comments_image Comments

What's Victory? The Nine Orwellian Propaganda Terms That Define Our War State

Here are nine common terms, including "victory" and "enemy" used by our government and military that probably don’t mean what you think they mean.

Continued from previous page


Here’s the funny thing though: a report on Afghan reconstruction  recently released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Democratic majority staff suggests that the military and foreign “developmental” funds that have poured into the country, and which account for 97% of its gross domestic product, have played a major role in encouraging corruption.  To find a peacetime equivalent, imagine firemen rushing to a blaze only to pour gasoline on it and then lash out at the building’s dwellers as arsonists.

National Sovereignty:  1. Something Americans cherish and wouldn’t let any other country violate; 2. Something foreigners irrationally cling to, a sign of unreliability or mental instability.

Here’s the twenty-first-century credo of the American war state.  Please memorize it:  The world is our oyster.  We shall not weep.  We may missile [bomb, assassinate, night raid, invade] whom we please, when we please, where we please.  This is to be called “American safety.” 

Those elsewhere, with a misplaced reverence for their own safety or security, or an overblown sense of pride and self-worth, who put themselves in harm’s way -- watch out.   After all, in a phrase: Sovereignty ‘R’ Us.

Note: As we still live on a one-way imperial planet, don’t try reversing any of the above, not even as a thought experiment.  Don’t imagine Iranian drones hunting terrorists over Southern California or Pakistani special operations forces launching night raids on small midwestern towns.  Not if you know what’s good for you.

War:  A totally malleable concept that is purely in the eye of the beholder.

Which is undoubtedly why the Obama administration recently decided  not to return to Congress for approval of its Libyan intervention as required by the War Powers Resolution of 1973.  The administration instead issued a report essentially declaring Libya not to be a “war” at all, and so not to fall under the provisions of that resolution.  As that report  explained: "U.S. operations [in Libya] do not involve [1] sustained fighting or [2] active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve [3] the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties, or a serious threat thereof, or [4] any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors."

This, of course, opens up the possibility of quite a new and sunny American future on planet Earth, one in which it will no longer be wildly utopian to imagine war becoming extinct.  After all, the Obama administration is already moving to intensify and expand its [fill in the blank] in Yemen, which will meet all of the above criteria, as its [fill in the blank] in the Pakistani tribal borderlands already does.  Someday, Washington could be making America safe all over the globe in what would, miraculously, be a thoroughly war-less world.


Tom Engelhardt, editor of, is co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's .
Sign up to receive the latest updates here .

See more stories tagged with: