A phrase that has not outlived its usefulness

Peter Beinart suggests that the term “war on terror” may not outlast the Bush administration. First, says Beinart, the administration’s martial approach to dealing with terrorism has lost its appeal due to the war in Iraq. Second, the public’s fear of terrorism has declined dramatically. After 9/11, 46 percent of Americans told pollsters that terrorism was their number one priority. Today, only 5 percent say this. Beinart doesn’t entertain the possibility that the success of the administration’s policy — its martial response and its sense of urgency, both of which are captured by the phrase “war on terror” — has played a key role in reducing the nation’s fear of terrorism.
My guess is that the next president, whether a Democrat or a Republican, will not abandon the phrase “war on terror.” The next president will understand that the homeland might well be attacked again on a large scale. Thus, he or she will want to preempt accusations of having taken the prospect less seriously, or having understood the problem in materialy different terms, than President Bush does.
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