- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

The Pentagon has traded ironclad declaration for noble poetry. "Operation Enduring Freedom" has replaced "Operation Infinite Justice" as America's new anti-terrorist slogan, proof that little things mean a lot.
The new name, in fact, was the first order of business when Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld faced reporters yesterday.
"The answer to your first question is 'Enduring Freedom,'" Mr. Rumsfeld said before the scribes could even rattle their papers.
"You're not going to take it back, you're going to stick with it?" asked one reporter.
"Unless it too has a problem," Mr. Rumsfeld replied.
The phrase "Infinite Justice" had a very short shelf life last week, in use just 24 hours before the Pentagon yanked it from circulation, on the grounds that it could offend Muslims who believe Allah alone can deliver justice on such ultimate terms.
"Enduring Freedom," will face its own endurance test.
"I would not want to leave the impression that this was the umbrella phrase for the entire effort that's taking place," said Mr. Rumsfeld. "I think you'll find other names and phrases that will creep up during different aspects of the exercise."
Which is standard thinking. During the Gulf war a decade ago, 78 official code names were coined to reflect phases of that conflict, including six variations on the "desert" theme, plus "Proven Force," "Hammer," "Smash" and "Anvil," among others.
While code names must withstand the rigors of both the battlefield and the press corps, they are chosen with care, generated within offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, often with the aid of a computer program that suggests suitable nouns and adjectives.
The brief history of "Infinite Justice," however, was followed last week with excruciating interest by media and public alike, in print, broadcast and Internet revealing ideological postures of every demeanor.
Some faulted the name, agreeing that it was inappropriate, heavy-handed or curious.
"Quibbling over a label may seem petty, but in the media age, these code names aren't clandestine at all, they're P.R., and they carry psychic weight," wrote Salon Editor Scott Rosenburg.
Others felt the name change was unnecessary, saying it was a sissy bow to political correctness. Still more contributed waggish monikers of their own, including "Operation Indefinite Justice" or "Operation Super-size Justice."
The hubbub reflected a climate already supercharged with sensitivity, however. Last week, President Bush himself was criticized for calling potential American retaliation for the Sept. 11 attack a "crusade," another term with unintentional religious implications.
Mr. Rumsfeld, meanwhile, was called upon to refine the wartime vocabulary, asked by persistent reporters to define such terms as "victory" and "combat."
Yet the secretary remained philosophical about it all. The government, he said yesterday, was giving "a great deal of thought to handling the public affairs" challenges posed by the anti-terrorism campaign, even as some journalists fretted the Pentagon might drop "disinformation."
One new code name is alive and well. "Operation Noble Eagle" remains in use, assigned Sept. 15 to designate the recent call-up of military reservists. It has already surfaced in the London Times, billed as a secret "ten-year war on terrorism" using a new military and diplomatic strategy.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide