Quote: “We’re arguing about ‘cut and run’ versus ‘cut and jog.’” Retired Army Colonel Jeffrey D. McCausland, in the Washington Post.
Figure of Speech: dilemma (di-LEM-ma), the impossible choice. From the Greek, meaning “double proposition.”
The Iraq Study Group will turn in its report tomorrow. It will get major coverage but won’t break much news; most of the report has already been leaked. The old Washington hands will call for region-wide negotiations — holding our noses with Iran and Syria — while setting up conditions for drawing down forces.
In other words, no deadlines, just guidelines. Either way, at some point we’re outta there. Col. McCausland sums up the debate in great Tweedle Dee — Tweedle Dum fashion, using a figure of thought called the dilemma.
The Greek Sophists loved dilemmas, inventing all sorts of impossible choices to madden their opponents. (The dilemma did much to create the tricky rhetoric called “sophistry.”) Richard Lanham cites one such dilemma, the crocodilinae, described by Quintilian:
A crocodile, having seized a woman’s son, said that he would restore him if she would tell him the truth. She replied, “You will not restore him.” Was it the crocodile’s duty to give him up?
We’re not sure how, but that seems Iraqically symbolic.
Snappy Answer: “Who gets to say ‘cut’?”