Bush's most Orwellian rhetorical device is a three-letter word. Here it is at work in tonight's speech:
If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone.
This is not the threat I see.
The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and elsewhere, they object to our deepest values and our way of life. And if we were not fighting them in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Southeast Asia, and in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens, they would be on the offense, and headed our way.
On that day [9/11], we were not in Iraq, we were not in Afghanistan, but the terrorists attacked us anyway -- and killed nearly 3,000 men, women, and children in our own country. My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share.
Use the word "the" before "terrorists" and you make al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda's allies, Saddam's regime, and all the groups we're fighting in Iraq now one big undifferentiated group. You make everything that's happened in Iraq part of 9/11, as surely as if you were repeatedly linking Saddam and bin Laden, as Bush did for so long. Bush refers to "the terrorists" all the time. It's subtle, but it's as shamelessly deceitful as any reference to a "mushroom cloud" before the war.