[FOUNTAIN]The slog of war in Iraq

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[FOUNTAIN]The slog of war in Iraq

According to Webster, a “slog” means a “hard, dogged march or tramp.” In boxing, the word takes on another meaning. A slog is a punch that is powerful enough to knock down the opponent in one blow.
Lately, the word has become controversial in Washington, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld described the situation in Iraq as a “slog of war” in a leaked internal memo that has gained the media spotlight.
According to the classic definition, the memo would reflect a predicament, a stick-in-the-mud sort of situation. But Mr. Rumsfeld might have been taking the boxing term into account in describing Washington’s campaign in Iraq. In fact, when used as a verb, slog often refers to the act of beating, punching, driving and striking.
Pacifists and Democrats would apply the former definition to interpret the use of the term, insisting that Mr. Rumsfeld admitted he had misunderstood the Iraqi situation. But the secretary himself seems to have used the word to mean the latter.
Appearing in front of the Pentagon press corps without notice Thursday, Mr. Rumsfeld claimed that he intended to mean “to hit or strike hard, to drive with blows, to assail violently.” He added, “And that’s precisely what the U.S. has been doing, and intends to continue to do.” In short, he emphasized that his perception and philosophy remain unchanged.
It is common knowledge that the neoconservatives in the Bush administration have taken control of Washington’s foreign policy after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the war on Iraq. The neocons are known for their solid conviction and the willpower to carry out what they believe in.
In a liberal democratic country like the United States, neoconservative ideas are reflected in actual policy because the neocons have enormous influence over President George W. Bush and the administration’s policy-making process. The neocons will never change, but Washington’s policy can. If the United States alters its policy direction, it would be because Washington has started to adopt the opinions of others. For those who wish a different U.S. policy in Iraq, it might be futile to hope that Mr. Rumsfeld regrets his decisions by using the word “slog” to refer to a quagmire. U.S. policy will only change when the policy-making system is free of the neocons’ influence.

by Kim Seok-hwan

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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