How do we choose names for wars? Who gets to decide?
Because we’ve had so many of them, it’s imperative for us to name all our wars so we know which carnage we’re talking about when we study them in American History.
It’s been said that history is written by the winners. But the losing side still has its say.
Take the war that occurred in the 1860s between the Union Army of the northern states of America and the Confederate Army of the southern states of America. I was taught that it was called The Civil War (although there was nothing civil about it). Or The War Between The States. That’s in Ohio. Here in North Carolina it’s referred to as The War of Northern Aggression.
Not surprisingly, the war which we call The Viet Nam war is known as The American War to the people in Viet Nam. And the Iraqui people have taken to calling the war going on in their country The American War, even though the Americans refer to it as The War in Iraq. Or just Iraq.
Which brings us to The War On Terror. That’s what we call it. The folks on the other side call it something else. The War Against The Great Satan. Or The Holy War Against The Evil Crusaders.
I don’t believe you can really call what happened in the London subways this morning part of a war. In a war, there are two sides and they face each other in battle. We take your guys out then you take our guys out and we go back and forth like that until one of us gives up. That can go on for years, Having the president dress up in a flight suit and announce “Mission Accomplished” doesn’t do much toward ending it either.
But terrorists fight a different war. They don’t face anyone in battle. They hide in plain sight, taking advantage of the lack of restrictions in free societies like the US and Great Britain. Then they kill people who have no idea that they are fighting a war. People who are basically minding their own business, on their way to work.
Terrorists don’t call themselves terrorists. They probably like to call themselves Freedom Fighters or Soldiers In The War Against The Great Satan or just Martyrs For The Cause.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been hearing about terrorist attacks. Back in the 1970s, it was the Irish Republican Army (IRA) setting off bombs all over Britain. Palestinian terrorists killed the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Symbionese Liberation Army robbed banks and kidnapped Patti Hearst in 1974. Militant students bombed buildings on college campuses. Terror is nothing new.
And in all that time, no one has come up with a way to stop it. We can’t nuke them. We can’t invade their home bases. We can’t attack them with tanks and rocket launchers and nuclear warheads. We can’t negotiate with them because that will only encourage them. We do our best to catch them and sometimes we take down a few. But unlike the National Guard, the Terrorist Army is having no trouble meeting their recruiting goals.
And so it goes. The only way it will end is for somebody to give up. And that’s not going to happen any time soon, no matter what this war is called.