Launched as a cornerstone notion to replace the GWOT, the “Long War” concept has been with us for few years. Central Command has now, according to the New York Times, dropped it as the aggregate name for what is also known as the GSAVE – Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. Michael R. Gordon also reports that the change comes solely at the level of Central Command, not Pentagon or the White House – but in parallel with e.g. the wish of the UK.
GSAVE… seems a lot like “God Saves”. From the NYT, the CENTCOM chief didn’t like the “Long War”:
Admiral Fallon was also said to have been unenthusiastic about the phrase. He has stressed the importance of focusing on the difficult situation in Iraq and in achieving results as soon as possible. The notion of a long war, in contrast, seemed to connote an extended conflict in which Iraq was but a chapter.
Of course he’s going to focus on Iraq. So, why not call “it” something like the Iraq War. That should be over at some point and then it won’t be inherently a chapter of something else.
The change “is a product of our ongoing effort to use language that describes the conflict for our Western audience while understanding the cultural implications of how that language is construed in the Middle East,” Lt. Col. Matthew McLaughlin, a spokesman for the command, said in an e-mail message. “The idea that we are going to be involved in a ‘Long War,’ at the current level of operations, is not likely and unhelpful.”
Either enlist the public or don’t. The “Long War”, as well as the “Global War on Terror” were purposely designed to elicit a long lasting commitment from the public(superficial as it actually was… but that’s all the Administration really wanted anyways). Elliot Cohen nailed the problem w/ the GWOT when he said declaring a war on terror is like declaring a war on dive bombers after Pearl Harbor (I may be paraphrasing, hence no quotes). The Long War solves that because it doesn’t determine a strategy against a tactic but it does connote a duration. It’s been a long war (although arguably longer than it needed to be).
Argh. Why would CENTCOM play this game? Did Fallon talk to his PA guys? Did he talk to State (i.e. Hughes)? Probably yes on the first and would you stop laughing at my second question? With all the talk about information operations / public diplomacy / propaganda wars, why do we continue to spin ourselves around and pin the tail on the curtain?
What about WACK-A-MOLE?