AnthropoidApe, a fellow contributor to the Guardian's Comment Is Free pages, today offered a deconstruction of the BushCo term "War on Terror" which sums up perfectly the geopolitical game today. We at Manuscripts Don't Burn cannot better AnthropoidApe's word-perfect commentary, and so, with great thanks to him, we would like to present it here for amusement, and also for posterity:
"Plenty of people have pointed out that the term "War on Terror" is incoherent (because you can't make war on a tactic) and oxymoronic (because war IS terror).
The term is Orwellian because it is chosen by powerful criminals to dress up their crimes as virtue.
Nevertheless, the term bears analysis. It's not a stupid or trivial throw-away line. The term "War on Terror" is a core slogan for the US regime and despite some effort they have never been able to replace it with anything better. It remains a key term in the neocon lexicon because it attempts to redefine "war" in a neocon way.
The "War on Terror" purports to fight a tactic instead of a concrete opponent because it is not really a war. The "War on Terror" has no realistic, achievable war aims. There is no prospect of it ending in victory, and even the conditions of such a victory are not concretely specified. It is predicted and intended to go on and on and on... for the foreseeable future.
In short, the "War on Terror" is not a war but a political regime. It is the military dictatorship of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States over his country and the world. The "War on Terror" is another name for the "Pax Americana" - because War is Peace - and you are either for it or against it.
The "War on Terror" regime is organised as a full dictatorship despite the survival of republican institutions in the USA and of world institutions like the United Nations. "War on Terror" ideology subordinates those institutions to the will of the Decider, just like the political institutions of the Roman Republic, shells of which lived on under the emperors. The Bush dynasty autocrat George the Second in his glory and majesty gives orders to the US people, to the UN Security Council and to other sovereign states, with no trace of embarrassment. In his own thinking he is king of the world.
As part of the "War on Terror", the dictator abrogates any laws or human rights whatever with impunity. That principle is what passes for the legal basis of the regime and its application is exemplified by detention without trial, by official kidnappings, torture and disappearances and by the genocidal imperialist conquest of Iraq.
The Cheney-Bush gang want to call their regime a "war" because they need political and legal cover for their spree of crime and violence. The notions of "war" and "wartime" sustain the domestic climate of fear and chauvinism that they strive after.
On the other hand, they want none of those trappings of the "old" concept of war in which both sides are belligerents of equal standing. No, any violent resistance to their ("anti-terror") violence must be illegitimate.
Employing the legal category of "prisoner of war" and respecting the international laws of war centred on the Geneva Conventions would cramp the imperial style. Instead those laws are flouted and we are provided with a new conceptual apparatus and a new euphemistic terminology: "unlawful combatant" (=POW), "enhanced interrogation techniques" including "sleep management" (=torture), "extraordinary rendition" (=kidnapping and deportation to torture), "ghost detainee" (=disappeared person), "black site" (=secret prison) etc. The asymmetrical term "War on Terror" fits right in because it recognises the US (with a retinue of vassal allies) as the sole legitimate belligerent and constructs all the Empire's armed opponents as criminal "terrorists" rather than warriors.
In short the "War on Terror" is called a war simply to licence large-scale aggressive violence and international diktat by the US regime.
In the non-rhotic NZ dialect, "War on Terror" sounds just the same as "War on Terra" and a friend of mine always writes it that way. It's apt: the only way to construe the "War on Terror" regime as a real war is to see it as a world wide, long term and often violent conflict over whether the US empire will by divine right rule and pillage our planet forever or whether other nations will also be independent and sovereign. In other words, a war of the US neocons against all the peoples of Terra.
I'm backing Terra to win."
- AnthropoidApe on the Guardian website, 30th January 2008