Paul Greenberg

If this isn't war, it'll do till something even bloodier comes along, which it will, the world being the world, and man being man.

Yet none (in this administration anyway) dare call it war. That way, our president can hope his latest, uh, limited kinetic operation, or overseas contingency operation, or whatever the latest term of legal art is, can escape congressional scrutiny.

Call it multilateral diplomacy, to use another Obama-ism. What it means down on the ground in Libya is death and destruction. As a political term, multilateral diplomacy has the great advantage of diluting responsibility for deadly policies. For if all are multilaterally responsible for some murky war, nobody is.

In the end, in this all too painfully real world, there's no denying that the White House is waging war -- on the English language.


As the killing goes on in Syria, where the regime grows more desperate, and therefore even more brutal, one of the thousands of Syrians who've taken refuge in neighboring Turkey was interviewed in a refugee camp. "What is our guilt?" asked the 27-year-old identified only as Mohammed. "We just demanded freedom and democracy, nothing else."

Young man, that is exactly your guilt. It can even be a capital offense in your country. And a lot of others across the Arab world.

Whether it be a Moammar Gadhafi or Bashar al-Assad shooting down his own people in hopes of surviving himself, the slaughter of the innocents continues.

And what is the American response to these horrors? Euphemisms galore. Pick your own favorite. There are so many to choose from. For this administration's policy toward the Arab Spring, which is now in the process of becoming the Arab Winter, is to have no policy. Or at least no clear one.

The longer you dig into the statements out of the White House and State Department, the more you realize all this verbiage is being used not to explain any policy but to substitute for one.

Call it diplomatic kudzu. It's not a crop, just a cover.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.