Given that our President is a pretty sharp fellow, it’s not surprising that he’s also realized that the “War on Terror” branding needs to be retired:
What’s being sought is a more precise phrase that can recast the U.S. government’s counterterrorism fight in ideological as well as military terms. Obama publicly signaled the new approach this week. When asked about the “war on terror” phrase by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Obama said, “Well you know, I think it is very important for us to recognize that we have a battle or a war against some terrorist organizations … Words matter in this situation because one of the ways we’re going to win this struggle is through the battle of hearts and minds.”
Critics have long decried the use of the phrase “war on terror” on the grounds that terrorism is a tactic, not an identifiable enemy. Years ago, State and Defense Department officials tried to move away from the phrase “war on terror,” proposing instead to call it a “Struggle Against Violent Extremism,” or SAVE.
The problem with “War on Terror” is that “terror” is more a self-inflicted wound than an external threat. It also has no value in combating the perception (warranted or not) of a war against Islam, a misconception that the Republican Party in particular has been deliberately cultivating. The SAVE formulation is nit much better, since “struggle” is an understatement and “violent extremism” could equally well apply to Somali pirates or Columbian drug lords (though it should be noted that piracy offers a very useful and compelling model for fighting terrorism).
I will reiterate my own suggestion of WOMBAT – War On Muharib; Brave Against Terror as an alternate branding that utilizes an Islamic context for it’s message (which is especially important given that terrorism affects muslims in the muslim world far more than the West, and in a sense the front lines for the war are the hearts and minds of the people in the muslim world.)
Granted, there is an element of whimsy in the suggestion, but I think that conveys our American good nature along with our strength.