Words in politics are not neutral. They never have been. If they were, the various security agencies of the United States would not allocate multimillion dollar budgets for prominent linguists and psychologists to establish the terms that government officials and the media use to inoculate these words globally. The pretense is old and routine.
A little over a week ago, the sale of more than $1 billion in U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain was announced. Mike Pompeo said that the sale deals with operations that will contribute to the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives and make the world safer.
When the vendors are different, the language changes. Then, those weapons break the military balance and contribute to instability and insecurity in the area. That is, they represent a danger to peace in the world. "Russia continues to sell arms and military equipment to hostile regimes that neither share nor respect democratic values," said Rex Tillerson, former secretary of state.* The imperial resurrection of Russia also calls for grammatical artifices. In 2017, Moscow sold anti-aircraft defense systems, anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers and rifles to Saudi Arabia. Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov called the criticism of the sale unfounded; the world will be safer with these sales, he said.
Reflecting on these forms of expression makes one’s hair stand on end. One of the principles of the trickster Joseph Goebbels was the vulgarization of propaganda. It had to adapt to the least intelligent of those to whom the message was addressed; the larger the group that had to be convinced, the less mental effort was needed. The receptive capacity of the masses is limited, their understanding, scarce and easily forgotten.
Pompeo spoke foolishly after meeting with the North Korean dictator, and said that Kim Jong Un is prepared to “help us achieve denuclearization.” He stressed “helping us” as if he were the messenger in a movie. “When I left, he understood the mission exactly as I have described it,” Pompeo said, which is like saying “Kim is a whimsical child who, thanks to my pedagogical arts, understood exactly the lesson I explained to him.”
The language lab found a saying tailor-made for Donald Trump: “The responsibility for peace on the Korean Peninsula rests on my shoulders … This is a global problem and I hope to be able to do it for the world.” The president could have inspired the Paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos, if he were alive, to rewrite “I, the Supreme,” the fictionalized account of Paraguayan dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia.
White House linguists will now have to disinfect Gina Haspel, nominated to be the CIA director and who seeks confirmation. According to the U.S. National Security Archive, Haspel personally supervised the torture of detainees in secret CIA prisons.
*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, the quoted remark could not be independently verified.