At least as far as the United States Government is concerned:
The end of the Global War on Terror — or at least the use of that phrase — has been codified at the Pentagon. Reports that the phrase was being retired have been circulating for some time amongst senior administration officials, and this morning speechwriters and other staff were notified via this e-mail to use “Overseas Contingency Operation” instead.
Conversely, Al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri has not indicated that his organization was adopting a similar, detente-like posture, and abandoning Jihad, suicide attacks, or other terror tactics in favor of some muted overseas contingency operations-type stance. In fact, in his most recent statement, he declared that “Demonstrating against [the actions of the United States and Israel] is not enough; you must engage in jihad. Strike the American-Zionist Crusade everywhere.”
Osama Bin Laden, for his part, recently exhorted muslims worldwide to travel to Somalia and help establish an Islamic state there:
“I send my appeal to the Muslim Ummah everywhere, and ask them extend a helping hand to our family in Somalia, to meet the needs of those afflicted by famine, and to also expend their energies and wealth to back the Jihad [in it] until it is liberated from the invaders and hypocrites and the state of Islam is set up in it, Allah permitting. Achieving victory there will be easy, Allah willing, if every party does his duty”.
Many muslims worldwide are apparently unaware that the War on Terror is drawing to a close, and many have answered Bin Laden’s request, including at least one American citizen, who committed a suicide bombing attack in Somalia that killed thirty people.
Meanwhile, three Soldiers and an Airmen died in combat contingency operations last week in Afghanistan. And of course, the combat contingency operations involving Predator drone strikes on terrorist targets in Pakistan continue unabated.
So let the Pentagon spokespeople call “it” an overseas contingency operation; in fact, have a spokesman drop a literary reference and state to the world that ‘The United States is conducting an overseas contingency operation; the United States has always been conducting a contingency operation‘* if it makes the powers that be happy.
But let us hope the government does not forget that there are well funded organizations out there that call what they are planning, training and strategically positioning themselves for something much less innocuous than a contingency operation. And hope that what we meet these individuals with a level of force and effort that could legitimately be called war.
* Orwell, of course.