regime change

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Mon Jan 13 18:10:37 UTC 2003

> >Is there linguistic term to describe the "sanitization" of policy by
> >substituting a neutral term for an odious one, as in the case of
> >replacing _regime change_ for _coup d'etat_ ?
> >
> >Regards,
> >David
> What did Orwell call it?  Newspeak?
> In Bushtalk, "regime change" seems to mean /assassination/,
> primarily, and
> /coup d'etat/ only  as a second choice.
> A. Murie

The term is one that means different things to different people. "Regime
change" means that the only acceptable political outcomes are those where
Saddam Hussein (and his sons and cronies) are no longer in power. The
mechanism is open (assassination, revolution, coup, Vuitton bag and Air
France ticket, and the 82nd Airborne are all options) and the preferred
alternative left for the audience to infer.

Also, the term predates the Bush Administration, having been used to
describe US policy toward Iraq since 1998 and has been used in other
contexts prior to that.

It is a euphemism, but it is also a generalization that comprises a number
of alternatives. Such phrasings are common in political-diplomatic contexts,
allowing for the widest possible agreement with each party interpreting it
slightly differently. I don't think there is a particular term for this,
"obfuscation" isn't quite right.

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