La Navy (Fallon) vraiment pas fana des idées de “guerre sans fin”

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Chaque nouvelle qui nous vient de l’amiral Fallon, c’est-à-dire de la Navy, confirme le peu d’enthousiasme de ce service pour les thèses radicales de l’administration sur “la guerre contre la terreur”, la “Long War”, etc. (La nouvelle confirme également la thèse de Gareth Porter, telle que nous la signalions, ainsi que nos diverses remarques sur les hésitations de la Navy.) C’est justement cette expression de “Long War” dont Fallon, l’amiral nouvellement placé à la tête de CentCom, a interdit l’emploi par ses services.

Dans le St Petersburg Times (Floride, comme son nom ne l’indique pas), proche de Tampa où se trouve le quartier général de CentCom, on donne le 21 mai des précisions sur cette décision liée à la sémantique qui joue un grand rôle dans les guerres postmodernes. Il s’agit d’un acte qui signifie une vision beaucoup plus contrastée, beaucoup moins radicale et exaltée du “conflit” en cours actuellement.

«When Gen. John Abizaid stepped down as chief of U.S. Central Command, he was praised for promoting words that captured the challenge of fighting terrorism.

»“John realized early on ... it would be a long and difficult endeavor,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a March ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base. “In fact, he popularized the phrase ‘long war’ commonly used today.”

»In remarks that day, Abizaid's successor, Adm. William Fallon, didn't touch the phrase. In fact, Fallon soon canned it altogether. Fallon's decision last month to stop using a phrase that had been etched into the public lexicon underscored the critical but often forgotten role of language in defining and framing debate about war. Like advertising slogans, wars are often distilled to words or catch phrases that, fairly or not, color public perception of history.

»Vietnam became a “quagmire,” World War II “the good war,” and World War I “the Great War.” But in an age of instantaneous global communications, a word uttered at CentCom headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base can influence an entire population half a world away.

»As Michael Keane, author of the Dictionary of Modern Strategy and Tactics, wrote in 2005, “Words go to war as surely as soldiers do. In the Arab world, they analyze every syllable we speak for our hidden meaning,” said Chet Richards, a retired Air Force Reserve colonel who has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. “It's a very oral culture. They listen carefully to words.”

»At a time when many Muslims see the United States as an imperial, occupying power, “the long war” did little to counter the notion, Richards and other critics of the phrase argue.

»“And calling it a war led people to think of the military as the only solution,” said Richards, who is delighted with Fallon's decision. “The military is really a small part of the solution.”

Si Mr. Richards est content, l’expert d’extrême-droite James Carafano, de Heritage Foundation, père de l’expression “Long War”, enrage. Pour lui, la décision implicite de Fallon est l’équivalent d’une retraite en forme de déroute. Ainsi perd-on des guerres presque gagnées, amiral.

«James Carafano, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, may have been one of the first to use “the long war» in the months after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

»Carafano said he thinks Fallon, the new CentCom chief, has committed a “nutty” blunder. “Are we going to stop saying ‘World War II’ because not every nation was at war and the Swiss might be offended?” Carafano said. “Fallon's taken political correctness to the point of idiocy.”

»In the Arab world, the United States will lose face by discarding the phrase, Carafano said. “When you're saying you're not at war, that you're not a warrior, that you're not defending anything, you're really dishonoring yourself,” Carafano said. “You're telling your enemy, 'You're more honorable than I am.’”»


Mis en ligne le 22 mai 2007 à 17H32

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