Thursday, February 24, 2011

Obama, George Orwell, and international "norms"

Nor hell a fury like a liberal scorned...

So the black guy is doing some fancy tap dancing. His feet move don't see what his hands are doing. What are "international norms"?

Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He's trying to deal with "grave breaches of international law" in Libya, without acknowledging the reality of "grave breaches of international law," because if he did, the officials of the previous decade of American administration - including his own - are open to investigation for war crimes, an investigation long overdue and made stunningly obvious in the Iraq helicopter video, just to pick one example out of thousands, a crime so egregious that nobody in the USA knows what to do with it. It's much safer to pretend that an American diplomatic cable listing "sensitive" terrorist targets (like the Brooklyn Bridge, which is going cheap) is a big deal. Civilians murdered - there is no other word - by cannon fire are just awkward and it's much easier to pretend it doesn't matter.

Unfortunately, if you use the loaded phrase "international humanitarian law" the question of war crimes arises, but if - as George Orwell says: "This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse."- the awkwardness just magically disappears. I'm seeing Tinkerbelle in the form of Dick Cheney.