A Rose by Any Other Name

by Norman Horowitz

As a television executive, I have realized the value of selling things with more or less “catchy” or previously used titles. There were programs called “Poltergeist: The Series,” “The New Sea Hunt,” and “American Werewolf in London: The Series.” Words used to describe movies and television content matter, and they matter a lot.

I was on a cable panel about 30 years ago when I suggested that the television series “Happy Days” lived in the consciousness of the American public and that everyone who watched television at that time knew what it was. Names of things mattered then as they do today. Television people and politicians have long understood this.

I just loved it when the White House apologized for the President’s description of the campaign against terrorism as a “crusade.” For an encore, they renamed the campaign “Operation Infinite Justice,” a name that seemed to some Muslims to promise what only Allah could deliver.   Continue reading “A Rose by Any Other Name”

What “The New Yorker” Doesn’t Say About Richard Holbrooke

George Packer’s recent profile of Richard Holbrooke in The New Yorker is, as I’ve come to expect of Packer, very well written with thorough analysis of the conventional wisdom in foreign policy. But, as I’ve also come to expect of journalists in Packer’s position, it ignores anything outside conventional wisdom—e.g., broader questions of strategy, morality, or international law—and ignores all the questionable (to put it lightly)—and perhaps the most telling—aspects of Holbrooke’s career. So I went to my bookshelf and paged through Robert Scheer’s indispensable The Pornography of Power. Scheer has been covering American foreign policy for over 40 years. Legendary writer Joan Didion calls him “one of the best reporters of our time.” He kindly allowed me to reproduce this passage about Richard Holbrooke:   Continue reading “What “The New Yorker” Doesn’t Say About Richard Holbrooke”

Yea, We Get It Already. Afghanistan = Vietnam. Now Can We Do Something About It?

In the umpteenth attempt to drain some forgotten lesson out of Vietnam and apply it to Afghanistan, the New York Times publishes an op-ed from retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Sorley. To Sorley’s credit, his analysis is carefully reasoned and more specific than most such comparisons. But Sorley suffers from the crucial leap of logic that Boston University military historian and former Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich keeps harping on: mistaking tactics for strategy.   Continue reading “Yea, We Get It Already. Afghanistan = Vietnam. Now Can We Do Something About It?”