jason christoper hartley

March 25, 2006

Word of the Day – fealty

Filed under: Word of the Day — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 10:44 pm
n. pl. fe·al·ties

  1. a. The fidelity owed by a vassal to his feudal lord.
    b. The oath of such fidelity.
  2. Faithfulness; allegiance. See Synonyms at fidelity.

From “A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon” at The New York Times:

Donald Rumsfeld demands more than loyalty. He wants fealty. And he has hired men who give it. Consider the new secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, who when faced with the compelling need to increase the service’s size has refused to do so. He is instead relying on the shell game of hiring civilians to do jobs that had previously been done by soldiers, and thus keeping the force strength static on paper. This tactic may help for a bit, but it will likely fall apart in the next budget cycle, with those positions swiftly eliminated.

A bonus word appeared in the paragraph just before the above paragraph:


  1. A man who is the governor of a country, province, or colony, ruling as the representative of a sovereign.
  2. An orange and black North American butterfly (Limenitis archippus), resembling but somewhat smaller than the monarch.

Last, you don’t expect a secretary of defense to be criticized for tactical ineptness. Normally, tactics are the domain of the soldier on the ground. But in this case we all felt what L. Paul Bremer, the former viceroy in Iraq, has called the “8,000-mile screwdriver” reaching from the Pentagon. Commanders in the field had their discretionary financing for things like rebuilding hospitals and providing police uniforms randomly cut; money to pay Iraqi construction firms to build barracks was withheld; contracts we made for purchasing military equipment for the new Iraqi Army were rewritten back in Washington

The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition

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