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Obama’s “Struggle” More Than Just Semantics

02.01.09

You can say the same thing in dozens of ways.  That’s one of the perks of language.  The English language particularly.  How you say something, though, can drastically change the meaning, even if on the surface, it’s saying the same thing.

However, Obama isn’t just saying the same thing in a different way by dropping the Bushism “War on Terror.”  He’s completely changing the message:

President Barack Obama has talked broadly of the “enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.” Another time it was an “ongoing struggle.”

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.

Does it really make a difference other than just trying to separate and distance himself from his unpopular predecessor?  Absolutely.

Because it shows a change in philosophy, a different approach to the same conflict, one that doesn’t live in ultimatums and absolutes but allows for a spectrum of responses and possibilities.  A struggle doesn’t implicitly pronounce one side to be good and the other evil.  It allows for the option that it’s not nearly as cut and dried as that.  A struggle can be resolved, where as a war can only be won or lost.  It takes the importance off of America’s ego and need to be the victors and instead lets us be the one who helps solve the global plague of terrorism and extremism.

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