Obama Officially Retires 'War on Terror' ... But What is Taking Its Place?

In its ongoing efforts to rework and rebrand the military missions it inherited from the Bush administration, the Obama White House has reportedly scrapped the phrase "war on terror," a term that the president has conspicuously avoided since taking office.

In a recently leaked e-mail to Pentagon staff, Dave Riedel of the Department of Defense's office of security review wrote: "This administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror'" -- a message he asked recipients to "please pass on to your speech writers."

So what is the Obama administration replacing it with?

"Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation,'" Reidel wrote.

It sounds a lot less sexy than "war on terror" (or, for that matter, the short-lived "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism" proposed by Bush officials a few years back); in fact, in military-speak, "overseas contingency operation" has been around for years.

"Overseas contingency operations is a very technical term that has been used for decades in connection with statutory operations," human rights attorney Scott Horton says. According to Horton (an expert in legal matters relating to armed conflicts), it is a catch-all phrase that refers to "military operations of any kind overseas." "It is plain vanilla, technical jargon that totally content neutral," he says.

In the conservative press and the right-wing blogoshpere, the term has been mocked as "vague and meaningless," a sign of a "weak-kneed" administration. Elsewhere, it has functioned more as a punchline: "Let's face it: 'Overseas Contingency Operation' does not exactly roll off the tongue," wrote a blogger on Newsweek's website. "Just as 'The artist formerly known as Prince' was always still 'Prince,' the 'war' will probably always be the 'war.'"


Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.