Thursday, April 2, 2009

No more "war on terror"

Last week, someone emailed a memo to Pentagon staffers telling them to refer to the "overseas contingency operation" instead of the "global war on terror."

The memo supposedly came from the Office of Management and Budget. But an OMB spokesperson denied that any such memo was sent. So that seemed inconclusive.

But now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed that "the administration has stopped using the phrase." She says there hasn't been any formal directive against "war on terror," but that the phrase's very absence "speaks for itself."

Does this mean the administration might be going soft on terrorism?

Well, here's a quote that I think sheds light on the issue:

I'm really beginning to believe we should stop the war on terrorism. Not because I'm against the fighting. ...

No, I simply think the war on terrorism may be the wrong war. ...

Terrorism is a means — the intentional use of violence against civilian populations in order to achieve political ends. We're at war with the people seeking those ends. ...

Put it this way: If Syria formally declared war on the United States and (somehow) attacked us with missiles and artillery, would we declare a "new war on ballistic armaments"? Or would we just declare war on Syria and be done with the semantics? If al Qaeda raised an army against us and fought with conventional weapons, would we refrain from firing back — since we are at war with "terrorism" and not with conventional armies?
Now, that quote isn't from anyone in the Obama administration. It's by the well-known conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg, from an article he wrote for the National Review in 2002.

I don't think anyone's ever accused Jonah Goldberg of being soft on terrorism.

Yet a colleague of Goldberg's on National Review, Victor Davis Hanson, is ridiculing the Obama administration for apparently stopping the use of the term. Here's his blog post, in full:
The War is Dead. Long Live the War!

Flash! Neanderthal "War On Terror" is now officially declared over. Flash! Neanderthal Taliban Mehsud promises to hit D.C.!
I'd like to know if Hanson was similarly derisive of Goldberg's statement that we should "stop the war on terror." I'm guessing not.


Unknown said...

Not sure if you just missed the point or are being disingenuous. Hanson's objection is in dropping the "war" part, not the "terror" part, which is the subject of Goldberg's complaint. I'm sure that if Obama had changed it to the War on Islamic Fundamentalism, Hanson would not have complained.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I don't see where in his blog post he said that he objected to the "war" part being dropped but not the "terror" part. He referred to the whole thing.