In the rhetoric of war or that of the justification for war whether you are in Sparta or Sarajevo is a pattern of amplification of the political insults against those who are considered irrational either in their support or opposition to that war in parallel to the very deliberate propaganda against those who are perceived as the aggressors. The current bombast on the part of politicians and leaders in countries likely to be embroiled in any action against the al-Assad regime in Syria has brought some notable examples.
Following the defeat in the Commons (lower chamber) of the UK Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s tabled motion for a sanctioning of military intervention in Syria by a specially recalled Parliament, Ed Milliband, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, when interviewed after the vote accused David Cameron of “cavalier and reckless leadership”.
Whether it was deliberately scripted in advance or an accidental coincidence, Milliband’s use of the word cavalier was both pointed and apt.
The word cavalier was first used as a term of reproach by Parliamentarians for the supporters of King Charles I in June 1642 when in a law case those supporters were described as,
“Several sorts of malignant Men, who were about the King; some whereof, under the name of Cavaliers, without having respect to the Laws of the Land, or any fear either of God or Man, were ready to commit all manner of Outrage and Violence.”
"Round Ed" Milliband
The put down could not have been any more pointed and I have to admit that I never thought that “Round Ed” Milliband possessed of such incisive rhetoric.
The American-Russian rhetoric on the Syrian question is, like the current deployments of US and Russian naval forces off the coast of Syria, less incisive and more crude.
For example Dmitry Rogozin, one of the Russian Federation’s Deputy Prime Ministers and the man who currently heads the all powerful Military-Industrial Commission and who currently is also special envoy to the breakaway Russian enclave of Transdnestr in Moldova posted in his Twitter account on the 27 August that,
“The West in its relations with the Islamic World behaves like a monkey with a grenade.”
Most commentators felt that this was a deliberate and derogatory barb aimed directly at US President Barack Obama.
Rogozin, whose wife is the daughter of a former high-ranking KGB general, was previously founder and head of the ethic hatred inciting Rodina or Motherland Party is only crude when it suits. He is a multilingual graduate of journalism and holds a PhD for a thesis entitled “The Russian Question and Its Influence on National and International Safety." The Twitter feed is like much of his populist rhetoric in the past, aimed primarily at the lowest common denominator.
Finally on a domestic level US Secretary of State John Kerry was very pointed in his press conference today on the known use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and its justification for intervention. He said,
"...So what do we know now that we can talk about?
Well we know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons programs in the entire Middle East.
We know that the regime has used these weapons multiple times this year...
We know that for three days before the attack (Aug 21), the Syrian regime's chemical weapons personnel were on the ground making preparations...
We know where the rockets were launched from, and at what time.
We know where they landed and when...
So the primary question is really no longer what we know. The question is ... what are we in the world gonna do about it?..."
This impassioned speech, in addition to being a direct appeal to the world community, was also a direct riposte to an interview with former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man who will forever be remembered for his "unknown unknowns" justification of the Iraq war, where he called the Obama administration's handling of the Syrian question "mindless."
C'est la guerre.
And the words?
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!