The Global Struggle Against a Consistent Message

Last week, there was a big buzz about a little name change. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that, after lengthy consideration, the Bush administration would stop referring to the “global war on terror” (GWOT) and start talking about the much cuddlier “global struggle against violent extremism” (GSAVE):

In recent speeches and news conferences, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the nation’s senior military officer have spoken of “a global struggle against violent extremism” rather than “the global war on terror,” which had been the catchphrase of choice. Administration officials say that phrase may have outlived its usefulness, because it focused attention solely, and incorrectly, on the military campaign.

But then there was this Monday’s Homeland Security Meeting, in which President Bush criticized the switch, going so far as to say that “no one had checked” with him before deciding on the change. (This admission reportedly led to a rather awkward silence.) And now, this morning’s papers report on a speech the president gave yesterday in which he publicly overruled his senior advisers, further distancing himself from the new slogan (he used it zero times) and referring to the GWOT five times. “Make no mistake about it,” Bush insisted; “we are at war.”

Glad to see that the administration is showing a unified front.

— Conor Clarke