minister won't be there. He has more important things to do. He's meeting businessmen.
The war in Iraq is one part of a wider picture defined by the President of the United States. The War on Terror - or the War on Evil - is limiting the way we see the world. In Britain and internationally, it's undermining the idea of a consensual law that protects all equally.
MPs need to look at a picture that's even wider than Iraq and the horrors there. They need to choose between the restraint advocated by the Director of Public Prosecutions and Bush's division of the world into goodies and baddies.
President Bush claims he's defending liberty. I recall Manon Roland's words, "Oh, Liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name."