Terror attacks, Taliban resurgence, suicide bombs—obviously, it's time to change the slogan.
Then look at Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. Its acronym is GSAVE—i.e., gee-save. We're out to save the world, see, not wage war on it. Or, as national security adviser Stephen Hadley puts it in the Times piece, "We need to dispute both the gloomy vision and offer a positive alternative."
Does Hadley, and do all our other top officials, really believe this nonsense? Are they so enraptured with PR that they think a slogan and a strategy are the same thing and that retooling the one will transform the other? Have we lapsed into the banality of the mid-'70s, when President Gerald Ford tried to beat back 20-percent price hikes by urging Americans to wear gigantic lapel pins that read "WIN"—for Whip Inflation Now?
The Times notes, midway into the story, that the "language shifts" come at a time when Karen Hughes, one of President Bush's most trusted advisers, is about to take over the State Department's office of "public diplomacy." If changing GWOT to GSAVE is a sign of campaigns to come, we are in sorrier shape than anyone might previously have imagined.
Fred Kaplan is Slate's "War Stories" columnist and author of the book, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Photograph of George Bush by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.