Now, in his first interview to explain his turnabout, Edwards tells Time that he will no longer use what he views as "a Bush-created political phrase."Well, good for him. Unfortunately, the phrase is unlikely to go away until someone comes up with something good to take its place. GSAVE, "long war," and "World War 4" have been tossed out at various times, but none of them work either. The House Budget Committee's "ongoing military operations throughout the world" doesn't seem likely to win over any converts. And "Islamofascism" is just a bad joke.
"This political language has created a frame that is not accurate and that Bush and his gang have used to justify anything they want to do," Edwards said in a phone interview from Everett, Wash. "It's been used to justify a whole series of things that are not justifiable, ranging from the war in Iraq, to torture, to violation of the civil liberties of Americans, to illegal spying on Americans. Anyone who speaks out against these things is treated as unpatriotic. I also think it suggests that there's a fixed enemy that we can defeat with just a military campaign. I just don't think that's true."
It's a stumper. Even some conservatives agree that what we're fighting isn't a war and it's not directed against terrorism, but if that's the case, then what is it? I wrote a piece for Mother Jones recently that used this as a recurring theme (I'd link to it but it's not online yet), but I couldn't figure out what to call it either. Maybe Edwards's message gurus will figure something out.
POSTSCRIPT: For what it's worth, I tend to think the right answer is that we're fighting "violent jihadism," or some similar formulation. For obvious reasons, though, nobody's very eager to put that phrase into wide usage.