In his Rose Garden press conference today, an exasperated President Bush lashed out at critics who question whether he is presenting too rosy of an assessment when he says that the U.S. is making progress in Afghanistan. “The notion that somehow we can let these people just kind of have their way,” said Bush. “Let’s don’t stir them up, is naive or disingenuous.”
“So, in Afghanistan, yeah, we’re making progress,” added Bush. “Does that mean, you know that we’re — it’s over? No, it doesn’t mean it’s over.”
Bush then, using language that his own administration says is counterproductive, described how he believes “the ideological struggle” against “thugs and killers” and “jihadists” can be won:
We’re in a long struggle as I have told you many a time against these jihadists. You defeat them ultimately by the advance of democracy. See, this is an idealogical struggle. These aren’t isolated, kind of law enforcement moments. We’re dealing with a group of ideaologes who use asymmetrical warfare to try to achieve their objective and one objective is to drive us out of Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East or anywhere else we try to confront them.
Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that “federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as ‘jihadists.’”
According to documents obtained by the AP, even if used accurately, the Department of Homeland Security believes that the use of the word “jihad” “glamorizes terrorism”:
U.S. officials may be “unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims,” says a Homeland Security report. It’s entitled “Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims.”
“Regarding ‘jihad,’ even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world,” the report says.
The AP says that the report “appears to have made an impact” at the top level of the Bush administration because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “does not appear to have used the word, except when talking about the name of a specific terrorist group, since last September.”
Apparently, the report hasn’t “made an impact” at the highest level.
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