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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    This business with the name chage seems to me a sales job for domestic consumption. It goes directly to the point of Obama being in campaign mode. It also speaks to Biden being unable to work within those guidelines.

  2. sam says:

    It goes directly to the point of Obama being in campaign mode.

    Coming from client of the Karl Rove #1 Presidency Campaign Forever Agency, that’s pretty droll troll.

  3. Brian says:

    Wow, caught Biden in a mistake. Talk about low-hanging fruit …

  4. davod says:

    I never did see the Bush Administration in full campaign mode all the time. If this was true, the administration would have been on the attack every time some lying piece of s..t politician or media person lied or bent the truth about something.

    More likely we will find that Bush was more intent in doing his bit to keep the country together while the US was at war.