Some time ago I suggested in an article that the phrase “war on terror” be discarded in favor of a more forthright acknowledgement that we are defending ourselves against a global jihad. And the good news today is that the Administration has, after over a year, heeded my advice and discarded the “war on terror” label. The bad news, however, is that we are no farther than we were before from being honest about what we are really up against. Who can defeat an enemy he is afraid to name? But in any case, we are now fighting “a global struggle against violent extremism.”
Extreme what? Extreme love for broccoli? Extreme involvement in fantasy baseball leagues? Oh — violent extremism. So only if you beat your neighbor over the head and take his broccoli, or broke a chair over the head of a member of your fantasy league after he convinced you to trade Roger Clemens for Joe Shlabotnik would you become a focus of Washington’s campaign. This new jihad (“struggle”) against “violent extremism” is even more poorly focused than the war on terror — and will continue to leave us vulnerable to being blindsided by attacks from quarters that we are not willing to admit to ourselves are possible centers of the war against us. At very least, it is better because it does allow for a less exclusive focus on military solutions. But that is not much.
“Washington recasts terror war as ‘struggle’,” from the New York Times via the IHT, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
WASHINGTON The Bush administration is retooling its slogan for the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, pushing the idea that the long-term struggle is as much an ideological battle as a military mission, according to senior administration and military officials.
In recent speeches and news conferences, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the country’s top military officer have spoken of “a global struggle against violent extremism” rather than “the global war on terror,” which had been the catchphrase of choice.
Administration officials say the earlier phrase may have outlived its usefulness, because it focused attention solely, and incorrectly, on the military campaign.
General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club on Monday 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.”
He said the threat instead should be defined as violent extremism, with the recognition that “terror is the method they use.”
I have been saying for years that terror is a tactic, not an enemy. It is nice of him to acknowledge that I have been right all along. Now, General, here’s your next lesson: define “violent extremism.” Specify exactly what these people are being extreme about. Then we may start getting somewhere regarding these necessary non-military measures.
Oh, and by the way: I’m declaring my own “struggle” against “unrestrained enthusiasm.”