Wise man Robert Parry, who has been a light shining in the darkness for decades now, identifies an important — and entirely sinister — change in Bush’s description of the "Long War" that he has initiated around the world. This semantic shift portends an even greater level of bloodshed, state terrorism and tyranny than we have yet seen, as it indicates another stage in the inexorable expansion of the "enemies" that the "forces of civilization" must crush by violence.
As Parry notes, this declension into madness has moved from very specific targets (terrorist groups of global reach") to the more generalized and already impossibly vague "global war on terrorism" to the new formulation: a war against "radicals and extremists" — wherever they might be, however you decide, arbitrarily, to define them, and whether or not they engage in violence against the United States.
And make no mistake: the American Establishment as a whole has bought into the "war on terror" package in one form or another, i.e., viewing the murderous actions of a few bands of criminals not as a law enforcement problem to be tackled within the traditional systems of law and representative politics but as some wholly new, ludicrously overblown existential crisis of civilization that can only be "solved" by indiscriminate military force abroad and the gutting of civil liberties at home. In the Establishment, you will find almost no voice of any substance, reach or power that contests the latter view, although a few might quibble on how best to prosecute this endless war. Thus, the benchmarks that Bush is setting today, the way he is defining the "Long War" and establishing the patterns of executive power to deal with it will have a very large and continuing impact even when he is out of office. Why? Because as Parry shows here, Bush’s expanding definitions of this endless war are being accepted by the Establishment — even now, when he is at one of the lowest ebbs of popular support that any president has ever faced.
So you should read Parry’s whole piece. It’s important not only as a description of what is happening today, but also as a guideline for where we will be heading in the future.
Excerpts: The United States will never win the war on terror, in part, because George W. Bush keeps applying elastic definitions to the enemy, most recently expanding the conflict into a war against Muslim radicals and extremists.
With almost no notice in Official Washington, Bush has inserted this new standard for judging who’s an enemy as he lays the groundwork for a wider conflict in the Middle East and a potentially endless world war against many of the planet’s one billion adherents to Islam.
Indeed, it could be argued that the war on terror has now morphed into the war on radicals, allowing Bush to add the likes of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the leaders of Syria and Iran to his lengthening international enemies list…
Now, Bush is broadening the war’s parameters yet again, depicting the goal of his Middle East policy as defeating radicals and extremists, categories that are even more elastic than the word terrorist.
At a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Dec. 7, Bush said, I believe we’re in an ideological struggle between forces that are reasonable and want to live in peace, and radicals and extremists. Bush has repeated this formulation in other recent public appearances, including at his news conference of Dec. 20 when he portrayed the fight against radicals and extremists as a long-term test of American manhood….
In other words, the war against terrorist groups of global reach, which became the global war on terrorism, now has morphed into what might be called the global war on radicals and extremists, a dramatic escalation of the war’s ambitions with nary a comment from the U.S. news media.
So, under Bush’s new war framework, the enemy doesn’t necessarily have to commit or plot acts of international terrorism or even local acts of terrorism. It only matters that Bush judges the person to be a radical or an extremist. While the word terrorism is open to abuse — under the old adage one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter — the definition of radical or extremist is even looser. It all depends on your point of view.