In Sunday's NYT Magazine David Rieff points with approval to the efforts of new Brit PM Gordon Brown to move away from the rhetoric of the "war on terror" toward a law enforcement approach. Rieff notes that Americans like John Kerry who advocated a law enforcement approach were dismissed as soft on terror, but that a law enforcement approach is actually better at setting limits to both fear and over reaction.
The problem that readers of this blog will recognize is that in America the battle against crime became a "war" years ago. The same sense of lawlessness and limitlessness that has infused the war on terror has long shaped the war on crime. The problem of wrongful convictions (see below) is a marker of precisely this mentality.
So Rieff is right that the war on terror is a disastrous approach, but in America, crime is not an alternative.