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A War Unlike that Other War


A slight frisson passed through France yesterday when Barack Obama, trying to recover from the security failure that nearly saw a terrorist attack on an American airliner on Christmas, rattled his épée and said America is at war.

Corine Lesnes, Le Monde’s Obama correspondent, rushed to reassure the paper’s squishy readers: Yes, America’s at war, Lesnes admits, but at least it’s “not quite like George W. Bush’s war.” The difference? Obama’s America is “at war against Al-Qaida, an extensive network of violence and hatred.” Bush’s America was at “war on terrorism.” A narrowing of targets, apparently.

College teachers and the employees of government ministries — virtually Le Monde’s only readers, plus me — may be relieved to know that it’s not war-as-usual in Washington. But hold on a sec, Corine. Does this mean that Obama’s not at war on terrorism, generally? Or does it mean that America’s now at war on hatred, too?

These foreign papers — so confusing!


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