December 7, 2005

"But what if all of this vocabulary -- winning, losing, victory, defeat -- is simply misplaced?"

Anne Applebaum writes about war and language.


Michael Puttre said...

Bingo. War is messy and produces results that are not easily containable using key words.

Anne Applebaum is rapidly becoming one of my favorite columnists on matters of war, peace, and diplomacy. She are well-informed, fair, and I always learn something from her work.

Henry said...

Nuts -- I was just commenting about this, but at the tail end of the old "Howard Dean compares Iraq not just to Vietnam..." post.

Just to pull one point from that comment into this stream -- one argument that we are "losing" the war is premised on the idea that the U.S. can never "impose" democracy. In my mind this totally ignores the way democracy makes its slow halting progress in both historically authoritarian places like South Korea and Taiwan, and historically poorly-governed places like Peru. If the people of Iraq just get a few years to try out democracy, even if it fails this time, who is to say how that taste of freedom might express itself in future years?

I'm inspired by Mario Vargas Llosas' history Peruvian politics, A Fish in the Water. He points out that Peru's oft-overturned efforts in democracy still inspired many citizens and politicians to continue its pursuit, even through the country's most wretched episodes of dictatorship and collectivist corruption.

Sloanasaurus said...

This column is a total cop out.

She asserts that it is possible that the islamic fascist movement will be strenghtened by the creation of a stable democracy in Iraq.

How ridiculous. Al Qaeda's goal is the establishment of the the Capliphate... a new arab world united under a facist dictatorship.

A free Iraq creates a problems for that goal, especially because Iraq is the traditional center or the arab caliphate.

Osama blew it when he challenged us in Iraq. Victory in Iraq is total victory over Al Qaeda. The movement will die out for lack of victories. As Osama said himself, who wants to follow the weak horse.

Bruce Hayden said...

If Al Qaeda dies out, I don't think that it will necessarily be because of us, directly, but rather, due to their own excesses.

Note, in particular, Jordan. Prior to the recent bombings, Al Qaeda enjoyed a lot of popular support in that country. Afterwards, their esteem dropped like a lead balloon, to the point where there were massive anti-Al Qaeda demonstrations, and Zarqawi's family took out space in the local newspapers to disown him.

Bruce Hayden said...

If Al Qaeda dies out, I don't think that it will necessarily be because of us, directly, but rather, due to their own excesses.

Note, in particular, Jordan. Prior to the recent bombings, Al Qaeda enjoyed a lot of popular support in that country. Afterwards, their esteem dropped like a lead balloon, to the point where there were massive anti-Al Qaeda demonstrations, and Zarqawi's family took out space in the local newspapers to disown him.

APF said...

I agree with the general question of, "at this point what does 'victory' really mean in the context of Iraq," but disagree with her contention that the damage done to our "international reputation" (or words to that effect) hasn't already happened, or that any strengthening of AQ/anti-American terrorism hasn't also already happened, as a result of going into the war in the first place. There's also a very open question in my mind as to whether those two negatives will be amplified or reduced as a result, for example, of our not following through on our goals there; IMO it's far more likely that anti-Americanism--both in terms of enemies and "allies"--will only strengthen if we abandon our commitment to Iraq...

Sloanasaurus said...

If Al Qaeda dies out, I don't think that it will necessarily be because of us, directly, but rather, due to their own excesses.

Al Qaeda rose because of the victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda will fall because of their loss in Iraq.

So many jihadists have taken up the call to Iraq. There have been hundreds of suicide bombers thousands of jihadists killed. We don't know exactly which juhadists are being killed in Iraq, but its probable that Osama's terrorist trained fighters from Afghanistan are nearly completely wiped out in Iraq.

Who is going to join the fight after such a disasterous defeat. How could Allah allow such a defeat unless Al Qaeda is a fraud. These questions will arise and Al Qaeda will cease to be a movement.

there will be victory.

Jacques Cuze said...

Victory in Iraq or Victory in the Polls? How Bush Caught 'Feaver' in Big Iraq Speech

By E&P Staff

Published: December 03, 2005 2:05 PM ET

NEW YORK In his major speech this week outlining a strategy for Iraq that might turn around public opinion on the war, President Bush used the word victory 15 times against a backdrop of dozens of “Plan for Victory” signs. Is victory really in our grasp—-and was the talk based more on changing poll results than really setting a wise course in Iraq?

The questions will gain even more relevance with a revelation coming in Sunday’s New York Times. It seems that in a part of the 35-page “Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” document posted on the White House web site, a few key strokes by those in know reveal that the document’s originator or author, is one “feaver-p.”

This person is Dr. Peter D. Feaver, a 43-year-old Duke University political scientist who joined the National Security Council staff as a special adviser in June. White House officials, while saying the document contained contributions from many federal departments, confirmed, according to the Times, that “its creation and presentation strongly reflected the public opinion research” of Dr. Feaver.

Feaver, the Times’ Scott Shane writes, “was recruited after he and Duke colleagues presented to administration officials their analysis of polls about the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004. They concluded that Americans would support a war with mounting casualties on one condition: that they believe it would ultimately succeed."

This past June, the Washington Post observed that Feaver's studies had already "helped influence the White House thinking."

But Christopher F. Gelpi, Feaver's colleague at Duke and co-author of the research on American tolerance for casualties, tells the Times on Sunday that this week's 35-page report "is not really a strategy document from the Pentagon about fighting the insurgency. The Pentagon doesn't need the president to give a speech and post a document on the White House Web site to know how to fight --the insurgents. The document is clearly targeted at American public opinion."

Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics

Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing?

Because they've put billions of dollars into it. Over the last 30 years their think tanks have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language. In 1970, [Supreme Court Justice] Lewis Powell wrote a fateful memo to the National Chamber of Commerce saying that all of our best students are becoming anti-business because of the Vietnam War, and that we needed to do something about it. Powell's agenda included getting wealthy conservatives to set up professorships, setting up institutes on and off campus where intellectuals would write books from a conservative business perspective, and setting up think tanks. He outlined the whole thing in 1970. They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973, and the Manhattan Institute after that. [There are many others, including the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute at Stanford, which date from the 1940s.]

And now, as the New York Times Magazine quoted Paul Weyrich, who started the Heritage Foundation, they have 1,500 conservative radio talk show hosts. They have a huge, very good operation, and they understand their own moral system. They understand what unites conservatives, and they understand how to talk about it, and they are constantly updating their research on how best to express their ideas.

Newspeak is a fictional language in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell included an essay about it in the form of an Appendix after the end of the novel, in which the basic principles of the language are explained. Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. This suited the totalitarian regime of the Party, whose aim was to make subversive thought ("thoughtcrime") and speech impossible.

The Newspeak term for the existing English language was Oldspeak. Oldspeak was supposed to have been completely eclipsed by Newspeak by 2050.

Bush's Orwellian case for war.
By William Saletan
Posted Thursday, Feb. 27, 2003, at 2:32 PM ET

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

War is peace: Iraq, fighting them over there so we don't fight them over here.

Freedom is slavery: PATRIOT II, Padilla, Torture, GITMO, Abu Ghraib, Rendtion, use of Soviet prison camps as our new prison camps.

Ignorance is strength: The Administration saying that it is dangerous to criticize the Administration.

Thought Police: Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Bill Frist, Glenn Reynolds, Ann Coulter, Andrew Sullivan, Michelle Malkin

This is facism, Ann. Please join the efforts to protect our constitution, protect our liberty, and protect our nation.

Why is talkleft so much better at covering constitutional issues than you?

Sloanasaurus said...

I love it when the left tries to compare America under Bush to a totalitarian regime. It reveals that they know nothing about tyranny. I mean how dumb is Bush to allow Congress or the Supreme Court to stay in session. Stalin, Mao, or Hitler would have burned it down by now. And how stupid to allow blogs. Stalin would have never stood for it. What... the army pledges it self to the Constitution rather than personal loyalty to Bush. That is a recipie for disaster....Mao is rolling in his grave.

So far Bush is a failure at being a tyrant. Perhaps he should invite Fidel, Mugabee, Chavez to the whitehouse for some advice.

Wait, did I hear that the moon landing was all a fraud, 9/11 staged... its all part of the grubby Jews, Republican lies, and Bush Tyranny.

Jacques Cuze said...

Sorry Lieutenant, but it's not just the lefties.

The American Conservative: Hunger for Dictatorship

Weimar, whose cultural excesses made effective propaganda for the Nazis, now seems like the antechamber to Nazism, though surely no Weimar figures perceived their time that way as they were living it. We may pretend to know what lies ahead, feigning certainty to score polemical points, but we never do.

Nonetheless, there are foreshadowings well worth noting. The last weeks of 2004 saw several explicit warnings from the antiwar Right about the coming of an American fascism. Paul Craig Roberts in these pages wrote of the “brownshirting” of American conservatism—a word that might not have surprised had it come from Michael Moore or Michael Lerner. But from a Hoover Institution senior fellow, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and one-time Wall Street Journal editor, it was striking.

Several weeks later, Justin Raimondo, editor of the popular website, wrote a column headlined, “Today’s Conservatives are Fascists.” Pointing to the justification of torture by conservative legal theorists, widespread support for a militaristic foreign policy, and a retrospective backing of Japanese internment during World War II, Raimondo raised the prospect of “fascism with a democratic face.” His fellow libertarian, Mises Institute president Lew Rockwell, wrote a year-end piece called “The Reality of Red State Fascism,” which claimed that “the most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central state, particularly its military wing.” ...

Lietenant, how many *combat* drops?

Jacques Cuze said...

Lawrence Britt, Ph.D was a former executive of Mobil, Allied Chemical and VP finance for Xerox.

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism by Lawrence Britt Spring 2003

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine's policy.

The 14 characteristics are:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Lieutenant, does any of this seem familiar?

Pogo said...

Gosh, quxxo, what an amazing secret! We're all secretly living in a fascist regime, but can't tell! Amazing!!

Really, you do look silly, getting all it's a conspiracy on us. Crikey. And didja even notice that this list basically decribes all bad governments, ya dope?

Jacques Cuze said...

And didja even notice that this list basically decribes all bad governments, ya dope?

Yeah I noticed that. Thanks for making my point for me.

Lieutenant, over to you!

Palladian said...

"Sorry Lieutenant, but it's not just the lefties.

The American Conservative: Hunger for Dictatorship"

American Conservative magazine? So Pat Buchanan, Jew hater, xeonphobe, gays-in-concentration-camps, paleocon extraordinaire is calling America under the Jew...uh, I mean, neocons, a dictatorship?! And Justin Raimondo too?! Gasp! It's not just the lefties! It's EVERYBODY! I'm going to pop in my copy of "Diamond Dogs" and listen to "1984" right now! Really quaxxo, if you think Buchanan can be characterized as just another conservative, don't get mad at others when they lump the Ward Churchills and the Medea Benjamins as "just some voices from the left".

miklos rosza said...

quxxo, i tried to rise to your level of discourse by copying and pasting communist historian eric hobsbawn's definition of fascism, as a rejoinder of sorts, but it wouldn't fit.

only 28 pages, too.

you're right though. we're all fascists. fascists fascists fascists!

PatCA said...

"It reveals that they know nothing about tyranny. "

Amen! My Vietnamese and Romanian students would love to teach them...

Palladian said...

"This is facism, Ann. Please join the efforts to protect our constitution, protect our liberty, and protect our nation."

OK, you're officially a spoiled, pampered brat who has never experienced either fascism (if you're going to toss that word around, learn to spell it) or tyranny. If the "world" dislikes Americans as much as the left likes to imagine it does, it's Americans like you who are the cause: so self-centered and self-righteous that you sit in luxury and squawk about fascism freely on a weblog while millions of people around the world have to live and suffer under actual tyranny. It's shameful, really.

"Why is talkleft so much better at covering constitutional issues than you?"

Why do you keep coming here and reading and, sadly for the rest of us, posting comments if Ann's commentary is so sub-par?

Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: That comment was abusive, too long, and included long quotes that weren't in quotation marks. I couldn't even tell where they ended. Not acceptable. No one is going to read meandering comments like that. Get it together or go write on your own blog.

Sloanasaurus said...

I have been blinded all this time. Thanks to Quxxo, I realize I have been living under the boot of facism all this time.

As such, tomorrow I am turning myself into the secret police to help support the movement. I am having a problem though.... the secret police is so secret I can seem to locate them.

Alas, I just had another unclean thought. Where is my little red book. I need to beat myself with it some more.

Remember, living on only 1000 calories a day is good for the soul (and good for the party).