Monday, June 13, 2005

More DSM

The Weekly Standard has a good article out on the infamous Downing Street Memo showing that the outrage it has produced on the left is the result of an equivocal use of the word “fix”, and which contains this barb which made me chuckle (original emphasis).
It's striking that the Times's story hyping the memo makes no mention of the "fixed" passage until roughly its 26th paragraph, where the term goes unremarked. Far be it from me to suggest that the Brits have done a better job as custodians of the English language than Americans. But the Brits do at least know how they speak it.
Another thing about the DSM which seems to have gone largely unremarked upon in the media is that it tends to discredit the whole Bush Lied and Blair Lied story line. There are several passages which clearly indicate that the participants were under the impression that Saddam did indeed have WMD. For example, in the well-publicized quote in which Jack Straw characterizes the case for military action as “thin”, he goes on to point out:
Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.

Why would he speak of Saddam’s WMD capability being less than others if he knew it to be non-existent? Wouldn’t he just say that Saddam had no WMD capability?

And later there is a discussion about the consequences of Saddam using WMD “on day one” and where he might target with his WMD in the event of military action. Even Blair at one point refers to the fact that “the regime…was producing the WMD.” It seems clear that, whatever criticisms can be made regarding the failure to find WMD, there was a sincere belief at the time that he did posess them.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mark Miller said...

Yes. Very interesting article. It's true that to American eyes, the terms used in the DSM are "seductive". They do fit into left-wing preconceived notions when read as though an American wrote it. It just shows how uncosmopolitan many on the far left are. When translated, it makes sense in the context of something less sinister, though they did make the point of other countries being farther along in nuclear development, which in hindsight looks correct.

I've been to England and even I didn't understand the meaning of "fixed" when I read the "memo". Anyone who's been there knows that the Americans and Brits are "people separated by a common language". An American hearing the phrase from a Brit, "I lifted her bonnet" might think that a man had removed a woman's frilly hat. Not at all. It means he opened the hood of her car...

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Mark Miller said...

Correction:

Looked up "Bonnet" in the Cambridge dictionary online and it turns out it can mean "hat" in Brit English, just as "hood" in American English can mean "head covering", but when we use the term "bonnet" it tends to strictly mean "a frilly hat that women wear", but in the UK it can have a few meanings, including "hood of a car".

3:47 AM  

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