"The Long War"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Mar 20 21:04:52 UTC 2007

On 3/20/07, Landau, James <James.Landau at ngc.com> wrote:
> I have never seen this term before, nor do I know how much of a
> Washington insider Oliver North currently is.
> <quote>
> Buy American
> By Oliver North
> Friday, January 19, 2007
> <snip>
> For more than a decade Air Force wonks have been tinkering with the
> design and specifications for a new aerial tanker. The planes are an
> absolute necessity for the kinds of worldwide deployments being
> conducted in the global war on terror ---- or "The Long War"  -- in
> Washington's new vernacular.
> </quote>
> Quoted from
> http://www.townhall.com/columnists/OliverNorth/2007/01/19/buy_american?page=3Dfull&comments=3Dtrue

Safire talked about this in an "On Language" column last year...

One prospect for the name of the hostilities currently in the
headlines is the long war. President George W. Bush, in his Jan. 31,
2006, State of the Union address, said, "Our own generation is in a
long war against a determined enemy." The Pentagon's Quadrennial
Defense Review Report, issued the following month, was titled
"Fighting the Long War." On Oct. 16, 2003, Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld used "a long, hard slog." Evidently long is the Bush
administration's adjective of choice.
As of now, the coiner is General John Abizaid. "I traveled this month
with Abizaid as he visited Iraq and other areas of his command," wrote
the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on Dec. 26, 2004. "Over
several days, I heard him discuss his strategy for what he called the
Long War to contain Islamic extremism."
Going against the phrase's adoption is its official sponsorship; going
for it is the likelihood of war opponents countering in rhyme "long
war, wrong war." Let's keep an eye on this one.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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