<<Prior to World War II, many countries had a Ministry of War which was responsible for national defense. However, in the aftermath of the carnage of WW II, governments came to the conclusion that the use of the word “war” added, if not assumed, a bellicose attitude towards military preparedness. Thus, the late 1940s and 1950s witnessed the renaming from “War” to “Defense” in most countries around the globe. One vestige of the former nomenclature is War College, where military officers of the United States are still trained in battlefield strategy.>> [Wikipedia]
The US changed the name of the Department from War to Defense in 1947, not 1948. But Orwell had been writing about the exploitation of the deterioration of language since 1946, criticizing contemporary writers' preference of the abstract to the concrete as impairing precise thought. And of course, this "newspeak" has been used to disguise and justify wars of aggression; Iraq is a prime example.
By the way, this is the principle difference between Barack Obama's flights of rhetoric and Hillary Clinton's precise attention to concrete details. We have a chance in this election to reverse the trend by voting for Hillary. The fact that Obama is so articulate in his abstractions (such as "change") obscures the fact that his fuzzy language has much in common with that of the inarticulate George Bush. He also tacitly admits his resemblance to Reagan, whose B-movie charm got the United States into so much trouble. Hillary offers concrete solutions and is not afraid to lay them on the table, unlike her opponent(s).