Kerry Was Right

John_F._Kerry.jpg

As you may recall, back during the 2004 campaign John Kerry said something about counterterrorism being primarily a question to be dealt with through law enforcement and intelligence rather than something that should be understood as primarily a kind of war. George W. Bush was eager to pounce:

Some are skeptical that the war on terror is really a war at all. My opponent said, and I quote, "The war on terror is less of a military operation, and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation." I disagree—strongly disagree.

Today, Barry Schweid writes for the AP about a new Pentagon-funded RAND Corporation report:

Its report said that the use of military force by the United States or other countries should be reserved for quelling large, well-armed and well-organized insurgencies, and that American officials should stop using the term "war on terror" and replace it with "counterterrorism."

"Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests there is no battlefield solution to terrorism," said Seth Jones, the lead author of the study and a Rand political scientist.

That comes via Spencer Ackerman. Press release here, full study here, congressional briefing here. In the spirit of credit where due, let's raise a glass to John Edwards and his 2008 presidential campaign team for being the only ones willing to stand up and explicitly repudiate the "war on terror" conceptual framework when given a chance back during the primaries.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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