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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Renaming -- and reframing -- the war on terror....

According to an article in today's NY Times, interesting changes are afoot on the "public diplomacy" front as the US rethinks its labelling of the "war on terror". It seems that the Pentagon's top civilian and military folks are favoring calling it "a global struggle against violent extremism" instead of "the global war on terror."

The significance of this effort to rename -- and thus to reframe -- the conflict should not be underestimated: language makes a difference, especially when it comes to conducting wartime activities on the "home front".

In an article that is still awaiting publication in Public Administration Review (they'll eventually get to it, perhaps before everyone forgets about the 'war on terror'), Kathe Callahan, Dorothy Olshfski and I examine what the 'war on terror' has meant to those who deal with its domestic implications.

My sense is that this particular ball is already out of play -- the war on terror, with all its ambiguity and implied meanings, has taken on a life of its own. The Administration should have thought about this issue (and its implications) right at the outset when they were warned by their UK colleagues to think twice before declaring the anti-terrorism effort a "war"....

(Thanks to Kathe for bringing this item to my attention -- I would have missed it....)


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