New Wikileaks on Petraeus’s Afghanistan “Nudge.”

(11 am. – promoted by DDadmin)

A new diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks shows top commanders in Afghanistan wrangling over the issue of what to call yet another troop escalation to re-gain footing in their faltering nine-year effort to control the country.  “The Surge” used in Iraq was a fresh, sufficiently masculine and strength exuding name for the troop escalation, without actually referring to a “troop escalation” and being divorced from connotations of the ensuing gore and violence.  Public opinion tolerated, and was even perhaps vaguely stirred by “the surge,” which struck a nice balance between the need to project strength prudently while avoiding the pale of Rumsfeld’s premature “shock and awe” rhetoric so many years into an ageing war.

But by the time “the surge” was re-deployed by General Petraeus in Afghanistan, it had already become somewhat stale-sounding, and uninspiring.  Similarly, when George H.W. Bush invaded Iraq the first time, it was dramatically named “Operation Desert Storm,” with the troops being led by Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf, but using the same name for the second invasion by George W. Bush simply was out of the question, so the second military action was idealistically re-branded “Operation Iraqi Liberation Freedom.

In its tenth year, support for the Afghanistan war is wearing thin, and “the surge” branding is thought by commanders to be losing appeal.  Cables revealed that among candidates for re-branding the latest troop escalation (and reasons for rejection) were:  

The billow and the swell weren’t manly enough.  The torrent seemed too excessive and “raging.”  The throb reminded everyone of headaches and boners.  The blast was too violently explosive.  The gush implied a loss of control — open wounds and broken pipes gush.  The pulse reminded everyone that Dick Cheney hasn’t one.  The uptick sounded small bore; plus it’s often used in the phrase “the uptick in violence.”  The heave was associated with vomiting and death throes.  The punch, the prod, the squash, and the squish sounded too aggressive, hectoring even.  The push and the shove seemed rude.  The squeeze were a band from the eighties.  Everyone agreed it was “great song-writing.”  The goose seemed “too butt grabby.”   The thrust and the poke were too phallic.  The press and the dig raised some eyebrows, but were somehow vague or basketbally.  The dragooning reminded everyone of good old-fashioned browbeating and rendition.  The ram, the steamroller, the bulldozer, pouring it on,  going to town on, putting the screws to, etc.,  were dismissed as signs of growing frustration with the brainstorming process.  It really was difficult to find a phrase having all the qualities of “the surge” without the negative associations.  Finally, one commander suggested, “Howzabout just tellin’ ’em  we’re “puttin’ some starch in our shorts?“”

The cables indicated that Petraeus will soon be announcing the nudge, something that can be done to persuade and encourage friends and allies without appearing overly domineering.


Skip to comment form

    • Edger on January 13, 2011 at 14:58
    • Edger on January 13, 2011 at 19:49

    Us and Them

    And after all we’re only ordinary men

    Me and you

    God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do

    Forward he cried, from the rear

    And the front rank died

    The General sat, and the lines on the map

    Moved from side to side

    Black and Blue

    And who knows which is which and who is who

    Up and Down

    And in the end it’s only round and round and round

    Haven’t you heard it’s a battle of words

    The poster bearer cried

    Listen son, said the man with the gun

    There’s room for you inside

    Down and Out

    It can’t be helped but there’s a lot of it about

    With, without

    And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about

    Out of the way, it’s a busy day

    I’ve got things on my mind

    For want of the price of tea and a slice

    The old man died…

Comments have been disabled.