Global struggle against violent extremism

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The meme global struggle against violent extremism (G-SAVE) has been in use since at least May 2005 by the Department of Defense to replace Global War on Terror (GWOT). The New York Times reported July 26, 2005, that the "Bush administration is retooling its slogan for the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, pushing the idea that the long-term struggle is as much an ideological battle as a military mission," according to "senior administration and military officials." [1]

Return of the "War President" ... or Just Another Bush administration flip-flop

When the Bush administration's rebranding of the "war on terrorism" didn't work out quite as planned . . .

While on vacation in Crawford, Texas, in an August 3, 2005, speech to the American Legislative Exchange Council in Grapevine, President George W. Bush "publicly overruled some of his top advisers ... in a debate about what to call the conflict with Islamic extremists, saying, 'Make no mistake about it, we are at war.'" Bush used the "phrase 'war on terror' no less than five times. Not once did he refer to the 'global struggle against violent extremism,' the wording consciously adopted by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials in recent weeks after internal deliberations about the best way to communicate how the United States views the challenge it is facing." [2]

Dan Froomkin noted in the August 4, 2004, Washington Times that "this isn't the first time Bush or his aides have temporarily retreated from -- and then returned to -- the metaphor that has consistently been his most potent weapon in the battle for public opinion.

"Almost exactly a year ago, after one of the president's rare speeches to a not entirely friendly audience, Bush briefly went off script. Here's the transcript of the Aug. 6, 2004, event at a minority journalists' convention.

"Bush was asked to describe the mission for the U.S. troops in Iraq and to explain how they would know when they're done. Toward the end of his meandering reply, he had this to say:

"'We actually misnamed the war on terror. It ought to be the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world."

The acronym for this is SAIEWDNBIFSWHTUTAAWTTTSTCOTFW, according to Washington Post writer Dana Milbank.


Steve Soto of The Left Coaster remarked July 27, 2005,

"When a majority of the public thinks that you are not winning the war on terror, as you yourself defined it in Iraq, the typical GOP thing to do is to stop calling it a war on terror and to start calling your global messianic crusade a global struggle against violent extremism. And that is what Karen Hughes will get to do now with full Democratic support. She will try and convince the world that it isn’t about the military, our penchant for shooting first and cleaning up later, nor is it about the oil. What America really wants is to wage an ongoing struggle against violent extremism."

Upon reading the Times' article, Slate's Fred Kaplan commented July 27, 2005:

"Three subquestions arise just from the lead. First, this is the administration's solution to the spike in terrorist incidents, the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, and the politico-military deterioration in Iraq -- to retool the slogan?
"Second, the White House and the Pentagon are just now coming around to the idea that the struggle is as much ideological as military? This wasn't obvious, say, three or four years ago?
"Apparently not," Kaplan concluded, as Times' reporters Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker noted:
"Administration and Pentagon officials say the revamped campaign has grown out of meetings of President Bush's senior national security advisers that began in January, and it reflects the evolution in Mr. Bush's own thinking nearly four years after the Sept. 11 attacks."

Commented Helena Cobban July 27, 2005, "So for those [who] like to be 'up-to-date' with the latest conceptual tools coming out of that bastion of intellectual enlightenment, the Pentagon (major irony alert there, folks)... What, you will be asking, is the new discourse of choice?

"... And the winner is...
"The discourse of 'civilization', as presented by Rumsfeld last Friday, when he addressed an audience at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. According to that NYT report, at that event,
"Mr. Rumsfeld described America's efforts as it 'wages the global struggle against the enemies of freedom, the enemies of civilization.'
"The use of the discourse of 'civilization' to mask the true content of strategies of global domination is, sadly, as old as globe-girdling colonialism itself. The British used it in Tasmania as they exterminated the indigenous peoples there... The Germans used it in South West Africa as they did likewise... The Spanish used it in Central America as they...
"And now, Donald Rumsfeld."

External links


  • Q. How can you tell when the Bushies are getting worried?
A. They start changing slogans. --PM Carpenter, July 27, 2005.
  • "Out with the GWOT, in with the WAVE, the War Against Violent Extremism, except that according to this Times article about the new language, the shift isn't so much about replacing 'terrorism' with 'violent extremism,' and the deemphasis of 'global,' ... it's about the out and out removal of the word 'war,' so that now it's a 'global struggle against violent extremism.'", July 26, 2005.
  • "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism ... Global SAVE, get it?! With the boy emperor as, you got it, the head SAVior." --jmgear, PR Watch, July 27, 2005.


General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on May 20, 2005, that "the World War II generation fought tyranny, hatred and oppression, and sacrificed much at home 'to bring hope and freedom from fear to the world.' ... He said today's generation is much the same. 'They are in the fight for freedom and an ongoing struggle against violent extremism..."

On July 25, 2005, Myers explained to the National Press Club that he had "'objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution.' [Myers] said the threat instead should be defined as violent extremists, with the recognition that 'terror is the method they use.' ... Although the military is heavily engaged in the mission now, he said, future efforts require 'all instruments of our national power, all instruments of the international communities' national power.' The solution is 'more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military,'" Myers concluded.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, in a May 25, 2005, speech, said "Today we confront an enemy unburdened by bureaucracy or regulation -- or any legal, moral or structural constraints. The enemy is not easily described. It is not a nation, not a religion, nor even one particular organization. ... Rather it is a shifting network of violent and fanatical adherents to violent extremist ideologies -- a movement that uses terrorism as the weapon of choice. ... Terrorists can attack at any time, in any place, using any technique. But it is not possible to defend at every location, against every conceivable technique, at every moment of the day or night."

External links

  • Dana Milbank, "Reprising a War With Words," Washington Post, August 17, 2004.
  • Remarks by Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism, Counterterrorism International Conference Riyadh 2005, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 5, 2005: "Townsend said the challenge facing nations fighting terrorism is to use the tools they have or can develop to deny terrorists the ability to operate, to diminish their support, and to eliminate the idea that violent extremism and fear are better than freedom. ... 'This struggle will last generations, but that does not excuse us from taking immediate, concrete, determined steps to improve every aspect of the fight against terrorism.'" Speech repeated February 16, 2005, at U.S. Embassy, Islamabad, Pakistan.
  • Jim Garamone, "Defense Leaders Praise Freedom's Warriors to Kick Off Joint Open House,", May 20, 2005.
  • Joint Declaration of the United States-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership, White House, May 23, 2005; published in the New York Jewish Times.
  • Rebecca Ford Mitchell, "Rumsfeld Says War on Terror Calls for Structural Changes. Response must be faster, more agile in countering lies, radical ideology," U.S. Embassy, Italy, May 24, 2005; International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, May 25, 2005.
  • Donald H. Rumsfeld, World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld], Hyatt Regency Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, Wednesday, May 25, 2005.
  • Jim Garamone, "Rumsfeld focuses on face of war," American Forces News Service, May 25, 2005.
  • "Afghan-US partnership to benefit region: Karzai," People Daily (English), May 28, 2005: "'This partnership will serve as the basis for our common efforts to cooperate in the war against international terror and the struggle against violent extremism, to promote stability and prosperity in the region, and to remain steadfast in supporting Afghanistan's campaign,' says the joint [May 23, 2005] declaration received here."
  • Kathleen T. Rhem, "Myers: Struggle Against Violent Extremists Just as Vital as World War II," American Forces News Service, May 30, 2005: "With the National World War II Memorial as a backdrop, the U.S. military's top general today said the country is again in an important struggle -- against violent extremism."
  • "Court-martial ruled out," The International News, June 7, 2005: "Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters during a visit to Malaysia that only two or three complaints of mishandling of the Holy Qura’an turned out to have involved actions done on purpose. ... From among 68,000 people detained in the struggle against violent extremism, Myers said, there had been 325 accusations of detainees being badly treated, of which 100 had been confirmed."
  • Jim Garamone, "Myers Says Cooperation Key Against Extremists," American Forces News Service, June 8, 2005: At Fort Leslie J. McNair, District of Columbia, "The nation's top military officer stressed the role international relationships play in the struggle against violent extremists in remarks here today."
  • As Prepared for Delivery. Testimony by the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, June 23, 2005: "Now it has been one year since the turnover of sovereignty to the liberated Iraqi people. And just as Europe was a central battlefield -- ideological and military -- in the war against Communist aggression, so too the Middle East and Central Asia are the centers of gravity in today's struggle against violent extremism.'"
  • "A New Push; Iraq Hearings," CNN, June 23, 2005. Guests: Donald H. Rumsfeld, General Richard B. Myers, Senator John Warner (Armed Services Committee). Myers: "The stakes in Iraq are enormous. Iraq isn't just a battle in the struggle against violent extremism in al Qaeda, it is currently the central battle."
  • Daniela Dean, "Rumsfeld Will Not Set Timetable for Iraq Withdrawal," Washington Post, June 23, 2005: "'Leaving before the task is complete would be catastrophic, he told the committee, 'not only for Iraq but also for the struggle against violent extremism.' He said U.S. troops should not leave 'until the job is done.'"
  • Jim Garamone, "Results Worth Sacrifices in Iraq, Rumsfeld Says," American Forces News Service, June 24, 2005.
  • Pamela Hess, "Iraq exit strategy unchanged," UPI (Washington Times), June 24, 2005: "'The stakes in Iraq are enormous. Iraq isn't just a battle in the struggle against violent extremism and al-Qaida, it is currently the central battle,' said Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Myers Thursday in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee."
  • Donald H. Rumsfeld, "CAFTA Means National Security, Too. Hemisphere's Security Tied to CAFTA's Passage," Knight Ridder Newspapers, July 3, 2005; posted on sdstraighttalk webpage: "Central American leaders look for opportunities to cooperate with each other and the United States in many fields: economic, scientific and military. Indeed, many sent troops to Iraq and have supported other coalition efforts in the global struggle against violent extremism."
  • Donald H. Rumsfeld, "We Must Be Patient About Progress In Iraq," Seattle Times, July 7, 2005: "Now it has been one year since the turnover of sovereignty to the liberated Iraqi people. And just as Europe was a central battlefield — ideological and military — in the war against communist aggression, so too the Middle East and Central Asia are centers of gravity in today's struggle against violent extremism." Another version: "U.S. must stay until Iraq is free," Duluth News Tribune, July 8, 2005.
  • Donald H. Rumsfeld, "CAFTA Good for U.S.,", July 8, 2005; posted on website and in the Miami Herald: "Central American leaders look for opportunities to cooperate with each other and the United States in many fields: economic, scientific and military. Indeed, many sent troops to Iraq and have supported other coalition efforts in the global struggle against violent extremism."
  • Jim Garamone, "Iraqis Shouldering Security Burden, Myers Says," American Forces Press Service, July 14, 2005: "'We're up against people who are creating crimes against civilization with no particular political goal for any particular country other than their view of life,' the chairman said. 'And there are not many people on this planet that can align with them.' ... He said the struggle is 'totally not' about any particular religion. 'This is about violent extremism, crimes against civilization, crimes against humanity that would not fit in any of our religions,' he said."
  • "U.S. Military Accuses Russia, China of Bullying Ex-Soviet Republics," (Russia), July 15, 2005. U.S. spokesman Lawrence DiRita "acknowledged that the presence of U.S. forces on Russia’s periphery has been a sensitive issue. ... 'It’s an issue that does arise when the secretary meets with his Russian counterpart, the U.S. activities in Central Asia,' Di Rita said. ... 'But it’s part of our operations in this struggle against violent extremism, and I think the Russians understand that. The same thing applies to our involvement in (the former Soviet republic of) Georgia, which we know is a situation of some anxiety for the Russians.'"
  • Transcript of the Prime Minister The Hon John Howard MP, Joint Press Conference with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, The Pentagon, Washington, DC, July 18, 2005.
  • Greg Jones, "U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Visits European Military Leaders. General Myers praises allies' contributions, discusses capabilities," International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, July 22, 2005: "On July 19, Myers met with Slovakian military personnel in Bratislava, holding a joint press briefing with the Slovakian minister of defense, Lieutenant General Lubomir Bulik. He thanked Slovakia for its contributions to the War on Terror, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. ... 'The world is engaged in a struggle against violent extremism,' Myers said. 'And we all appreciate the military participation of true allies like Slovakia. ...'"
  • Richard W. Stevenson, "President Makes It Clear: Phrase Is 'War on Terror'," New York Times, August 4, 2005.
  • Dan Froomkin, "War: The Metaphor," Washington Post, August 4, 2005.

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