Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Word Play

[War] is a highly planned
and cooperative form of theft

--The Ascent of Man
, Jacob Bronowski

Isn't it pretty to think so?
--The Sun Also Rises,

Ernest Hemingway


Today we will look at some word games in the press, and who better to play with words than Ranger? These are games that buoy up the U.S.'s continued participation in the Middle East morass. These are words that stoke the fear engine.

First is the word kidnapping, as relates to the recent release of abducted Israeli soldier Galid Shalit. Numerous news sources reported that Shalit had been freed after being kidnapped five years ago by Hamas near the Gaza border (exs. here, here and here).

Shalit was a uniformed IDF soldier; he was therefore, captured. It seems a small semantical issue, but it is not. Societies depend upon legal precision. Actions on the battlefield are different in many ways from those conducted in the civilian world. We conflate the two worlds to our detriment, for we lose perspective and rationality.

Words like "kidnapping" are fear words. Not that Sgt. Galit did not suffer his share of fear, but his plight is unique to his circumstance. People are generally not kidnapped off the street in the U.S. by Muslim terrorists, but using the incorrect term joins it in the flow of scare terms, becoming yet another justification for U.S. involvement in wars in the Middle East.

Next is the assertion by many that the recently exposed wild Iranian assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the United States amounted to an Act of War, Reuel Marc Gerecht in the Wall Street Journal among them (Iran's Act of War). Along with this false conclusion is the illogical presumption that the U.S. must respond in kind.

Reuel also sees the U.S. withdrawal (as planned by George W. Bush) to be
"clearly a sign that Washington no longer has the desire to maintain hegemony in the Middle East." Where is it stated that the U.S. is to maintain hegemony in the Middle East?

  • This plot (if true) is criminal, and not and act of war. Assassination is a crime
  • Why MUST the U.S. respond in kind?
  • If we respond we are being reactive, and letting them influence our behavior; reaction is the behavior of a loser. We set the tempo of operations, not them.

William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, says it's "time for the U.S. to speak to this regime in the language it understands -- force" (
Speak Softly... And Fight Back). He claims the Iranians are racing to build a nuclear weapon, but he has no facts to substantiate his fear-mongering. He calls the foiled plot "an engraved invitation" to use force.

However, even if Iran were trying to build a nuclear weapon, how does this become a U.S. rather than a U.N. concern? Kristol & Co. fail to see the hypocrisy in their allegations of Iranian force when the U.S. has such a violent history; do they forget that the U.S. occupied Iran during World War II? Iran has not attempted to occupy the U.S. lately, as far as we know.

Kristol's tough-talking conclusion voices the dream of so many:

The next speech we need to hear from the Obama administration should announce that, after 30 years, we have gone on the offensive against this murderous regime. And the speech after that can celebrate the fall of the regime, and offer American help to the democrats building a free and peaceful Iran.

Sorry, but the U.S. missed it's last chance to declare war when the Iranian Embassy was taken over in 1979. That may stick in the craw, but you can't go back in time. Ah, what a nice dream -- to go back and help the Iranian peaceniks. Just like in Iraq, we guess.

When will we ever learn?


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Blogger basilbeast said...

Billy K., all over the internet, is labelled as the guy who gets everything "wrong".

Maybe the rest of our media will catch up to that truth.

Maybe we should have a law, anybody advocating war like Billy the K., load him up with weapons, supplies for a week and parachute him into the target of his choice.

I think it only fair play to give the target advance warning.


Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 4:30:00 AM GMT-5  

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