Last week, the NY Times reported
that the Bush administration, flailing about for the proper words to describe its mission, has decided to re-brand the "Global War on Terrorism," referring to it now as the "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism." The test-marketing of "GSAVE" is evidently intended to suggest a less bellicose path toward the ultimate defeat of Evil. The Times
reported that Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced recently to the National Press Club that he had "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution."
Well where did people get that silly fucking idea, huh? Oh, wait — I forgot:
War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This Nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.
--GW Bush, 14 September 2001
On September 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war, but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.
--GW Bush, 20 September 2001
This military action is a part of our campaign against terrorism, another front in a war that has already been joined through diplomacy, intelligence, the freezing of financial assets, and the arrests of known terrorists by law enforcement agents in 38 countries. Given the nature and reach of our enemies, we will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes, by meeting a series of challenges with determination and will and purpose.
Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground. If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, they have become outlaws and murderers, themselves. And they will take that lonely path at their own peril.
--GW Bush, 7 October 2001
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty and for the peace of the world. Our Nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment; yet it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Your courage, your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other, made this day possible. Because of you, our Nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.
-- GW Bush, 1 May 2003
Remember that time we went to war against the terrorists? Yeah, man, those were the days. We were all about handing out ass-kickings and candycanes then — until one day we ran out of candycanes. Heh. But now that Karen Hughes is back in the administration, serving as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, it's all about the fucking rainbows and unicorns and porpoises again. You smell that? That's the scent of freshly baked cookies. I love the scent of freshly baked cookies in the morning. Smells like . . . sensitive girl shit.
Or at least that's what the Weekly Standard's Scrapbook
seems to think this week, proving once and for all that there's just no pleasing the neocons. First they were angry that it was a war against terrorism and not against the "Islamo-fascists." Then they were mad that we wouldn't call it "World War IV" (World War III being what most of us refer to as the Cold War, the misnaming of which still angers dingbats like Norman Podhoretz and Eliot Cohen). And now this.
It sounds for all the world as if the Bush administration wants to fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, and--dare we say it?--more sensitive war on terror. And if you think you've heard that language before, you're right. It came from John Kerry last fall. Kerry described the war on terror as "occasionally military" but argued that it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation." Richard Holbrooke, Kerry's senior foreign policy adviser, said: "We're not in a war on terror, in the literal sense. The war on terror is like saying 'the war on poverty.' It's just a metaphor."
Bush, if you recall, was aghast: "Anyone who thinks we are fighting a metaphor does not understand the enemy we face, and has no idea how to win the war and keep America secure." But that was then.
The Scrapbook, just to be clear, understands that winning the GWOT will involve more than the application of brute military force. And we're all in favor of learning about what others dream and what they value most. But what we have learned to our horror in recent years is that far too many people dream mostly of murdering us.
Indeed the disturbing thing about this fascination with rebranding the war on terror is that it, if we may say, came at a time when a resurgent Taliban is stepping up its activities in Afghanistan, al Qaeda bombers are running amok in London, and tourist hotels are being blown up in Egypt. This is self-evidently not a great time to shift from a "Global War on Terror" to a "Long Struggle to Portray Americans as Good People Who Don't Hate Muslims and Respect Religions All Over the World Even as We Try to Dismantle the Networks of Ideological Extremists Who at the Very Least Disagree With Us and May Want to Do Us Harm." Or whatever.
What's next, man? Some sort of fucking "global test?" Pass the frogs legs!