Tuesday, February 27, 2007

harper sells Afghanistan, the american vocabulary

Harper goes soft on mission
From Allan Woods The Toronto Star Feb 27

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Afghanistan aid announcement yesterday was part of the government's new kinder, gentler approach to selling Canadians on the mission.

Gone was talk of the war on terror, the grim realities of 9/11 or the need for Canadians not to cut and run.

In their place, Harper talked of reconstruction, a multilateral approach, community involvement and economic growth.

Harper's message to Canadians follows the advice his government has received in recent months about the poor results of its American-sounding PR effort on this divided country.

A series of studies on the government's communications strategy paved the way for the new Tory spin, including one obtained by the Star advising that a winning vocabulary includes the words "rebuilding," "restoring," "reconstruction" and "hope."

The report, commissioned by the foreign affairs department, counselled the Tories to "avoid developing a line of argumentation too strongly based on values." It recommended the government make no mention of freedom, democracy and liberty, "the War on Terror," 9/11 or military actions of U.S. soldiers in the country.

In announcing the $200 million in aid yesterday, Harper noted it will "accelerate the reconstruction and development process" and support "proven" projects that encourage "community involvement."

It will help "nurture economic growth" by building a road to "facilitate cross-border trade" – presumably not in poppies, the source of heroin. To make sure of this, the money will also go toward building Afghanistan's "counter-narcotics infrastructure."

The money will also help aid workers, police and diplomats to rebuild the economic, physical and governmental infrastructure of Afghanistan, Harper said.

Where Afghanistan was once an "incubator" of terrorism, Harper referred to it yesterday as "the front line of the international security challenge of the modern post-war world."