Friday, June 23, 2006

Cut and Run

In my morning paper, Ellen Goodman has an op-ed piece on the use by Republicans of "cut and run" to slur Democrats by suggesting that they are cowardly for urging creating a timetable for bringing our troops home. It says something about the character of Republicans that this is the best they can do by way of defending our open-ended war in Iraq. Since no American members of Congress are in any personal danger from attacks by insurgents and Shiite and Sunni militias, the question of their cowardice does not arise in a situation like this. If some soldier in Iraq says, "I want to get the hell out of Iraq right now" Bush could call him a "cut and run Marine."

Another pithy expression Bush and his supporters like to use against those who call for us to bring our troops home now is that we need to "stay the course." This, like the other expression, as Goodman notes, is a nautical term. Bush likes these military expressions. He is, after all, a self-proclaimed "War President," which is pretty good considering he took a coward's way out of the Vietnam War. I wonder what his Daddy would have done if the architects of our Vietnam War called up National Guard troops as frequently as his son does. Maybe get him in the Coast Guard?

In what has to be described as a cowardly "fly in and then cut and run" trip to Baghdad in which he did not even tell the Iraqi leader he was coming -- clear proof that he doesn't trust the Democratic Government he has caused to be installed not to leak this info to the insurgents -- Bush said in his radio address
"I traveled to Baghdad to personally show our nation's commitment to a free Iraq, because it is vital for the Iraqi people to know with certainty that America will not abandon them after we have come this far"
according to someone at the Daily Kos. (It is my policy not ever to listen to anything Bush says so I will have to take the writer's word for it. Its one of the things I do for my mental health.) Notice that Bush said "after we have come this far" not "after we have accomplished this much." Nothing has been accomplished in Vietnam (this was a Freudian Slip which I think I will not edit out because it reveals my true feelings about this war) with any lasting value other, I suppose, than deposing and then capturing Saddam.

You say, "Bush has caused a Democratic election to be held." I say, "Hitler came to power thanks to a democratic election." The fact is that the people are in much more danger today than they were under Saddam, especially those living in the two "no fly" zones. The fact is that Saddam was not a threat to his neighbors thanks to the two "no fly" zones and the fact that he had not rebuilt his army, one that we virtually destroyed the first time around. The fact is that Saddam was secular and the most likely outcome of this war will be an Islamic government. And it will be a government that rules brutally if the Shiite militias actions today can be taken as a fair example of what is in store once the Shiites take control of the South (easy) and the Central (not so easy) regions of Iraq. To pacify the West will require a level of brutality Saddam will admire. If smart, they will leave the Kurds and their pesh merga alone. In a story in the Christian Science Monitor, a Kurdish leader is quoted as saying
"Officially, there is no pesh merga, only the Iraqi Army," says Fareed Asasard, director of the Kurdistan Strategic Studies Center. "But still, you can see that the pesh merga remain. Maybe in some countries they have succeeded in changing militias into an army, but here, we continue to have pesh merga."
In fact, they will not go away just as Sadr's militia will not go away.

"Stay the course" is world class stupid as a policy no matter how good or bad the policy is. This sort of language is the work of intellectually and morally dishonest people who know that if they were to articulate the facts -- all the facts and nothing but the facts -- in support of their policy they would be forced to change course by getting the hell out of Iraq. About the only argument Bush can use now is that it is better to fight the terrorists in Iraq than here. But, of course, the terrorists wouldn't be in Iraq if we weren't there and so that argument says it is okay to use our soldiers as bait.

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Blogger Ripple said...

But the war isn't even really about terrorism anyway. Is it?

11:04 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Not until Bush ran out of other excuses.

1:26 PM

Blogger Mr K said...

I still go by the theory that this war was mostly part of a neo-conservative theory to impose a large American presence in the centre of the middle east to control the strategic resources (particulalry, dare I say it, oil). Unfortunately this has disasterously backfired.

While I suppose it is possible that Bush is foolish enough to believe that attacking Iraq would somehow stop terrorism, I doubt everyone around him would.

The worst part of this is if we leave, we leave Iraq to chaos- but if we stay.... well we get chaos. I really don't see a "good" option here.

2:30 PM

Blogger Dusty said...

In a subversive way, this is brilliant. Americans are a fast food culture. Bush keeps spewing out all these idioms trying to prove his connection with the ‘common people’ as well as providing short catch phrases. Most Americans can sing a jingle to a commercial but can’t tell you the name of the speaker of the house.

Describing the actions of the Democrats in a negative sound bite allows his proponents to distribute the message in an easy to remember package. Democrats should take a cue from him. Keep it simple, short and unflattering without actually calling them a name.

7:46 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Thank you Frida. I believe the Democrats should be as nasty as the Republicans. Acting "above the fray" got Bush elected two times. Clinton's advisors were too smart for that and hit back as hard as they were hit. I am delighted the demos have nasty groups like moveon.org to match the conservative ones. They seem to be well-funded. Their ads against Bush in the last election embarassed me so that made them just about right.

9:04 AM


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