George Orwell wrote that political language "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." His thesis was vindicated today by John Kerry, who told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that in attacking Syria, "I don't believe we're going to war. I just don't believe it." What, then? "Limited military action" is Kerry's preferred term.
I'm never surprised or particularly offended when politicians lie, but I do draw a line at having my intelligence insulted. When you send naval destroyers off the coast of a country, launch cruise missiles and drones at targets inside the country, destroy facilities and kill people, you are making war. To pretend otherwise suggests bottomless cynicism or an obstinate refusal to confront reality.
You only have to ask how we would respond if we were on the receiving end to see how dishonest the secretary of state was being. Suppose Syrian ships appeared off the East Coast and proceeded to fire rockets that blew up government buildings or military installations, and people, inside the United States? We would certainly consider Syria to be at war with us.
It may look antiseptic from Washington, but only because the Syrians have no means to respond in kind. But to anyone in Syria, there will be no doubt that we are waging war.Copyright © 2015, RedEye