MoD newspeak

Whatever the truth of the allegations against UK armed forces interrogation centre in Iraq, the response of their officials is a classic example of imperial deception, hubris, and political newspeak.

1. “Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat armed forces minister, said the MoD should be allowed to investigate the matter itself, adding: ‘A costly public inquiry would be unable to investigate individual criminal behaviour or impose punishments. Any such inquiry would arguably therefore not be in the best interests of the individual complainants who have raised these allegations.'”

Brilliant argument: a government department should not be investigated in public because such an inquiry would make individual prosecutions difficult. Excellent stuff. At first I thought that he must be a lawyer, but it turns out that he used to work in marketing and public relations.

2. “Brigadier John Donnelly of the MoD’s Judicial Engagement Policy department said: ‘We have set up the dedicated Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) to investigate them as quickly and thoroughly as possible.'”

Excellent use of newspeak: to treat events that are alleged to have happened seven years ago as “historic allegations” nicely likens it all to, say, allegations about abuse during the Napoleonic wars. Nothing really to do with us now, to be sure. Perhaps they have some former advertising executives working for them.

The prophets used pretty vitriolic language to lambast their own rulers and the elite. According to the gospels, Jesus did not mince his words either. Not that there is any chance at all of this happening in the UK; certainly not in the leadership. Sadly, there are few churches left (anywhere, I might add) where such language, or any, can be used to hold the powerful to account. I suppose it makes us feel a little better to prevaricate; avoid social analysis; or, in some cases, turn around and oppress others ourselves: ‘let’s hunt down gays’, for example.

Sometimes I wonder whether anyone can seriously remain a Christian without considering every day why we haven’t left ‘the church’ yet. Personally, if I had not started quite some time ago to divorce my understanding of ‘church’ from the ‘really existing churches’ (to paraphrase East Germany’s real existierender Sozialismus), I would long have left and shaken the dust off my sandals.

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