George W Bush launched the war on terror back in 2001, announcing in a speech days after the 9/11 attacks that:
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
A major point of contention was the military nature of this WoT rhetoric. Advocates argued that the 9/11 attack was an act of war and that this military-sounding language was appropriate. Right-wing American broadcaster Bill O'Reilly put it like this:
I believe that you have to go to a war mode in the sense that you have to tell these people, look, you've attacked us. It's not a crime. It's an attack. It's war.
We are at war with radical Islamic extremists and treating this threat as a law enforcement issue is dangerous for our nation’s security. That’s what happened in the 1990s and we saw the result on September 11, 2001. This is a war on terror not an “overseas contingency operation.”
The new hygienic, sterilized language and "politically correct" term being introduced by the Obama administration for the 'war on terror" is now "Overseas Contingency Operations". In place of "terrorist attacks" the politically correct term is "Man Caused Disasters." Let's not offend murderers, al-Qaeda and the Muslim terrorists that attacked us! This will make us safer, no doubt.
Obama and Napolitano are quite obviously out of their minds. If these mental cases were in power during WW II they would not call Hitler's "Third Reich" Nazism they would refer to Nazism as "Asserting German Pride."
Once again we have a hunger strike at the Maze Prison in the quest for what they call political status. There is no such thing as political murder, political bombing or political violence. There is only criminal murder, criminal bombing and criminal violence. We will not compromise on this. There will be no political status.
For the IRA struggled to depict themselves as soldiers, warriors. IRA itself means Irish Republican Army, while they surrounded themselves with military symbolism. The decision-making body was called the Army Council, funerals of IRA members often featured military-style volleys of gunshot with masked gunmen making military salutes. The IRA needed to be considered soldiers fighting a legitimate war: perhaps Thatcher knew that demoting them to the role of criminals, alongside the child-rapists and drug-dealers, was a massive blow to their prestige and legitimacy.
Like the IRA, modern Islamist terrorist groups have similarly used grand, military-sounding language to bolster their narrative of a global jihad. Bin Laden himself puts it:
May Allah keep me close to knights, humans in peace, demons in war. Lions in Jungle but their teeth are spears and Indian swords. The horses witness that I push them hard forwarded in the fire of battle. The dust of the battle bears witnesses for me, so also the fighting itself, the pens and the books!
So WoT rhetoric tends to strengthen the militant Islamist narrative, by acknowledging Al Qaeda not as a criminal gang, but as a band of (terrorist) warriors. Comparisons with Nazi Germany also inflate the perceived power of this decentralised cluster of killers, presenting it instead as a monolithic military power.
Sarah Palin and the others reward Al Qaeda when they upgrade them from the role Thatcher saw for terrorists - filthy criminal murderers - to the role they actually seek: warriorhood. On this one, the Obama administration is right. Exciting warlike rhetoric strengthens terrorist organisations trying to depict their struggle as war. Dismissing it as criminality is a far greater insult.