It’s been said often that the “first casualty when war comes is truth”. If so, then surely the second casualty of war is the English language. The Pentagon, White House and State Dept have long butchered plain language and favored the use of euphemisms. We long ago learned that it’s not really civilians that get killed, it’s “collateral damage is incurred”.
Now with President Obama’s and NATO’s attempts to spend money blowing things up in Libya so that we can’t spend the money at home where it might create jobs, the same people are falling over themselves to invent new terms to describe what’s happening. We must, it seems, at all costs avoid using the words “war” or “attack”. The terms they’ve used though are about as muddy and unclear as our objectives in Libya.
For the full effect, I recommend watching the March 29, 2011 episode of the Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The segment is the first one and it’s long but worth it. You can find it at the link – warning, link plays audio and commercials automatically.
Two good ones are Sarah Palin referring to the Libyan operations as a “squirmish”. This is bettered by an official assertion by an Admiral that it’s really a “kinetic military action” *
The best, though, is Stewart’s suggestion that instead of a “turd sandwich” as one analyst called it, we refer to it as “Bread-Based Feces Containment Operation”. Yes, a BBFCO. We are too civilized to attack and go to war. We do BBFCO’s.
* I’m astounded the Admiral could say it repeatedly with a straight face. What’s Kinetic Military Action mean? Have we ever fought a war that wasn’t “kinetic”, where we just stood still? Is it possible to have a Kinetic Military Inaction?