UFPPC's Hank Berger offers some observations on "the job" as a distinctively American euphemism.  --  It's an example of a phenomenon commented upon in a UFPPC statement in July 2004 On War and the Corruption of Language:  "The corruption of language is one of the results of the pursuit of unjust national aims through war." ...

By Hank Berger

United for Peace of Pierce County
March 20, 2005

As this article published Saturday on the second anniversary of the Iraq war by the Cox News Service shows, "the job" has become a common euphemism in the jargon of U.S. militarism. (Another euphemism is "bad guys," referring to those who oppose "the job".)

Reporter Larry Kaplow coyly feigns befuddlement about "the appropriate name . . . for this job that requires soldiers to be diplomats, warriors, police and aid workers."[1]

Like the insidious logic behind the yellow "Support Our Troops" ribbons clinging symbolically to vehicles powered by cheap petroleum imported from foreign sources, "the job" gives one no alternative but to support what American troops are doing.

The use of the term "the job" and the belief that "Support Our Troops" can suffice as a moral attitude toward U.S. foreign policy are examples of what one student of logic calls "the fallacy of Invincible Ignorance" or "the fallacy of circularity":

"The fallacy of Invincible Ignorance mimics the consistency that comes from having a well-thought-out position. However, it asks us to overlook the distinction between rational consistency and sheer stubbornness."

Oh -- and by the way, the reason that one can "support our troops" without supporting "the job" that they have currently undertaken is that the troops did not choose "the job."

That was "the job" of, inter alii, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and -- perhaps -- George W. Bush.



By Larry Kaplow

Cox News Service
March 19, 2005


BAGHDAD -- Army Capt. Chris Mahaffey and his comrades were celebrated as heroes two years ago when they charged across Iraq's border with Kuwait and in three weeks stormed into Baghdad, forcing the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Mahaffey and many of the troops of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division are now back for a second tour of duty in Iraq. Instead of mounting armored assaults and toppling statues, they are in Humvees slogging through the sewage of eastern Baghdad and facing disgruntled Iraqis.

Military history, as well as two years of American experience in Iraq, teaches that there is usually more glory in conquest than in occupation -- or whatever the appropriate name is for this job that requires soldiers to be diplomats, warriors, police and aid workers. The 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., left Iraq at the end of that first tour in mid-2003. Its troops began returning here in January.

This time around, they listen to gripes from Iraqis about poor city services and attempt to explain, through nervous, masked translators, the rules of the nightly curfew.

Gunners atop the vehicles take care to duck behind their armor plating on the stretches known for roadside bombs. The soldiers warily dissect tips from apparently helpful Iraqis, wondering if they are truly trying to turn in gunmen or just trying to sow trouble for personal enemies.

Today's work is tougher, said many of the troops who made the charge two years ago, and it might be these mundane tasks that really determine long-term victory or defeat.

"There is not a whole lot that is sexy about what we are doing right now. However, there is still a hundred percent of the risk and a lot to lose if we screw it up," observed Mahaffey, 30.

As he sees it, no less than the prospect for democracy in the region rests on the events that happen during his new stint in Iraq.

Two years ago today, U.S. airstrikes signaled the start of the invasion of Iraq, followed by troops moving in from Kuwait. Mahaffey planned the April 5 tank assault by the 2nd Brigade's Task Force 1-64 in western Baghdad that would later be called "Thunder Run."

The 3rd Infantry Division soldiers pierced the Iraqi defenses and two days later gained a foothold in the capital, winning decorations all around. The troops preserved the climactic moment on video, when a tank round pulverized a statue of Hussein on horseback at his official parade grounds.

The nostalgia is obvious as the troops view photos and make references to their exploits two years ago.

"It was much easier last time," said First Sgt. Jerold Pyle, 42, of Springfield, Mo., who was shot in the arm during the Thunder Run. "The bad guys wore uniforms . . . sometimes waiting to get shot at is worse than getting shot at." The 2nd Brigade is composed of roughly 4,500 soldiers, and about 1,800 now in Iraq were here two years ago. They are part of some 150,000 American military personnel currently serving in Iraq.

They are fighting shadowy insurgents whose numbers are still only roughly guessed at by U.S. analysts.

During preparations for this second tour, the brigade trained in simulated Iraqi towns on a base in the United States, where they were taught how to find the Iraqis who hold local influence and how to patrol narrow streets.

The first rule was to set aside the lessons of the past. This is not open warfare like the old days, something Mahaffey's commander, Lt. Col. Kevin Farrell, 40, of Harrison, N.Y., who was not here the first time around, tried to make clear.

"The things I emphasize most of all are self-discipline and unit discipline," Farrell said.

In the war two years ago troops were free to spray gunfire at possible threats. Not all the Iraqi forces were uniformed, and thousands of Iraqi civilians are thought to have been killed in the American assault. But their deaths were largely obscured by the bigger battle. Mahaffey said they became "part of the background noise" of war.

Now, Iraqi insurgents blend in with civilians, but killing a civilian can be a political setback undoing months of U.S. relations with a neighborhood or tribe. It can be an international incident, too, as was evident after other members of the 3rd Infantry Division killed an Italian intelligence agent near the Baghdad airport earlier this month.

Iraqis themselves seem split between hope and despair. When U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq two years ago, Adnan al-Eiby was thrilled. He thought that once Hussein was toppled, Iraq would become a flourishing Western-style democracy.

"But now, I walk down the street and all I see is death -- innocent people blown up by terrorists and others shot by the Americans," said the 32-year-old chauffeur. "I'm fed up with life. We pinned our hopes on the Americans but they let us down."

A different take comes from Hamid Balasim, a 34-year-old nuclear energy engineer once favored by Hussein's regime. He says freedom matters even more than reconstructing Iraq or getting rich. "Things are one million times better than Saddam's days," Balasim said. "Freedom is the essence of life."

Iraqis have experienced the act of casting a vote in the first free and fair elections in Iraq's modern history. But lawlessness prevails, and Iraq remains mired in acts of ferocity.

The American troops try to support the Iraqi police and army and the new Iraqi government. They continue working on multimillion-dollar projects to rebuild and improve sewer lines, electrical grids, roads and schools -- often dealing with local councils in which corruption and petty disputes are common.

Farrell, who oversees an area with perhaps 1 million Iraqis, is remaking the membership of the local Iraqi council in his eastern Baghdad area amid concerns that the previous board squandered much of the project money. He estimates that perhaps only one in 10 informants' tips is at all credible. Competent translators are harder to come by after several from their base were killed. After two years, the Army still has constant problems telling good guys from bad guys at checkpoints.

The eastern Baghdad area has been quiet lately, but the brigade has seen two soldiers killed in action since its second tour began -- it lost 10 in the first tour. Farrell said troops in his brigade get attacked once or twice a day, and often the attacks come from large car bombs or roadside explosives.

A few soldiers said they hoped theirs would be the last large contingent of American troops needed here, but they doubted that prospect.

"A couple weeks ago we kind of joked that we would have a non-alcoholic beer anniversary party," said Sgt. Jason Deming, 28, a veteran of the invasion two years ago.

But there are no parties planned.

"We just know we're back again," said Deming. "We need to get this done and go back home."