In the military there is talk of generals shaping the battlefield to increase their chances of victory. A recent example of this was General Schwarzkopf's Hail Mary manuever as he fixated Saddam on the Kuwaiti border while the iron fist drove into Iraq further west.
In the realm of politics and media, it is called shaping the debate. I am presently looking at many of the headlines and lead sentences talking about the classified Pentagon briefing that talked about troop reductings in Iraq that got leaked. You know the briefing that stated if certain conditions are met roughly half the brigades currently in Iraq would be home by the end of 2007. Well the headlines and lead sentences seem to miss the point about conditions of the drawdown, all I see are words like 'steep' or 'sharp' reductions by 2007.
That is an attempt to shape the debate. Someone is betting that many people in the US will only skim the headlines. If so, they will get the impression that we are 'cutting and jogging' out of Iraq like Kerry/Feingold et al propose. And if people do not bother to read further to see if their assumptions are correct, when there is a spike in resistance these will be the people screaming that the administration has once again lied to them. In the short term, with their convictions reinforced, these people will probably redouble their efforts to get all the troops home quick. Which will send what kind of signal to the murdering thugs trying to destroy the dreams of 14 million Iraqis? Hey Abu Dipwad pass the word, the Great Osama was right about the Americans running away just like in Mogadishu if we hit them hard enough.
And lets look at the international angle. Just think if media outlets we know are hostile to US interests spin this ever so slightly, talk about great harm. It would not take a lot of spin to rewrite the words from these articles to imply that the US is abandoning Iraq to civil war and breaking the word of its President. Just think of what harm that can do to other countries who rely on the US keeping its word to assist them? And if these hostile media outlets are caught rewriting for their market, they will probably try to blame faulty translation as the story goes into Arabic, Farsi, French, German, Russian, etc. But by then a new notion will have been planted with limited chances of being corrected.
That was the greatest harm VietNam did to the United States. It made many countries that thought of the US as a dependable ally to re-examine that notion in the wake of the peace negotiations, Watergate, and finally Washington DC cutting off military funding to South VietNam which allowed the communists of North VietNam to conquer South VietNam. I think this article will shed some more light on that era and why we must avoid those same mistakes, or Iraq will be another VietNam. And all because the people of America did not really learn its VietNam lesson, one keeps one's word.