Sticks and Stones: Words of War

  • Share
  • Read Later

What better way to spend some time off than sharing a fascinating read from Small Wars Journal with Battleland readers (who are doing just fine, thank you very much, under Army vet and Time writer Nate Rawlings’ steady hand). Over at SWJ, Mehar Omar Khan of Pakistan writes of the way words are bandied about in the military profession, and finds it wanting:

We deal in the utilitarian view of the thing called “word”, and happily leave the romance of language to the “wretched” minds of the poets and preachers. To us soldiers, words have uses but we do not like to “waste” our time on the subtle thing called “meaning”. This is partly why we deal in acronyms, jargons, catch phrases, and clichés. We have an incurable and ever-so-aggravating romance with Microsoft’s power-point because the thing makes it easy for us to make a mince-meat of words and crush-pack them into graphics that only “men-of-action” like us can make any sense of. The rest of the fools that there are in the world out there – uselessly called the academia, the scholarly types – end up exhausting their rather foggy eyes on understanding them.

His contrast between the language of conventional warfare and counter-insurgency is especially worth reading. Khan should know of where he speaks: he has a masters in international relations from the University of Balochistan, in one of Pakistan’s most troubled regions.