Friday, February 23, 2007

Indecent right

If Nick Cohen is serious about trying to understand why the war on terror has become so unpopular in Britain, as he claims to be to readers of Friday's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd; alt. free link), he should spend less time looking for Dave Spart signs at Islamist rallies, and more time looking at who appears with him on the opinion pages in the same day's Journal (also subs. req'd): influential conservative lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey pushing the neologism "lawfare" to drive a critique of a supposed fusion of legal advocacy and terrorists as the latest central front in the war on terror.

Rivkin and Casey are particularly furious at the litigation generated by cases of people held or disposed of at the pleasure of one man -- George W. Bush -- and claim that

Lawfare designed to delegitimize the use of American military force, and the American way of war, certainly has the potential to undermine public support for the war effort, both at home and abroad.

It's another kind of lawfare -- the redefinition of torture and the dumping of traditional legal rights -- that has achieved this outcome, and not some supposed fifth column of lefties orphaned by the collapse of the Berlin Wall.