Language Abuse Alert: US Military to Abandon Iraqi Cities

Abandon: to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert

The AP would have us believe that the US Military is abandoning Iraqi cities to a cruel fate (AP Article). At best, their headline could be considered a gross exaggeration.

Here’s the first sentence of the article:

The U.S. military in Iraq is abandoning — deliberately and with little public notice — a centerpiece of the widely acclaimed strategy it adopted nearly two years ago to turn the tide against the insurgency.

Now consider this snippet:

Now the Americans are reversing direction, consolidating in larger bases outside the cities and leaving security in the hands of the Iraqis while remaining within reach to respond as the Iraqi forces require.

This strategy and the associated timeline was devised in part by General David Petraeus, the man who executed the wildly successful surge in Iraq.  Yeah.  What would he know. So we’re not actually changing our strategy; we’re progressing on a pre-defined timeline. But I digress.

To say that this strategy constitutes abandoning the cities is akin to saying that a parent who runs alongside his child’s bicycle after taking off the training wheels has abandoned his child. It can hardly be considered abandonment when the troops will be close at hand, ready to step in as needed. A less prejudicial headline might have read, US Military Hands Over Cities’ Security to Iraqis.

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