Take the GWOT for example.
The Global War on Terror is ending. Not on the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan (at least not yet) mind you, but in the 2008 Defense Budget:
The House Armed Services Committee is banishing the global war on terror
from the 2008 defense budget. This is not because the war has been won, lost or
even called off, but because the committee’s Democratic leadership doesn’t like
the phrase. A memo for the committee staff, circulated March 27, says the 2008
bill and its accompanying explanatory report that will set defense policy should
be specific about military operations and “avoid using colloquialisms.”
Committee aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said dropping or
reducing references to the global war on terror could have many purposes,
including an effort to be more precise about military operations, but also has a
political element involving a disagreement over whether the war in Iraq is part
of the effort to combat terrorism or is actually a distraction from fighting
The United States' overarching strategy in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks is a topic worthy of vigorous debate. Many would argue that the U.S. squandered opportunities to utterly dismantle virulent terror networks when it turned its focus on Saddam Hussein's Iraq. However, the United States, primarily via the Bush administration, has never shied away from defining what this war is all about, as is evident from last year's National Security Strategy:
From the beginning, the War on Terror has been both a battle of arms and a
battle of ideas – a fight against the terrorists and against their murderous
ideology. In the short run, the fight involves using military force and other
instruments of national power to kill or capture the terrorists, deny them safe
haven or control of any nation; prevent them from gaining access to WMD; and cut
off their sources of support. In the long run, winning the war on terror means
winning the battle of ideas, for it is ideas that can turn the disenchanted into
murderers willing to kill innocent victims.
While President Bush may have erred thus far in the fight against global terrorism, his administration did a service in defining what the war is, and by creating an analog construct along the lines of the Cold War, so that successive administrations can comprehend the threat, protect society from it, and act to diminish it over time.
Liberals and conservatives, hawks and doves, disagreed often about how to fight this new, disparate, nebulous war of ideas, networks, bombs, beheadings, websites and fatwas; but now they cannot agree that there even is a war, and that the various actions being taken around the globe, even at this very moment, are part of a unified campaign.
One can argue that the drastic actions taken in what (at least for now) we call the GWOT (ie the establishment of the Guantanamo prison system, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan before that, the increased surveillance, the deployment of forces around the globe, et al) represented an increase in aggressive behavior and served to curtail civil liberrties at home to a level heretofore unknown in our liberal society (although those who lived through or studied the histories of past American conflicts would likely argue against this train of thought); but the banishment of terminology from documents, legislation, and eventually, common everyday reference, is hardly an admirable pursuit. Winston Smith, in the dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four, would likely have referred to those in a hurry to rush descriptive language out of the lexicon as goodthinkers.
Before he learned to love Big Brother, that is.