Biden on ‘Global War on Terror’ – Video
Townhall’s Greg Hengler seems pleased to have caught Vice President Biden in a contradiction of the Obama administration’s new verbal policy eschewing the phrase “Global War on Terror.” Hengler quips, “Maybe Biden just forgot the phrase ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.'”
Others reacting to this and aggregated at memeorandum seem to have watched said video and come away with the same conclusion. Ed Morrissey, for example, writes, “CNN tried getting VP Biden to explain this, and while not accusing CNN of making it up, clearly he couldn’t believe anyone would be this stupid.”
It’s pretty clear to me that what Biden’s saying is that “Global War on Terror” was problematic because it treated a series of discrete problems as if they were one and the same — implying that the same tactics should be used to address all of them — and that the new team wanted to signal a clean break in policy. Now, I don’t happen to believe that the Obama policy is much of a change from the Bush policy; rather, it’s a break from the Bush policy circa 2004 and its subsequent caricaturization. But I sympathize with the desire to shed whatever baggage the old phrase carries.
I don’t, however, think “overseas contingency operations” will supplant “war on terror” in the popular lexicon. We’re likely stuck with the phrase in that the media and academics need some sort of unifying phrase to describe a series of problems that, while different, are part of one larger fight. Just as “post-Cold War era” stuck with us far longer than was useful because we didn’t have anything else to call it, we’ll likely have a “Global War on Terror” whether Team Obama wants it or not.