The New Term for the War on Terror

If you blinked, you might have missed it. The Obama administration has unofficially rebranded "war on terror" phrase that dominated public discourse throughout the Bush administration. The replacement phrase, carefully chosen, is "CVE" -- Countering Violent Extremism.

Early in the administration, the Office of Management and Budget changed the wording of the line item under which the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were funded. They called it "Overseas Contingency Operations." That phrase was never intended to be for public consumption (and public ridicule), but burrowed bureaucrats leaked it to the press, a field day was had.

Countering Violent Extremism is noticeable for two words that aren't there: some variant of "jihad," which is the preferred predicate for counter-terrorism-fighting conservatives, and "war," which is because the administration has put de-radicalization alongside the Predator drones as  a primary instrument of combat.  No mention of Islam, of course. That's because the administration wants to try and decouple the notion of combating terrorism from the Muslim faith itself.  BTW: when I first heard the phrase, I assumed it stood for "combating violent extremism."  But no -- the word combat denotes military action only -- Obama's approach combines hard and soft power.

The phrase first appears to have been used in public by the director of national intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair (Ret.), and its utterance was picked up by Newsweek.

Though there hasn't been any formal announcement, folks in the counteterrorism business are now using CVE in the same way they used GWOT -- Global War On Terror just five years ago.
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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