10 January 2007

word of the day: pacification

above: South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan pacifies a VietCong prisoner

Yesterday I caught an NPR story on the looming battle between the Mahdi army and the US military in Sadr City. The Baghdad slum, which houses over a million Shi'ites loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, is preparing for war with the US military. In the introduction to the story, All Things Considered host Michele Norris referred to Sadr as "the anti-American cleric". This is a step up from his previous media title of "radical cleric". Good for him.

In discussing recent US airstrikes on Baghdad, the following line from reporter Jaime Tarabay stood out:

"The area was largely pacified by American forces last year and then handed over to Iraqi troops."

Hmm, pacified. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the verb pacify as "to ease the anger or agitation of" or "to end war, fighting, or violence in; establish peace in". What better way to ease one's agitation by ending their life! There won't be any angry people left to shout and scream if you kill them all.

War is peace!

Let' s see what our good friend George Orwell has to say about pacification:

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties.

Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification.

Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

Thanks NPR, for helping to justify empire and slaughter!

Oh, what was that? We're partaking in some pacification in Somalia too?

The fun never ends!


I guess you could say this is the "Original Pime". I stopped blogging here regularly in May 2008 (if you don't count the B-Sides diversion - yes it gets confusing) when I joined the Tumblr revolution. Going forward bravely into 2009, this site will serve to house any large image work I produce.

Peace out.


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