War is over, if you want it

Our view : The phrase that guided Bush-era defense policy never made sense

April 01, 2009

Say, you might have missed the memo on this, so - just FYI - we thought we'd mention that the war on terror is over.

No, this isn't an April Fool's joke. It's official policy of the U.S. government. Reports surfaced recently that the Global War on Terror no longer exists.

Does this mean Americans now don't have to worry about bad guys and bomb plots? No such luck. Terrorism will likely be with us for a long time. But the fight, according to the Pentagon's Office of Security Review, will henceforth be termed an "overseas contingency operation."

In dispensing with George W. Bush's overheated rhetoric, the Obama administration has recognized what many academics, politicians and ordinary Americans have been pointing out for years: The idea of a "war on terror" always was rather silly. Terrorism is a tactic, not a nation or an ideology. Moreover, use of the supercharged word "war" seemed to elevate small bands of cave-dwelling fanatics from the criminal thugs they are into the mighty army they never were. It also gave cover to Mr. Bush's determined - and sadly successful - effort to subvert civil liberties.

So good riddance to a singularly inapt phrase. The problem of terrorism continues, but the "war on terror" won't be missed.

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