Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Key Terms/Concepts: Peace and Conflict Studies Archive


Video definition of culture (Strickland, 2008)

The Invention of Culture. (Wagner, 1975)


The discourse of “warspeak” has also been used to sanitize the destructive power of cluster munitions.9 For the U.S. public and media, the terminology “collateral damage” effectively masks the death and destruction of cluster munitions to civilian life. Within U.S. military and corporate circles, the approved “techno-speak” for cluster munitions starts with “soft-targets”—a euphemism for human bodies—and ends with “explosive remnants of war” or unexploded ordnance, meaning hazardous munitions remaining on or in the ground that, with the slightest disturbance, kill or maim civilians. Cluster munitions are delivered by “strike packages,” “platforms,” and “weapons systems” (aircraft). Aircraft do not launch munitions but fly “sorties,” provide “air support,” “visit a site,” and do “kinetic targeting.” They drop “force packages,” “ordnance,” and “antipersonnel devices,” often in a “routine limited-duration protective reaction” (air raid), causing an “airburst” (warhead or cluster munitions set to explode above the ground to maximize effect). “Incontinent ordnance delivery” means that a bomb missed its target and may have caused “collateral damage” or “regrettable byproducts” (civilian casualties). “Assets” (targets) are not destroyed but “visited,” “acquired,” “taken out,” “serviced,” or “suppressed.” Cluster munitions do not kill, they “eliminate,” “neutralize,” “degrade,” “hurt,” “smoke,” “blow away,” “suppress,” “impact,” “cleanse,” “attrit,” or “terminate with extreme prejudice.”

According to warspeak advocates, cluster munitions are essential in “precision bombing” to win “clean,” “high-tech,” or “robo” wars. Yes, air war enthusiasts admit, “accidents” do happen, missiles “go astray,” but then “war is hell,” “a dirty business.” Cluster munitions are “nasty” but necessary weapons. In its refusal to adopt the Oslo convention, the Russian foreign ministry proclaimed cluster munitions as legal and necessary to Russian defense. Besides, the Ministry statement said: “Any munitions are dangerous and inhumane.”10 Likewise, U.S. officials assert that cluster munitions are only used on military targets and in accordance with the law and international agreements, “in order to minimize their impact on civilian populations.” (Grosscup, 2011)

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