Friday, January 14, 2005

Unintended consequences

Two related news stories for you to consider.


Departing from fiery Islamic slogans, Iraqi guerrillas have launched a propaganda campaign with an English-language video urging U.S. troops to lay down their weapons and seek refuge in mosques and homes.
The video, narrated in fluent English by what sounded like an Iraqi educated in the United States or Britain, also mocked the U.S. president's challenge to rebels in the early days of the insurgency to 'bring it on'.
"George W. Bush; you have asked us to 'bring it on'. And so help me, (we will) like you never expected. Do you have another challenge?," asked the narrator before the video showed explosions around a U.S. military Humvee vehicle.


During a round-table interview with reporters from 14 newspapers, the president, who not long ago declined to identify any mistakes he'd made during his first term, expressed misgivings for two of his most famous expressions: "Bring 'em on," in reference to Iraqis attacking U.S. troops, and his vow to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive."
"Sometimes, words have consequences you don't intend them to mean," Bush said Thursday.
"'Bring 'em on' is the classic example, when I was really trying to rally the troops and make it clear to them that I fully understood, you know, what a great job they were doing. And those words had an unintended consequence. It kind of, some interpreted it to be defiance in the face of danger. That certainly wasn't the case."

I am a bit surprised that Bush would be so contrite after winning reelection. Now, everyone's got their favourite Bushism. (The one gaffe I'll never forgive him for -- and the one that drove me to campaign for Kerry -- was cracking a series of jokes about the failure to find WMDs.) But the killer is this: who in their right minds didn't believe that "bring 'em on" would be a rallying cry for the Iraqi insurgency? I'm not one of those people that believe Bush can do no right, but please, sir, consider the meaning of the words before you say them.
And for that matter, what was the deal with apologizing for the "dead or alive" statement? Is Bush sorry for declaring the condition in which he wanted bin Laden captured, or for making a failed promise to catch him at all?


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