“Spin” defined

August 2, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
spinning, by Josef Steufer (creative commons)

"spinning" by Josef Steufer on Flickr (creative commons)

World English Dictionary defines “spin” thusly:

13.informal to present news or information in a way that creates a favourable impression

President Obama is kind enough to provide us with an example:

President Obama on Monday announced plans to withdraw combat forces in Iraq, providing assurances that an Aug. 31 deadline will be met as the U.S. moves toward a supporting role in the still-fractured and dangerous nation.

U.S. forces in Iraq will number 50,000 by the end of the month — a reduction of 94,000 troops since he took office 18 months ago, the president said in remarks to the Disabled American Veterans. The remaining troops will form a transitional force until a final withdrawal from the country is completed by the end of 2011, he said.

… “Make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing — from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats.”

Only in the world of “spin”  (or Orwell) would 50,000 troops be considered a “civilian effort led by our diplomats”.  Oh, but they’re not “combat” troops, they are “transitional” troops. I wonder what that means? Let’s see what CNN has to say:

Administration officials, who briefed reporters on the plan, said the remaining troops would take on advisory roles in training and equipping Iraqi forces, supporting civilian operations in Iraq and conducting targeted counterterrorism missions, which would include some combat.

OK, so “transitional” troops can still do combat, but we’re not going to call them “combat” troops anymore.  Gotcha, spinmeister!  Oh, and lets see if you can find the spin sentence here:

“We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime and you got the job done,” he said, referring to the troops.

The U.S. military had also “exceeded every expectation” suppressing the insurgency in the years that followed.

That was a trick question, there’s more than one part that’s spin there.  First, we did not send our troops to get rid of Saddam Hussein, we sent them to find the weapons of mass destruction.   And because Hussein was harboring Al-Qaeda.  And because of Iraq’s support of Palestinian suicide bombers.  And because of Iraqi human rights abuses.  And finally, we sent our troops in an effort to spread democracy to the country.  At least, those are the reasons that were variously offered at the time of the invasion, according to Wikipedia.   Of course, it becomes harder to discuss Hussein’s human right’s abuses when there were similarly inhumane abuses following the U.S. occupation, just as it’s problematic to claim that you are spreading democracy in a country that appears to have a vibrant, armed resistance to such democracy.  “You’ll get your democracy, like it or not, Iraqis!”

Secondly, show me any person that thinks that the U.S. military “exceeded every expectation” in suppressing the insurgency.   I seem to remember some talk of the situation devolving into a  civil war, and I think the word “quagmire” might have even been bandied about.  But, that’s spin for you.

If you want to see what it looks like when troops really, truly withdraw from a fight, the Dutch are doing just that in Afghanistan.  After the Netherlands’ coalition government collapsed in February over the war in Afghanistan, they are pulling out.

Dutch command was formally handed over to the US and Australia in a small ceremony on Sunday at the main military base in Uruzgan – where most Dutch soldiers have been deployed.

The Dutch ministry of defence told the BBC that while its military mission in Afghanistan had ended, a redeployment task force would stay on to oversee the return of vehicles, military hardware and equipment to the Netherlands.

See how they can pull out without leaving any “transitional” forces (who may also engage in combat)?  All they need is the people to pack up all the stuff and ship it home.  Perhaps we should be learning from them.

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Category: Iraq, Military, Orwellian, Propaganda

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is a full-time wage slave and part-time philosopher, writing and living just outside Omaha with his lovely wife and two feline roommates.

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  1. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Blogger Casual Observer makes much the same observation at Firedoglake in regards to our troops in Iraq:

    Obama did not say that all the combat troops were leaving this month. He certainly didn’t say this today in Atlanta, and to my knowledge he has never said it.

    The reason Obama avoided saying this today likely stems from the fact that the units deployed in Iraq after August 31st 2010 will all be fully functional combat units. The only difference is that we will now call them by a different name, in which the word “combat” no longer appears. They are now termed "advise and assist brigades" by the administration, and the press dutifully reported this new term in their stories.

    No wonder the press missed it. They can’t be expected to take dictation and fact-check it too.

    What the administration has done (and the press would know this if they’d simply do their collective job) is rebrand the Iraqi mission with an new tag-line (“New Dawn”), and re-label six fully-combat-capable brigades with new, kinder and gentler titles. That’s basically the story. Here’s the February memo from Gates to CENTCOM giving the go-ahead to roll-out the kinder/gentler new mission tag-line that we’ll all going to hear so much about.

    The New Dawn mission tagline and associated public relations effort doesn’t fit well with the word “combat”–and actually the American people have had their fill of the term too. So no accident that the administration has simply renamed six (or so) brigade combat teams as “advise and assist” brigades.

  2. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Reuters has a new article with some interviews from soldiers who are still serving in Iraq. I guess nobody told them our war there was over. (<a href="http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/09/13/democrats?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+salon%2Fgreenwald+%28Glenn+Greenwald%29&quot; rel="nofollow">h/t Glenn Greenwald)

    "To us it was like a slap in the face, because we are still here … we are still going in harm's way every time we leave out of the gate," Manuel said at a U.S. military base, Camp Speicher, near Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit.

    On September 7, two U.S. soldiers were killed and nine wounded when an Iraqi soldier opened fire on them at an Iraqi commando base.

    The hype around the change of mission, which allowed President Barack Obama to say he was fulfilling a pledge to start ending the unpopular war, set off complaints among some soldiers left behind who were no longer viewed as combat troops.

    U.S. military convoys are still shot at and bombed, and bases are mortared, despite a change in the name of the U.S. mission from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn.

    "That doesn't really change a thing, it is still dangerous," said 22-year-old Specialist Byron Reed, on his second deployment in Iraq, as he prepared to escort a convoy to Camp Speicher from Balad air base in Salahuddin province.

    Manuel said changing the mission's name meant little if any of his soldiers were to be killed by a roadside bomb.

    "If a life is gone, it is gone," he said. "As long as we are going in harm's way, it (the war) is not over for us."

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