Archive for the ‘war against terror’ Category

Under Obama, `war on terror’ catchphrase fading

February 1, 2009

The “War on Terror” is losing the war of words. The catchphrase burned into the American lexicon hours after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is fading away, slowly if not deliberately being replaced by a new administration bent on repairing the U.S. image among Muslim nations.

Since taking office less than two weeks ago, President Barack Obama has talked broadly of the “enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.” Another time it was an “ongoing struggle.”

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

He has pledged to “go after” extremists and “win this fight.” There even was an oblique reference to a “twilight struggle” as the U.S. relentlessly pursues those who threaten the country.

But only once since his Jan. 20 inauguration has Obama publicly strung those three words together into the explosive phrase that coalesced the country during its most terrifying time and eventually came to define the Bush administration.

Speaking at the State Department on Jan. 22, Obama told his diplomatic corps, “We are confronted by extraordinary, complex and interconnected global challenges: war on terror, sectarian division and the spread of deadly technology. We did not ask for the burden that history has asked us to bear, but Americans will bear it. We must bear it.”

During the past seven years, the “War Against Terror” or “War on Terror” came to represent everything the U.S. military was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the broader effort against extremists elsewhere or those seen as aiding militants aimed at destroying the West.

Ultimately and perhaps inadvertently, however, the phrase “became associated in the minds of many people outside the Unites States and particularly in places where the countries are largely Islamic and Arab, as being anti-Islam and anti-Arab,” said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Now, he said, there is a sense that the U.S. should be talking more about specific extremist groups — ones that are recognized as militants in the Arab world and that are viewed as threats not just to America or the West, but also within the countries they operate.

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Japan leader wins extension of navy’s Afghan mission

December 12, 2008

Japan’s governing party pushed through a law on Friday to extend a refueling mission by its navy in the Indian Ocean, allowing Tokyo to keep its small but symbolic presence in the U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Taro Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party used its majority in Parliament’s more powerful lower house to override an earlier rejection of the bill by the opposition-controlled upper house. It was the second time this year that the governing party rammed through an extension of the refueling operation, a strong-arm tactic that risks alienating Japan’s pacifist public.

By Martin Fackler
International Herald Tribune

Japan's Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba (bottom-C) reviews ... 
Japan’s Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba (bottom-C) reviews an honor guard before the departure of its destroyer Murasame at Yokosuka Naval Base, suburban Tokyo in January 2008. The United States welcomed the Japanese parliament’s approval Friday of a one-year extension to a naval mission backing US-led operations in Afghanistan.(AFP/File/Toru Yamanaka)

Aso had sought quick passage so he could turn his attention to the global financial crisis, amid rising calls at home and abroad for Tokyo to take more action to stimulate its recession-bound economy. Hours after the refueling extension passed, he appeared on national television to announce billions of dollars in new spending and loans to create jobs and help cash-strapped companies.

Aso is struggling to overcome growing doubts about his leadership, which have driven his public approval rating down near 20 percent as his party faces crucial national elections later this year.

The refueling law passed Friday allows a Japanese Navy tanker and escorting destroyer to continue operating for another year in waters off Pakistan, where they provide fuel and water for American and other warships supporting operations in Afghanistan. While the mission has limited military value, it carries political significance as a test of Japan’s alliance with its biggest ally, the United States.

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File photo shows the Japanese naval ship Tokiwa, which had been ... 
File photo shows the Japanese naval ship Tokiwa, which had been involved in supporting the US-led “war on terror” in the Indian Ocean, arrives in Tokyo Port. Japan’s parliament Friday extended a naval mission backing US-led operations in Afghanistan by another year, relieving one headache for beleaguered conservative Prime Minister Taro Aso.(AFP/File/Toru Yamanaka)