To the Editor:
What stands in the way of success in our several wars?
At first, our “War on Poverty” went OK, but eventually we lost ground and now seem to have given up. Our “War on Crime” continues, but it’s hard to say who’s winning. The net result of our “War on Drugs,” according to reports, is more drugs. Will our “War on Terrorism” follow the same inconclusive routine? What’s wrong?
I found the answer a few weeks ago when I read about the opening of a brand new Air Force headquarters. A detachment of military personnel will be armed and ready for deployment, not against an enemy outside our borders, but anywhere there is trouble in the homeland.
This proves that vital parts of our governing body are susceptible to the “American Policy Virus.” All policy-making organs are vulnerable; for instance, the use of vouchers to fix our broken down educational system may be the result of infection by the AP Virus. The AP Virus consists of: (a) identifying a problem, (b) giving it a name, and (c) using the name to deduce policy measures aimed at eliminating the problem. The active ingredient is (c).
Very soon after the mass murder of 9/11, the Bush administration labeled the problem war, and as a metaphor, the label carried a double whammy – we do not take war lightly and once engaged we use every available resource to win. Then the AP Virus set in and our governing body proceeded to deduce policy measures from its metaphoric label – witness the almost unanimous passage of the so-called Patriot Act.
An apt metaphor brings focus to a problem in the same way that a book’s title focuses attention on its contents. The AP Virus, in effect, causes the governing body to wave the book’s title fatuously about instead of opening the book, i.e. trying to find out what we can by rational analysis.
It remains to be seen how much effect the AP Virus will have on the problem of worldwide terrorism. Is seems obvious that war as metaphor leads nowhere.