In the age of media war, when the battlefield's most valuable real estate is occupied by the TV screen, media spin and what public relations grand master Edward L. Bernays called "linguistic tyranny" can prove more powerful than the smartest bomb. This is a speechwriter's special op. Slogan combat. A punch-line war.
We are a storytelling species. You don't need armies to win the storytelling game. After all, Saddam Hussein claimed that he won the 1991 Persian Gulf War that drove his forces from Kuwait. That so many in his part of the world believe him is testament to the power of image over substance.
Being able to dictate certain vocabulary becomes vital to any nation that hopes to write its own history. The United States, for instance, promised "shock and awe" and "violent precision and eye-watering speed." We talk of "regime change." We mispronounce Hussein's first name so that, in Arabic, we seem to call him a shoeshine boy.