Doublespeak in Government Documents


Introductory strategy

According to source watch, the term double speak was coined in the 1950’s and is linked to George Orwell in his novel, nineteen eighty-four.

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Thesis statement

Double speak may be considered as using words/language calculatingly for political purposes. It is referred to a kind of language that is deliberately constructed so as to disguise its actual meaning for instance euphemism. It involves the use of jargons to sometimes completely obscure the meaning of plain English words. (2008).

According to Dovring, in the international relations of politics and culture, information is often turned into communication through the use of community social values. She posits that this communication has no formal rules rather has a semantic life of its own often with political and practical consequences. (1997).

It is the language/words used that make all the difference. Double speak has become common practice not only in advertising but also in politics.

George W. Bush, his administration and especially the war on Iraq has been riddled with tonnes of double speak. More so, that in 2004 he was ‘awarded’ the double speak award by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) committee on public double speak for the second year running. The award is a kind of an ironic tribute that is usually given to American public figures who are seen to perpetuate misleading, shifty, euphemistic, self-contradictory and perplexing language. (Jeralyn, 2005)


Supporting point 1

Topic sentence: In the war on terror and in the search for Bin Laden, especially after the 9/11 attacks, there were countless times that President Bush contradicted himself. He appeared confused as he talked about Bin Laden and his administrations efforts to find him. For instance, back in 2001, according to President Bush, the most important thing for his administration was to find Bin Laden. Accordingly, it was their number one priority and they were not to rest until they found him. In 2005 he changed his stance again. This time, stopping Bin Laden would be his administrations greatest challenge and they were going to do everything in their power to meet that challenge. The search for Bin Laden was part of the war on terror and he was the number one terrorist especially since he had been inextricably linked to the war on terror. (Jeralyn, 2005)

This kind of talk clearly signifies that President Bush and his administration did quite have his priorities right. His remarks were attest to the fact that they not carefully thought through and/or discussed to the last detail with his administration. The policies would be shaky. Why was he always backtracking?

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Supporting point 2

Topic sentence: According to President Bush and his administration, the war in Iraq was a very simple affair. To remove the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein, and put in place a democracy. According to Braun, as much as America considers itself a democracy most people still have little or no say in the formulation of policies and other legislative issues which are usually carried out by a few. However, it became apparent much after that the war on Iraq was only based on forged documents and misinformation. (2008)

The American population had been convinced by Bush and his administration that it was not about the oil in Iraq and that Saddaam could be linked with the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers. That Saddaam was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and the situation was so grave that not only did President Bush have to order the UN inspectors out of Iraq but that he also had to order a military invasion to begin. The American people were manipulated and hoodwinked into giving their support and approval. The Bush administration was aware of how the American public was proud of its military which is why some supported the war albeit reluctantly.

While President Bush and his administration talked of freedom for the Iraqi people, what their double speak actually meant was the freedom that the American multinational companies would have to run the Iraqi government. (Braun, 2008)

In the double speak, the president and his administration had appealed to the emotions of the people by using such words as weapons of mass destruction. Obviously, the people would respond to the affirmative calling for the invasion of Iraq to get rid of the weapons.

Supporting point 3

Topic sentence: The war on terror and especially the war in Iraq saw the Bush administration say one thing while actually meaning another. Stop loss orders was an area that can clearly demonstrate this. Take for instance the claim by President Bush was only fighting the war in Iraq with the use of a volunteer army. According to Lynch, while President Bush had been adamant that he would not support drafting of military personnel he nonetheless rescinded on this and was issuing stop loss orders. The orders served to prevent people from leaving military service. Consequently, the military referred to this kind of activity as ‘back door drafts’. (2006).

This kind of double speak could be taken to mean that there was no such thing as discharge form the military. It would appear that once one was a soldier, they would always remain a soldier irrespective of the circumstances. Why else would they draft even those who had retired?


Concluding strategy: Double speak is the kind of talk in which a person uses certain words to try and hide the actual meaning of what he/she may be trying to communicate, more so in politics. It is all in the language. President George W. Bush and his administration were openly guilty of this. From the war on terror to the stop loss orders, they said certain things while actually meaning something else sometimes even backpedaling on the way.

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For instance, in the war on terror and the search for Bin Laden, President Bush backtracked on all that he was caught talking about in the media. Again in the war on Iraq, the President and his administration had indicated it was to for the purposes of removing President Saddam Hussein in power and establishing a democracy therein. However, when this was not convincing enough to the American people, he choose to use forged documents and misleading information about the alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. This got him the support he needed to attack Iraq. However, it could be argued he was after the oil in Iraq and helping American multinational companies gain foothold in Iraq. In the same kind of scenario, President Bush said he would not support the drafting of military personnel for the war on Iraq. Yet, even those who were retired were drafted in what they referred to as back door drafts.

Thesis restatement: It is openly clear that double speak is common in politics. President Bush and his government have demonstrated this in their policies and documents.


Braun, Harry. American double speak. n.d. 2008. Web.

Dovring, Karin. English as lingua franca: Double talk in global persuasion. Westport CT: Praeger, 1997.

Jeralyn. ‘Bush double speak’. Talk left the politics of crime. n.d. 2008. Web.

Lynch, Timothy. Double speak and the war on terrorism. 2006. Web.

Source watch. ‘Double speak’. 2008. Web.

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