President Bush has declared that he is fighting a “war against terrorism,” and this war, different from any the U.S. has fought before, will go on for an undefined, unspecified, but protracted length of time. At first he called this a “crusade,” Operation Infinite Justice, then changed to Operation Enduring Freedom.

Now that the war against Afghanistan has mostly played out, Bush and his advisors are busy debating how to continue and extend the president’s approval ratings by continuing and expanding U.S. military action around the globe. There have been continual trial balloons to see if the public will support attacking Iraq. Hundreds of military “advisors” have been sent to the Philippines. Iran has been threatened with Bush’s doctrine of “you’re either with us or against us.”

It now seems apparent that what Bush wants is not to bring the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to justice, but to consolidate his opportunity to portray himself as a “wartime president.” He and his spin-doctors have worked overtime to turn the justified revulsion of the people of our country into a project of endless military adventures wherever Bush declares an “enemy.”

What is the connection between the rebels in the southern Philippines and the terrorist attacks in the U.S.? The rebels are Muslims and the government of the Philippines has declared that they are terrorists. The only connection is in the minds of conservative pundits and think-tank PR hacks. The U.S. wants to tie the Philippines to the U.S. by way of military assistance – that’s the reason for the “advisors.”

Bush talks as if the U.S. will oppose “evil” everywhere, will oppose “terrorism” anywhere in the world, will work to defeat those who kill innocent, defenseless civilians. But the U.S. supplies many terrorists with weapons, including the Israeli government, which is using airplanes to conduct daily terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in the Palestinian Territories.

The U.S. trains terrorists from all over Central and South America at the School of the Americas – oops, I mean the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. (Who could be opposed to “security cooperation” these days?)

The right wing is thrilled to have an endless rationalization for any and all policies they want to cram down our throats. Any criticism of Bush is “undercutting support for our wartime president.” Any alternative policy is described as “soft on terrorism.” Any efforts at finding peaceful solutions are called “support for terrorism.”

Bush’s policy is one, so all-encompassing, so vague and amorphous, it can be used to beat back any opposition both domestically and internationally, can be used to force countries around the world to support U.S. policies they formerly would have rejected, can be used to justify any and all repressive measures, can be used to pay off Bush’s supporters in the “defense” industries. The “War on Terrorism” is being enshrined as a permanent major feature of the U.S. political landscape. The more vigorously argued for, the less the issue has to do with real terrorism.

No doubt, somewhere in the bowels of the White House, there is a document outlining this PR offensive. It deserves to be called “Operation Infinite Justification.”

Marc Brodine is a reader in Seattle.