Thursday, June 02, 2005

Another goofy name for a war

As if 'GEE-wot' wasn't a dumb enough name for the war we're in, somebody who hasn't quite mastered the war of ideas is about to come up with an even sillier one.

Gee-wot, of course, is Pentagonese for GWOT, the acronym of Global War on Terror(ism). A real inspiring name for a war likely to last decades.

Now, however, David Kaplan reports in US News & World Report that the White House is about to make Gee-wot even better. How about this for an uplifting, optimistic name: WOE?

The covert suggestion of an enemy infiltrator to divide and demoralize us? Not according to US News. "Nearly four years after 9/11, officials have finally figured out who the enemy is," Kaplan writes. "The White House's new counterterrorism strategy, now being revamped at the National Security Council, will focus more sharply on Islamic extremism, not terrorism. One important sign of the change: Policymakers are ready to abandon their shorthand for the conflict - GWOT, or the global war on terrorism. The likely new name is simply WOE - the war on extremism. The reason, explains a senior national security official: 'Terrorism is the method rather than the enemy.'"

Since when did we define the enemy when we named our wars? Not in World War I, World War II, or (as some of us call the Cold War) World War III.

What about naming our enemies in other wars? Kosovo wasn't our enemy. The Persian Gulf wasn't our enemy. The Vietnamese and Koreans weren't our enemies. The Spanish-Americans weren't our enemy. We don't name the enemy in the Civil War (or, as some prefer it, the War Between the States). The Mexican War . . . well, I'll concede on that one.

But 1812 wasn't our enemy. Can you imagine what would have happened to the idea of America if we'd called the Revolutionary War the War On England? WOE to us! So why do our leaders insist on identifying the elusive, diverse, and ever-changing enemy this time?

I still like World War IV.


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