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View Diary: Frameshop: war on terror (179 comments)

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  •  Break the metaphor into its discrete parts (none)
    The WOT resonates because it accurately describes the degree or intensity of effort that the problem of terrorism requires.

    One difficulty is trying to replace a bad metaphor with a different bad metaphor. The WOT metaphor is fundamentally flawed and instead of accepting it and arguing on their terms we need to distinguish at least six different arenas the battle is being fought in.

    Six discrete problems with six discrete solutions. The only part of the problem Bush is addresssing is the Iraq War. By allowing Bush and Bin Laden to conflate all six problems into one, we allow Bush to pretend he is addressing the entire problem.

    (1) The Iraq war - attack Bush for his failure in Iraq.

    (2) Domestic Security - Attack Bush for his failure to prevent domestic terrorism with increased port security and hardening chemical and nuclear plants.

    (3) Afghanistan - Attack Bush for his failure in Afghanistan. Karzai is the Mayor of Kabul and regional warlords/narco-trafficers control most of the country.

    (4) Bin Ladenism - that's how Mike Schuer descibes this part of the problem. Attack Bush for his failure to find Bin Laden and failure to address the diplomatic and police measures necessary to track and destroy Bin Ladenism.

    (5) Soft Power - attack Bush for his failure to get vital international cooperation in our effort to prevent terrorist attacks and dismantle terrorist organizations.

    (6) The War of Ideas - In his recent Atlantic Monthly article, James Fallows points to an internal pentagon report that basically states Bush has failed to frame the Iraq war for Muslims. The WOT has been successful for domestic consumption, but a Muslim frame would be based on justice instead of freedom.

    Attack on all six fronts simultaneously. Point out all six failures. Simplify each individual problem instead of making it more abstract, amorphous and complicated.

    •  A Comprehensive Security Initiative will (none)
      take into account all 6 of these terms.

      so i said,"Washington's groovy(laughs). That's what i said. And it is... for Romans"

      by k9disc on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 11:11:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Very Good, But... (none)
      I think this is fairly compatible with what I just posted about the War Option and the Justice Option. It has the benefit of breaking down the problem into specifics that can actually be addressed operationally, rather than through magical wishful thinking.

      But it's also compatible with the weakness in my post. By breaking things down, we lose the sense of a central referent. We still sort of need that, even if it has downsides.

      •  Bush totally F#%ked up (none)
        That is the central referent!!!!!!!!!!

        He can be attacked on every side of this issue.
        And we simply need to ask questions to show how vague and stupid this term "war on terror" is.

        How do we win the war on terror?
        When do we know we have won?
        Do terrorists throughout the world come and lay down their weapons in unison?
        Why are we not fighting in the The Basque region of Spain or the Tamil tigers in Sri Lanka? Are they not terrorists? Or are they only second class terrorists?

        By asking simple, common sense questions we make a mockery of the frame and then we give our frame.
        FREEDOM FROM TERRORISM or something like that.

    •  Isn't this approach (none)
      what's already out there?

      I think there's a fundamental risk we take if we lead with "attack" on this issue.

      That is to say, I don't think we can bring down the Bush policies by protest.  I think we have to bring them down with a powerful and passionate vision of America.  Patriotism. This point came up in an old KO diary over Thanksgiving.  

      In simple terms, it's not possible to turn critique into executive leadership.  It's a different issue than framing, but it's a very big problem.

      Also, Bush always leaves himself open to these types of attacks, because he's good at dealing with.  So long as he lures the opposition into attacking his position, that leaves him the out of "failing forward."  He accepts the oppositions criticisms because they are still within his frame of the issue.  Then he advances the opposition's criticism as his own and claims credit for the whole thing.  This, in a nutshell, is Bush's entire career.

      His initial policies always fail. He waits for the criticism.  Then takes credit for the revised policy.

      We need to scoop up ALL the policies at once and replace them with another vision.  I admit: it will be too asbract at first to use as a message.  But the frame is exactly that: a framework.  it's purpose is to provide a broad logic for generating new messages.  It is not the message itself.

      So if it's amorphous, so be it for now.  We'll get there.

      As for the idea that "w-- -----r" is already abstract, I simply don't agree.  It's a startlingly clear concept.  In a war, we send soldiers and guns to kill things.  We could launch a war on the color green and most people would understand what that meant.  Whether it works pragmatically, that's a different question.  But it sure as heck works as rhetoric.  

      Struggle for unity--not even close!  I'll admit that right away.  But I think the definition of the strong nation as a group all standing togther--that has the breadth to generate a powerful message.  Of that I am convinced.

      (Thanks for your comments...they're always great)

      •  what we lack (none)
        Jeffrey, your analysis of Bush and his response to criticisms is insightful.  What MLK articulated is what we lack:  an encompassing vision, a vision of ourselves and of the larger world.  I think that one of things that made FDR such a compelling figure is that he took the best of America and used it as a model for the post-war situation (the UN and in many ways, the Marshall  Plan which came after FDR).  Unity, democracy, human rights, cooperation, collective security etc. were the foundation of the post war world and Aemricans could understand that because they are the best of our ideals.
      •  Color me unconvinced (none)
        The Iraq War is concrete and the Afghan war was concrete, and is now fuzzy. Afghanistan is a combination of under funded nation building and fighting warlord narco-traffikers.

        All four of the other problems are decidedly non-warlike. The only war like aspect of the WOT is Iraq. Bin Ladenism, for example requires the international diplomatic cooperation and criminal investigation techniques that Bush abhors. We can't bomb Bin Ladenism. Bombs won't win the War of Ideas, which demilitarizes the entire concept. Our Domestic National Security problems are definitely a non-military problem.

        Allow me to make a suggestion. Put the Iraq war aside and develop a frame for the remaining problems. Afghanistan is a Nation Building problem. Turning the Pentagon around from a military conquest machine to a redevelopment agency with a very powerful security apparatus is a long term goal that Thomas Barnett suggests is possible.

        It strikes me as inherently problematic to try to include the concept of war into any other framework. The idea of war does not play well with others. All of the other aspects of our terrorism problems should fit much more nicely into a single frame.

        It occurs to me that National Security vs. the Iraq War may be a good paradigm. I believe the Iraq war actually threatens our national security and that idea is a common thread running through much of the criticism of Bush's policies.

      •  Your Points Are Good, But There's More (none)
        And I think Jolly Buddha's own defense misses the point as well. His breakdown is valueable for giving us a set of much more concrete things to talk about. I agree that it's not enough to just attack what he's done. That has to be done within a larger framework, and that has to reflect a position of executive action, rather than protest.

        But the breakdown is extremrely valuable, IMHO, because it very objectively shows that the WoST (W-- O- SOME T-----) is a mixed bag of different sorts of things. This simple act shifts some of the burden, and opens the way for a lot more, when it comes to who has the explaining to do.  

        •  Point taken (none)
          I think it's critical to separate the Iraq war from everything else. The Iraq war is promoting terrorism. The Iraq war is alienating our international allies in the larger struggle. The Iraq war is distracting us from domestic security.

          The fatal flaw of the WOT is that it attempts to integrate a lot of different problems into one metaphor. The best way to solve many problems is to break them down into manageable sub-sets. Take construction contractors for example. Contractors break the job down into different phases of construction and farm the jobs out to sub-contractors.

          Iraq is the only part of the terrorism problem that is related to war. Separate that anomalous part of the problem from the rest and re-define the problem of terrorism. We have two problems; (1) the Iraq war (2) terrorism.

          The remaining problem is how you match the intensity of the conflict with a descrptive work other than war.

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