The government's use of language is a "marvelous" thing.
In recent speeches and news conferences, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the country's top military officer have spoken of "a global struggle against violent extremism".I've noticed the clever use of language in calling this a war on terror. How does one fight method? In the administration's political mind, by sending the military in to overrun a couple of countries and police the peace there long enough. How long? As long as the administration thinks it's necessary to keep people thinking that it's working. What's the standard line? We're fighting them "over there" so we won't have to fight them "over here". Over and over again the significance of the absence of terror attacks here is pushed across as being an indicator of "winning" the war on terror. A supposed lack of attacks, however, doesn't mean anything anymore than it did before 9/11. Yet, the administration continues to try to promote the idea that we're following the right plan of action.
General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club on Monday that he had "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution."
He said the threat instead should be defined as violent extremism, with the recognition that "terror is the method they use."
When our troops were sent into Afghanistan, I was hopeful. When they were sent to Iraq, I was dubious. In both cases we've done, apparently, what it was we originally intended. Yet the troops remain. We say we're looking for Osama. If we couldn't find Eric Robert Rudolph hiding in our own country for five years what makes us think we'll find a well-heeled, well organized terrorist hiding in ... the world?
The troops have done their job and done it admirably. It's time to bring them home. Not because, as some liberal Democrats would chant, of the failed policies of this administration, but because they've done what's expected of a military force, i.e. defeat an enemy and conquer territory. The military is trained to blow up things and kill people. Fighting terrorism or violent extremism, no matter what the terms, with guns and tanks is foolish. Imagining that victory can be attained with the means we are using is an elusive dream.