Open Ended

Time for a little commentary on English.  One thing that has bugged me for a while is that President Bush says that our commitment in Iraq is not “open-ended,” yet at the same time we cannot stop fighting until we win.  Sounds like the definition of “open-ended” to me, yet rarely is called on this absurdity.  Fred Kaplan, who as readers of this blog know, writes great stuff about Iraq and military policy, calls Bush on this and several other absurd features of his Iraq policy in his latest column.  Highlights…

What is most head-shaking of all is that, after four years of this war,
the president once more fell short of making its case. As in the past,
he said that it's very important ?”a decisive ideological struggle,” he
called it, adding, “nothing is more important at this moment in our
history than for America to succeed.” And yet he also said that
America's commitment to the war is “not open-ended.” How can both
claims be true? If nothing is more important, it must be open-ended. If
it's not open-ended, it can't be all that important…

He then said, “Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this
struggle because we are not in this struggle alone. We have a
diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight
against extremism.”

This is mind-boggling. The largest
“coalition” partner, Great Britain, plans to pull out by the end of the
year. Most of the others have long since vanished. There is, clearly,
no “diplomatic strategy,” no “rallying” to recruit others to the fight.
A diplomatic strategy and energetic leadership are precisely what
everyone is waiting for. They are what President Bush once more failed
to offer tonight.
(emphasis mine).

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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