The absence of the term "war on terror" from both President Obama's and Vice President Biden's foreign policy lexicon has left the media, hired and self-appointed, abuzz with the question of whether that means "the war" is over.
Newsweek diplomatically explains what's going on behind the scenes in "the search for new terror terminology" without taking sides, while Reuters contextualizes the gesture in light of other Obama foreign policy moves.
Nile Gardiner, a Washington based analyst thinks it sends the "wrong signal" to Islamist extremists. Conservative columnist David Stokes doesn't mind moving away from the phrase, but he'd like it replaced with something more like "war on Islamism."
Roger Cohen, globalist guru for the International Herald Tribune, is elated that at long last the plug's been pulled on the "with-us-or-against-us global struggle." Aref Assaf, president of the American Arab Forum, couldn't agree more; for him the "rallying cry that is the global war against terrorism" symbolized the Bush Administration's "demogogic simplification" of complex political realities.
Declaring the end of "the war on terror" doesn't make it so though; what Obama is drawing to an end is the use of a Bush-era floating signifier that could be, and was, appended to an array of practices and activities deemed to fall within its purview--including a war in Iraq, illegal surveillance of Americans and the excesses of Guantanamo, to name a few. The phrase "war on terror" is permanently tainted, in the eyes of the world, with these actions and with military aggression based on ideology, not threat.
As for the event formerly known as GWOT, it goes on, but the theory of it has changed substantially on two counts, first: who constitutes the perceived enemy, and how it should be combated. The reconstituted theory is that of a global Islamic insurgency.