Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Surge": A troublesome word....

There appears to be a bit of political brouhaha over the term "surge". Why? Because of the power of euphemisms to sway public opinion.

The Democrats prefer the term "escalate", because "escalation" conjures up an association to Vietnam; and the Democrats want to stigmatize Iraq as a Vietnam loss, because they have already decided that we are defeated in Iraq.

The lefties are treating the use of the word "surge" as another Rovian-Orwellian plot device:
We must get ALL on the dem leadership side to use our own vocabulary and diss the rethuglican sound bytes. "Surge?" What the hell is that? I know what it is in a 110 Watt electrical outlet. You want my opinion on a "surge" in military parlance? I have a hunch that even the Generals don't know what it is, but not being a military strategist, (and neither is Reid, or Bush, and especially not the MSM!) show me what it is in detail and I'll give you a response. Otherwise, take two Midol for your "hot flash" and call someone else in the morning.

When ANYONE talks about a "surge:"
Don't answer!
According to this CNN videoclip, the first official use of the word "surge" was by the new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. The same day, President Bush was asked by reporters if he supports a "surge". The Wall Street Journal discussed the word choice last Christmas.

Apparently, the President and senior White House officials have been steering away from use of the word (unfortunate, if it's just to appease the lefty critics). And although the Washington Post denies "surge" is part of official military jargon,
"Surge," though, has no real history or meaning as a military construct -- unlike, say, "tank" or "M-16." It doesn't appear in reference books such as the Oxford Companion to Military History, the Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War or the Encyclopedia of the U.S. Military. Nor does it show up in the Department of Defense's official Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
while escalate is part of the official lexicon, the LA Times has this to say:
Although critics blame pro-war spinmeisters, some military officials say "surge" has long been used in the armed forces to indicate a quick, not necessarily short-term, increase.

Army Chief of Staff Peter J. Schoomaker, for example, used the term in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in 2003, saying, "Now there is no question that there's parts of Iraq that we need to surge troops into."

In 2004, Gen. John P. Abizaid was quoted by Army Times as saying to a group of senior U.S. commanders, "So you have this notion of using surge forces to deal with specific military problems…. The combination of base forces plus surge forces … is pretty important."
The anti-war lefties are foaming at the mouth over the use of "surge" by MSM and the Democratic leadership. But MSM just as often frames the debate with euphemisms favored by liberals ( look for articles where the term "progressive" is used in place of "liberal", which has become a dirty word not only in the minds of conservatives, but to many lib- *ahem*- excuse me progressives, themselves).

If "surge" is a loaded word, what do the Rovespeak critics think "escalate" is? what? I'm all for anything that will rally the American people to actually support victory, and increase our public morale. As Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, says in the Washington Post:
"The president and his advisers would be remiss if they didn't come up with a term suited to their new policy. But journalists would be equally remiss if they just thoughtlessly repeated the term without pondering the policy and its implications."
Jane Hamsher cites Brad DeLong in questioning why Keane-Kagan-Kristol's "surge" plan isn't being followed through with 50,000 rather than the 20,000+ mentioned last night.

The surge will involve not only American troops, but Iraqi as well. If most of the 20,000 combat troops are being sent to quell the violence in Baghdad, that's an increase of 150%, given that our current level there is at 13,000. And a troop surge comprises only a part of the New Iraq Strategy, of which Keane-Kagan-Kristol are not the final architects.

The LA Times concludes with this:
Frederick Kagan of conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, who is widely credited with helping sell the increase proposal to the White House, was quoted on the blog Media Nation as complaining that reporters were misrepresenting his ideas when they used the word "surge" to imply a short-term commitment.

"The media has been using the term 'surge' very loosely," Kagan was quoted as saying. "And I think that's actually a bit of a problem, because there have been various ideas floated for very short-term troop surges of relatively small numbers of troops. And I think that that would be a big mistake, and it's not what we're calling for."

What Kagan wants is at least 25,000 additional troops, and not for a short time.

If all that seemed a bit confusing, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow had a solution Tuesday. Braced on "surge" versus "escalation," Snow said it was up to the reporters:

"You guys do words for a living," he said. "Rather than trying to ask Democratic or even Republican lawmakers what the proper descriptive term is, you figure it out."


Blogger RoxieAmerica said...

This has been a strange event... anti-war protests, not by the people but by elected officials, while troops are on the ground... what is it with the "The Democratic Freak Show?" I did post about that today. It's a strange thing to see such anti-Americanism coming, not from citizens but from elected officials.

Barney and I continue to stand with the President. Last nights address was the address of the HANDOFF to the Iraqi government, not the address of an "escalation." It is only wise to add some troops to watch the backs of the NEW government with its NEW military, starting its FIRST major engagement. This is the beginning of success.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 4:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve Schippert said...

Yes, 20k is certainly not 50k, and I wonder if 20k is enough to garner the results with enough alacrity.

The Kagan Baghdad plan is being followed as a model, but while the White House assures that Baghdad and the key provinces are the focus, there will have to be some provincial force drain in order to implement the Baghdad plan with any timeliness...and that gives a weakspot in the surrounding Baghdad Provinces.

Once the baghdad clearing sets forth, where does the semi-initiated think the stream of badguys are going to go? A.) Middle of the street in Baghdad to fight in the open, B) Holed up in the deep recesses awaiting US/Iraqi entry to fight in te shadows, or C) gun it to the new weakly defended provinces?

Once the troop supplement arrives with their gear (logistics, not just dusty boots in an overnight flight), only 4k are set for Anbar. The Marines are expecting a rather unpleasant 'surge' of their own around Ramadi from the fleeing jihadis.

The gameplan seems to be to tackle Baghdad and continue to hold Ramadi in the mean time. I am sure the enemy will not hold still for their just rewards.

Time will tell, and the level of cordon around Baghdad will determine the ease with which the adaptive enemy will slip through. But I've not heard the word 'cordon' mentioned in the same phrase as 'securing Baghdad.'

Not saying it won't work. Saying that with only 20k troops more, it may still be 'whack-a-mole' between Ramadi & Baghdad, causing the quelling of violience to perhaps take too long before one plug or another to be pulled.

For certain swiftness and a total change in American attitudes, we need to be able to do both at the same time, with no weak spots and nowhere to flee to.

The current plan will lead to a victory, but will it be soon enough to satify the Washington political class who cannot see beyond the start fo the '08 campaigning seasons?

Thursday, January 11, 2007 7:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Where's the photo illustration you added to this at Flopping Aces?

Thursday, January 11, 2007 7:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Skye said...

Surge, a troublesome word to Dems. Well so is the meaning of the word "IS"...

Thursday, January 11, 2007 8:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

How about "Boost" the number of troops?

Thursday, January 11, 2007 8:15:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

It's a strange thing to see such anti-Americanism coming, not from citizens but from elected officials.


One of the most incredulous statements I think has to be Joe Biden's....saying that this is Bush's war and to let the President go it alone. It's just an irresponsible, immature statement coming from a statesman.

Steve, thanks for your insight; and also for the help in my previous post.

Mike, I have my own version in a couple of posts down. Gotta keep things fresh between what I post at Curt's and what I post for myself.

Mark....I like "surge". Especially since it irks the KosKiddies.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Sometimes I wonder if think tanks labor longer over their choices of words than on the strategies themselves.

Just a random thought on a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 9:01:00 AM  

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