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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

We Never Said "Unconditional Surrender"

I'm about to head out the door for a three-day swing to the West Coast. Work. But you have to eat. But I just wanted to chime in on the whole "It was never 'stay the course'" thing. Only an administration this used to lying (and getting away with it) would try to deny that they ever used a phrase when, of course, that phrase was their own frame for the war for more than two years. It's a strange Eastasia or Eurasia moment for those of us living in Oceania. I seem to remember . . . that . . . they used to say "stay the" something. Now, what was it, again?

There's an even weirder point here, which is that wars are almost always slogan-heavy human endeavors. Indeed, one can almost describe past wars in terms of slogans and song lyrics. Remember the Maine. Over There. Remember Pearl Harbor. Lose Lips Sink Ships. Hearts and Minds. Even military terminology blends into the pop cultural memory. Strategic bombing. Amphibious landing. Airborne. Demilitarized zone. How about strategic hamlets? Hanoi Hilton. Peace with honor. War has a huge effect on the language we use, since, in a militaristic culture like ours, we tend to describe lots of things in war terminology. And there's so much speech about war, when it is happening, that it is bound to affect the way we speak.

In the present war, I would say we have a few of these phrases or terms. Shock and awe. Greeted as liberators. And, of course, STAY THE COURSE.

It would be like FDR going on the radio and saying, "We never said 'unconditional surrender.' It is possible that we can find a diplomatic solution to the present conflict in Europe." Or maybe even, "Pearl Harbor? What's that?"

Of course, this present administration isn't likely to seek a diplomatic solution, either. And it's not even clear who it is we're fighting, so it's not going to be easy to accept their unconditional surrender on a battleship in Baghdad Harbor. And the primary difficulty in the last sentence isn't that Baghdad doesn't have a harbor.

Rock on, my friends. I will try to post Thursday.


At 1:15 PM, Blogger Paul said...

You could say Bush is flip-flopping on "Stay the Course". Or, better yet, he's cutting and running from it.


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