A Glossary of Terms in Foreign Affairs

As we debate the many scary enemies and exciting possibilities for new wars -- escalation in Afghanistan, our very own "Cuban Missile Crisis" against
the Persian Hitlers, the Socialist Menace in Venezuela -- events can
become very confusing. Compounding that problem are the many complex,
technical terms often used in media discussions of foreign affairs.
It's therefore helpful to keep track of the relevant terms --- ones
just from the events of the la

As we debate the many scary enemies and exciting possibilities for new wars -- escalation in Afghanistan, our very own "Cuban Missile Crisis" against
the Persian Hitlers, the Socialist Menace in Venezuela -- events can
become very confusing. Compounding that problem are the many complex,
technical terms often used in media discussions of foreign affairs.
It's therefore helpful to keep track of the relevant terms --- ones
just from the events of the last week alone -- to maximize clarity as
we debate our imperial responsibilities:


The act of dangerous, threatening Hitlers -- NYT, today:

was reported Monday to have test-fired long-range missiles capable of
striking Israel and American bases in the Persian Gulf in what seemed a
show of force.

The acts of a peace-loving democracy - Telegraph, January 18, 2008:

has carried out the successful test launch of a long-range, ballistic
missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, in what was intended as
a clear show of strength to Iran.

Washington Post, May 2, 2000:

Israeli short-range ballistic missile splashed down in the eastern
Mediterranean last month near a U.S. Navy Aegis cruiser, causing
momentary fear that the ship was under attack, Defense Department
officials said yesterday.

The Jericho 1 missile, which can
carry nuclear warheads or about 1,000 pounds of chemicals or high
explosives, was launched from a missile-testing facility at Yavne,
Israel, on April 6 and landed about 40 miles from the USS Anzio, they
said. . . . [O]ne of the Defense Department officials ... said the
repeated "no-notice" launches have made the Pentagon think that the
Israelis are trying to prevent the United States from monitoring the
tests and acquiring technical data about the operation of the Jericho.


A nation up to no good -- USA Today, last week:

Obama said today that Iran has been building a covert nuclear
enrichment facility for several years and warned that Tehran would be
"held accountable" if it did not immediately demonstrate its peaceful
intentions by opening the site to international inspectors. . . .

Iranian leader says Iran had informed the IAEA early about the
facility. . . . The Iranian leader tells reporters that Iran doesn't
have any problems with IAEA inspections of the new facility.

A peaceful and law-abiding ally - Foreign Policy, last week:

UN nuclear assembly voted on Friday to urge Israel to accede to the
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and place all atomic sites under UN
inspections. . . .

This is a major victory as the Israel's representative on the council has already promised to "not cooperate in any matter with this resolution which is only aiming at reinforcing political hostilities and lines of division in the Middle East region."

also probably won't do a whole lot for the credibility of the IAEA to
have one more country over which it is powerless to enforce its rulings.


A thuggish dictator crushing democracy -- Washington Post, February 16, 2009:

President Hugo Chavez won a referendum Sunday to eliminate term limits,
paving the way for him to rule far into the 21st century to carry out
his socialist transformation of this oil-rich country.

A criminal Leftist abolishing freedom - National Review, June, 2009:

make no mistake: The Honduran soldiers who escorted Pres. Manuel Zelaya
from his home on Sunday were acting to protect their country's
democracy . . . . Zelaya's ultimate goal was to extend or abolish
presidential term limits, mimicking the example of Venezuelan strongman
Hugo Chavez and other Latin American populists.

A stalwart reformer devoted to democratic values -- CSM, September 2, 2009:

lawmakers voted Tuesday to call a referendum on whether conservative
President Alvaro Uribe - a key US ally in a region now dominated by
leftist leaders - should be allowed to seek a third straight term in
office. . . .

But the vote, which has been dogged by
allegations of irregularities, has angered critics and even some of
Uribe's staunchest allies. They worry that if Uribe wins a third term,
it could endanger Colombian democracy in the same way that many of the
region's leftist leaders have done in recent years.

Democracy in action -- Bloomberg, last year:

York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would seek re-election next year
and is working with the City Council to amend a 15-year-old law
limiting elected officials to two terms, as the Wall Street slump
imperils the city's economy. . . .

Bloomberg, the
billionaire founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent
Bloomberg LP, ran for mayor in 2001 and 2005 as a Republican, after
having been a lifelong Democrat, spending about $158 million on both
races combined.


A thuggish dictator crushing dissent - Associated Press, two weeks ago:

government said Monday a leading TV channel aligned with Venezuela's
opposition could lose its broadcast license for allegedly airing a
viewer's text message calling for a coup and the assassination of
President Hugo Chavez.

Responsible leaders defending freedom and the rule of law -- Guardian, today:

interim leaders suspended key civil liberties last night in response to
"calls for insurrection" by ousted president Manuel Zelaya, empowering
police and soldiers to break up "unauthorised" public meetings, arrest
people without warrants and restrict the news media.


A conspiracy of aggressors -- Fox News, December, 2007:

is selling Iran a new and sophisticated air defense system that experts
say is capable of dealing a serious blow against would-be attackers.

The new S-300 air defense system signals growing miitary cooperation between Moscow and Tehran

A nations that merely wants peace -- NYT, September 9, 2009:

a recession that knocked down global arms sales last year, the United
States expanded its role as the world's leading weapons supplier . . .
The United States signed weapons agreements valued at $37.8 billion in
2008, or 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms bazaar, up significantly from American sales of $25.4 billion the year before.

was a distant second, with $3.7 billion in worldwide weapons sales in
2008, while Russia was third with $3.5 billion in arms sales last year
. . . The United States was the leader not only in arms sales
worldwide, but also in sales to nations in the developing world,
signing $29.6 billion in weapons agreements with these nations, or 70.1 percent of all such deals.


State sponsors of Terrorism -- BBC, November, 2006:

senior Hezbollah official has told the BBC that Iran is providing the
group with money to help fund its reconstruction activities in Lebanon.
. . .

Lebanon's Finance Minister, Jihad Azour, also acknowledged that Iranian money is going directly to Hezbollah.

Peace-loving nations -- Irish Times, February 23, 2009:

EVIDENCE has emerged of Israel's extensive use of US-made weaponry
during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery
shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles.

NYT, July, 2006:

Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to
Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after
beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon,
American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship
the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the
Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to
anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the
United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way
that could be compared to Iran's efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

BBC, March 21, 2003:

long-awaited move began on the third night of the war, with US cruise
missiles and carrier aircraft precision bombs raining down on Baghdad
and other major cites. . . . The doctrine of "shock and awe" is based
on a book by military strategist Harlan Ullman, who is admired by both
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Ullman wrote that the use of air power to achieve "nearly
incomprehensible levels of mass destruction" could achieve "an
overwhelming level of shock and awe against an adversary on an
immediate basis to paralyse its will to resist".


Monsters with contempt for their own people - WashPost, June, 2009:

Hossein Mousavi, the leading opposition candidate in last month's
disputed election, released documents Saturday detailing a campaign of
alleged fraud by supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that
assured his reelection.

Freedom Is On The March -- CNN, last week:

President Hamid Karzai on Thursday warned Western observers not to
"delegitimize" the results of his country's presidential election,
which has been marred by allegations of fraud.

Results of
the completed count, announced Wednesday, gave Karzai 54 percent of the
vote in the August 20 poll, but the numbers won't be certified until
authorities investigate allegations of irregularities. More than
200,000 of the nearly 5.7 million votes cast have been thrown out,
including 29,000 in a swath of Afghanistan where Karzai has strong
support, and European Union observers have raised questions about 1.5
million more.

Liberating a nation -- Economist, September, 2009:

Shia-led government has overseen a ballooning of the country's security
apparatus. Human-rights violations are becoming more common. In private
many Iraqis, especially educated ones, are asking if their country may
go back to being a police state.

Old habits from Saddam
Hussein's era are becoming familiar again. Torture is routine in
government detention centres. "Things are bad and getting worse, even
by regional standards," says Samer Muscati, who works for Human Rights
Watch, a New York-based lobby.

His outfit reports that, with
American oversight gone (albeit that the Americans committed their own
shameful abuses in such places as Abu Ghraib prison), Iraqi police and
security people are again pulling out fingernails and beating
detainees, even those who have already made confessions. A limping
former prison inmate tells how he realised, after a bout of torture in
a government ministry that lasted for five days, that he had been
relatively lucky. When he was reunited with fellow prisoners, he said
he saw that many had lost limbs and organs.


A rogue nation showing contempt for international law -- NPR, this week:

a dramatic joint statement, Obama - flanked by British Prime Minister
Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy - said the existence
of the site "deepens a growing concern" that Iran has failed to live up
to its international obligations to fully disclose its nuclear
ambitions. Obama said Iran "is breaking rules that all nations must
follow. . . . "

Honoring treaty obligations -- David Cole, New York Review of Books, this week:

The United States is legally bound
by the Convention Against Torture to submit any case alleging torture
by a person within its jurisdiction "to its competent authorities for
the purpose of prosecution." President Obama and Attorney General
Holder have both stated that waterboarding is torture. Accordingly, the
United States is legally obligated to investigate not merely those CIA
interrogators who went beyond waterboarding, but the lawyers and
Cabinet officers who authorized waterboarding and other torture tactics
in the first place. . . . Absent a reckoning for those responsible for
making torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment official US
policy, the United States' commitment to the rule of law will remain a
hollow shell -- a commitment to be honored only when it is not
inconvenient or impolitic to do so.

Article 2, U.N. Charter:

Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat
or use of force against the territorial integrity or political
independence of any state.


those terms are systematically laid out in glossary form like this,
everything becomes much clearer. Perhaps the ultimate confusion is
that "the Left" has long been accused of "moral relativism" for
pointing out the use of these terms when the essence of "moral relativism"
is judging an act not based on what it is, but on who is doing it.
It's the adolescent self-love of believing that "X, by definition, is
good when I do it and bad when you do it."