A memo for the committee staff, circulated March 27, says the 2008 bill and its accompanying explanatory report that will set defense policy should be specific about military operations and “avoid using colloquialisms.”Now we all know there is much more to this than a few innocent words. Sure, Committee staff said that there was no political motive behind the move but the Republicans aren't buying it. Duncan Hunter, the ranking Republican and ex-Chairman of the Committee, said he was not consulted and Republican staff see the issue in starkly political terms
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Committee staff members are told in the memo to use specific references to specific operations instead of the Bush administration’s catch phrases. The memo, written by Staff Director Erin Conaton, provides examples of acceptable phrases, such as “the war in Iraq,” the “war in Afghanistan, “operations in the Horn of Africa” or “ongoing military operations throughout the world.”
“This is a philosophical and political question,” said a Republican aide. “Republicans generally believe that by fighting the war on terror in Iraq, we are preventing terrorists from spreading elsewhere and are keeping them engaged so they are not attacking us at home.”
Of course, as the Army Times points out
. . . . U.S. intelligence officials have been telling Congress that most of the violence in Iraq is the result of sectarian strife and not directly linked to terrorists, although some foreign insurgents with ties to terrorist groups have been helping to fuel the fighting.
This is one more step toward returning sanity to our country. But the Neocons won't let go without a fight. During the nineties, the Neocons really missed the Cold war. Every great country needs an enemy and the bigger the enemy the better. Heck, if you don't have a big threatening enemy how is anyone going to know how great you are. And more importantly, if you don't have a big enemy to keep the voters in constant fear how can you hope to stay in power and enrich your friends with a continuous feeding frenzy at the public trough.
Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote an excellent article in the Washington Post which is a must read on this topic. He speaks about how Bush's War on Terror has been deliberately used to create a culture of fear. While many of us have ridiculed the entire concept of waging war on a tactic, or even worse, a noun, Zbig points out why the phrase is cherished by the Neocons
But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a "war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue. The war of choice in Iraq could never have gained the congressional support it got without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Support for President Bush in the 2004 elections was also mobilized in part by the notion that "a nation at war" does not change its commander in chief in midstream. The sense of a pervasive but otherwise imprecise danger was thus channeled in a politically expedient direction by the mobilizing appeal of being "at war."
The House Armed Services Committee, Chaired by a wonderful man from Missouri, Ike Skelton, has taken a step toward returning our country to normalcy. A country where we don't manufacture threats or exaggerate dangers. A country whose leader does not terrorize its citizens but rather comforts and assures them. Removing these four words from our lexicon is a good step toward that goal.