November 04, 2003


Obviously no one who uses the term "Iraqification" can possibly have missed the obvious connection with the failed "Vietamization" strategy that helped lose that war 30 years ago more efficiently, can they? The term can only in that context be a perjorative. So how did it end up getting used by David Brooks, among others, who actually support the strategy?

Herewith, a short history of "Iraqification."

Coiners of the term seem to have been the Washington Post's Ricks and Slevin, whose use of the term in an Oct. 29 story seems to have been its first use to show up on Google news. There's no evidence they were citing or quoting anyone from the administration.

Rather, they were probably accidentally quoting Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Weekly Standard, who used it as an obvious joke in his Sept. 22 story, "Premature Iraqification."

The term's first appearance in a non-Post Google News source was in Maureen Dowd's column in the New York Times the next day.

After a one day break for Halloween, the term shows up on Nov. 1 in Australia's The Age. The Post used it again the next day, in quotes but without attribution, here.

A Nov. 3 article in the Christian Science Monitor is the first time it seems to appear without quotes, ie without obvious irony. It's used there to paraphrase a Bremer comment, but I doubt he used the word.

The same day, Mother Jones used its use as further evidence of the tin ear of the administration, ignoring its actual non-White House provenance. Fareed Zakaria's column in the Post and Newsweek the same day points out the obvious parallels to Vietnamization, without pointing out that only the opponents of the occupation seem to be using the term, presumably precisely to make those parallels even more obvious.

Today so far we have CSM (again), pro-war advocate David Brooks and anti-war Paul Krugman in the Times, firmly embedding the word in the lexicon, I'd say.

So what you have here is a word accidentally invented by a pro-war journal a week and a half ago, never apparently used by a government figure, strongly promoted by the Washington Post, Dowd, and other individuals intent on conjuring up the spectre of Vietnamization by using it, and now somehow the quasi-official name for the U.S. strategy. As a warfighting strategy, the current U.S. focus may yet prove a success... but from a branding perspective it's already a disaster.

Posted by BruceR at 02:49 PM