"The meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things, but was changed by them as they thought proper. Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness; to know everything was to do nothing. Frantic energy was the true quality of a man."Former counsel to the President, John W. Dean, asks Why Are We Suddenly At War With "Islamic Fascists"?
- Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Once it was Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. But as bin Laden remained at large, it became embarrassing to identify him as the enemy. Then it was simply "terrorists," but, as Newsweek explains, that label did not work because the White House wanted "a single clean phrase that could both define the foe and reassure Americans who were confused by a conflict that had grown much bigger than Osama bin Laden." For a while the Administration tried "Islamism," but that struck many as a war on another religion. They rejected "jihadism," because the term does not always mean bloodshed...
Earlier, the war on terror had morphed into the "global war on terror." In fact, Blumenthal reports, they had been so pleased with the "Global War on Terror," they had medals struck with these words to award to brave U.S. soldiers.
Yet by the summer of 2005, they had decided again that the phrase "global war on terror" was not sufficiently descriptive, because they were dealing with more than "terror." Blumenthal suggests that the White House had finally figured out that "war on terror" described a never-ending battle against a tactic, which is a no-win war.
"It's broader than that," National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said at the time. Rather than merely declaring war on the tactic of terrorism, he claimed, the Administration had launched "a global struggle against extremism." Hadley wanted to drop "the gloomy vision" of a no-win war, and "offer a positive alternative." So until recently the Administration called it "a global struggle against violent extremism" - with the implied alternative being peaceable moderation.
As the polls show, most Americans are adjusting to this war; they are far less fearful, and thus, fear is less likely to drive them to the polls or affect their votes when they get there. So the White House has now adopted the favorite buzzword of the hard right wingers: Islamic fascists, or Islamofascists.