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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 March, 2003, 12:26 GMT
E-cyclopedia's words of war
The words used during war can have special significance - who can forget the classic "collateral damage" from the first Gulf War? E-cyclopedia will be keeping an eye out for the words being used in this conflict, and what they actually mean.

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E-cyclopedia is BBC News Online's guide to words behind the headlines

axis of weasel - France, Russia, Germany and China, according to US tabloids. The New York Post depicted French and German delegates to the UN as weasels, somewhat like the Sun depicted President Chirac as a worm. "Axis of weasel" was coined by weblog ScrappleFace.com. In UK English, "weasel" means treacherous, but in US English it has the slightly less damning meaning of using ambiguity to conceal truth.

big lie - allegations that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, according to Saddam Hussein, alternatively translated as "great lie". Perhaps an attempt to match his "mother of all battles" soundbite from '91.

cheese-eating surrender monkeys - a stock epithet for the French in certain US circles. Derives from a Simpsons episode in which Groundskeeper Willie was substitute French teacher for the day. The Times reported that France had responded with "an arch shrug, adopting a tone of superiority precisely calculated to send the Americans into even blacker fury".

coalition of the willing - the White House phrase for the countries militarily involved. US Secretary of State Colin Powell says there are 45 countries taking part in some way, although 15 of them are not prepared to be named. The phrase supplies an echo of the 1991 coalition.

fair-minded people - those who agree with Saddam Hussein, according to the Iraqi president. "Every fair-minded person knows that when Iraqi officials say something, they are trustworthy," he told Tony Benn, adding: "Every fair-minded person knows that as far as resolution 1441 is concerned, the Iraqis have been fulfilling their obligations under the resolution." Meanwhile, talking about Iraqi disarmament, Saddam's top science adviser, General Amir Saadi, said: "To all fair-minded people who are neutral and free, it's more than enough."

going kinetic - military term for invading or bombing, shorthand for kinetic targeting. Psyops, such as leafleting propaganda, is known as soft targeting. Time magazine: "'It will be highly kinetic,' an Air Force planner says with grim understatement."

heroic efforts - what Tony Blair had made to get a second resolution, according to former UK cabinet minister Robin Cook, who wasn't so impressed that he didn't have to resign.

legs of responsibility - what the UN needs to regain, according to George Bush: "...in the post-Saddam Iraq the UN will definitely need to have a role. And that way it can get - begin to get its legs - legs of responsibility back."

liberators not conquerors - President Bush's assertion that the US would free Iraq from Saddam's tyranny. Told US troops: "[Y]ou will be fighting not to conquer anybody but to liberate people." It may be a phrase designed to counter claims that the US is on a crusade, being colonial, or empire building, or simply to claim moral high ground.

moment of truth - as in "Tomorrow is a moment of truth for the world" - an ultra quotable line from President Bush, warning of the failure of diplomacy. Mr Blair's line "We have reached the point of decision," could not compete for headline-grabbing potential.

old Europe - taken to mean France and Germany, identified by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as being countries which did not agree with US policy. He later said he was surprised President Chirac had been upset by the term, and said he had a great many friends in France and Germany, adding: "I was thinking of Nato when I said old Europe. I was thinking old Nato... old Nato is at 15, the new Nato is at 26 countries, and the centre of gravity has shifted. It was not disparaging of any of those countries."

Pentagonspeak - the collection of buzzwords, catchphrases and mots du jour employed by US strategists. Coined by Time magazine, no doubt inspired by Orwell's Newspeak.

reckless - Clare Short, the non-resigning UK minister for overseas development, asked whether she thought her prime minister had been acting recklessly: "I'm afraid that I think the whole atmosphere of the current situation is deeply reckless; reckless for the world, reckless for the undermining of the UN in this disorderly world, which is wider than Iraq - [which] the whole world needs for the future - reckless with our government, reckless with his own future, position and place in history. It's extraordinarily reckless, I'm very surprised by it."

roadmap - a plan drawn up by the US, UN, EU and Russia for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, although not yet published. Not an original term - (Clinton had a roadmap for the Middle East, Pakistan had a roadmap to democracy). It does have a connotation of being practical and achievable, but it is not clear how it differs from "a plan".

serious consequences - the term used in UN resolution 1441 describing what Saddam would face if he didn't disarm. Bush and Blair say it is a clear indication that war would follow a failure to disarm. Chirac and Putin say it means some consequences less serious than that.

shock and awe - Pentagon buzzword for their tactics for attacking Iraq, the intention being to overpower Saddam with air and ground attacks designed to gain an early victory. How much "shock" an attack will be is doubtful, since everyone knows about it. But in era of "psyops", widespread advance publicity of impending shock and awe could have the desired effect of putting Iraqi forces into disarray.

simultaneity - another Pentagon buzzword, related to shock and awe, referring to concerted bombing and invasion happening at once. Time magazine reports: "The second Gulf War, if it comes, would be more like the Big Bang- hundreds of towering explosions all across Iraq all at the same time."

that country - France, according to the UK ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock. He said "one country in particular" had declared its intention to veto any proposal that came before the Security Council. "That country rejected our proposed compromise before even the Iraqi government itself." The Financial Times said: "While refraining from identifying France by name, Sir Jeremy abandoned normal diplomatic courtesies to point the finger at Paris."

under any circumstances - France's intention to veto further resolutions, according to London and Washington, which led to the end of diplomatic efforts. President Chirac's actual words (translated) were: "My position is that, regardless of the circumstances, France will vote 'no' because she considers this evening that there are no grounds for waging war in order to achieve the goal we have set ourselves, that is to say, to disarm Iraq." Some commentators say M Chirac's use of the words "this evening" indicates it was just his position while inspections were continuing.

vertically envelop - invade (see going kinetic). Pentagon buzzword for the tactic of sending troops in by helicopter to seize key targets in Iraq.

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