Letís Be Clear: Establishing a íNo-Fly Zoneí Is an Act of War
2013-05-30 0:00

By Conor Friedersdorf | The Atlantic


The term is a euphemism that obscures the gravity of what its advocates are suggesting -- a U.S. air attack on Syria.

Kudos to Josh Rogin for breaking the news that "the White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone inside Syria." But wouldnít it be a more powerful story without the euphemism?

Relying on the term "no-fly-zone" is typical in journalism. But that is a mistake. It obscures the gravity of the news.

Hereís how an alternative version of the story might look: "The White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for bombing multiple targets inside Syria, constantly surveilling Syrian airspace alongside U.S. allies, and shooting down Syrian war planes and helicopters that try to fly around, perhaps for months."

The term "no-fly-zone" isnít analytically useless. Itís just that folks using it as shorthand should make sure everyone reading understands that, as Daniel Larison put it right up in a headline, "Imposing a No-Fly-Zone in Syria Requires Starting a New War." That becomes clearer some paragraphs later in Roginís article, when he discussed Senator John McCainís advocacy for a "no-fly-zone." "McCain said a realistic plan for a no-fly zone would include hundreds of planes, and would be most effective if it included destroying Syrian airplanes on runways, bombing those runways, and moving U.S. Patriot missile batteries in Turkey close to the border so they could protect airspace inside northern Syria," he wrote.

The article also quotes Robert Zarate, policy director at the hawkish Foreign Policy Initiative. His euphemisms of choice: "No doubt, the United States and its like-minded allies and partners are fully capable, without the use of ground troops, of obviating the Assad regimeís degraded, fixed, and mobile air defenses and suppressing the regimeís use of airpower."

Does anyone think heíd describe Syrian planes bombing a U.S. aircraft carrier as "obviating" our naval assets?

[...]

Read the full article at: theatlantic.com



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