Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Incoherent Term Finally Abandoned

The Secretary of State acknowledged publicly that the administration has distanced itself from the "War on Terror" phrase coined by President Bush after the horrific attacks of September 11th. It was an improvement at least on the word crusade, which the former President, in perhaps the most profound gaffe ever made, once used to describe the effort of the United States to engage violent extremist elements who just happened to be reactionary Muslims.

But no one ever really figured out what a "War on Terror" is. What does that mean? Is it a war on being afraid? Is it a war against methods, or actors, or both? There does seems to be consensus, however, that whatever the meaning of the phrase itself, the brand had become associated with the worst excesses of the post-9/11 era, from Abu Graib to secret detention camps and authorized torture.

So we've scrapped it. The new terminology will be "Overseas Contingency Operations". It has a nice sort of round feeling to it, like I could just give it a big hug.


  1. I think it's "Gharib." Well, there's an H in there somewhere.

  2. The nice thing about Arabic to English translations is that the spellings are entirely phonetic. Incidentally, Google web search returns 2,210,000 for both "Abu Graib" and "Abu Gharib". "Abu Ghraib" had 2,160,000 hits.