Renaming the War on Terror

Date: Thursday, March 26, 2009 12:56 AM
Category: Allgov Blogs

An unusual controversy popped up on Wednesday when the Washington Post reported that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was asking federal employees to stop using the Bush administration term “Global War on Terrorism.” OMB director Peter Orszag dismissed the rumor as a non-story. However, dealing with the phrase is actually a serious issue.

Immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush made it clear that he was launching a “war on terrorism.” The phrase was accepted without challenge by most media sources, but those who read more carefully what Bush was saying were immediately alarmed by his choice of words. The problem is that terrorism is not an enemy; it is a tactic used by our enemies. In practical terms, declaring a war on terrorism is like declaring a war on tanks or bullets. By launching a war against a tactic, President Bush and his team were setting the United States on the path of a war without end. This was useful for Bush politically, and helped him con the American people into invading Iraq in 2003 and even get reelected in 2004. But for the American people, the phrase “war on terrorism” was a disaster because it was vague enough to cover almost anything and there was absolutely no way to end such a war. Hopefully, the Obama administration, no matter what phrases they choose to use, will focus on the real enemies of the United States rather than emphasizing the tactics they use.
-David Wallechinsky
“Global War on Terror” Is Given New Name (by Scott Wilson and Al Kamen, Washington Post)

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