Thursday, December 3, 2009

On the Metaphor of War

When John McCain says you go into a war to win, no matter how long it takes, and you don't quit until you have broken the will of the enemy, he is arguably right if you are talking about war in the traditional sense.

However, it seems we have expanded the use of this term "war" to include many things totally unrelated to warfare, and this has led to much confusion. I believe this whole syndrome started in the'60's when Lyndon Johnson characterized his anti-poverty efforts as a "war on poverty". Then in the '80's we had the "war on drugs". Now, in this decade we have the "war on terrorism". None of these are wars in the legitimate sense of the word, and we should recognize this and find better terminology. We set ourselves up for failure in that there is no way any of these so-called wars are ever going to be "won". Why not use precise terminology and use clear thought for a change?

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