Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Because you don't have to win struggles

NPR's Morning Edition had a great piece this morning covering the Bush Administration's shifting language for the war on terrorism. After September 11th, Global War on Terrorism was de rigueur. A few months ago President Bush has been shortening the title to Global War on Terror. In the last few weeks, members of the administration and senior members of the military have begun to use the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.

I tend to agree with the commentator who near the end of the story suggests that the reason a public official changes his language is to change public perception. Specifically, the rationale for the change from war to struggle is that

One of my favorite moments of candor from President Bush came during an interview on the Today show in September of 2004.

I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world. Let's put it that way.
Of course, the President shortly thereafter rescinded those remarks, due to their political untenability, I assume. However, I believe that one can observe the beginning of the shift in language in this quote. Part of the rewording's purpose is to cast the opponents as extremists who are not to be accepted, rather than as legitimate opponents of the lone super power.

You and NPR are absolutely right. The language (and then the perception) has to be changed because nothing else really seems to be.
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