Way back when (in April, actually) I posted this:
Bush’s Iraq “war,” in the sense that most of us understand the word, ended in a few weeks. Our “enemy” didn’t fight, it is true, but our victory was beyond question.
The next step in many wars — as in this one — is an occupation. Virtually all of our casualties in Iraq have thus been the result not of a war, but of an occupation. Our enemies are not soldiers fighting on behalf of a state, but what we called, in Hitler’s Europe, maquisards or resistance fighters or guerrillas or partisans.
Failure to call the occupation of Iraq by its proper name has been a powerful part of why Bush has been able to continue occupying that unhappy nation. If we can be deceived into believing that it is still a “war,” then we can be made to feel that pulling out would somehow “lose” it.
But occupations are not lost. They are simply ended, and by the victor at a time and place of his choice. It is beyond me why the Democrats do not grasp this simple point, and hammer on it every day. Reframe, idiots. Read Lakoff.
When Bush sets out to leave our public schools behind, he calls it Leaving No Child Behind. When the Democrats want to leave Bush’s Folly behind, they call it H.R. 1234 or some damned thing and stand by like fearful little children when Daddy Bush and Uncle McConnell call it defunding the troops.
How about the Stand Up Iraq Act? The Full Freedom Act? The Iraq Independence Act? The Democracy Restoration Act? The Iraq Sovereignty Act? The Iraq Liberation Bill? Iraq Stands Tall? Setting Iraq Free? The Iraq Self-defense Act? The One Last Chance Act?
But first of all the Democratic leadership, and I use the term loosely, must stop calling an occupation a war. For more on this, see the interview with Thom Hartmann from which the following comes:
If Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi were to stand up and say, “OK, everybody, we’re all going to use the same language. From now on, we’re all going to refer to what’s going on in Iraq as an occupation. We’re never going to use the word ‘war’ again.” It would be the smartest thing they could do, and probably 70 percent of their party would call a press conference and trash them for trying to put words in their mouths…
I actually wrote an op-ed about war and occupation a couple years ago, suggesting this, and for a brief period, for two or three months afterward, one of the liberal think tanks came up with the same idea and suggested this. Between the two of us out there beating that drum, there were a number of Democrats in the media who I noticed started to use the word “occupation” instead of the word “war.”
But the media was so in love with the word “war” because war is a powerful thing. It’s legalized mass murder. It is the most horrific thing that as a society we can sanction. So, the media just kept referring to it as a war no matter what …
Ultimately, the Democrats gave up and went back to using the word “war.” In fact, many of them found that using the word “war” over the short term was useful because it scares people. I think it’s bad policy and bad politics. But some Democrats are Republican lite, and some Democrats are worried about survival, and some Democrats are not thinking about this all that deeply.