Herbert Marcuse had some interesting things to say about certain political acronyms.

 The meaning is fixed, doctored, loaded. Once it has become an official vocable, constantly repeated in general usage, “sanctioned” by the intellectuals, it has lost all cognitive value and serves merely for recognition of an unquestionable fact.

This style is of overwhelming concreteness. The “thing identified with its function” is more real than the thing distinguished from its function and the linguistic expression of this identification (in the functional noun, and in the many forms of syntactical abridgement) creates a basic vocabulary and syntax which stand in the way of differentiation, separation, and distinction. This language, which constantly imposes images, militates against the development and expression of concepts. In its immediacy and directness it impedes conceptual thinking; thus, it impedes thinking.

I bring this up because of Tom Nichols’ thoughtful piece on assessing the Iraq War. His basic point: the persistence of Bush Derangement Syndrome among liberals, academics, and especially liberal academics makes it “too soon” for a sober assessment of the war. I’ll have a few words to say about that at the end of this post, but for now I want to focus on the issue of Iraqi WMD.

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