of war or war of words?
The War in Iraq, a campaign unlike any other in
history, in the words of General Tommy Franks, has left thousands
wounded, maimed and dead - men, women and children. It has also
left, amidst the devastating tragedies of the madness of war, a
trail of metaphor and imagery, verbiage and phraseology, and also
lies and deceptions to stretch the English language to its limits.
The US-led forces were described not as occupiers but as liberators,
as their leaders sought to grab a slice of Iraqi's oil cake.
Regime change and deBaathific-ation is what
they aimed at, which, in effect, meant ousting a repressive regime
through sheer military power, regardless of world opinion, anti-war
rallies or UN consensus. Waging war has become part of the
single super power's role in the world, wrote Maureen David
of the New York Times, despondently. The writer of a letter to the
Los Angeles Times said, We have learned two things from the
war in Iraq. We have learned that the Tigris flows through Baghdad,
and the Hubris flows through White House.
and acronyms also entered the lingo of the Iraqi war. RMA is one
such, standing for Revolution in Military Affairs. Another
is WMD for Weapons of Mass Destruction. To rid Iraq
of WMD was trotted out as the rationale and pretext for a brutal
and fraudulent war, but there has been no evidence yet of the existence
of such weapons.
and Awe to describe a war of Strategy and Surprise
and Command and Control and Ambush and Anxiety
are memorable alliterative two-word phrases that emerged from a
war to dismantle a dictatorship. Cheat and retreat
was the name of Saddam's campaign to hide his WMD. These are examples
of words linked in pairs to convey a single mea-ning. H. W. Fowler
calls them Siamese Twins, clichés that lie in wait
to fill a vacuum in the brain.
The war itself
was described, not without a touch of poetry, as being of
a force and scope and scale that has been beyond what has been seen
before as the US forces looked for targets of opportunity
to dismantle a dictatorship.
were bandied about freely. Saddam, the Butcher of Baghdad
had to be removed for the safety of America's skies and cities,
said the Texan Cowboy in the White House. Ali Hassan
al-Majid was nicknamed Chemical Ali for his use of mustard
gas and nerve agents against the Kurds. The Dirty Nine
is what members of Saddam's murderers' club (the more people they
killed, the more credible they were) were known as.
An eye for
Battles too, fought and won or lost, were christened, beginning
with what Saddam named the Mother of All Battles in
the 1991 Gulf War, which father Bush called Desert Storm.
The US military made the necessary adaptation in Gulf War II, and
called their massive air ordnance the Mother of All Bombs.
regime dug deep in the lexicon of Arabic insults for the appropriate
verbal salvo and broadside to lob at the Allies of the Devil,
an insult traded for the Axis of Evil. Information Minister
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf took to the airwaves regularly before Baghdad
fell to describe the US-led Coalition of the Willing
as an international gang of criminal bastards, blood-sucking
bastards, ignorant imperialists, and losers
and fools. The advancing for-ces were called flo-cks
of sheep doomed to die or a snake slithering thro-ugh
What does real-time information mean? Was it intelligence
on Iraq's defences by the Fedayeen paramilitary or the Special Republican
Guard and the hunt for information on what was happening inside
The many embedded
news correspondents armed with minicams created through
the War in Iraq a new nomenclature for war correspondents. Hats
off, anyway, to the many courageous women too who were embedded
with forces such as the Marine Expeditionary Force or the Charlie
Company to give us first-hand information about this propaganda
war, also called Operation Iraqi Freedom.
inside the decision loop was another Rumsfieldian phrase that
came into vogue. It meant that the Iraqi troops were unable to react
in time to events.
Option was what Saddam faced, according to military analyst
Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution. It meant that like
the Biblical figure Samson, Saddam could have decided to pull down
the temple around him.
There was also
hypocrisy aplenty. Now that the dirty work had been done by Bush
and Blair, Chirac and Putin and Schroeder expressed their gladness
from the sidelines about the outcome of the war. Hypocrisy unadulterated;
having the cake and eating it. Putin has to collect large amounts
of money (over $ 8 billion) given to Saddam Hussein to buy Russian
weapons. Hypocrisy again:
Bush and Blair
invoked the Geneva Convention while at the same time ignoring their
part of the commitment, according to the Convention, to maintain
law and order in the land they conquered. Ahamed Chalabi, who was
convicted of bank fraud in Jordan in 1989 and has lived in exile
for decades, was airlifted to Iraq to lead the US installed interim
administration. A bank robber for a repressive dictator.
Reading it wrong
The first casualty
of war, they say, is truth; it is replaced by misinformation, disinformation,
deception and lies. Iraq's defiant Information Minister Mohammed
Saif al-Sabha broadcast: The coalition troops have been chased
out of the airport. We have defeated them. In fact, we have crushed
them. We have crushed them outside the whole area of the airport.
Iraqi troops had killed hundreds of coalition troops out of Baghdad.
We were asked
to believe these lies even as the liberators were occupying
Saddam International Airport and renaming it Baghdad International
Airport as photographic and film evidence testified while several
life-size statues of Saddam were falling as Baghdad was falling
and American bombs were pounding the city and destroying Saddam's
fabled palaces. The contrast between official Iraqi announcements
and the reality of the Iraqi war was both stark and comic.