Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can We Please Take "On the Table" Off the Table?

One of NPR's most crucial roles as an enabler of unchecked power for the US state is to normalize the most grotesque and barbarous activities of the US. The support of torture states in Central and South America becomes a positive "counterinsurgency" strategy - and it's victories are praised as in yesterday's piece and many others. Civilians killed by the US and its allies are barely mentioned, and if mentioned are usually lumped together as "insurgents" or "militants." And of course our torture is never torture, just "enhanced interrogation" or "harsh interrogation."

You'd think there might be limits to encouraging the banality of evil, but not on NPR. The supreme crime of Nuremberg (that quaint trial of the 1940s), as eloquently spelled out by US Justice Robert Jackson in his opening statements was the Crime Against Peace:
"A basic provision of the Charter is that to plan, prepare, initiate, or wage a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, and assurances, or to conspire or participate in a common plan to do so, is a crime."
Count 2 against the defendants in the trial included:
"All the defendants with divers other persons, during a period of years preceding 8 May 1945, participated in the planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression, which were also wars in violation of international treaties, agreements, and assurances."
So it is that I am really sickened to hear the matter-of-fact tone that NPR uses in discussing the Bush Administration's threats to wage a war of aggression against Iran. Here's Inskeep and Gonyea this morning:
  • Gonyea: " a press conference yesterday with European Union leaders - when asked about Iran - the President did not say something he has always said when talking about Iran: that all options are on the table in dealing with the Iranians. It made some of us think that perhaps he had taken the military option off the table. Well, guess what, he was asked about Iran today and he said not once but twice that all options are on the table, so if there was a slight easing of the rhetoric yesterday. It was back in place today.
  • To which Inskeep responds: "But wait a minute. One of the questions here is can the US and Europe agree on how to handle Iran? Is Germany saying that all options are on the table?"
Honestly, if there's another war crimes trial in the future, NPR should have several seats reserved - in the docket. Have these mouthpieces for war ever considered demanding from officials EXACTLY what "all the options" are? Do they include surprise attacks, tactical nuclear weapons, terrorist bombings within Iran, assassination, etc? How do military options square with international laws and treaties?


War On War Off said...

But, but, they were chust followink ordas!

Porter Melmoth said...

Und zeir papers are in orda!

Thanks, Mytwords, for reminding me how tiresome and sickening such Luntz-ish phrases as 'options on the table', 'connect the dots' 'over the top' and other euphemisms for unspeakable acts are. Plus, when the clubby Press embraces them, it increases their complicity with the sources of power. All sorts of heinous items can be contained in one string of innocuous-sounding and catchy buzzwords.

Gonyea's worthless kowtow 'coverage' of the White House, always delivered with a crooked smile, almost makes me pine for the Mara Liarsson days (JUST KIDDING!).

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Woo-wee, parade of the glib, handy catchphrases! Just rolling them off my tongue and into the mic makes me feel so hip, urbane & self-important - and allows me to disconnect from the sharp-edged portent of their meaning...

"level the playing field"
"anytime soon"
"pain at the pump!"

And if I'm not mistaken, I think we were hearing the "table" thang about Iraq during "the runup."

Parroting bastards.

Grimblebee said...

Yep. Makes me nauseous. Keep up the good work here, however. You're doing us an immense service in calling out these enablers.

larry, dfh said...

I remember thinking as wj clinton first mentioned
'weaponsofmassdestruction' that this was going to be one of those cliches which would inevitably lead to trouble and bullshit. But, hey, who listens to me?