Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A War By Any Other Name

So now the Pentagon has gone PC...or something. It's no longer the Global War on Terror (GWOT), which was descriptive, if slightly inaccurate (you fight people, not a method). It's now called the Overseas Contingency Operation, which will no doubt soon be acronymized into OCO.

Robert A. Heinlein said it well in Glory Road: "You're just as dead from a police action as you are from a full-scale war." So why mince words? Well, the GWOT itself was a mincing of words. They could have called it the "War on Fundamentalist Islamism" or the "Black September War," or the "War on al-Qaeda," but that would create political trouble, presumably. Instead of Operation Enduring Freedom, they might've chosen "Operation Terrible Resolve," but no one asked me. And a "War on al-Qaeda" would not explain the war in Iraq--at least not as originally cast. Maybe the "War on People Who Attack Us or Threaten to Do So?" Or the "War to Change the Middle East?"

I've got to admit, I'm stumped. The Bush Doctrine of preemptive strikes, denying/destroying terrorist bases, and regime change is part punitive, part transformative, part instructive.

"When will you stop invading us?"
"When you learn to choose better leaders!"

--Exchange between a leader of the Dominican Republic and Woodrow Wilson


Anonymous said...

The Heinlein book is called "Glory Road," not "Glory."

Bart said...

I stand corrected. Thanks.