Thursday, January 31, 2008


Government propaganda isn’t as sophisticated in India as it is in the United States. Obfuscation has been elevated to art. But here are some less-than-intelligent and bizarre samples of American euphemisms.

The U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983 began at five am with the descent of thousands of U.S Army Rangers in parachutes. It was codenamed Operation Urgent Fury. But quite contrary to the sound and fury of that codename, the U.S. described it as the “pre-dawn vertical insertion of personnel.”

Several instances of diplomatese can be found in the tomes produced by the State Department. In a Human Rights report on Zaire in the 1970s, when the U.S was friends with Mobutu, the language was kept soft enough to be palatable to him and yet not so diluted as to be a complete lie. Here is an example. “Generally speaking, non-political prisoners are not subject to repeated beating.”

That’s not an under-statement. It's an un-statement.

A similarly inspired U.S spokesman said last year on Iraq, “There are some parts of the Sunni Triangle where the security situation right now, quite frankly, is not that bad. In parts of the Diyala Province, some parts of the Salahuddin Province and some parts of Nineveh Province the situation is not all blood and fire and destruction in all places every day.”

So wait, what is it everyday? Come again?

Closer home, President Musharraf bowled a googly in 2002. In a referendum on his presidency, voters were asked the following question: ‘For the survival of the local government system, establishment of democracy, continuity of reforms, end to sectarianism and extremism, and to fulfill the vision of our nation’s glorious founder, would you like to elect President General Pervez Musharraf as President of Pakistan for five years?”




Nice to see you back here.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Hi Raji,
Thanks! I'm going to try to be as regular as possible.

Sathej said...

Hello Alaphia,
Nice to see an update :) The referendum one by the General made me laugh my heart out! The Americans too have their own way of putting things, it looks like.
Keep writing :)

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Hi Sathej.
Thanks. I thought the funniest was the description of the invasion of Grenada. Glad the General made you laugh.

Sathej said...

Well Alaphia, in hindsight, I would rather put down my laughter as 'dark humour'. Sad indeed-the state of affairs. Condemnable events being twisted and turned to suit their fancies.

Rohan said...

Hahaha!!!! WHat can one say? There are ppl foolish enough to fall for such use of language!
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