Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years After 9/11: Drop the War Metaphor

Language matters, because it can determine how we think and act.

For a few hours after the towers fell on 9/11, administration spokesmen referred to the event as a "crime." Indeed, Colin Powell argued within the administration that it be treated as a crime. This would have involved international crime-fighting techniques: checking banks accounts, wire-tapping, recruiting spies and informants, engaging in diplomacy, cooperating with intelligence agencies in other governments, and if necessary, engaging in limited "police actions" with military force. Indeed, such methods have been the most successful so far in dealing with terrorism.

But the crime frame did not prevail in the Bush administration. Instead, a war metaphor was chosen: the "War on Terror." Literal - not metaphorical - wars are conducted against armies of other nations. They end when the armies are defeated militarily and a peace treaty is signed. Terror is an emotional state. It is in us. It is not an army. And you can't defeat it militarily and you can't sign a peace treaty with it.

Read the full article at http://www.dfalink.com/group_files.php?gid=249.

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