The Idiom

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006


A new meme is popping up regarding the name of the war that we are currently embroiled in.

Kid Various has, himself, been searching for an appropriate name to describe this larger conflict, in which Iraq and Afghanistan are actually only campaigns. The Global War on Terror has left a bad taste in his mouth since the beginning. Saying you are engaged in a war against terror is like saying you are in a war against artillery.

Terror is a tool. It's a tactic used by the Enemy. We're not at war with terror, we're at war with the Enemy.

In any case, The Kid has usually taken to describing the war as WWIV, or, more simply - The War.

In response to Rumsfeld's speech earlier this month, a new meme has been popping up - The Long War.

Here it is in William Kristol's piece this week:

DEMAGOGUES TO THE RIGHT OF THEM, appeasers to the left of them, media in front of them, volleying and thundering. Can the Bush administration continue to charge ahead? Does it have the will--and the competence--to lead the nation for the next three years toward victory in the long war against radical Islamism?

And in Michael Barone's piece yesterday:

My prediction: Bush's successors, for all their criticisms (John McCain wants a larger military; Hillary Rodham Clinton says she wouldn't have voted for military action in Iraq knowing what she knows now), will find it hard to move outside the framework of the National Security Strategy, as they take on Bush's burden of fighting what we're starting to call the Long War.

Both pieces are worth reading. Kristol takes on the question, so often posed by The Kid, do we have the stomach to prosecute the Long War? Barone compares Bush's National Security Strategy with Truman's policy of conatinment. Kid Various agrees with Barone in that, despite changes arounf the fringes, subsequent Presidents will be compelled to follow the basic outlines of the Bush Doctrine.

But what about the term, the Long War? Kid Various likes it. It properly connotes the existential struggle that we are involved in. We need to step back from the forest a bit and not concentrate so much on Iraq. Iraq is only one campaign of an ongoing war against the Enemy that seeks to change our way of life (just as, fairly, we seek to change his.) This is a "long, twilight struggle" like the Cold War to see which societal vision for mankind will prevail. Although it doesn't bring home the total nature of the war, or its ideological schema like the phrase WWIV - the Long War appropriately relates to the reader what is involved in this war.

A long, bloody, expensive struggle against totalitarian idealogues who fear freedom as a corrosive to their conception of virtue. A struggle that will have ups and downs. Successes and reversals. But more so, one that requires from us really only one thing to achieve victory - the guts to prosecute the war to its end.


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