April 25, 2007

Framing Error


It turns out that calling Bush's neverending war against terrorism with it's first battleline in Iraq a "long war" has proven to be a problem.

When the Bush administration has sought to explain its strategy for fighting terrorism, it has often said the United States is involved in a “long war” against Islamic extremists.

The phrase was coined by Gen. John P. Abizaid before he retired as head of the Central Command. It was intended to signal to the American public that the country was involved in a lengthy struggle that went well beyond the war in Iraq and was political as well as military.

It would be a test of wills against “Islamofascism,” as President Bush once put it. It would also be a historic challenge that spanned generations much like the battles against Communism.

As it turned out, however, the long war turned out to be surprisingly short-lived, at least at the command that pioneered the term. After taking over last month as the head of Central Command, Adm. William J. Fallon quietly retired the phrase.

Military officials said that cultural advisers at the command had become concerned that the concept of a long war alienated Middle East audiences by suggesting that the United States would keep a large number of forces in the region indefinitely.

Admiral Fallon was also said to have been unenthusiastic about the phrase. He has stressed the importance of focusing on the difficult situation in Iraq and in achieving results as soon as possible. The notion of a long war, in contrast, seemed to connote an extended conflict in which Iraq was but a chapter.

The change “is a product of our ongoing effort to use language that describes the conflict for our Western audience while understanding the cultural implications of how that language is construed in the Middle East,” Lt. Col. Matthew McLaughlin, a spokesman for the command, said in an e-mail message. “The idea that we are going to be involved in a ‘Long War,’ at the current level of operations, is not likely and unhelpful.”

No kidding. One wonders how popular the phase is with the folks at home who are also not inspired by the quagmire in which we find ourselves.

h/t The Blog Report

Posted by Mary at April 25, 2007 01:25 AM | Propaganda | Technorati links |

It was, however, a rare bit of honesty from the war masters. Certainly more honest then anything we got from the administration, who claimed the war would be a cakewalk that would last no more than a few months.

Posted by: mike at April 25, 2007 08:11 AM

The Brits are rethinking thier language too. No more "War On Terror".

Posted by: Jim DeRosa at April 25, 2007 09:35 AM

Uh,huh... we've been in the Phillipines over a hundred years, Korea fifty.

Posted by: Thomas Ware at April 25, 2007 10:37 AM

Bush and succeeding Republicans *do* intend to occupy the Middle East for a long time. Halliburton was paid all those bucks to build 13 military bases in Iraq -- not that they have necessarily *done* so, but they have been paid to do it.

The Republicans/US plans to stay there. Only with a change of leadership will troops return home.

Posted by: Scorpio at April 26, 2007 01:45 PM