by SWJ Editors
Words are Important
by Colonel Jeffrey D. Vordermark, Small Wars Journal
Americans love to throw around foreign words, be it in casual conversation or while waxing eloquent on your favorite blog. I recall as a kid -- long before blogging was even a concept - the joke about being able to speak Japanese. "Sure I can, I know Suzuki, Kawasaki, karate, and a few other Japanese words." Then it was fun and games, but in today's era of transnational terrorism and globalism it does more than just point to cultural gullibility, is a dangerous predilection. It is time that our lexicon's level of sophistication matches our commitment to winning the Global War on Terror.
We have fallen into the "jihad" trap. The term is used in casual banter yet most remain clueless regarding its origin or meanings. We think, therefore we know. Pundits, academics, and laymen profess to know its meaning, and the term is daily news in the mouths of reporters and in the banners of headlines. Unfortunately, its very use assumes that Islam is simple and monolithic -- something we can easily grasp merely by purporting to understand the basic tenets of the religion and of course, we must use it because everyone else does. As a nation and society, we could not be more incorrect. A simple Google search for the term jihad yields over 15 million hits. Why not, as the perpetrators of international terror themselves often use "jihad" to describe the attributes and actions of their organizations. Face it, there is meaning in a name, and groups struggling for legitimacy will cling to what they can in order to sell their product.