First Published: 2009-01-20

 
Dangerous Words: War on Terror
 

The United States is too great a nation to continue cleave to a disastrous president’s manipulative and immoral terminology. George W. Bush’s words, and the damage they have inflicted upon the people of the United States and the world, should be buried along with his failed presidency, says Christiane Brown.

 

Middle East Online

One phrase can divide an entire country, one phrase can circumvent 800 years of law, one phrase can justify the horrific, condone the illegal, and bankrupt a nation, both financially and morally. One phrase can kill.

Of the thousands of nefarious actions to emerge from the Bush administration, it is astounding to realize that at the root of the abuse of power, at the very embryo of the fires of destruction – was a deceptively simple enabler, a basic four word slogan that opened all doors before it and paved the way for the misery and misconduct that followed: The War on Terror.

This vague, and yet all encompassing phrase, was first used by President Bush on Sept. 20, 2001, in the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington, and from that moment forward it became root force behind the staggering orgy of lawbreaking that followed.

The War on Terror, an endlessly versatile tool, succeeded as no other political campaign has before, in throwing a blanket of legitimacy and justification over all questionable Bush administration policies, military activities, intelligence gathering, detention practices and sequestering of information.

By emphasizing the imperative need to wage an all-out war against a nebulous, and yet fearsome threat, this shamelessly propagandist slogan instantly placed the United States on a permanent, and yet conveniently hazy, war footing.

In the name of “protecting America,” those in positions of power were suddenly given a sweeping carte blanche to commit grave and destructive violations against our Constitution with impunity.

A staggering range of government actions, previously considered illegal, became not only permissible in The War on Terror, but imperative. The unrestrained ability to wage pre-emptive war, to torture, to endlessly confine "enemy combatants,” to sequester evidence of wrong doing, all were now vital in protecting our national security.

The simple phrase War on Terror cleverly masked an ideology that allowed the Bush administration to alter the very definition of war. As a fight against a tactic, rather than a defined enemy, a War on Terror could continue endlessly, be waged anywhere, and need not articulate specific goals, strategies, limits, parameters or even enemies.

A perfect storm of unrestrained power and hubris.

The vital question is: Will The War on Terror framework become the permanent defensive footing for our nation going forward?

Will George W. Bush’s legacy turn out to be an everlasting adoption of a phrase that endlessly justifies an ongoing drain on our nation’s purse strings for weapons, occupations, and invasions, for unending expenditure outside of our nation, rather than within it?

President-Elect Obama , Vice President-Elect Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, our new Secretary of State, already seem to have adopted George Bush’s rhetoric, referring to Afghanistan as "The Central Front in the War on Terror.”

Which among them has the courage to state the truth to the American People. That there is no War on Terror because terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology or institution. That George Bush has given the American people the false impression that we are fighting a unified enemy rather than separate groups with different motivations. That terrorism must be fought as a police action against specific criminals not a war action against invisible enemies.

As we drag our nation, gasping, to the end of the most reckless and destructive administration in our history, shouldn’t the phrase The War on Terror, this twisted brain child of the Bush Presidency suffer the

same death at the hands of Barack Obama as Bush’s failed policies?

On Jan. 31, 2008, Barack Obama said:

“I don't want to just end the [Iraq] war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place. That's the kind of leadership that I think we need from the next president of the United States. That's what

I intend to provide.”

The time for President Obama to start providing that leadership is now. If the new administration truly intends to ”end the mindset what got us into this war in the first place,” a total rejection Bush’s shameful and misleading War on Terror mantra is required.

The phrase War on Terror, or War on Terrorism should be eliminated from our national dialogue, our official speeches, our government policy, our documents, and our bills.

The United States is too great a nation to continue cleave to a disastrous president’s manipulative and immoral terminology.

George W. Bush’s words, and the damage they have inflicted upon the people of the United States and the world, should be buried along with his failed presidency.

The power of words, and the damage they can do is legendary.

The power of change and the wrongs it can right is history.

This essay originally appeared in AfterDowningStreet.org.

 

Syria regime, Kurds blast Turkish incursion

Kerry heads to Saudi on Yemen peace push

Libya parliament rejects Sarraj’s unity government

Hajj stoning to be shortened after deadly stampede

Muslim women say swimsuit uproar is 'absurd'

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' Jarabulus

Libya's presidential council to present new cabinet

Biden: Washington told Kurds not to cross Euphrates

Israeli court shuns plea to unchain Palestinian hunger striker

Saudi police foil mosque suicide bombing

Kerry to meet Russia's Lavrov in Geneva on Friday

Kurdish forces in Syria prime target for Turkey

Drone strike kills 2 Qaeda suspects in Yemen

Iran yet to decide on OPEC limits

Iraq forces advance south of Mosul

Gaza animals leave 'world's worst' zoo

Hasakeh: key flashpoint for Syria regime, Kurds

British woman killed in Australian stabbing

Turkey launches operation to clear Syria border town from IS

Israel raids West Bank arms factories

Morocco posts fall in foreign tourist arrivals

Turkey cuts interest rates defying inflation jump

Syria regime, Kurds agree Hasakeh truce

Iran says it requested Russian strikes on Aleppo

Turkey shells IS positions in Syria

UN braces for massive flight from Mosul

Sudanese migrant killed in Calais clashes

Palestinian suspect in police killings beaten to death

Iraq forces launch push to retake town south of Mosul

UN aid chief warns of 'unparalleled' catastrophe in Aleppo

Prominent Morocco Islamists rapped over 'sex on beach'

Yemen army looks to break Taez siege amid deadly battles

Jordan to allow more Syrian children access to education

Tunisia parliament sets date for unity government vote

Iraq forces foil attack by teenage bomber

Israel launches 'dozens' of Gaza strikes

Russian stops using Iran airbase for raids on IS in Syria

Turkey says Syria border region must be 'cleansed' of IS jihadists

Turkey authorities scramble to identify child bomber

Libya forces seize more IS ground in Sirte

Sisi says Putin ready to revive Palestine/Israel talks

Jihadist asks Malians for 'forgiveness' for Timbuktu attacks

Iran criticize Russia’s ‘show off’ on airbase use

Ennahda 'has reservations' on Tunisia unity govt

In sharp reversal, Trump pitches softer line on immigration