Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Drop the war metaphor

George Lakoff & Evan Frisch have an interesting opinion piece at BuzzFlash this week that's well worth reading in full. They posit that what we need is "a conscious discussion of the war metaphor as a metaphor. The very discussion would require the nation to think of it as a metaphor, and allow the nation to take seriously the truth of our presence in Iraq as an occupation that must be ended. You don’t win or lose an occupation; you just exit as gracefully as possible."

They make some great points on how progressives lost control of the debate the minute we allowed the White House to frame 9/11 as an act of war rather than a simple crime.
The war metaphor was chosen for political reasons. First and foremost, it was chosen for the domestic political reasons. The war metaphor defined war as the only way to defend the nation. From within the war metaphor, being against war as a response was to be unpatriotic, to be against defending the nation. The war metaphor put progressives on the defensive. Once the war metaphor took hold, any refusal to grant the president full authority to conduct the war would open progressives in Congress to the charge of being unpatriotic, unwilling to defend America, defeatist. And once the military went into battle, the war metaphor created a new reality that reinforced the metaphor.

Once adopted, the war metaphor allowed the president to assume war powers, which made him politically immune from serious criticism and gave him extraordinary domestic power to carry the agenda of the radical right: Power to shift money and resources away from social needs and to the military and related industries. Power to override environmental safeguards on the grounds of military need. Power to set up a domestic surveillance system to spy on our citizens and to intimidate political enemies. Power over political discussion, since war trumps all other topics. In short, power to reshape America to the vision of the radical right — with no end date.
And I think they're on target with this strategy.
It is time for progressives to jettison the war metaphor itself. It is time to tell some truths that progressives have been holding back on. What has worked in stopping terrorism is just what has worked in stopping international crime — like the recent police work in England. What has failed is the war approach, which just recruits more terrorists. In Iraq, the war was over when we defeated Saddam’s army. Then the occupation began. Our troops are dying because they are not trained be occupiers in hostile territory on the cusp of a civil war.

Bush is an occupation president, not a war president, and his war powers should be immediately rescinded. Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s resolution to do just that (H.R. 5875) should be taken seriously and made the subject of national debate.
First I heard of that resolution, but it seems to me to be a good place to start the discussion. At the very least, I'm not going to refer to Our Leaker in Chief as a war president ever again.
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2 Comments:

Anonymous lester said...

yes, the iraq war was a small part of the globalist experiment called operation iraqi freedom. the idea was that we would prevent another 9/11 by creating a democratic Iraq. this would make people in the middle east want democracy and want to not hurt us. this was similar in logic to NAFTA, which was going to stop illegal immigration by helping mexico's economy so mexicans didn't need to come to America. both experiments failed miserably.

3:56:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Oh Lester, that wasn't the idea at all. The idea going in was the US was going to gain control of Iraq and install a puppet government so we could have a permanent presence in the Middle East and access to all that lovely oil and new markets for corporate goods and services.

And you just called it the war. Hereinafter, we're calling it the occupation, which frankly I've been doing for the most part for the last couple of years anyway.

10:00:00 AM  

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