This bombardment of Syria with clichés shows no sign of stopping

Politicians all around the world discuss war with the very tiredest of language

Share

Missiles maybe. But the bombardment of clichés is real enough – and low enough quality not to do anyone any harm except for the gentlemen who utter them. Really, who writes this stuff for Kerry? There was “armchair isolationism”. Why an armchair? And who was the target of the weird reference to post-First World War US isolationism?

Was Kerry trying to turn Obama into Roosevelt after the 1941 “day of infamy” (a genuine non-cliché there from old Franklin D)? Then we had our old friend, the “state sponsor of terrorism” from the days of Saddam – no wonder a British minister mistook Assad for the executed Iraqi dictator – from House Majority leader Eric Cantor. And just listen to this from Kerry: “This is not the time to be spectators to a slaughter. Neither our country nor our conscience can afford the cost of silence.” Yup, it’s alliteration, folks (spectators/slaughter, country/conscience/cost).

And then yet once more – how tired can you get of this mulch? – Kerry also felt he could compare Assad to Hitler. This is preposterous. Over a hundred thousand Syrians may well have died in this terrible war. But Hitler started a war that may have killed 70 million. Does Kerry maybe think that Hitler is still alive? The late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin thought that when he fantasized in a letter to Ronnie Reagan when he was invading Lebanon in 1982 that he felt he was advancing on Berlin (Arafat was the man in the bunker). And not long ago the now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told us all that the crackpot president of Iran (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad at the time) was “worse than Hitler”. So let’s have it just one more time: HITLER IS DEAD.

And get this. Obama is not asking America to go to war, but to “degrade and deter” Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons. We first got “degrade” in the 1991 Gulf war, then we got it again when Nato fired weapons at Milosovic’s chums in Serbia (targets, you may remember, that included a TV station, an express train and a hospital). And “the costs of inaction are greater and graver still” – this from Democratic chairman of the Senate committee, Robert Menendez. But is this true? When Saddam used gas against the Kurds of Halabjah, the US did not see this as a ‘grave cost’ to the nation. Indeed, it waited years before condemning it because Saddam was our mate at the time.

But it goes on and on across the pond, Nancy Pelosi talking about that ‘red line’ again and, of course, “all options are on the table” – I have no idea who invented that old donkey – but the Middle East potentates are not beyond a dip in the cliché pond. We had Assad himself warning for the umpteenth time that the “powder keg” of the region may explode, that “chaos and extremism” may spread. The condemnation of ‘extremism’ is par for the course nowadays and surely qualifies Assad for American citizenship.

Then up pops – in Beirut - the chairman of the Iranian parliamentary committee for national security, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, announcing that a US attack would “engulf the entire region”. Which, as I’ve said before, doesn’t let the Syrian government off the hook for chemical weapons attacks. But so far we’ve had to rely on those famous “intelligence officials” for the details, the same lads and lassies who told us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but failed to spot the noisy clues that were on their desks about 19 Arabs who planned to fly aircraft into tall buildings 12 years ago.

And all the while, hovering over the horizon is that mysterious missile which Israel fired over the Mediterranean on Tuesday in a “joint exercise” with the US. It was the Russians who broke the story, of course. But why was that missile fired now, at this exact moment, when the Syrian regime expects Cruise missiles to come flying in? It was fired to assess Israel’s missile defences, according to the Pentagon. But defences against who? Hezbollah? Hamas? Syria? Iran? Well, it proves one thing. If Obama goes ahead, we’ll have the Russians to give us a running commentary. But please, no clichés.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Web Developer

£18000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Graduate Database Developer (SQL)

£18000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Community / Stakeholder Manager - Solar PV

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Senior Marketing Executive (B2B/B2C) - London

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: Joe on Vlad, banks of the Jordan and Blair's radicalism

John Rentoul
 

Believe me, I said, there’s nothing rural about this urban borough’s attempt at a country fair

John Walsh
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor