Mom, Apple Pie, and the Overseas Contingency Operation

I wish I were making this up — but no such luck. The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration has renamed the Global War on Terror. Apparently it is no longer a war, nor is terror worth mentioning. It is now the “Overseas Contingency Operation.”


Or, I suppose, if you want something a little snappier, the OCO.

If we could only persuade America’s enemies to use language like that, we’d win. Overcome with polysyllabic confusion, they’d spend most of their time wondering who they are fighting, or why.

As it is, my heart goes out to the brave American men and women fighting on the front lines of a very real war, who are now risking their lives not in the Global War on Terror, or World War IV, but in the Overseas Contingency Operation. Is that what Obama will still be calling it after the next attack on America’s shores?

Over at Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer does a neat summing up:

“And so now we are engaged in a great Overseas Contingency Operation, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. And be assured: if the Overseas Contingency Operatives succeed in pulling off another Contingency Operation on American soil on the scale of 9/11, or more than one, we will indeed be sorely tested — and utterly unprepared to meet the multifaceted cultural, military, political, and spiritual challenge the enemy presents.”


It’s been a problem for years now, finding the right name for this war we are in — the real challenge being to name not just the tactic of terror, but to name and define those now wielding it in service of the spread of totalitarian systems, ideas and turf. Islamists, Islamo-fascism, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, North Korea, and affiliates … Like it or not, there is a global contest going on to shape the still-evolving New World Order, and the democratic wave of the past generation is in great jeopardy. America has real enemies out there, building real missiles and bombs, with real intent to bully, extort and infiltrate; real potential to kill, and a real record of killing. America, by virtue of its freedoms, its values — and the affront they pose to the rulers ensconced in such regimes — is a target.

Reducing the name of this war to “Overseas Contingency Operation” might fascinate students of Orwell and Kafka. But it’s an alarming move in the wrong direction, an attempt to bury realities in bureaucratic blather. It’s yet more of the “engagement” attempt, in which President Obama sits in a chair and wishes Happy New Year by webcast to Iran’s “leaders.” They respond by taking a break from their nuclear bomb program to rally a mob chanting “Overseas Contingency Operation Death to America.”


Wordsmiths, wherever you are, you’re needed now more than ever. This country needs an honest name for this war — a name that will endure, and speak to the imagination and soul of an America which, notwithstanding its own Beltway memos, is still worth fighting for.


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