2005-01-19

Krieg der Worte im Krieg gegen den Terror

--- Michael Keane, Autor des bald erscheinenden Buchs "Dictionary of Modern Strategy and Tactics", kommentiert in der LA Times den Krieg der Worte und die "gefolterte Sprache" im Krieg gegen den Terror: Official Pentagon news releases continue to avoid the more neutral "guerrilla" or "militant" in favor of "terrorist" and "anti-Iraq forces." Last summer, when the Pentagon insisted that its quick victory over Iraq's conventional forces was not deteriorating into a guerrilla war, a reporter confronted Donald Rumsfeld with the Defense Department's own definition of the term � "Military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by irregular, predominantly indigenous forces." ... The careful selection of words in war is almost always a calculated attempt to manipulate perceptions. Whether an act of violence is called a "suicide bombing" or a "homicide bombing" depends more on the politics of the speaker than on any sincere attempt to describe objective reality. Even when the language of war is mechanical or colorless it may be deliberate, an attempt to shield both civilians and soldiers from the horrors of modern conflict. "Battles are won through the ability of men to express concrete ideas in clear and unmistakable language," concluded Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall, who studied soldiers in combat in World War II. Before the coalition's recent attack on enemy forces in Fallouja, the American commander there changed the rules of engagement from "capture or kill" to "kill or capture." He sought to communicate to his troops that they were shifting to the offensive and to instill the aggressive posture needed for success in combat. ... Our military commanders and political leaders must be careful that in using language to deceive the enemy, to propagandize or to persuade, they do not obscure their own thinking. That is what appears to have happened with the Justice Department's twisting of the definition of torture. Language is a powerful weapon, but like friendly fire, it can lead to self-inflicted wounds. As the French playwright Jean Anouilh warned, "Propaganda is a soft weapon: Hold it in your hands too long, and it will move about like a snake, and strike the other way."