It’s going to be all about going after specific groups, not implying that this is a “struggle against a religion or a culture.” That those specific groups possess a specific, readily identifiable and unified ideology and set of beliefs does not seem to enter into anyone’s mind as being a useful bit of information.
“Under Obama, `war on terror’ catchphrase fading,” by Lolita C. Baldor for Associated Press, February 1 (thanks to Nelson):
WASHINGTON — The “War on Terror” is losing the war of words. The catchphrase burned into the American lexicon hours after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is fading away, slowly if not deliberately being replaced by a new administration bent on repairing the U.S. image among Muslim nations.
Since taking office less than two weeks ago, President Barack Obama has talked broadly of the “enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.” Another time it was an “ongoing struggle.”
He has pledged to “go after” extremists and “win this fight.” There even was an oblique reference to a “twilight struggle” as the U.S. relentlessly pursues those who threaten the country.
But only once since his Jan. 20 inauguration has Obama publicly strung those three words together into the explosive phrase that coalesced the country during its most terrifying time and eventually came to define the Bush administration.
Speaking at the State Department on Jan. 22, Obama told his diplomatic corps, “We are confronted by extraordinary, complex and interconnected global challenges: war on terror, sectarian division and the spread of deadly technology. We did not ask for the burden that history has asked us to bear, but Americans will bear it. We must bear it.”
During the past seven years, the “War Against Terror” or “War on Terror” came to represent everything the U.S. military was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the broader effort against extremists elsewhere or those seen as aiding militants aimed at destroying the West.
Ultimately and perhaps inadvertently, however, the phrase “became associated in the minds of many people outside the Unites States and particularly in places where the countries are largely Islamic and Arab, as being anti-Islam and anti-Arab,” said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
Now, he said, there is a sense that the U.S. should be talking more about specific extremist groups “” ones that are recognized as militants in the Arab world and that are viewed as threats not just to America or the West, but also within the countries they operate.
The thinking has evolved, he said, to focus on avoiding the kind of rhetoric “which could imply that this was a struggle against a religion or a culture.”
Obama has made it clear in his first days in office that he is courting the Muslim community and making what is at least a symbolic shift away from the previous administration’s often more combative tone….
It will be interesting to see how that is reciprocated.