OF PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS - “A Basic Lexicon”

(09/25/2003)

By Tony Russell

Ambrose Bierce must be banging his brow against his coffin lid. The brazen cynicism of the Bush administration has driven language to depths only Bierce and Orwell have plumbed. And Bierce lies trapped in the dark, unable to pen new entries for his “Devil’s Dictionary.”

Out of sympathy for his plight, I have taken on the task of recording new meanings for old words, as used by the current administration. Although my notes cover the full range of the administration’s activities, today’s definitions are drawn only from its pronouncements on Iraq. With the following basic lexicon, the average reader should be able to translate almost all of the speeches on Iraq delivered by Mr. Bush, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Rumsfeld, and Ms. Rice.

Liberation - an unprovoked attack on a weaker state

Liberated - occupied by hostile forces

Freedom - an economic model imposed by force

Terrorist - anyone opposing the current administration

Link - the absence of any connection

Weapons of mass destruction - figments of our imagination

Cruel dictator - a discarded partner whose atrocities we supported or ignored

Threat - opportunity

Coalition - the U.S. and Britain

Sacrifice - a loss incurred by someone other than the speaker

Iraqi self government - a puppet regime installed by the occupying power

Take a standard administration speech such as the following -

“Saddam Hussein is a cruel dictator who committed atrocities against his own people. His possession of weapons of mass destruction poses an immediate threat to the security of his neighbors and to the United States. He has links with Al Qaeda and terrorist organizations around the globe. The coalition of the willing is determined to liberate Iraq, thus enabling the Iraqi people to enjoy freedom and democracy, and to rid the world of the threat of terrorism.”

A free translation, using the above lexicon, goes something like this -

“Saddam Hussein is a former client who is no longer useful to us. While it is true that we sold him chemical and biological weapons to use against Iran and the Kurds, we want to gloss over that fact and concentrate on how frightening such weapons are. Those weapons we sold him have all deteriorated or been destroyed now, but we wish to pretend they still exist, in order to justify an invasion. Hussein’s secular regime is despised by the religious fanatics of Al Qaeda, but we intend to suggest a connection between him and the attacks of September 11 as an additional pretext for our unjustified attack on a sovereign state. The U.S. and Britain are determined to plunder this oil-rich nation and install a puppet government which will okay the privatization of Iraq’s oil industry and the permanent basing of U.S. troops.”

After a little practice with the lexicon, almost anyone can convert administration doublespeak into something close to reality. Rest easy, Mr. Bierce.


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