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Joint Chiefs Won't Budge: It's the "Long War"

7:36 PM, Apr 5, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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When the Democratic leadership of the House Armed Services Committee circulated a memo on March 27 banishing the phrases "Global War on Terror" and "Long War" from all documents relating to the 2008 budget, they were only responding to the left's widespread hatred of what they saw as Bush administration "catch phrases."

But there is a major difference between the two. While "Global War on Terror" is a completely accurate description of the struggle we now find ourselves in, the phrase had political roots. Johnson declared a "War on Poverty," Nixon declared a "War on Drugs," and now the Bush administration declared a "Global War on Terror." And by defining the fight against terror as such, the administration was able to effectively communicate its preference (and I would say the preference of most Americans as well) for a military--rather than law enforcement--response.

But the "Long War" was never a Bush administration "catch phrase." Rather, it's a term that came from military commanders and filtered down to the military community at large. Republicans may have picked up on it, and right wingers routinely use it, but this coinage has its roots in the American military, not the Republican party.

So it's interesting to see that the Joint Chiefs, in this letter to Senator Mitch McConnell, dated April 2, seem to go out of their way to thank the senator "for continuing to provide the necessary resources and legislation to fight the Long War."

The Joint Chiefs go on to say that "Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, the Armed Services will be forced to take increasingly disruptive measures in order to sustain combat operations," and further that "the impacts on readiness and quality of life could be profound." Meanwhile the House has another week of vacation coming while Speaker Pelosi is off gallivanting across the Middle East. The most optimistic time lines have Congress picking up the supplemental again on Monday the 16th and getting it to the president, for a certain veto, by Friday the 20th. That leaves just one week for the Democratic Congress to pass a "clean" supplemental before the military is forced to take "disruptive measures." Given how difficult it was for Pelosi to corral the votes for a pork laden supplemental with timetables for withdrawal, a clean supplemental is likely to be an even bigger challenge.

So the military tells Congress they need the money, and the response of the Democratic leadership: 'we don't believe you.' It seems the Joint Chiefs aren't amused--they're still fighting the "Long War," even if the Democrats aren't.