Amid tight security, thousands marched in Paris on Saturday in commemoration of the 17 victims of two separate terrorist attacks that rocked France this week: Wednesday's massacre of 12 in and near the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and Friday's siege of a Jewish grocery store that resulted in five more deaths. Appearing on Saturday in the town of Évry, south of Paris, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told his people to expect war.
“It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity,” he said.
Valls' choice of words—a war against terrorism—evoked almost identical language used by U.S. President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Nine days after al-Qaeda's coordinated assault felled New York's World Trade Center and damaged The Pentagon, President Bush declined to limit American retaliation to the terrorist group.
"Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there," he declared to a joint session of Congress. "It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."
Almost immediately, Bush's broad mandate elicited criticism that the president had waged war against an abstraction. This criticism intensified in 2003, when the president justified the American invasion of Iraq in part based on purported links, later found to be false, between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. In 2005, the Bush administration announced the rebranding of the "war on terrorism" to the "global struggle against violent extremism," known by the unfortunate acronym "GSAVE." It didn't catch on. The "war on terror" name lived on until 2013, when President Obama, who had withdrawn American combat troops from Iraq two years earlier, formally retired it. The Obama administration has conducted its own campaign against terrorist groups, expanding the use of drone strikes.