- Published on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 19:00
- Written by Grace Acosta
When Shakespeare wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," he sure wasn't talking about U.S. policy in Iraq.
There are lots of names you could call President Bush's recently unveiled plans for that beleaguered, befuddled nation, but Bush's preference appears to be "troop surge." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls it an "augmentation." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls it an "escalation," and I bet Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" will eventually coin a phrase for it that gets bleeped on air when he utters it.
According to Frank Luntz, author of "Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear," roses smell sweet or foul depending on the nomenclature. As a G.O.P. pollster, Luntz was the brains behind swapping out "death tax" for "estate tax" and "climate change" for "global warming."
Luntz disapproves of all three choices: surge, augmentation and escalation. He believes the Bush administration should have gone with a "re" word, like "reinvestment" or "re-establishment." "Re-" words, he claims, convey a thoughtfulness and direction shift that the American people are looking for, and would have mitigated Bush's "stay the course" obstinacy that many now regard as folly.
As for me, a lover of words, idioms and languages in general, I don't give a hoot what you call it, though I think "re-Baathification" would have been hilarious. I just think sending 21,000 additional troops to Iraq while threatening Iran and Syria on national television (though I am not opposed to doing it privately) isn't going to help.
Now, I admit, I am the absolute opposite of a military expert - I think gun usage is almost always cruel, and I have no sense of geography, topography and direction - so my opinion is probably worthless in these matters.
Gen. John Abizaid, former top commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East and a fluent Arabic speaker, wasn't keen on the idea either. However, Abizaid's been replaced by Adm. William Fallon, a Navy guy in charge of Iraq, which is virtually a landlocked country. I guess Fallon will come in handy when we take on Iran and Syria.
Call the strategy what you will, but let's hope it doesn't turn out to be Bush's "Hail Mary pass," another term I've heard thrown around lately by military guys who look like they've been around the gridiron a few times.
The Iraq war has cost lives, limbs, human suffering and maybe even our country's economic stability. Expense for the war is $2 billion per week, and because we don't have the tax revenue to pay the bills, we've been selling U.S. bonds by the barrel to China.
The Bush administration doesn't have a catchphrase for that dicey financial relationship yet, but I won't smell a rose by any other name no matter what you call it.