The counter terrorism community is abuzz over the President’s comments yesterday at a principals meeting of the Homeland Security Council. Bush reportedly said he was not in favor of the new term, Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism (GSAVE). In fact, he said, “no one checked with me”. That comment brought an uncomfortable silence to the assembled group of pooh bahs. The President insisted it was still a war as far as he is concerned.
So war on terror it is. In any case this doesn’t seem like it matters very much to me. Everyone knows what people are talking about when they talk about the “war on terror”: it’s an inept campaign to bust up the al-Qaeda network that took a wrong turn when the United States decided to invade Iraq and then let various states with terrorist tie develop or come close to developing or maybe even start proliferating nuclear weapons. From all appearances, the “Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism” would simply have come to denote much the same thing. As Ivo Daalder argues, the Pentagon may be rethinking its national security strategy, though that seems unlikely, but the president and vice-president definitely don’t seem to be catching on. In that case, they may as well keep the old name.