I thought this question, raised by Anderson Cooper in an interview with Obama (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0902/04/acd.02.html), was particularly interesting since we discussed the exact same issue in class last night, and I think Obama reiterates the very same conclusion that our class came to - words matter.
Cooper: I've noticed you don't use the term "war on terror," I think I read an article that you've only used it once since the inauguration. Is that conscious? Is there something about that term you find objectionable or not useful?
Obama: Well, you know, I think it is very important for us to recognize that we have a battle or a war against some terrorist organizations. But that those organizations aren't representative of a broader Arab community, Muslim community.
I think we have to -- you know, words matter in this situation because one of the ways we're going to win this struggle is through the battle of hearts and minds.
Cooper: So that's not a term you're going to be using much in the future?
Obama: You know, what I want to do is make sure that I'm constantly talking about al Qaeda and other affiliated organizations because we, I believe, can win over moderate Muslims to recognize that that kind of destruction and nihilism ultimately leads to a dead end, and that we should be working together to make sure that everybody has got a better life.