Republicans select a new buzzword.

The Republican buzz phrase for the past few months has been “cut-and-run,” a result of careful polling and analysis. Now they’ve got a new one: fascist. Listen for it from the mouths of Republican talking heads everywhere.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

11 replies on “Republicans select a new buzzword.”

  1. Granted buzzwords are bad because they oversimplify, are overused, and generally diminish any real meaning the original word had (and after a while become pretty annoying).

    However “Fascim” when added to “Islamic” doesn’t sound too inaccurate considering that Islamic radicals use the religion usually married to a dictatorial governmental system to suppress opposition, criticism and alternative religious viewpoints.

    What word would you suggest instead of Facist or Facism?

  2. Fascism in pre-WWII Europe was a form of secularism. That’s what makes this invocation a little bizarre. A Fascistic form of government is also marked by strongly centralized powers. One of the characteristics of global jihadism is its decentralized nature, which makes this comparison even more bizarre.

    The GOPs rightflank is probably using this for the same reasons that they invoked the WWII reconstruction programs in referring to the Iraq reconstruction (e.g. another Marshall plan, or rebuilding similar to Japan post-WWII). This has a lot more to do with selling a policy stateside than it has to do with a base line reality. There’s a general consensus in the U.S. that WWII was one of our finer moments as a nation (something that I would agree with). So there’s an incentive to link our current actions to that proud tradition.

    This linkage though is dangerous. In the event of a WWIII it’s unlikely that the U.S. will reprise its role as a beacon of Democracy to the world. In fact, our recent actions in the Middle East have made us seem a lot more like a bully colonial power. I don’t think this is just a matter of PR.

    This is actually a very serious point. The terms that a person uses to frame a debate influence the choices that are made down the line as far as policy goes. “Islamofascism” is just a bizarre political marketing tool. It has nothing to do with a coherent, rational, foreign policy agenda. In fact, it leads me to question even further the credibility of those currently calling the shots.

    A more neutral and less charged term for what were dealing with is “global jihadists”. Bin Laden is a global jihadist. Ahmadinijad in Iran is a completely different story. The two should not be linked in terms of our foreign policy or the public debate.

  3. A more neutral and less charged term for what were dealing with is “global jihadists”. Bin Laden is a global jihadist. Ahmadinijad in Iran is a completely different story. The two should not be linked in terms of our foreign policy or the public debate.

    Why should we extend the courtesy of a “more neutral and less charged term” when it is crystal clear that these “Global Jihadists” aren’t people to be reasoned with? Why should I be bothered if the term pisses them off?

    And if the term “Islamic-Facism” accurately describes Iran, why should we not include them in the debate? Do they (and a few other Islamic dictatorships) not actively fund terrorist organizations?

    You make a lot of good points in your post, many of which I’d have difficulty disagreeing with.

    Conflicts surrounding religous theology are entirely lose/lose situations. It’s impossible to stop people from believing as they would, but at the same time when they persist in violent action against the citizens of democratic nations- appeasement isn’t an option either (and that’s about what not fighting terrorism amounts to).

    The only solution I find with any merit would be to put together a concrete plan of action to divest our nation of it’s need for oil, so that at the least we could stop enriching countries that would like to see us dead.

    But that’s not likely to happen either.

  4. JPTERP, read up on fascism in Spain and Central/South America. There the mailed fist walked around in the velvet glove of the Catholic Church. It need not be secular, just centralized and conservative, with a strong leader.

  5. I don’t see this as a matter of deferring to global terrorists’ feelings.

    I see guys like Bin Laden and Ahmadinejad as being two entirely different creatures–so I think a blanket term only confuses the issue. Bin Laden is a non-state actor, Ahmadinejad is just one player in a nation-state (he isn’t even the supreme leader of Iran). Bin Laden wants to turn the Middle East into an Islamic empire–presumably with him at the head. Iran has no recent history of expansionist designs (you have to go back about 2,000 years–even the Iran-Iraq War stems from Iraqi aggression).

    I see Ahmadinejad exploiting divisions within the Middle East using proxies such as Hezbollah and some Shi’ite coalitions in Iraq to increase Iranian political influence. And it’s quite possible that Ahmadinejad himself has broader ambitions. However, he would face some severe pressures on the homefront if Iran was to engage in overt military action that was not defensive in nature (e.g. repelling a U.S. invasion).

    I also think it’s a mistake to put Hezbollah and al Qaeda in the same category–at least as it relates to U.S. interests. Hezbollah has engaged in international terrorism, but their agenda is primarily focused on Israel. To the extent that Israel is a strong ally–we need to do what we can to support them in their fight against Hezbollah. But I think it’s a mistake NOT to make distinctions between terrorist organizations with global agendas and those with local ones. If you recognize where one group’s agenda ends and another begins you can exploit the rift and drive a wedge between the two groups (although as of this writing I don’t believe there actually is an coordination between Hezbollah and al Qaeda–although the Bush administration seems determined to make this as much a baseline reality as a linguistic one). In the case of Hezbollah there are probably even further divisions that we could exploit to extract out the militant faction from its more political wing.

    All of this is to say that the situation in the Middle East is extremely complex. A diplomatic approach may work in the case of Iran; whereas it obviously never will with guys like Bin Laden. I don’t think that Islamofascism sheds any light on the situation inside the Middle East. Although I can understand why the term is being used in the U.S. before an election.

    I agree completely with you on the oil issue. As far as it relates to Iran our dependence on oil limits our options greatly. As far as it relates to our strategic interests globally our life would be much less complicated if oil was not such a key part of the equation. I share some of your skepticism on whether anything will be done on this in the near future. Although my skepticism centers more around the current leadership than anything else. If the American people understand the stakes, they usually willing to make hard sacrifices.

    A long post, but this is one of those vital subjects that I like thinking about.

  6. Adam I associate Fascism with Hitler and Mussolini–and I suspect this is the brand of Fascism that GOP sloganizers are trying to invoke with the term Islamofascism.

    I’m not as familiar with Franco’s brand of Fascism–I was under the understanding that he was more of a secular leader as well. But I could be mistaken.

    There’s also the term “Authoritarianism,” which has a much broader meaning. I realize that this may seem like quibbling over words, but I think it’s important to make distinctions. An improper diagnosis usually results in an improper cure.

  7. The danger of using this term isn’t whether the shoe fits or not, but rather how it frames the debate on our response. Twentieth century fascism was entwined with the state and operated a standing army with predictable behavior and chain of command. If global jihadists are equated with fascism we run the risk of assuming that 20th century warfare is an applicable response to terrorist cells. I’m not a military strategist by any means, but it doesn’t surprise me to see the the Pentagon establishment conjuring up memes from the last century when many people question how fit they are to fight the battles of the current day.

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