December 27, 2006

Surge projection

The phrase "brief surge" gets 28,000 reported hits on Google. The phrase "long surge" gets 14,000. Not an overwhelming disproportion, at first blush, but do the latter search while excluding the items "troops" and "Iraq" and the hit-count falls to under 900, a substantial portion of them involving phrases like "week-long surge," "day-long surge" and the like, where long is simply a kind of measure classifier. All of which seems to support the observations by Spencer Ackerman at The New Republic and Steven Benen at Washington Monthly that the administration and its supporters are breaking new semantic ground when they use surge to refer to a prolonged deployment of additional troops in Iraq ("The only 'surge' option that makes sense is both long and large," say Jack Keane and Frederick Kagan in a Washington Post op-ed today, in what Matthew Yglesias describes as the double entendre of the day). The mot juste here would be "escalation," of course, but as Ackerman points out, that item is liable to call up unpalatable associations.

Posted by Geoff Nunberg at December 27, 2006 09:26 PM