October 19, 2006

Being Otherwise

Another month, and the increasingly deadly charade continues:
BAGHDAD, Oct. 19 — The American-led crackdown in Baghdad has not succeeded in reducing a "disheartening" level of violence across the capital and a new approach is needed, a military spokesman said today.

Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the senior spokesman for the American military in Iraq, said that the strategy of concentrating on a limited number of highly troubled neighborhoods had not slowed sectarian violence in the city as a whole.

General Caldwell said that attacks in the Baghdad area went up 22 percent during the first three weeks of Ramadan in comparison with the three weeks before.

The crackdown, which began in August, "has made a difference in the focus areas but has not met our overall expectations in sustaining a reduction in the level of violence," General Caldwell said, adding that American commanders were consulting with the Iraqi government on a change in plans.


In Baghdad, General Caldwell said that violence had begun to return to some of the areas that had been the focus of the crackdown, as Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda "push back."

He said their strategy seemed to be that "if you want to discredit this government, go back and strike at those areas" that officials have announced as newly peaceful.
I detect the odor of strategy-envy.

And the absurdist commentary continues as well:
The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, told reporters in Washington today that the general was not saying that the effort in Baghdad had been a failure.

"What he said is that the levels of violence had not been lowered in a way that met our expectations, and so what we’re doing is we’re adjusting to bring them down, which is what you’d expect," Mr. Snow said.
If you aren't quite following this, you need to remember Alice in Wonderland. Too often cited these days, I know, but it is so apposite.

One excerpt you surely recall:
Humpty Dumpty: When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.

Alice: The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.

Humpty Dumpty: The question is: which is to be master - that's all.
And one passage that may not leap to mind:
The Duchess: Be what you would seem to be -- or, if you'd like it put more simply -- Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.
I trust this clarifies matters.

Give up the fantasies.

Get Out Now.

UPDATE: Okay, okay. All you tweedy professor types with your insistence on accuracy and precision can stop writing me now. Brother, you'd think this was a newspaper or something.

That was a joke.

Alright, you can stop laughing. Several of you have kindly sent me emails pointing out that there isn't actually a book titled Alice in Wonderland. D'oh! Er, um, in fact I knew that. I was using Alice in Wonderland in the informal, collective sense, to refer to both books. Like this:
The book [Alice's Adventures in Wonderland] is often referred to by the abbreviated title Alice in Wonderland. This alternate title was popularized by the numerous film and television adaptations of the story produced over the years. Some printings of this title contain both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.
Still, accuracy is important to me, even if it isn't to much of the major media.

The Duchess appears in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Chapter IX, to be precise), and Humpty Dumpty appears in Through the Looking-Glass (Chapter VI, to be precise).

I trust this clarifies matters. Unless it doesn't, or unless it does something else. Except if it is otherwise.

Thanks to those who wrote.