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A BARBAROUS WORD FOR BARBAROUS ACT

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

A number of people are saying that what NATO has been doing shouldn’t be called “war”. The word “war” suggests nations fighting each other. In this case, a group of the richest and best-armed nations on earth, led by the greatest military power in history, have ganged up to beat the hell out of one small, surrounded country which never harmed any of them and couldn’t possibly defend itself. Day after day, the great powers destroy the little country’s factories, bridges, power stations, leaving men, women and children, old and young, infirm or healthy, without light or running water. Then the bombers start in on residential areas and hospitals. Bit by bit, destroying a whole country. If the victim offers to give in, the big powers bomb some more, reitering that “all they understand is force”.

Insult is added to injury. Cartoonists and pundits invent a fictional version of the target country to hold up to public scorn, ridicule and hatred. Political leaders, spotlighted spokesmen and highly paid opinion-makers escalate the verbal abuse, comparing the population of the victim country to Nazis and suggesting that they must be conquered, punished, occupied and taught how to behave by the superior civilized governments that are bombing them. The bombs even destroy the victim country’s means of communication with the outside world, so that neither their pain nor their wounds, neither their tears nor their courage are visible or audible to their torturers. Yes, that’s the word: torture. Make a country suffer, in darkness and silence, until it gives in. Meanwhile, strut around on the world stage congratulating yourselves on your success, while planning further ways to demonstrate what happens to little countries that don’t behave properly.

Is this war, or is this torture? Here’s a suggestion for a word to designate this abject use of military might: “warture”. It’s a barbarous word, for a barbarous practice. But even the perpetrators might like to pick it up. It could fit right in with current projects to dump the restraints of national and international law. Congress is supposed to declare war, but it was never required, and could never be expected, to declare warture. Warture is something the President does on his own, an obscene practice for those enjoying the deepest sort of corruption of power, the total insensibility toward those they destroy.

The word has one disadvantage. It wouldn’t be easy to translate into other languages. But in the brave new NATO world order of warture, no other language than English is really needed. CP

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

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