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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - April 7, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Of MIRVs, MARVs and detente Foreign policy mumbo-jumbo By Norman Cousins f I 'HE TROUBLE with U. S. foreign policy today is that it is becoming so overloaded with murky language and gobbledygook that it is losing all connection with the American people. Increasingly, a language gap is opening up between U. S. policymakers and the average citizen. News accounts of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s recent trip to Moscow, for example, used a wide variety of terms that are hardly likely to increase public understanding of the problems Kissinger is trying lo solve. As I read these news accounts, I wondered how many people knew exactly what was meant by “a conceptual breakthrough” or ‘‘multiple warheads” or “strategic arms limitations” or ‘ MIRV” or “MARV” or ‘‘SLBM.” Even the term detente, which has become the watchword of U. S.-Soviet relations, is borrowed from another language and lacks precise meaning for most Americans. What is happening is that the entire field of foreign policy is becoming the mysterious and mystifying domain of think-tank planners, computer Views Ideas Insights Judgments Comments Opinion Page 2 Norman Cousins specialists, war-games theoreticians and military academicians. Out of it has come a jargon as exclusive and remote as the private and specialized vocabularies found in journals for neurologists, endocrinologists, biochemists or subatomic physicists. The new language, of course, has been shaped by the intricate world of nuclear force, weapons delivery systems, electronic surveillance and computerized technology. The new military capability interacts with international politics and ideological problems in a way that results in a special vocabulary. Even under the best of circumstances, foreign policy tends to be too distant and obscure for the average citizen. The advent of computerized strategy, with language to match, converts this traditional gap into a cosmic void. This is no casual matter. The government needs the support of its citizens for its initiatives in the world. Such support is impossible without understanding. The pretentious language now being used by government officials can hardly be said to advance this understanding. Is it really so difficult to use basic English on matters concerned with national security and foreign policy? (’on- sider this account of Secretary Kissinger’s recent mission to Moscow: ‘‘A state department spokesman said today that Mr. Kissinger returned from Moscow without ‘the conceptual breakthrough’ he sought in his attempt to strengthen detente by achieving effective agreement in the strategic arms limitations talks, especially with reference to multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles.” Here is the same account, translated into everyday English: ‘‘Secretary of State Kissinger returned from Moscow today without being able to put American-Soviet relations on new high ground, as he had hoped. Mr. Kissinger was unsuccessful in his effort to break the deadlock between the two countries over the existence of space vehicles that can carry a number of thermonuclear explosives and drop them on different targets.” Even the term detente is unnecessarily fancy. I see no reason why “improved relations” isn’t just as explicit and serviceable as the French word. If President Nixon wants the American people to understand what he is trying to do in the field of world peace, he would do well to get rid of pompous verbal clutter and mumbo-jumbo. I o*! Angrlcs 7 Imps Tiyndirale ‘Maybe old days were better' Civilization vs. mystery isles By Jenkin Lloyd Jones ONE HUNDRED years ago the beautiful Miss Julia Dean of Pennsylvania was having an awful time on that deserted volcanic island somewhere east of Nova Scotia. Having foolishly spurned the affections of a noble young man, Charles Yollar, she fled the estate of her father to escape the leering attention of Thomas Adams — "I’ve got pluck and I’ve got money, and I am going to have you, honey!” So she took passage for Liverpool on the Inman liner, City of Boston, and as everyone knew the ship vanished after leaving Halifax on Jan. 28, 1870 It wasn't until 1880. or two years after her rescue, that Miss Dean let the world in on her amazing history. Even though delayed, the pamphlet which she published, illustrated by herself, lost nothing in drama. John Malcolm Bnnnin, in his fine book on transatlantic liners, "The Sway of the Grand Saloon ”, recounts Miss Dean’s story: The City of Boston, struck by lightning a few days out of Halifax, sinks immediately and Julia, alone on the sole surviving raft, is cast up on this unknown island. For five years she sustains herself by gathering shellfish and trapping animals while hor clothes degenerate into tatters (and here Miss Dean has some eye-popping illustrations). Then one morning she is awakened by a MAN! He is boarded, wet and exhausted, but transported by her beauty. When she names her ill-fated ship he strikes his forehead "There was one aboard that vessel that I would have laid down my life for, though she spurned my. . . ." "Spurned your love,” I interrupted, "and . . . great God! I see it all now, you are Charles Vollar!” "Merciful heavens,” he shouted, "and you are ... no, no, it cannot be. . . .” After living in separate wickiups for several dreary months they decide to unite themselves “with no witness present save the moon just risen, and the weird music of yonder waves for our wedding bells,” which makes this about as close to a sex novel as the Victorians got. Their bliss is disturbed only by increased quakings and rumblings beneath the island. Finally they fashion a crude boat and are no sooner launched than the island gives a mighty shudder and vanishes. Fortunately, in a few days they are picked up by the schooner, Sally Briggs, and ( apt. A. Downey Brease signs an affidavit, which Julia reproduces in her pamphlet, attesting to the truth of everything Some nosy people did get around to pointing out that Miss Dean’s name was inadvertently omitted from the City of Boston's passenger manifest, still on file in Halifax, and that ships’ registries had somehow overlooked the Sally Briggs and Capt. Brease. This didn t prevent certain divines from thundering about the mysterious workings of Providence, nor did it alloy the excitement of various schoolgirls and chambermaids who thought of Julia’s a1 fresco marriage in the moonlight and almost swooned. What brought all this on was the fact that a few days after reading Brinnin’s book I came across a high-resolution strip of photographs from a weather satellite that covered the whole Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Ireland Even the wakes of ships were clearly visible Jenkin Lloyd Jones No deserted volcanic island, or even rock, could escape this whirling cyclops eye, and if any land, however small, vanished it would be noted in not more than 90 minutes. The medieval bestiaries bore marvelous pictures of men who carried their heads in their hands, man-headed lions and the caladrius bird which, when brought to the bedside of an ill person, would turn his head one way to foretell recovery and another way to indicate he’d had it. It was a wonderful world of dragons, mermaids and, of course, mysterious islands. We know it better now. They say the military spy satellites will pick up a single automobile. If Julia’s hut had appeared on vacant real estate it would have been duly noted, and if Charles’ had eventually joined it a gunboat would have been sent to investigate. Besides, a quaking island would be crawling with seismograph crews and volcanologists. The shipwrecked couple might not have found a preacher, but they would have had plenty of company. Time was when we thought this familiarity would make us friends. Many philosophers guessed that the steamship, the cable telegraph, the radio and the transoceanic plane would wipe away misunderstandings and knit all people into one happy family. It didn t work out that way. Maybe the world was more fun KHI years ago when Julia Dean V ollar thought she could get away with it. General f ea*ur** Corporation Way with words ‘Nous’: lofty reason Insight* World Hight* Preserve, within a wild sanctuary, an inaccessible valley of reveries. —Ellen Glasgow • By Theodore M. Bernstein A WOMAN WITH NOUS. Some women, addressing a United Nations forum the other day, voiced annoyance over what they considered to be a patronizing approach by men speakers. "After all,” said one woman representative, "we have some nous ” A rare colloquial word, nous means intelligence or common sense. But it has also been a serious word in the language for centuries. Pronounced either noose or nowee, it denotes the greatest intellect or reason in the highest sense. Governmentalese. Two characteristics of bureaucratic jargon have come up recently. One is a tendency to use euphemisms — ways of getting around saying something unpleasant. When talk of gasoline rationing first arose a bill to put it into effect did not use the word rationing. The framers of the bill dodged that word and called it instead end-use allocation Another characteristic of government talese is the piling up of nouns used as adjectives. A recent public notice of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (that’s a mouthful in itself) spoke Of the Ocean Disposal Permit Program. What? The government is going to dispose of the oceans? What the program aims at, of course, is the disposal of waste and sewage in the oceans. Naturally, if that goes on long enough it may indeed dispose of the oceans, but that’s another matter. Word oddities. Ever hear of satellite used as a verb? It happened in a journalistic magazine: “The film was satellited to the United States.” Satellited! What next? Here is what’s next: A policeman who told a traffic violator to pull his car over to the curb said, according to a news account, that suddenly the violator floor-boarded it and sped off. Spontaneous coinages like those two words do sometimes work their way into the language, but don’t put too much money on either of them. New York Time* Syndical* Theodore M. 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