Words assume an enormous significance in warfare. The First and Second World Wars or the Cold War each got right what was at stake, in a way that ‘war on terror’ doesn’t. At present, many policymakers are desperately searching for an alternative since ‘terror’ is a tactic, and many of the activities we routinely place in that category – such as assassination – probably do not belong there. As realists, some US military people prefer the term ‘the long war’, which although depressingly accurate as a description of the next fifty years, does not appeal to politicians who need to lift our eyes to sunlit uplands. It’s not easy, this word business: the ‘new wars’, ‘the Second Battle of Britain’, ‘the struggle for liberty’, ‘the wars of religions’; what on earth does one call what our generation is experiencing? Answers on a postcard to George W Bush.
Many military people will explain that there is no military solution to our present problems when dealing with a mindset that is doing the work of Allah. One might think that the prospect of killing most of the Palestinians with the bomb President Ahmadinejad would like to drop on Israel