RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge
Pentagon picks enduring codename

The change was down to Muslim sensibilities. The initial name - Operation Infinite Justice - was withdrawn after objections from some Islamic scholars.

Only God or Allah could mete out infinite justice, said scholars, and so to give the campaign that name suggested that the US was placing itself on a par with the deity.

The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, stressed at a Pentagon briefing that this was just the name for the current military build-up and not for the overall US assault on international terrorism.

The initial name surfaced last Wednesday, not long after the Bush administration apologised for another term that could alienate Muslims it would like to include in a coalition to fight terrorism

Earlier last week the White House said it regretted if President Bush's call for a "crusade" against terrorism had offended anyone. That reference summoned up in the Arab world the Christian struggle from the 11th to 13th centuries to recapture the Holy Land.

Mr Rumsfeld said the new name held within it a warning that the campaign was likely to be long drawn out, adding: "It will not be over in five minutes or five months."

Shortly afterwards both Mr Bush and his spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said the US was not setting out to overthrow the Taliban government.

There was no aim to "replace one regime with another regime", insisted Mr Fleischer. Answering questions after a meeting with Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, Mr Bush made it clear that while he was trying to stoke anti-Taliban fervour in Afghanistan, the focus of his efforts were on catching terrorists and not getting rid of the regime.

"Now, the mission is to root out terrorists, to find them and bring them to justice," Mr Bush said, adding that the best way to do that was to enlist the cooperation of citizens in Afghanistan.

"This is an administration, we're not into nation building," Mr Bush said. "We're focused on justice, and we're going to get justice. It's going to take a while probably, but I'm a patient man. Nothing will diminish my will and my determination. Nothing."

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Dispatches From The Diaspora
latest book

'An outstanding chronicler of the African diaspora.'

Bernardine Evaristo

 follow on twitter
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc