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   noone gets killed in war anymore

noone has been killed in Afghanistan

Feriba, a young Afghan girl, refugee in PakistanPentagon has stopped all references to "kill" and "number killed" in official releases. Instead "casualties" is the word preferred. An expression which conceals choice and responsibility. Moreover, the number of casualties is a non-subject in the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Enemies are not humans but "soft targets". When bombs are dropped, they are reported as dropped by aircrafts and not by humans. If the wrong building is hit, it is the military equipment which is to blame. It is not humans who are vulnerable, it is weapons that can be vulnerable and cause unhappy accidents. Weapons are the actors in a world where moral questions becomes a non-issue.

B 52 Since war is particularly unpleasant, military discourse is full of euphemisms. In the 1940's, the US changed the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense. Under the Reagan Administration, the MX-Missile was renamed "The Peacekeeper." During war-time, civilian casualties are referred to as "collateral damage," and the word "liquidation" is used as a synonym for "murder."

The comedian George Carlin notes that, in the wake of the first world war, traumatized veterans were said to be suffering from "shell shock." The short, vivid phrase conveys the horrors of battle -- one can practically hear the shells exploding overhead. After the second world war, people began to use the term "combat fatigue" to characterize the same condition. The phrase is a bit more pleasant, but it still acknowledges combat as the source of discomfort. In the wake of the Vietnam War, people referred to "post-traumatic stress disorder": a phrase that is completely disconnected from the reality of war altogether.

Source: Propaganda Critic

Heavy bombers obliterated the village of Khan Aqa in Kapisa provinceThe Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was reported on in terms of murder, theft and rape. The American invasion was never discussed in terms of murder, assault, and arson. Moreover, the US plans for war are seen as rational calculation. But the Iraqi invasion is discussed not as a rational move by Saddam, but as the work of a madman. We see US as rational, moral, and courageous and Them as criminal and insane. There is a lot of talk of American deaths as "costs", but Iraqi deaths aren't mentioned.

Metaphors can kill. The discourse over whether we should go to war in the Gulf was a panorama of metaphor. Secretary of State Baker saw Saddam as "sitting on our economic lifeline." Former President Bush saw him as having a "stranglehold" on our economy. General Schwartzkopf characterized the occupation of Kuwait as an ongoing "rape". The President said that the US was in the gulf to "protect freedom, protect our future, and protect the innocent", and that we must "push Saddam Hussein back." Saddam is seen as Hitler.

Source: Metaphor and war: The metaphor system used to justify war in the the Gulf, by George Lakoff, Linguistics Department, University of California at Berkeley

Feriba, a young Afghan girl, refugee in PakistanIn the ongoing war in Afghanistan the number of casualties is a non-subject. When the bombing of Afghanistan started on October 7 2001, an official "counting of the dead" was deemed unnecessary. Given the lack of official interest, the counting of the dead fell upon interested individuals and non-governmental organisations. The link-selection below contains some discussions on metaphors and counting.



Bomb | Propaganda Critic | ~ | George Lakoff: Metaphor and war: The metaphor system used to justify war in the the Gulf | ~ | Tony Veale: Lakoff's writings call for a reification of the status of metaphor, from that a superficial rhetorical device that decorates our speech, to the status of a deep, cognitively-realised agency that organises our thoughts, shapes our judgements, and structures our language. |

| Project on Defence Alternatives: Operation Enduring Freedom: Why a Higher Rate of Civilian Bombing Casualties | ~ | Fair Action Alert: How Many Dead? Major networks arenít counting | ~ | Guardian: Counting the Dead; Attempts to hide the number of Afghan civilians killed by US bombs are an affront to justice |


former featured nothings :

feature BUY NOTHING DAY - exposes the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. ... (November-02)

feature CREATION OF ANTIMATTER - CERN have announced that they have passed through nature's looking glass and created atoms made of antimatter, or anti-atoms ... (September-02)

feature REFUGEES ARE NON-PERSONS - taking photographs that could "humanise or personalise" asylum seekers has been banned by former defense minister Peter Reith's office in Australia ... (June-02)

feature WHAT IS - WHAT IS NOT? - a story about an encounter and about trying to differ between fact and non-fact ... (May-02)

feature THE RIGHT NOT TO BE BORN - the French parliament has passed a bill that states that "nobody can claim to have been harmed simply by being born". the extraordinary bill was a response to a conviction by the French supreme court that is said to have established the right not to be born ... (April-02)

feature THE 11,202,803 CHILDREN - who were born out of nothing during the 31 days of Mars 2002 ... (Mars-02)

feature NOTHING I KNOW / SOMETHING I DONíT KNOW - by Graham Gussin ... (February-02)

feature THE POTENT NOTHING OF CYBERSPACE - this virtual reality in which we now are taking part ... (January-02)

feature THE ACTIVE NOTHING OF TERROR AND RESPONS - the World Trade Center - Afghanistan and on ... (December-01)

feature NOTHING AT ROOSEUM, Malmö's Center for Contemporary Art, 3 November - 16 December, 2001. works by 35 artists exploring notions of invisibility, imagination and dematerialisation ... (November-01)

- consisting of two Irish green, empty tents, one raised outside Atelier 35 in Bucharest, and one inside the gallery space ...

- containing, among other things, a motorway, ten tents, a text discussion and an internet diary ...


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