Words mean things

James Jay Carafano talks about the War of words and how Congress is misusing words in a way that puts politics over country.

Case in point: The House Armed Services Committee recently ruled that the phrase “the long war” cannot be used in writing the annual defense authorization bill. Committee leaders claim they want the language of the law to be more precise. If that is truly what they want — that is, if this wasn’t about scoring political points — then maybe they don’t understand what the war on terrorism is all about.

Acknowledging that America is waging a long war is essential. It must be recognized to ensure this nation takes the right steps to win. It’s just as important as when we called the Cold War “cold,” which helped Americans understand we couldn’t defeat the Soviet empire through direct military confrontation.

When Congress tries to call a particular war by the wrong name, it risks losing sight of what needs to be done.

The House Armed Services Committee appears to be guilty of the criticism so often made of the administration — hubris, or overweening self-confidence in its own beliefs.

It is hubris to think it is all about us, to believe if we just change the words, elect new leaders, or adopt “smarter” policies that America will automatically triumph. It takes a humble and realistic leadership to admit that the fight is tough — that the war will, in fact, be a “long” one — because the enemy is determined.

Simply changing words won’t change the war’s nature. Changing words substitutes rhetoric for substance and sound strategic thinking. Congress can do better.

Twisting or misusing words is a propaganda technique, and not an honest one. It is also a denial technique – a means whereby someone can avoid facing an unpleasant reality. Neither of these two models makes for effective governance.

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