Monday, August 01, 2005

Hurrah! The Global War on Terror Has Ended...!

...And has been replaced with the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, or G-SAVE for short. Get it? SAVE? It's goooood. "War?", who said anything about war? A war can be lost; a war needs pesky things like stated goals, defined enemies and exit strategies, but a struggle...a struggle is much more flexible.

I first heard about this syntactical shift on The Daily Show, and as with so many things they report, I wasn't sure at first if it was real. I mean, with this administration, the line between reality and surreality is often blurred. But sure enough, there next to John Stewart's head was video of several administration officials using the term "struggle against violent extremism" in their speeches. And indeed, The New York Times reported on it last week:
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, senior administration and military officials said Monday.

In recent speeches and news conferences, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the nation's senior 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 that phrase may have outlived its usefulness, because it focused attention solely, and incorrectly, on the military campaign.

Gen. Richard B. 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."

Really? I wonder why that would be. Remember this beauty?
Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.
So said Karl Rove in his memorable words to the Conservative Party of New York on June 22. Of course the impression we get is that war is the answer to terrorism because it's what the administration has force fed us for 4 years -- it's this administration's M.O. and is the only thing that got Bush re-elected. But as so many predicted, the strategy has been a failed one, so no wonder they want to make a change. But leave it to this administration to change the name but not the actual strategy.

To close, we go to always reliable Paul Krugman who states it plainly in his column today:

The "global war on terrorism" has been downgraded to the "global struggle against violent extremism" (pronounced gee-save), which is just embarrassing. Baghdad is a nightmare, Basra is a militia-run theocracy, and officials are talking about withdrawing troops from Iraq next year (just in time for the U.S. midterm elections).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with most modern Liberal Arts degrees is that they usually leave the recipient with a decideded lack of factual historical knowledge and perspective.

For example, how often did Abraham Lincoln refer to what is now called the "US Civil War" using terms like "struggle" and "cause"?

Indeed, how many different public rationales did Lincoln provide for the "US Civil War", and how did those rationales evolve from the initial secession of the Southern states, through the bombardment and capitulation of Ft. Sumpter, through the initial battles, through the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation following Antietam/Sharpsburg, through the Gettysburg Address and indeed right through to the surrender at Appomattox, dissolution of the Confederacy and his own assassination?

A simple reading of history provides easy answers to the above, and clearly demonstrates that throughout his Presidency Lincoln's own public statements on the "Civil War" were MUCH more of a work-in-progress than what has come out of the Bush White House in about the same length of time.

Indeed, one might even consider the evolution of Lincoln's language to be quite ... Rovian. Considering the current-day, knee-jerk propensity of some to demonize anyone with an (R) after their name, he probably wouldn't give them, or their views, much thought.

1:52 PM  
Blogger TWB said...

The idea that my problem with Bush is a function of his having an R after his name is such convenient ignorant simplification bullshit that doesn't allow for the possibility in the mind of a Bushbot such as yourself that maybe someone with an R after his name did something wrong or truly counter to my values. I praise Republicans all the time. In fact, I'm about to again right now. Democrats are in the minority and as far as I'm concerned many Republicans are on my side in many fights. Bush's political affiliation has not been my concern for years, it's what he's done and said that's the problem. Actually, many enlightened Republicans would agree that Bush has nothing to do with their Republican party. The party used to be for fiscal responsibility, smaller government and a strong military. Bush's actions (not his words) have demonstrated that he is decidedly opposed to these principles.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see, three little criteria wrapped up in all that language:

1.) Fiscal responsibility. By any chance have you checked what's happening to government tax reciepts (and the real deficit relative to the projected one)now that the economy has recovered from the irrational exuberance hangover left by the previous Administration?

2.) Smaller government. Reagan was for a smaller government too, but in order to do what was necessary to achieve his main priority (defeat Communism), he had to make tactical concessions ... and the government grew. Same thing is happening here.

3.) Strong military. Not sure when TB became such an expert in military affiars that he could make this sort of judgement call. Perhaps you should go back and see the % of the military that voted for Bush over Kerry last time around. I'd place what the preponderance of active servicemen know about such matters over someone who was once convinced that a couple of LAVs full of Marines lost in LA equated to Bush sending tanks into the streets to put down protestors ...

11:40 AM  
Blogger TWB said...

Fiscal responsibility is also about reigning in your majority congress in stop wasteful spending. Bush refuses to veto any bill. A starve the beast strategy can not be said to be fiscally responsible -- starve the treasury to justify cuts in programs you don't like. And I think the fact that China practically owns us is pretty fucking irresponsible.

And as for the military, no I am no expert, but the very fact that it's as overstretched as it is means it is less effective elsewhere in the world and the way Bush has waged this war has reduced the credibility and moral authority our military used to have.

2:13 PM  

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