The names of war do not matter all that much. After all we won the Cold War even though it sounded like a battle against hypothermia. Some wars don’t even get named until after the fact…like the 30 Years war (which was actually longer than 30 years). Renaming a war does matter, however, when the act of naming becomes an act in advertising to disguise a really bad strategy. The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder notes “If you blinked, you might have missed it. The Obama administration has unofficially rebranded “war on terror” phrase that dominated public discourse throughout the Bush administration. The replacement phrase, carefully chosen, is “CVE” – Countering Violent Extremism.”
It is not the name change that matters—what matters is it what it signals. President Obama has no interest in fighting a war, he wants to pretend that one does not exist. He wants to run away from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and every threat that confronts the United States as quickly as possible. CVE is about dodging attacks thrown at the United States. Then, as long as he can get away with not having some catastrophic disaster on his watch, President Obama will declare victory.
Sadly, the Obama doctrine is a terrible strategy for keeping America safe, free, and prosperous. It cedes the initiative to the enemy—and trust me, sooner or later, an enemy will take advantage of the opportunity.
Oddly, even President Obama cannot dispute that is really the Long War. Our troops have been fighting and dieing for a decade and the terrorists keep coming at us. You cannot win long wars with nothing but defense when you have a determined enemy. All you will accomplish is ensuring endless conflict. President Obama will find himself countering violent extremism for a long, long time—at least as long as he is still in office.