Monday, November 03, 2003

Shooting from the Lip

"The problem in Iraq is basically a problem in communication. And it isn't caused by the fact that one side speaks English, the other Arabic. It's more subtle than that. The people blowing up themselves and everyone else unlucky enough to be within striking distance take what the President says literally.

Thus, in response to the terrorists' early attacks, Mr. Bush, you may recall, snapped, "Bring 'em on!" Lacking familiarity with Hollywood tough-guy talk, they assumed that was a straightforward invitation and hurried to accept it. Result: an explosion of attacks.

In like vein, the President's recent proclamation that the sharp step-up in ambushes and bombings was a measure of the terrorists' increasing desperation induced by the progress we've been making in rehabilitating the country had a perverse effect: It triggered a fresh burst of ambushes and bombings. Whatever their politics, the Iraqis are a famously polite people, so if a distinguished personage like the President of the United States insists every blast is a boost, the terrorists feel they can do no less than accommodate him by offering more blasts.

Obviously, Mr. Bush needs to be gently urged that, before shooting from the lip, he consider the likely impact of his words on Iraqi ears, untuned as they are to the nuances of our idioms and the true import of our colloquialisms. We were hoping that Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld's right-hand man, might take on that touchy task once he returned from Baghdad, where his mission was to document our successes or find weapons of mass destruction, whichever could be accomplished more quickly. But Mr. Wolfowitz found himself one thin hotel floor from being blown away, so he understandably may require an extended period of R&R and being hors de combat."

ALAN ABELSON, Shooting from the Lip
Barrons November 3, 2003
UP AND DOWN WALL STREET,,SB106764477221729500,00.html

Posted at 12:03 PM in Media, Politics | Permalink


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Posted by: luke rice | Feb 20, 2006 7:21:06 AM

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