Don't think about cutting and running

A few months ago I read Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff. If told not to think of an elephant, you cannot help but do so. The book discusses how the Republican party and the political right wing in the US has framed the conversations in society by encoding phraseology that traps us all in just the same way. Their prescription is to find ways to do the opposite for the liberal, or progressive (or Democratic) agenda.

I thought of this this morning when a not particularly eloquent Republican candidate for congress complained that yes, the war in Iraq was a mistake, but that's all history and we can't cut and run now. I have been incensed over the use of the phrase "cut and run" by the Republicans and their proxies as a way to completely obliterate any sane discussion of what we plan to achieve in Iraq or how to consider withdrawal options for US troops in Iraq.

So here is my suggestion for a different phrase. "We should not strand our troops in Iraq."

I am not in favor of leaving Iraq to be a failed state which harbors and sponsors terrorism of any kind. A failed Iraq and a less stable mid-East is not good for any of the countries I care about: the US, the UK, Israel ...

However, absence of strategy is not a strategy. "We should not cut and run" is the absence of a strategy, and leaves no opening for discussion or consideration. At least "we should not strand our troops" implicitly asks us to consider whether and when we might think of them as stranded, why 80 are being killed each month, and asks for a pathway to some acceptable outcome.

1 comment:

Jason said...

An excellent suggestion for changing the vocabulary used to frame the discussion. I agree with you 100% that "cut & run" is an expression used to destroy debate about a sane strategy in Iraq.