Posted by: Jim | December 20, 2006

The Madness of Metaphors

President Bush spoke today, and I simply must point out a few quotes. I see a prevalence of misapplied metaphors that are useful to deconstruct. For example:

“The enemies of liberty responded fiercely to this advance of freedom.”

I’ll risk being called unpatriotic by stating that this statement is pure propaganda. While I am no fan of insurgents, I doubt they lie awake at night hating the concept of Liberty. At the same time, I would hardly call what we are doing in Iraq an “advance of Freedom.” The Iraqi people don’t want us there!

“The advance of liberty has never been easy. And Iraq is proving how tough it can be. ”

Again he equates our unlawful invasion as “the advance of liberty.” The advance of Liberty in this case could easily be called “nation building.” And he is misapplying the concept that hard work is good and right, which is a die-hard part of the American ethic. Yes it is hard work, but so is selling heroin.

“The one thing we cannot do is give up on the hundreds of millions of ordinary moms and dads across the Middle East who want the hope and opportunity for their children that the terrorists and extremists seek to deny them.”

And here is where I tend to take the President’s side. If we put the past behind us, and take the present situation at face value, we would be putting a lot of Iraqi people in harm’s way if we simply abandoned our mess. But we have them in harm’s way while we’re trying to clean up the mess, and I don’t see how there will ever not be a mess in Iraq. The idea that Iraq would become a self-governing, self-defending, non-chaotic country does not seem possible to me. I would need to be seriously convinced with a compelling plan that would explain to me how we could do this. If I saw that plan, I would buy in. But I don’t see diddly.

“And I encourage you all to go shopping more.”

I actually don’t think this was meant to be a metaphor. I think he actually means that. Umm, okay.

“Journalist: If you conclude that a surge in troop levels in Iraq is needed, would you overrule your military commanders if they felt it was not a good idea? BUSH: That’s a dangerous hypothetical question. I’m not condemning you; you’re allowed to ask anything you want. The opinion of my commanders is very important. They are bright, capable, smart people whose opinion matters to me a lot.”

Oh really? General Abizaid, who opposed increasing troop levels in Iraq, “resigned” today. It seems clear, based on questioning, that he was asked to leave.

“… that doesn’t necessarily preclude increasing end strength for the Army and the Marines. And the reason why I’m inclined to believe this is a good idea is because I understand that we’re going to be in a long struggle against radicals and extremists. … I’m not predicting any particular theater, but I am predicting that it’s going to take a while for the ideology of liberty to finally triumph over the ideology of hate.”

We will be increasing troop levels. The press is not tickled with these statements when they aren’t going to happen. My question is … where are these troops going to come from? I would like to remind everyone that Bush promised the United States on national television that we would not reinstitute a draft. Recruitment is going very badly. Troops are dwindling. Something doesn’t add up.

“I know you know I feel this strongly, but I see this – we’re in the beginning of a conflict between competing ideologies; a conflict that will determine whether or not your children can live in peace.”

And how, exactly, will a self-governing Iraq provide us assurances of this peace he speaks of? Does a peaceful Iraq mean that we won’t have competing ideologies? This logic is pure tripe. Troops would have to be increased fairly substantially to completely eradicate the ideology that America isn’t wanted in the Middle East. In fact, as long as we’re building nations, let’s move the state of Israel to New Mexico. The ideologies will no longer clash, and the Moussad can get rid of all the meth labs. The future of our children depends on it!

“Failure in the Middle East, for example, or failure in Iraq or isolationism will condemn a generation of young Americans to permanent threat from overseas.”

Again, this statement is absurd, and presumes that the threat from overseas will be eradicated if only Iraq would govern itself. Huh?

“And, therefore, we will help young democracies when we find them.”

When did we find one? What other secular, totalitarian regime would we call a “young democracy?” I am perplexed by this statement.



  1. “Yes it is hard work, but so is selling heroine.”

    Unless this is sophisticated wordplay, it should be, and I speak with only a passing interest in this subject (rather than an arm full of needle marks), heroin.

  2. this site is great, it documents all types of fallacies.

    Bush’s fallacy is something like this:

    The US is fighting for liberty.
    The insurgents are fighting the US.
    Therefore, the insurgents are the enemies of liberty.

    It could equally be stated:

    The insurgents are fighting to liberate themselves from occupation.
    The US is fighting the insurgents.
    Therefore, the US is the enemy of liberty.

    Bush and his people love this kind of fallacy, where you align yourself with some simple highly charged value that people find it hard to argue against, “liberty”, “patriotism”, etc, and then characterise all opposition as enemies of that value. hence, bush’s continual and disgraceful attempts to equate Democrats who oppose his failed policy in Iraq with being terrorist sympathisers, unpatriotic, traitors, etc.

  3. Jason, it took me a while to realize you were pointing out a misspelling!

    Thanks. (Propaganda was misspelled too. Jeeze.)

  4. If you dissect any sentence enough, you can totaly negate its meaning. It’s too bad that not everyone has a doctorate in English, but I’m fairly certain that we all get the meaning.

    Being surrounded by military and having ample opportunity to interact with them, I can state without reservation that the people we are fighting (the insurgents) are indeed enemies of liberty. I ran this post by a few of the soldiers I know, and they were appalled that people here (in the U.S.) mthink we’re over there fighting a war against people who respect peace and harmony. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the statement “I doubt they lie awake at night hating the concept of Liberty” is inaccurate, based on feedback from people who have been there, and have been shot at.

    If you believe the United states is against liberty, then I feel very sorry for you.

    …and there will not be a draft. Liberals like to raise this flag every so often to spark alarm, but it does not work. There will be no draft.

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