Friday, 07 August 2009

No More War on Terror, White House Claims

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US military in AfghanistanThe Obama administration has declared an end to the “war on terror,” which undoubtedly scares the neocons as much it warms the hearts of those opposed to the war from the beginning. But opponents of the war shouldn’t light up the peace pipes just yet. The declaration doesn't mean much of anything.

The announcement, the Washington Times reported, came in a speech by the head of the White House homeland security office, John Brennan, at Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic And International Studies. In March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the term “war on terror” was no longer in use, the newspaper observed, but the official “end” of the war had not been decided.

American interventions across the globe will likely continue. Instead, the new policy is merely a semantic shift, which became obvious with the simultaneous announcement that Obama would no longer use certain terms to describe this country’s enemies.

“The President does not describe this as a ‘war on terrorism,’” Brennan said. A country, he said, cannot make war on a tactic as opposed to making war on another country. As well, the Obama administration will no longer use the term “global war,” or such terms as “jihadist” to describe Islamic terrorists. Jihad is “a legitimate term” that means “to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal.” That, he said, “risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve.” And “worse,” he said, “it risks reinforcing the idea that the United States is somehow at war with Islam itself.”

All this raises several questions, not least of which is what our troops are now doing in Afghanistan and Iraq, and whether this portends some end to the war. Of the latter, the answer is obvious. We still are in Iraq and Afghanistan. We still are at war. The question is why Obama changed these terms.

While Brennan is correct that a country cannot make war on a tactic, not using the term “jihadist” because it contaminates a “legitimate” term is rather a stretch. Muslims know exactly what jihad is, and many of them believe terrorists are waging justifiable jihad against the United States. In other words, “these murderers” do have a “religious legitimacy" in the Islamic world, and if Messrs. Obama and Brennan don’t think so, they can read the polling results of what Muslims around the world thought about the 9/11 attacks and subway bombings in Britain in 2007. And they can check into YouTube and watch the video of jihadists, or whatever he wants to call them, rioting in Europe's major cities.

Obama is trying to placate Muslims because his affinity for this religion goes way beyond the boilerplate ecumenism his predecessor practiced to placate the American Muslim community after 9/11. Obama was raised for a time in a Muslim society, and his own writings and statements make it clear exactly where his sympathies lie. It isn’t with Christendom, which isn’t to say Obama doesn’t believe he is some sort of Christian.

That does not bode well for the future.


R. Cort Kirkwood, managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va., has been writing about American politics and culture for more than 20 years. Mr. Kirkwood has written for Chronicles, The New American, National Review, The Remnant, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun, The Orange County Register, Taki’s Top Drawer online magazine, and For several years, he syndicated a column, “The Hard Line.” Mr. Kirkwood is the author of the nonfiction title, Real Men: Ten Courageous Americans To Know And Admire, published by Cumberland House.

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