Thursday, April 9, 2009

A War By Any Other Name...

Last week a friend of mine sent us this article from the National Review On-line (NRO) regarding the latest Politically Correct contortion act by our Community Organizer-in-Chief.

Contingency! What’s It Good For? The Obama administration purges the language of war.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

‘Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.” That was Pres. Barack Obama’s inaugural proclamation to the throng assembled on the National Mall, and to the additional millions huddled around televisions throughout the world. As it turns out, that’s not exactly his position.

Behind the scenes, the Pentagon has received orders from on high — which, in this administration, is the Office of Management and Budget — that war is out. The word “war,” that is. “This administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror,’” according to the guidelines, which were first reported in the Washington Post. Our warriors were curtly told, “Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation."'

That this “overseas contingency” on which we are “operating” has left a rather large hole in the ground in lower Manhattan apparently is beside the point. Or maybe that’s exactly the point. War is a powerful word, redolent of power, force, zeal, and national purpose. That’s precisely why the Left routinely invokes war in its beloved campaigns against poverty, obesity, and other abstractions. But real wars, the forcible defense of our nation and the pursuit of our interests, are to be avoided. As are real enemies. Thus, the complementary announcement that “enemy combatants” aren’t enemy combatants anymore. They are simply “individuals currently detained at Guantanamo Bay,” according to an affirmation filed in federal court by Attorney General Eric Holder.

This risks some confusion of jihadists with Cuban refugees. During the Clinton administration, in which Holder served as deputy attorney general, those apprehended while seeking to escape Communist tyranny also became known as “individuals currently detained at Guantanamo Bay” — a policy aggressively defended by the Justice Department at the time, without much harrumphing from the leftists who scathed George W. Bush’s purported Gitmo gulag. Perhaps that’s why Holder occasionally opts for “individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations” — more precise, not quite as catchy.

It remains an “armed conflict” for now — but not for long. In Iraq, the “contingency” has been over for about a year. We won and al-Qaeda was routed, and that’s why you haven’t heard about it. During an election, it’s inconvenient for the media if our nation wins a war that their chosen candidate has declared a dismal failure. But that inconvenience can be addressed with a little linguistic massaging.

Ratcheting down the “armed conflict” in Afghanistan is a bit trickier. The Obama Left considered Afghanistan the “good war” — not because they actually thought it was good, but because doing so bolstered their case that Iraq was the “bad,” “immoral,” “illegal” “war of choice” that “Bush lied us into.” With Iraq won, Afghanistan goes back to being a regular old war again, one without any rhetorical use. And not only are we losing a war, it’s not even the noble battle against trans-fats. So the war in Afghanistan must be gradually downshifted to the Left’s pre-Iraq take on it: the “improvident” “quagmire” that “really solves nothing” and has only (as Obama said of the Bush approach) “given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, ‘Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.’”

Degrading Afghanistan from a “war” to an “overseas contingency operation” is the start of this transformation. Obama’s budget will do much of the rest. Despite at least tripling government borrowing and spending (which Obama nonetheless described during Tuesday night’s press conference as “moving [away] from an era of borrow and spend”), the administration allocates only $50 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq combined — a total that won’t be enough to withdraw, as planned, from Iraq, much less conduct “operations” in the ongoing “contingency” in Afghanistan.

No matter. You can’t have a “contingency” without “individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations.” We’re getting rid of ours. The Obama plan calls for closing Gitmo by 2011, even if that requires releasing all the “individuals currently detained at Guantanamo Bay” to countries where they will be free to go back to the “contingency” (the Arabic word for which is jihad).

Holder has hinted that some of the “individuals currently detained at Guantanamo Bay” will be released in the United States, serving as an example to wavering host countries that we can be just as insane as we’re asking them to be when it comes to importing “contingencies.” Meanwhile, those not released outright will enjoy a new title: “defendant.” That is the same title they had during the 1990s, when “extremists” repeatedly engaged in “anti-Islamic activity” until things got very contingent on 9/11, resulting in nearly 3,000 regrettable terminations of vital functions.

Once the contingency is returned to its rightful place in America’s courtrooms, it will no doubt become a “war,” fought with all the zeal and success of the war on drugs.

Saul Alinsky, Obama’s community-organizing inspiration, wrote at length about words in Rules for Radicals, about their power to inspire and to enervate. “In communication as in thought, we must ever strive toward simplicity” when it is our purpose to inspire. Such a purpose calls for “a determination not to detour around reality.” An opposite purpose, Alinsky writes, calls for an opposite approach. Avoid the “force, vigor, and simplicity” of the right word, and “we soon become averse to thinking in vigorous, simple, honest terms.” Instead, “We strive to invent sterilized synonyms.” Such “new words,” Alinsky taught, “mean something different, so that they tranquilize us, begin to shepherd our mental processes off the main, conflict-ridden, grimy, and realistic power-paved highway of life.”

Tranquilized, we will sleep. As we found the last time we tried this, our enemies won’t.

The above cartoon by Dave Granlund illustrates the first PC semantics change:

"Comrade Karla Senior" rolled-in on this one:

Is there also a new term for ally? I guess we can't call them co-combatants, if this is no longer a war. "Fellow operatives?" But for some of them this "contingency" can hardly be called "overseas" -- can it? I mean, for some it's right where they live. What was the "contingency" on 9/11? Maybe a "domestic contingency?" I don't want to call it something it isn't Oh, it's all so confusing for an old person.

How about, "Unfriendly combatants"? Then we could have "friendly co-operatives." There would be no casualties, of course. Some would become "inactively operative," others maybe "permanently inoperative". You're right. It's semantics, or "silly-mantics."

I think Blackfive's comments captures the "WTFO Factor" regarding the semantics issue:

While Hot Air had this to say about the latest PC-approved definitions:

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