Thursday, August 04, 2005

He wants to be a War President, not a Global Struggle President

President Makes It Clear: Phrase Is 'War on Terror'
- New York Times
- 4 August 2005:
GRAPEVINE, Tex., Aug. 3 - President Bush publicly overruled some of his top advisers on Wednesday in a debate about what to call the conflict with Islamic extremists, saying, 'Make no mistake about it, we are at war.'

In a speech here, Mr. Bush used the phrase 'war on terror' no less than five times. Not once did he refer to the 'global struggle against violent extremism,' the wording consciously adopted by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials in recent weeks after internal deliberations about the best way to communicate how the United States views the challenge it is facing.

In recent public appearances, Mr. Rumsfeld and senior military officers have avoided formulations using the word 'war,' and some of Mr. Bush's top advisers have suggested that the administration wanted to jettison what had been its semiofficial wording of choice, 'the global war on terror.'

In an interview last week about the new wording, Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush's national security adviser [and White House Iraq Group (WHIG) member], said that the conflict was 'more than just a military war on terror' and that the United States needed to counter 'the gloomy vision' of the extremists and 'offer a positive alternative.'

But administration officials became concerned when some news reports linked the change in language to signals of a shift in policy. At the same time, Mr. Bush, by some accounts, told aides that he was not happy with the new phrasing, a change of tone from the wording he had consistently used since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

It is not clear whether the new language embraced by other administration officials was adopted without Mr. Bush's approval or whether he reversed himself after the change was made. Either way, he planted himself on Wednesday firmly on the side of framing the conflict primarily in military terms and appeared intent on emphasizing that there had been no change in American policy.

'We're at war with an enemy that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001,' Mr. Bush said in his address here, to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of state legislators. 'We're at war against an enemy that, since that day, has continued to kill.' [....]

Make no mistake about it, we're NOT at war. I remember when I was growing up, the point was always made that we were not officially at war in Korea or Vietnam despite the carnage. They were "police actions." We were taught in the sixties that no formal Declaration of War had been issued by the United States since December 8, 1941. And none has been issued since then. He can't call it a War, a term with much legal weight, just because the Congress has abdicated all its powers. So how about calling him the "Police Action President"?


Kyleen said...

I didn't know that there hadn't been a declaration of war since WWII. I was taught like you that Korea and Vietnam were not wars but "conflicts". I thought htough that bush got a declaration of war from Congress. Good to know but it makes me wonder why Congress and others are still letting him continue with his rampage on the world.

Anonymous said...

I keep meaning to get around to blogging shit...tough to make time for it lately...but I WILL have something to say about this president's coinage of "war on terror." It is really time this phrase was thrown out of the dialog, if it can really be said that there is any dialog going on in the US. The word "war" frames the discussion so that just about any authoritarian abuse can be justified. This is a really serious issue and I want to spend some time on it. Soon...