April 8th, 2009
10:10 AM ET

Losing the 'war on terror'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/04/02/afghanistan.fighting/art.afghan.gi.jpg]

Reza Aslan
For the Los Angeles Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton let slip last week that the Obama administration has finally abandoned the phrase "war on terror." Its absence had been noted by commentators. There was no directive, Clinton said, "it's just not being used."

It may seem a trivial thing, but the change in rhetoric marks a significant turning point in the ideological contest with radical Islam. That is because the war on terror has always been a conflict more rhetorical than real. There is, of course, a very real, very bloody military component in the struggle against extremist forces in the Muslim world, though one can argue whether the U.S. and allied engagements in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond are an integral part of that struggle, a distraction from it or, worse, evidence of its subversion and failure. But to the extent that the war on terror has been posited, from the start, as a war of ideology - a clash of civilizations - it is a rhetorical war, one fought more constructively with words and ideas than with guns and bombs.


Filed under: Global 360° • Hillary Clinton • War on Terror
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. timelesstraveller

    When I was a child I foind ways to avoid being responsable. I was taught to own up to my mistakes, make corrections and learn from them. Less then 60 years ago the world was still in the grip of colonization; Africa, India and many more lands too many to name. Communism and dictatorships are a form of colonization, they colonize their own people. Some "Corporations" and multi-complexed financial specialized market groups are the new way colonization is present in the world. They have no loyalty to America or any National flag. They use the countries as a way of hiding their true profile which is continued short term profits at any cost without consideration of the everyday people. We have seen just the tip of the iceberg above the surface with the present situation in America and the world. It has nothing to do with, "Sorry for being America," it has all to do with growing up, seeing what is really going on, admit it, fix it and learn from it. If, "Sorry for being America," means, America is never wrong then why have we been importing from China so much of their products so they can use up to 37% of their GTP on building up their military? Why didn't we buy from India, a democratic country with cheap labor??? Interesting!!! There is much to learn from mistakes> Are we "Mature" enough to see the forest for the trees??? Timelesstraveller

    April 17, 2009 at 11:15 am |
  2. susan

    She is the most amazing woman, in whatever she chooses to do she will be wonderful at it. I am proud of her, through all adversity she has emerged a woman's woman...She is a wonderful role model for all young ladies..Bravo to you Hillary...I think you are awesome...

    April 15, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  3. Chi Town

    That is correct... we are in the "Sorry for being America" stage now.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  4. Beccm

    "If I can't save America, our Army can!"

    April 8, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  5. Sandra Robertson, Ga.

    In that case, we should change the word "politician" to "rhetorician."
    Words instead of wars.

    April 8, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  6. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    "War on Terror" has been disbanded-–let's see; we could use "clash of civilizations," "global struggle,"-–etc---or we could just called it what it is--"war."

    April 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  7. GF, Los Angeles

    Unfortunately Bush started a rehetorical war through the use of guns and bombs instead of words. Now we have to finish what he started whatever "finish" means in a war of ideas.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:50 am |

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