Monday, January 01, 2007

A surge in propaganda

I've noticed that Atrios and other liberal bloggers have been making a concerted effort to use the word "escalation" instead of surge, saying that escalation is the accurate term.

Actually, escalation is just the surge of stupid wars past, a propaganda term designed to make "increase the number of troops" sound like a good thing.

In general, I agree with this push to choose the words with which to frame the debate, but I'm uncomfortable when it turns into misleading propaganda.

In the case of escalation, however, I don't think it's misleading propaganda as much as a poor choice of words. The honest and accurate description -- "increase the number of troops" -- is a much more effective, from an anti-war perspective, than escalation, which was originally, as noted above, a pro-war propaganda term itself.

Not only that, but escalation, like surge, is a weak word, which is why they use it. Think of the words we use when we want to make the opposite argument. We do not demand that the Bush administration ebb the troops. No one at a protest rally screams de-escalate now! No, "bring home the troops" is the powerful phrase. It is powerful because it is honest and direct. It is powerful because it brings humans into equation as well as the concept of home.

By the same token, the words surge or escalate have no human connotations. But "increase the number of troops," now those are some powerful words. People know exactly what they mean.