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» Monday, August 01, 2005

Lakoff : framing GSAVE

Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism
    From a post at The Impolitic, comes an over view of the Lakoff article at Alternet.   Lakoff puts into perspective the public relations move on the part of the bush administration to re-define the War on Terror into a more palitable sound bite, in an effort to excuse the failings of bush's warmongering.   - fc

War on Terror, Rest in Peace

By George Lakoff, AlterNet. Posted August 1, 2005.

Though politically useful for Bush and his minions, the 'war frame' never fit the reality of terrorism. It was successful at consolidating power -- but counterproductive in dealing with the real threat.

The phrase "War on Terror" was chosen with care. "War" is a crucial term. It evokes a war frame, and with it, the idea that the nation is under military attack -- an attack that can only be defended militarily, by use of armies, planes, bombs, and so on. The war frame includes special war powers for the president, who becomes commander in chief. It evokes unquestioned patriotism, and the idea that lack of support for the war effort is treasonous. It forces Congress to give unlimited powers to the President, lest detractors be called unpatriotic. And the war frame includes an end to the war -- winning the war, mission accomplished!

It is important to note the date on which the phrase "war on terror" died and was replaced by "global struggle against violent extremism." It was right after the London bombing. Using the War frame to think and talk about terrorism was becoming more difficult. The Iraq War was declared won and over, but it became clear that it was far from over and not at all won and that it created many new terrorists for every one it destroyed. The last justification - fighting the war on terror in Iraq so it wouldn't have to be fought at home -- died in the London bombing.

And so the term "War on Terror" had to go. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the head man in waging war, said he had objected to the term, "because, if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as the solution" Instead, the solution is "more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military."

That's what was said by those in the anti-war movement.

"Struggle" does not evoke a war frame. "Struggle" is more realistic in that it does not imply an end; it may not have a victory, the "mission" is vague, it is hard to say when it is accomplished, and it is difficult. Dropping war takes the blame for failure away from the war policy, takes the focus away from $200 billion and thousands of lives spent so far, with more to come. It also justifies bringing troops home next year. If there is no war, there is no war to lose.

"Extremists" was chosen very carefully. It applies both abroad and at home. The Bush administration was using the designation "terrorist" for progressive activists and setting the FBI and the IRS on them: activists like, for instance, members of PETA who release minks raised in horrifying conditions. And the radical right has been using the word "extremist" for environmentalists. The term is set up for the suppression of opposition at home.

What is most important is what is not being said. The Bush administration is implicitly, through the use of language, admitting that war won't stop terrorism and that the war in Iraq had no justification. Important questions arise and must be asked: If this is not a "war," does the president still have the war powers given him by Congress? If there is no "war" anymore, how can there be "enemy combatants" in Guantanamo, whose imprisonment without due process is being justified by "war." If there is no "war," will we still need to call up the reserves and the National Guard? And is the new framing retroactive? Was there ever a "war" on terror? Was it just mistake to think so?

Language matters, because of the frames evoked -- and, just as importantly, the frames not evoked. "War on Terror" evoked a frame that embodied a policy claim, that war was the appropriate means to stop terrorists, and that the Iraq War was justified as a response to 9/11. "War on Terror" was a way to get the public to accept that frame and the policy it was mean to justify.

That policy is now being disowned, and so the words must be dropped. The hope is, in the absence of the old words and the presence of the new, a new frame will take hold and the old policy will be forgotten. The goal is that the public will no longer associate the Iraq War with terrorism and see the failure in Iraq as a failure to curb terrorism. That way most of the troops can be brought home before the midterm elections without the implication that the administration is giving up on stopping terrorism.

What should progressives do? Remind the public that there is still a war going on, that it was the wrong policy from the beginning, that the administration now agrees with the anti-war activists, and that you can't end a war just by stopping the use of the word. And remind the public of what Karl Rove said just weeks ago: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war." The conservatives were wrong; had they been right, they'd still be talking proudly about the "war."

[... snip]

Read the reast of the article... at   Alternet

Related Link :
The Impolitic : Redefining terror

Blogs linking to this article :: T Technorati Cosmos : Search The Blogs

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