Thursday, April 2, 2009

Terrorism's Identity Crisis in the US


From what I can tell, President Barry has spent most of his time (so far) in office spending our money. Well, that an choosing people that haven't paid all of their taxes to fill Cabinet positions. But still, that's what he's been up to and it's not exactly all of the 'change' that I had envisioned or that I distinctly remember being promised to us. I guess I was expecting more...I don't know...change-y change. Or something like that. But then I learned of other changes that President Barry has made that I had been unaware of. Things like changing the names of things, for example. Things like the war on terror. It has a new name. Did you know that? It does. I swear.

The Obama administration has ditched the term "global war on terror" and it's cousin "the war on terror". According to the fine journalism on display over there in The Washington Post, "the war on terror" and all variations and derivations thereof are too much a reminder of the very unpopular Bush administration of yore. In situations like this, the most popular thing to do is to send out a memo. So in an office of security review over there at the Defense Department, it was "...noted that "this administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror' [GWOT.] Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.' " Wait. Please use what?

'Overseas Contingency Operation', that is correct. Let's just noodle this one through for a moment, shall we? 'Overseas' I think is fairly self-explanatory. Now if it were 'underseas', well, that would be something! But it's not, so we know that it means 'over there across all of the water.' Next is 'Contingency'. According to the wordy folks over at Merriam-Webster, 'contingent' is defined as an even that may happen, but it's not for sure that it will happen. It's also something that is liable to happen in response to or as a result of something else. It lists the synonym as 'juncture', which is defined as "an instance of joining" or "a point of time, especially one made critical by a concurrence of circumstances". Synonyms of 'juncture' include 'contingency', but in this instance, 'contingency' is defined as something that implies a possible emergency where the likelihood of occurrence is uncertain. It then lists the example 'contingency plans'. And finally, 'Operation'. I think we're all aware of the various definitions of 'operation' and can safely conclude that is not that wonderful Mitlon Bradley game where you must extract all sort of internal organs and other objects from a rather rotund (and frightened looking) Sam the patient.

Putting all of those definitions together into the newest 'change' in this country, "Overseas Contingency Operation", we still have no idea what that means. We certainly don't know that it means kicking the asses of terrorists (if that is, in fact, what we're doing. They're very unclear on that, but I prefer to think of it as serious ass kicking that's taking place.). From our definitions, it could very well mean, "Something that may happen on the other side of all of that water, but we're not quite sure yet." That doesn't sound good at all. It could be taken to mean, "Something that might happen overseas IF all of the other pieces fall into place through the implementation of our magic and very secret method." That just sounds inept.

The bottom line, however, is that it means the same damn thing. You can call it whatever you want, it's still terrorist ass kicking at it's best. When President Barry was still Candidate Barry, wasn't he the one who said, "You can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig."? I think he was. And now that he's President Barry, what is he doing? He's putting lipstick on our war on terror, that is correct!

Apparently, early in Bush's term (you know, before he was so widely abhorred by the masses for standing by and watching our country fall victim to fraud and greed) "...then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld promoted a change in wording to "global struggle against violent extremism," or GSAVE." That's horrible. Fortunately, Bush liked "global war on terror" and went with that. So really, that was actually better than the 'change' that we received. The irony. Oh, if only all of his decisions could have turned out so well.

Achmed the Dead TerroristCaptain Words-a-Lot also is changing the term for what we call the inmates at Guantanamo Bay. We will not be referring to them as "enemy combatants" any more. The thing is, they haven't come up with a new name for them yet. All they've said, according to The Washington Post, is that the Justice Department "...would seek to hold only terrorism suspects who "substantially supported" those groups and not those who "provide unwitting or insignificant support" to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. " Soooooo....wait. What?

Substantial supporters? What, pray tell, constitutes "insignificant support"? Like if you're Osama bin Laden's paperboy? All you do is throw the morning news into his cave, so that's just insignificant support? They have to come up with something to replace it with, don't they? How about Taliban Groupies or Bin Laden Fanboys. Kill Meisters. The ones in training can be the Junior Jihad and we'll call them the JJs for short. They could be Allah's Death Squad or The Munsters. Wait. (That last one may already be taken.)

Perhaps President Barry is just taking a cue from new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (not to be confused with the ice cream trifecta of the same name. Oh, wait. That's neopolitan. Never mind.) and her referring to 'terrorism' as 'man-caused disasters' during an interview she gave with Spiegel Online. Wait. What? I mean, WTH?

Napolitano claims that she prefers the term 'man-caused disasters' because "... it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur." Um, what? Is she saying that we are currently not prepared for all risks that can occur because we've been referring to 'terrorism' as 'terrorism'? Because if that's the argument, I'm going to have disagree (right before I jump off a cliff and spare myself the time of waiting around for the impending doom). That's a rather all encompassing term that really has very little to do with what comes to mind when one thinks of 'terrorism'. 'Man-caused disasters' could refer to a wide variety of calamities. The Exxon Valdez spill would be a 'man-caused disaster'. The shooting rampages of late would be 'man-caused disasters'. The current state of the economy and the financial crisis would both be 'man-caused disasters'. None of those things have a lot to do with terrorism really.


You know what? Fear is a pretty good motivator in a lot of instances. I'm OK with a little bit of fear if it keeps us safe. I don't think we all need to be wandering around in a state of fear similar to that on September 12, 2001. But fear (or implied danger/risk) is what guides certain decisions that we make. We lock our house when we leave it for fear that it will get robbed if we don't. We wear our seat belt when we drive for fear that we'll get a ticket (and possibly get injured if we crash, but I think it's the ticket thing that's a motivator).We install anti-virus software on our computers out of fear that it will get a virus and trash the entire hard drive. Without fear, everyone would be living their life as the village idiot.

These folks can call anything they want whatever they want to, call the war on terror 'Bob' for all I care, but it isn't going to change what anything inherently is. If I have a tuba and I put it on my head and call it a hat (like I do every Thursday), that doesn't mean that it's a hat. I can call it a hat all I want, but it's still a tuba. I can even put a tuba on my head and call it a blue-finned mackerel; it's still a tuba. And President Barry can call things whatever he wants, but the bottom line is that the Overseas Contingency Operation is still a war against people who want to kill us and a terrorist is still an A-hole.

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2 comments:

grannyann said...

I really don't think you want me to get started on all this Obama stuff. I am like you, don't understand what they are doing with the name stuff. It is probably something to try and detour us from what they are really doing with all our money. What I wonder is what we will do when the country is bankrupt.

Mare said...

I know what we'll do! Instead of calling it 'bankrupt', we'll simply say that we're in the middle of a "tangible currency acquisition slowdown"! And all will be fine!

Until we realize that we're doomed.

~ M