Early in their graduate careers, most political scientists learn the value of specificity and clarity in the definition of terms. Ken Pollack was apparently sick that day…
In longer discussions on the subject, Mr. McCain often goes into greater specificity about the entities jockeying for control in Iraq. Some other analysts do not object to Mr. McCain’s portraying the insurgency (or multiple insurgencies) in Iraq as that of Al Qaeda. They say he is using a “perfectly reasonable catchall phrase” that, although it may be out of place in an academic setting, is acceptable on the campaign trail, a place that “does not lend itself to long-winded explanations of what we really are facing,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
Right… because “Al Qaeda” is a term of mainly academic usage, unknown to the greater public and certainly not relevant in a policy context. Indeed, I’m inclined to think that in issues of war, peace, life, and death, we should be extra cautious with our definitions. But then I guess I’m not serious.
Also see Matt.