Un grand merci à Marie pour m’avoir envoyé un excellent article de Terry Jones (ex-Monty Python) dans The Guardian sur le choix des mots liés à la guerre en Iraq.
One of the chief problems with the current exciting adventure in Iraq is that no one can agree on what to call anyone else.
In the second world war we were fighting the Germans, and the Germans were fighting us. Everyone agreed who was fighting who. That’s what a proper war is like.
However, in Iraq, there isn’t even any agreement on what to call the Americans. The Iraqis insist on calling them « Americans », which seems, on the face of it, reasonable. The Americans, however, insist on referring to themselves as « coalition forces ». This is probably the first time in history that the United States has tried to share its military glory with someone else.
Hollywood, for example, is forever telling us it was the Americans who won the second world war. It was an American who led the break-out from the prison camp Stalag Luft III in The Great Escape; the Americans who captured the Enigma machine in the film U571; and Tom Cruise who single-handedly won the Battle of Britain (in his latest project, The Few).
So I suppose it’s reassuring to find the US generals in Iraq so keen to emphasise the role played by America’s partners in bringing a better way of life to Iraq.
Then there’s the problem of what the Americans are going to call the Iraqis – especially the ones that they kill. You can call people who are defending their own homes from rockets and missiles launched from helicopters and tanks « fanatics and terrorists » only for so long. Eventually even newspaper readers will smell a rat.
Similarly it’s fiendishly difficult to get people to accept the label « rebels » for those Iraqis killed by American snipers when – as in Falluja – they turn out to be pregnant women, 13-year-old boys and old men standing by their front gates.