Thursday, March 24, 2011

"In Kinetic Military Action, Truth Is The First Casualty" - Aeschylus

So, administration officials were doing verbal contortions this week to avoid using the word "war" while briefing Congress and the press about what we're doing in Libya.

In a briefing on board Air Force One Wednesday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes took a crack at an answer. "I think what we are doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone," Rhodes said. "Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end."

-- snip --

Now, White House officials are referring to the war in Libya not as a war but as a "kinetic military action." As common as "kinetic" might be among those in government, it still seems likely to strike members of the public as a euphemism that allows the Obama administration to describe a war as something other than a war.

Some object on moral grounds to the use of a euphemistic expression for warfare. Others object because it is typical of what George Orwell called 'political speech,' which gives "an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

I object on aesthetic grounds. The term "kinetic military action" is way too clunky and has too many syllables. Consider how awful it sounds:

Cry 'Havoc', and let slip the dogs of kinetic military action" - Julius Caesar Act 3, scene 1

"Kinetic military action is too important to be left to the generals" - Georges Clemenceau

"Kinetic military action is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things" - John Stewart Mill

"If you would have peace, prepare for kinetic military action" (“Si vis pacem, para bellum”) - Flavius Vegetius Renatus

"Only the dead have seen the end of kinetic military action" - George Santayana, but frequently misattributed to Plato

"Kinetic military action! ... huh ... yeah ... What is it good for?" – Edwin Starr, Billboard #1 hit song of 1970

"There was never a good kinetic military action or a bad peace” - Benjamin Franklyn

"Kinetic military action is the continuation of politics by other means" - Clausewitz

I have seen kinetic military action “ - FDR, referring to the KMA to end all KMAs, 1914-1917

Don't tap dance around such a serious topic, Mr. Deputy National Security Adviser. Just talk plainly. It's more honest, and it also sounds better.


Anonymous said...

Very nice job, dude.

Anonymous said...

TSB: It's time to start working on
naming what happens (post kinetic action) next?

How about OTC: Operation Tribal Casinos funded by a lottery between the oil companies and arms merchants
with mediation by our new General:
General Electric!


TSB said...

It might as well be called Operation Heisenberg, since everyone is uncertain about our purpose and objectives.

Anonymous said...

That's great TSB!: Because I never heard of Heisenberg... but it will be perfect with GE's new
Heisenburg Nuclear Reactor that is cooled by seawater and uses plutonium. I learn something new every day here about our uncertain world. Thanks! GWB

Anonymous said...

TSB: SECY Clinton appeared in white,
not red or blue. Now we have clarity!

It's operation SOS! (Save our Saudis)

Anonymous said...

Juan Cole puts it all into positive perspective today. I like the way he never seems to over react like I do.

Anonymous said...

Taliban actions in Kunar and Nunar provinces since Saturday looks like
KMA we would rather not talk about.

Ditto for the bailout of Kabul Bank.