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.