Speaking to Congress last night, Barack Obama returned to a now familiar, and important, theme. He said:
To overcome extremism, we must... be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend - because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn't make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture.
Obama also showed that he is more astute than many others in being able to make a distinction between fighting terrorists with the use of torture (and other human rights violations) and fighting terrorists without that. He does not, in other words, equate the... er... struggle against terrorism with the use of torture. For he said in the same speech:
And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away.
In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We cannot shun the negotiating table, nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm.
Comprehensive strategy: engagement, alliance, negotiation... and defeating your terrorist enemies. Call it FKATWOT 13.
On which see also the war on... militants.