Um, make that Operation Never Mind

Action's name changed after Muslim complaints

Terrorism Strikes America

President Bush Speaks

September 21, 2001|By Dan Fesperman | Dan Fesperman,SUN STAFF

When it comes to naming a military operation, "infinite" is apparently going too far.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that "Operation Infinite Justice," the initial name for the nation's reponse to the terrorist attacks last week, will be changed in deference to complaints from some Muslims, who believe that only God can mete out justice of that scope.

It is not merely a case of political correctness. The Bush administration is trying to build a coalition with nations such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Their predominantly Muslim populations are demanding reassurance that the United States isn't waging a war against Islam.

President Bush had bruised some Middle Eastern sensibilities by characterizing the effort as a "crusade," a term taken from the medieval Crusades, in which invading Christian armies from Europe swept down on Muslim residents of the Holy Land.

Not that the term "infinite" hadn't been employed in the war against terrorism. The Clinton administration's limited airstrikes in 1998 against Sudan and Afghanistan, in retaliation for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, were dubbed "Operation Infinite Reach."

"Infinite Justice" does seem to have cosmic resonance. In a search of the joined words on an Internet search engine, the top six hits were religious Web sites, each referring to God's "infinite justice."

There was no word yesterday from the Pentagon on what the new name for the operation might be.

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