“A euphemism is a substitution of a delicate or inoffensive term or phrase for one that has coarse, sordid, or otherwise unpleasant associations”
Euphemisms are novocaine for the conscience, they shade the truth, obscuring the meaning rather than enhancing it. Euphemisms have been effectly utlizied by our government to put comforting distance between ourselves and the violence in Iraq by making something brutal and ugly sound lofty and poetic (i.e., “Shock and Awe”).
From the horrors of Abu-Ghraib to the never-ending violence on the streets of Baghdad, euphemisms have reduced “torture” to “abuse” and the slaughter of untold numbers of Iraqi civilians are now simply “collateral damage.” Funny—we don’t hear over the national media, “A mine collapsed in Virginia, today, and of course there was some collateral damage.”
Describes the imbalance between U.S. bombs and missiles and Iraqi soldiers who hide among civilians, wear suicide bombs, and shoot P.O.W.’s.
Blue on blue
An expression used to describe the accidental killing of allied forces by their own side. Another well-established term for the same concept is friendly fire.
Bombing with pinpoint accuracy
Cleared (of enemy troops)
When we accidentally kill the wrong people—civilians killed during wartime; civilian casualties and damage incidental to the bombing of military targets; any incidental, undesirable consequence (as with most war euphemisms, it disguises the horror of the reality it refers to—death and injury to innocent non-combatant)
U.S. military colloquial term for killing all wounded men in any suspected insurgent house they enter.
Decapitating the regime
Overthrowing the government or assassinating the head of the government (i.e., killing Saddam Hussein).
What’s in a name? If you call it an “enemy combatant,” however, it has no legal rights as a criminal or rights under the Geneva Convention afforded to enemy soldiers.
Torture is illegal unless you call it “enhanced interrogation.”
Escalating sectarian violence
Bloody civil war
Military term for “expected to die,” applied to an Iraqi who was shot in the head and lived, though most of his skull had come apart.
Sending terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture for interrogation
A U.S. “extra-judicial” process by which untried suspects are exported to other countries for imprisonment and interrogation. Individuals suspected of criminal activity, terrorism or association with terrorist groups can be subjected to extraordinary rendition. One CIA agent explained to a reporter how it worked in the 1990s. “We’d arrest them and send them to Jordan or Egypt, and they’d disappear,” he said. They were not charged in the US, he said, because the evidence would not hold up in court.
To kill without mercy
Death caused to one’s own troops
Ghost prisoners (also ghost detainees)
Suspected terrorists held by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency as unregistered prisoners in secret detention centers at an unrecorded host. Their detention denied, hidden from the Red Cross, legal or family access barred, their fate in the hands of unaccountable and unnamed U.S. personnel.
A zone in which pilots are free to search for and attack targets at will.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Official name for the war on Iraq. Bush says his goal is to free Iraqis, not to occupy their country and seize their oil resources.
Imprisonment without charge or trial (due process of law)
A polite term for the overthrow of a government or sanctified assassination
Military jargon that makes a precision bombing sound like a beneficial medical procedure.
A U.S. alternative for the term prisoner of war, used to describe suspected militants held at