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Is the US going to use more soft power to counter terrorism?

The Bush administration decided to change the name of its counterterrorist campaign from "the global war on terrorism" (GWOT) to "the global struggle against violent extremism" (GSAVE). Fred Kaplan wonders in Slate whether to retool the slogan is "the administration's solution to the spike in terrorist incidents, the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, and the politico-military deterioration in Iraq" and why "the White House and the Pentagon are just now coming around to the idea that the struggle is as much ideological as military? This wasn't obvious, say, three or four years ago?" He speculates that the new slogan reflects "a desire for a happier acronym. "Gwot? Too frivolously rowdy, like a fight scene in a Marvel comic book (Bam! Pfooff! Gwot!). [...] GSAVE - i.e., gee-save. We're out to save the world."
[Aug 5, 2005 UPDATE: President Bush keeps the old phrase, writes the NYT. Apparently GSAVE was just a suggestion by Rumsfeld and other senior officials.]

Like Kaplan, The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum is sceptical whether the US is indeed going to use more public diplomacy as a tool against terrorism:

Only two senators were in the room when Karen Hughes testified at her confirmation hearings. When it came time for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote on her nomination yesterday, she was easily approved. And thus with no discussion and no debate, Hughes takes over the least noticed, least respected and possibly most important job in the State Department. Her formal title is undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. In plain English, her job is to fight anti-Americanism, promote American culture and above all to do intellectual battle with the ideology of radical Islam, a set of beliefs so powerful that they can persuade middle-class, second-generation British Muslims to blow themselves up on buses and trains.

Fulbright Alumna Nancy Snow portraits Karen Hughes in Common Dreams.


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