War slogan 'deliberately sloppy'

Former Reuters correspondent Chris Allbritton speaks at a University of Otago seminar on journalism and the war on terror. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Former Reuters correspondent Chris Allbritton speaks at a University of Otago seminar on journalism and the war on terror. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
A former Reuters Middle East conflict zone correspondent has taken a shot at the media's term ''war on terror'', saying it is nothing more than ''hideously overused'' marketing.

During a seminar at the University of Otago yesterday, Chris Allbritton said the term was a wonderful marketing slogan, perhaps even a great bumper sticker, but was definitely a terrible phrase coined by the George Bush administration.

''The Bush administration was very good at marketing.

''I think it's simplistic - it leads to no real concept of victory or when it [the war on terror] will end.

''I think it's deliberately sloppy thinking, to justify whatever the Bush administration wanted to do.''

Mr Allbritton has spent much of the past decade living and working in the Middle East, as former bureau chief for Thomson Reuters in Pakistan and a freelance reporter for Time magazine and other publications. He is noted as being the pioneer of reader-funded reporting through his back-to-iraq.com website, which he established in 2002.

For six years, he was paid by readers to cover the conflict in Iraq.

He has received the John S. Knight Fellowship for media research at Stanford University and written for the Associated Press in New York.

Mr Allbritton's most recent work in Pakistan ended when he discovered his name was on ''a Taliban list'. He was evacuated from the country soon after.

He told about 40 people at the University of Otago seminar that life in conflict zones was dangerous at times, with several of his journalist friends being kidnapped. He had been shot at while working.

However, his experiences had led him to believe ''war on terror'' was a misnomer.

''The war on terror is a difficult phrasing. We're always going to have terror; we're always going to have drugs and we're always going to have poverty.

''The number of Americans who die from terrorism is far, far, far less than the number of Americans who die in car wrecks every day.

''I think the danger of being killed in a terrorist attack is quite small.

''It's highly unlikely that al Qaeda is going to bomb the United States. It's highly unlikely the ghost of Osama bin Laden is going to spook around London.''

Since leaving Pakistan, Mr Allbritton had become ''nomadic'' and spent much of his time running his blog site www.trulynomadlydeeply.com, documenting ''global slow travel in a jet-speed age''.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

War? There's money in it

A quick search of the Web reveals Western private armies operating in Afghanistan and Africa.

NATO freedom fighters

Te Jackle, you can tell a terrorist because they target non-combatant civilians. The current occupying force in Afghanistan is the Afghan Government's armed forces. The US/NZ/NATO and Afghan forces are the freedom fighters: fighting for the freedom of civilians to be able to buy a loaf of bread without being killed or maimed by a terrorist car-bomber or gun-man. Last week about 150 mostly innocent civilians were killed by religious extremists, next week it will be about the same. Are these the brave freedom fighters that you support?

The reason US forces are not helping in Zimbabwe is because the Zimbabwe Government hasn't asked them to. The reason they are helping in Afghanistan is because the have been asked by the Afghan Government. Afghanistan has had two rounds of elections since 2005 and their politicians were elected by the people, not the US Government.


Lots of dead terrorists

What is a terrorist? How is a native solidier who is fighting a foreign army a terrorist? Is it simply because the current occupying army has branded him that and the gullible public has sucked it up? Every time the insurgents kill an allied soldier they are condemmed for it. Surely an insurgent has to be inserted from somewhere ie the US and not a local.

If NZ were to be invaded and the locals took up arms would they be branded terrorists just because they oppose the invader's way of life being forced upon them. This is exactly the same situation.

Lots of dead freedom fighters defending their own way of life - it's nothing to do with the US or NZ if they don't agree with how other countries are run or the conditions there. This is exactly the reason the US is targeted by your terrorists. They should butt out. After all, how many US troops are currently helping out in Zimbabwe? And they are in Afghanistan and Iraq at the request of the US installed government, remember?

You fought the war

Te Jackle: Your war has changed: Bush and Blair are gone, Iraq and Afghanistan have their own governments and President Obama is providing support for the terrorists in Syria.
I am therefore not sure which actions you think count as the "war on terror" in these present times. We can debate the past, but what are you opposed to now? Are you opposed to border security and the type of intelligence gathering that stopped the Birmingham Bombers. Do you want to repeat the intelligence failures that could have stopped the UK 7/7, the US 9/11 and the Bali murders?
The continued US, UK and NZ presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is for the benefit of the citizens that live there. They are fighting to stop the "sectarian" wars. Or do you think that they are still fighting to steal all the Iraqi oil?
The the actual reason for the invasion of Iraq was Iraq's non-compliance with a UN resolution to allow inspections. Iraq's oil is owned/controlled by the Iraq Government, not George Bush, not the US Government. Western forces do not "occupy" Afghanistan or Iraq, they are there with the permission of the respective governments. Since the initial occupations of these countries, western forces have caused relatively few civilian deaths but lots of dead terrorists. [Abridged]


The big Lie

Jimmy you are obviously a victim of the propoganda machine that the US spins so well, have you not noticed that every time that public opinion against the so called war on terror wanes either the US or the UK always seem to miraculously thwart another potential terror attack, with little evidence ever released at to what the actual threat was.

Bush and Blair's invasion of Iraq was based on a lie and illegal, there was never any connection between Saddam and Bin Laden or Al Qaida and the continuing illegal occupation of both these countries remains.

Ten years later and the actual reason for the invasion WMD in Iraq have still not been located so why the continual illegal occupation?

The so called terror attacks that are being witnessed against embassies etc are a third world countries only means of retaliation against a far supperior agressor, Bush and Blair have caused more terror and civilian casulties than all these attacks combined with absolutely no accountability or blame, so who is the bigger terrorist?

Living In the past

I am sure that Mr Allbritton enjoys talking about the war, but the term "War on terror" is from the last decade. Instead of saying that he doesn't like the name, I think he should try to be more realistic about the Jihadist threat. Mr Allbritton is correct in saying that "the danger of being killed in a terrorist attack is quite small", but this is not because the terrorists have gone away or run out of bombs and money. It is because of security measures put in place by governments of the world to detect and  stop these people.

To help Mr Allbritton get up to speed: from the International Business Times (February 21, 2013) -  Three men have been found guilty of plotting a terror attack which had the potential to be 'another 9/11' had it succeeded. Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, all from Birmingham, have been found guilty of plotting to detonate eight rucksack bombs to cause "catastrophic" damage and loss of life. The three men were found guilty at the end of a four-and-a-half month trial at Woolwich Crown Court. They were also guilty of raising money for terrorism and recruiting others for a terror act. etc

There is no shortage of terrorist bombings and beheadings. These are happening all around us, every day. Mr Allbritton should try to put the Bush-bashing behind him and be aware of what's happening in the world today.

Reign of terror

The War has included attacks on Middle East civilians and an injured, traumatised soldier sent back into combat duty who went on a shooting spree.