Military Doublespeak

by Laurence M. Vance, Ph.D.

In George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the government had three slogans emblazoned on The Ministry of Truth building: war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. True, the dystopian society depicted by Orwell existed only in his mind. Yet, the doublespeak that existed in that made-up society has increasingly been adopted by governments -- our government.

It is a tragic thing that the U.S. government employs doublespeak to deceive the American people; it is even more tragic that most Americans accept government doublespeak as the gospel truth.

There is no greater instance of government doublespeak than when it comes to the military. Here are some examples:

  • Serving in the military: getting money for college from the taxpayers.
  • Deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan: occupying a sovereign country.
  • The global war on terrorism: a cash machine for privileged government contractors.
  • Conscription: slavery.
  • Stop-loss policy: backdoor draft.
  • Dress blues: government-issued costume.
  • Troop surge: escalation of a war we are losing.
  • Flying sorties: bombing civilians and their property.
  • Stationed overseas: helping to maintain the U.S. global empire of troops and bases.
  • Enhanced interrogation techniques: torture by the United States.
  • Extraordinary rendition: U.S. sanctioned torture by other countries.
  • Fighting terrorism: making terrorists.
  • Fighting our enemies: making more enemies.
  • Defending our freedoms: destroying our freedoms.
  • Insurgents: foreigners who resent having their country invaded or occupied.
  • Sanctions: killing children without bombs and bullets.
  • Military chaplain: trying to serve two masters.
  • Military appreciation service: idolatry.
  • Praying "God bless our troops": blasphemy.
  • Supporting the troops: supporting foreign invasions and occupations.
  • Precision bombing: civilian killer.
  • Cluster bomb: child civilian killer.
  • Land mine: American IED.
  • Terrorist: someone who plants a bomb that doesn't wear an Air Force uniform.
  • Enemies of the United States: countries that oppose U.S. hegemony.
  • Enemy combatant: someone turned over to U.S. troops in Afghanistan by someone eager to collect a bounty.
  • Axis of evil: countries with oppressive governments that our oppressive government doesn't like.
  • Allies: countries with oppressive governments that our oppressive government likes.
  • Anti-Semite: someone who opposes U.S. military intervention in the Middle East.
  • Military recruiter: pimp for duped young men who want to sell their services to the government.
  • Bomber pilot: long-distance killer.
  • Persistent conflict: perpetual warfare.
  • U.S. interests: an excuse to police the world.
  • U.S. foreign policy: imperialism.
  • National security: national police state.
  • Collateral damage: the slaughter of unarmed civilians by American bullets and bombs.
  • Die for our freedoms: die for a lie.
  • War hawk: warmonger.
  • Regime change: meddling in the affairs of other countries.
  • Congressional supporters of large military budgets: pimps to hook up government and defense contractors.
  • Military spokesman: military propagandist.
  • Commander in chief: the chief war criminal.
  • I'm sure there are other words and terms that have been or will be devised or brought to bear to justify the actions of the U.S. military. Reject them, and denounce them for what they are: military doublespeak.

    November 19, 2009

    Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State and The Revolution that Wasn't. His newest book is Rethinking the Good War. Visit his website.

    Copyright © 2009 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

    For background on Early Christian doctrine on war's sinfulness, click here.

    For a bibliography of background on the U.S. empire and imperialism, click here.