PVE, then, is first and foremost a narrative device: a tool used, largely unconsciously, to inject fresh legitimacy into a war on terror that by 2008 had fallen into disrepute. More specifically, PVE appears to dampen the queasiness felt at pursuing a course of action that quite obviously conflicts with Western liberal values, wrapping hard-edged counterterrorism in gentle language. In that sense, it renovates a long-held tradition.
Indeed, the roots of PVE and the broader war on terror date back to a centuries-old tendency among most societies—Western and non-Western alike—to forge their identities in an almost perpetual state of conflict, aiming to control resources or counter rivals. Such war footing demands a positive, legitimating narrative—an understanding that we fight to reclaim, defend, pacify, stabilise, illuminate and liberate. Rarely do eradication and predation announce themselves unabashedly. Rather, virtually all forms of conquest and colonisation hinge on the notion of an