Sneaky wordplay by presidents and diplomats

The Obama administration has developed an entirely new way of using the English language.

In his Cairo speech, he said “It is time for these settlements to stop”. On Monday he called for a “cessation of settlements” and opposed a “continuation of settlements”. And today Hillary Clinton said “We want to see a stop to the settlements”.

For those of you (unlike Obama and Clinton) for whom English is not your native tongue, I’ll explain that ‘stop’ or ‘cessation’ refers to an action, not an object. For example, I could say “stop smiling at me that way” or “when will we see a cessation of this violence?”, but it would be ungrammatical (albeit threatening) to say “We want to see a stop to your face.”

This deliberate solecism apparently permits Obama to say either “it is time for this settlement activity to stop” or “it is time for these settlements to cease to exist“, while keeping us in the dark about which one he means!

A friend has suggested that this phrase was put this way so it could be translated into Arabic with the latter meaning. I’ve been unable to verify this.

Sneaky? Sure, and there’s more. Look at what Hillary said today about the understandings supposedly made between Israel and the Bush administration which accepted natural growth within some established settlements:

Looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements [my emphasis, of course]

Get it? If there were oral agreements, they weren’t enforceable. Gotcha!

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