Rectification of Names

In the Analects of Confucius (Book 13, Verse 3), the ancient Chinese philosopher wrote that one of the first and most important duties of a government official was to perform a “rectification of names,” for “if names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.”

The latest demonstration of the ongoing foreign-policy fecklessness of the Obama administration was the reported recent statement by a senior official that “the War on Terror is over.” He (or she) has been roundly castigated by many who point out that if the war is over, why are 90,000 troops still fighting (and dying) overseas?

But the administration and its critics are both wrong.

The “War on Terror” isn’t over, not because it is still going on, but because it never existed in the first place. As has been pointed out by some for years, it was always a misnomer to call the conflict in which we are engaged a war on “terror.” Terror is not an enemy to be fought  -- it is simply a tactic in a broader strategy. The Bush administration came up with the misleading and dangerous euphemism after 9/11 out of a misplaced sense of political correctness (though nowhere near as pathological and reality avoiding as that of the current administration). The Bush administration didn’t want to call it what it really was -- a war against Islamism -- because it feared alienating the so-called “moderate” Muslims in American and the rest of the world, so it settled instead for declaring war on a particular (but not uncommon) way of waging war.

Unfortunately, this is just the latest resurgence of a war that has been going on since A.D. 700 or so, between Islam and the West, and it didn’t boil up a mere decade ago in September of 2001, except in the minds of the American people. That was merely the most successful of similar attempts to attack us that had been going on for years.

Some might say that it actually started in the late 1970s, when radical Islamists took over Iran. But while that certainly upped the anti-Western activity in the decades since, probably the precipitating event of the latest flare-up in the religious war was almost two-thirds of a century ago, when the Jews were granted their ancient homeland. Because the founders of Israel were largely European Jews, they established a little foothold of western civilization in the theocratic (and Jew-hating) Middle East, and thus ended up on the front lines of the battle that those in Europe who first tried to exterminate them, and then were happy to see them leave, disdain. And as their foremost ally and defender, the U.S. became the “Great Satan” supporting the “Little Satan” at the point of the spear.