Monday, August 15, 2005

Bush Has His Way: Don't Call It Global SAVE. It's Officially A "War" Again.

Earlier this month, JABBS noted that President Bush continued to use the word "war" to describe our nation's fight against terrorism, even as others in the administration began using the euphemism "global struggle against violent extremism" -- or the Orwellian (or possibly Christian fundamentalist) acronym Global SAVE.

JABBS wondered why this had happened, hoping maybe the president was finally acknowledging the difference between the Iraq War (primarily against insurgents and others who believe they are defending Iraq against a Western invader) and the broader fight against Al Qaeda (who struck the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, and have struck a long list of allies since, most recently in London and Egypt).

But the mainstream media seemed not to notice the administration battle over monikers, so JABBS waited for additional information. That information came via an Aug. 11 press conference, and Bush's weekly radio address on Aug. 13.

***

Does the President like the word "war" better? Yes, according to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Speaking from the "Western White House" in Crawford, Texas, Hadley had this confusing back-and-forth with reporters:

Q Steve, has the President made clear to (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard B.) Myers that he prefers they not use euphemisms for the word "war"? He's not shy about saying the U.S. is a nation at war.

HADLEY: I think you saw the President, today, standing up in front of his national security team, making very clear it's a war on terrorism, how he sees it. You know, everybody has heard it and I think there's actually no disagreement that there's a war on terrorism. It is a terribly important struggle for the United States. And there is obviously -- and to be successful, we have to integrate all elements of national power. And part of that is, obviously, military action against terrorists; and part of it is also, of course, progress in the war of ideas, in spreading democracy and freedom.

Everybody knows that's part of the war on terror, but nobody is under any illusions that it is a war. All you have to do is look at the litany of death and carnage that has occurred before and after 9/11. And, of course, the American people are under no misapprehension about that.

***

Hadley could have simply given a yes-or-no answer. Does the president want his administration to stop using other euphemisms for "war on terror"? Hadley offers the confusing response that "here's actually no disagreement that there's a war on terrorism." But clearly there had been a disagreement on what to call our fight against terrorism.

Trying to summarize, Hadley offers the gobbledy-gook of "Everybody knows that's part of the war on terror, but nobody is under any illusions that it is a war." What does that mean?

The reporter must have been confused, too, asking this follow-up question:

Q Was the President at all miffed when in recent weeks Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers keep using euphemisms for that word?

HADLEY: Look, the President today and over the last two weeks has made very clear how he sees it. And this is a team that -- Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers don't need any reminder that there's a war going on. And the President made very clear how the issue needs to be framed for the American people, and that's how it's going to be framed.

***

So, the president calls it a war, and even though Rumsfeld and Myers know it's a war, Bush had to remind them to call it that, too.

Crystal clear, right?

***

Two days later, President Bush made it clear he will not distinguish the Iraq War from the greater "war on terror."

As he did in his July address to the nation, Bush again mixed and matched who we are fighting:

BUSH: This war on terror arrived on our shores on September the 11th, 2001. Since that day, the terrorists have continued to kill -- in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, Baghdad, London, and elsewhere. ... Because we are fighting a murderous ideology with a clear strategy, we're staying on the offensive in Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, fighting terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.

During the July address, Bush at least tried to clarify that the terrorists we are fighting in Iraq have ties to Al Qaeda.

BUSH: "To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents. To complete the mission, we will prevent al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban."

But there was no such clarification on Saturday.

***

But is it fair to link the Iraqi insurgency with Al Qaeda?

Some facts to consider:

-- A 2004 analysis of detainees in Iraq, reported by USA Today, suggested foreign fighters accounted for only 2% of the insurgency. More recently, the administration has said those numbers are growing, although it hasn't proven that "foreign fighters" can be equated to "Al Qaeda."

-- A June analysis by NBC News suggested that more than half of the foreign fighters who have died were Saudi.

Here's a question: Why doesn't Bush say "Saudi and other foreign fighters," or some such construction, when discussing that piece of the insurgency puzzle? Wouldn't that make sense -- even strengthen his argument that the Iraq War is part of the greater "war on terror" -- considering that the vast majority of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi?

Or is it possible that Bush, too, is prone to euphemisms?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Saudis are Bush family friends. Do you think Bush would say anything to offend his friends, even if it were true?
How come we have rarely heard this administration correctly acknowledge that the 9-11 hijackers were actually Saudis?
Bush only cares about terrorism when he can battle it without hurting the feelings of his friends, which are often foreign sponsors of terrorism.
Bush only cares about terrorism when he can use it to achieve his political ends, i.e. 9-11, Iraq, etc.
The majority of Americans are starting to wake up to the fact that this president is not acting in their best interests and whose policies place them in even greater danger of being attacked.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

This is one heck of an analysis, JABBS.

No, Bush never will be able to use Global SAVE. He's a "war president," you know.

And forget him identifying the Saudis as the foreign fighters in Iraq. No way he's going to say something nasty about Daddy's best buds.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I always wondered how stupid a population of citizens would have to be for a government to actually influence public opinion with pure, simple propaganda. Now I know.

This is a great argument for better public schools. Maybe add mandatory classes like Citizenship, and Critical Thinking (assuming they haven't taken over the schedule with Bible Classes).

4:51 PM  
Anonymous aerojad said...

I think the deal with calling it "war" or not just has to do with marketability. More than three words doesn't sell as well. People buy small groups of small words better, heh.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Rob, you bring up a good point but I think we should remember that only a year ago he decided that he wanted to be a "Peace President". Which makes me wonder how he was going to make peace with the terrorists.

It'll be okay, this always happens when George loses the script Rove gives him.

2:07 AM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

Dissident: It's true, Bush trotted out that he wanted to be the peace president, but you and I both know Bush and Cheney have no friends in the "peace" industry.

2:09 AM  

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