-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --
The Islamic terrorists of the Bush era are gone. They have been replaced by violent extremists in a purge of the American government's political lexicon. Smart move in the propaganda war between al Qaeda and the West? Or evidence of political correctness taken to extremes?
Those questions are worth revisiting after the publication in February of two key documents issued by the administration of President Barack Obama, the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. Both deal with what used to be called the Global War on Terror. Neither uses the words "Muslim" or "Islam."
The QDR says the United States is at war with al Qaeda and the Taliban, and speaks of the threat from "non-state actors" and terrorist networks. The Homeland Security Review identifies "al Qaeda and global violent extremism" as one of the main threats to the United States. No word on religion or al Qaeda's use of a twisted version of Islam to justify mass murder.
To some, this omission amounts to a dangerous failure to deal with the root of the problem, evidence of a mind-set determined to avoid the appearance of anti-Muslim bias even if that endangers national security. Such charges flew thick and fast after a Muslim army officer, Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly killed 12 fellow soldiers and an army civilian in a shooting spree last November at the Fort Hood military base, shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greater) as he opened fire.