While the Administration's own National Intelligence Estimate has stated that the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terror and helped produce a new generation of Islamic radicals, another report has happily provided far more encouraging news.
An exhaustive investigative study by the bipartisan American Government Institute has determined that the separate "War on Terror" is not actually a war. The AGI analyzed 18 criteria for what constitutes an actual war, and found that the "War on Terror" met none.
"Oh, my God," said one Republican senator who asked not to be identified, "I had no idea. I thought we were really fighting some government named 'Terror.' I never would have voted for all these repressive measures otherwise." He then added, "Oh, yeah, I probably would have, but I wouldn't have felt good about it."
While no evidence has turned up that the American Government Institute actually exists, the same is true for the War on Terror.
Okay, I know the President likes to say it does. But then, he also said he was a uniter, not a divider, so there's a little wiggle room here. Just know that saying it works in his favor. It would make him a War President. It would let him command with...War Powers.
There's one little problem. It's not an actual war.
For all those leaping up in the air, eyes spinning and fingers trembling over the keyboard - sorry. But the phrase, "War on Terror," is no more a real war than the War on Poverty was in the '60s, or the War on Drugs in the '80s. Or Bill O'Reilly's War on Christmas.
Dealing with terrorism is serious, real and obviously essential to our nation's safety. The risks are great. It's an ongoing effort which requires profound diligence. But simply declaring you're in a "War on Terror" no more makes it a real war than Coca Cola calling itself 'The Real Thing' makes Pepsi a fake beverage.
The "War on Terror," of course, is a slogan. Anyone who thinks that the "War on Terror" is a real war with real War Powers mistakes a talking point for the U.S. Constitution.
World War II was a real war. Vietnam was a real war. Iraq, too. You bet. But to stand at a podium and announce, "People, we are in the middle of a 'War on Terror,'" he is not asking for troops. He is asking for votes.
This is no mere semantic issue over a loose metaphor, or questionable phrasing. "Fighting terrorism" doesn't get you War Powers if you're President. However, a "War on Terror" - well...if you play your cards right, that could.
When a President can flim-flam some chumps in the crowd into believing that a "War on Terror" is an actual, real war, he's not just trying to pick their pockets to get War Powers that intrude temporarily into your life, but the big enchilada - Eternal War Powers. Unending. After all, terrorism in one form or another has been around since, well, forever. Who here really truly expects it to disappear off the face of the earth? Hands? Anyone??
What we are fighting, of course, is to stop any terrorists from killing Americans. It's what we must do, what we're supposed to do. It's what we do for anything critical which would otherwise kill us. But that alone doesn't make it A War.
If someone believes the "War on Terror" is a real war, like the Revolutionary War or Korea were real wars, at least have the decency to answer some basic, normal, real war questions -
When the "War on Terror" is over, who will be the person to surrender to us? What are the terms of peace we'll get the enemy to sign? When do reparations start? Do all Americans get cheap VA loans?
Those kind of pesky questions.
Of course, if, on the other hand, you realize you don't mean it's really a real war like that - then it's best to step back and start rethinking your new position. Because the old one just went kablooey.
It is critical to protect America against acts of terrorism. We are fighting terrorists. But real war is too serious, too meaningful, and far too deadly to have it diminished by confusing it with an opportunistic catch phrase.
Saying "We are in a 'War on Terror'" - and suggesting that it's the same thing as a real war - dishonors those soldiers who fight in real wars and risk their lives every moment.
Then again, maybe this is all just part of that whole Neocon "We create our own reality" thing. If "real" life means nothing to someone, then why should real war be any different?