November 4, 2003

The enemy of my enemy is my friend ...

Josh Marshall writes

...Watching Paul Bremer today on CNN I was struck by his use of language like �enemies of freedom� and terrorists to describe the people we�re fighting in the country (these are from my recollection, the precise phrases may be different.) People who kill soldiers are not, at least not by definition, �terrorists�. They�re guerillas or insurgents. This isn�t a matter of cutting them slack, but one of precision. And precision is required to know what we�re doing, what we�re trying to do, and how we can get from clarifying what our goals are to finding effective means to pursue their implementation.

This is part of what Orwell was getting at in �Politics and the English Language� when he lamented that �political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.�...

What utter Bolshoi. If they were trying to attack only soldiers, this might be true. But they are also deliberately targeting civilians, and civilian infrastructure. And the attacks are gauged to cause terror and paralysis, rather than to advance any identifiable military operation. That's terrorism.

It is extremely mendacious for Marshall to bring in Orwell at the very moment he is trying to muddy these issues! There is nothing "euphemistic" or "cloudy" or "vague" in what Bremer said. The terrorists are "enemies of freedom." That's exactly what they are. Even a scoundrel like Marshall can't possibly argue that they are anything else. [Sure he can. They're for "People's Islamic Socialist Freedom." That makes them "Freedom Fighters." They will soon adopt some identifying badge or scarf, which will become popular in Berkeley -- I.C.]

Even if the attackers are not "enemies of freedom," there's nothing vague or euphemistic about that description. Bremer's statements are always clear and forthright. Orwell would have approved. Their very clarity makes it possible to dispute them with logic, but Marshall isn't interested in that.

* Scoundrel? Such name-calling doesn't seem like the Random Jottings we know and love --I.C. You're probably right. But this guy Marshall really irritates me. I never read him without seeing something that looks like lies dished-up with consummate subtlety and skill. He is a person of great gifts, and uses them wrongly.

Posted by John Weidner at November 4, 2003 12:30 PM
Weblog by John Weidner