intro’d to Carol here:
I just read Cohn’s article due to this recommendation and it was incredible.
I agree jargon is often used as means of preserving authority in a professional group. If you don’t describe your work, and possible human harm, in plain English, perhaps it’s because you don’t want to. https://t.co/4MIdN14hYv
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/supernodal/status/1208137210689720322
@BiellaColeman: What’s remarkable is I include many journalistic pieces that are fun to read. And yet the deep academic dive… was the clear winner. Granted it is written in totally jargon-free language. And it is about language. Here is the piece qub.ac.uk/Research/GRI/m
notes/quotes – 33 page pdf – Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals (1987):
i became obsessed w the question – how can they think this way..t
i learned their specialized language, and i tried to understand that they thought and how they thought.. as i learned their language, as i become more and more engaged w their info and arguments, i found that my own thinking was changing. soon, i could no longer cling to the comfort of studying an external and objectified ‘them’ ..
resonating w part of idio-jargon‘s built in protection (on a positive angle) have to want to know the person/topic enough to keep asking.. what do you mean by that..
i had to confront a new question .. how can i think this way.. how can any of us..t
i know you ness
there is of course, an important and growing body of feminist theory about gender and language.. in addition there is a rich and increasingly vast body of theoretical work exploring the gendered aspects of war and militarism, .
my own project is most closely linked to the development of feminist critiques of dominant western concepts of reason.. my goal is to discuss the nature of nuclear stragetic (sic) thinking; in particular, my emphasis is on the role of its specialized language, a language that i call ‘technostrategic’..
i have come to believe that this language both reflects and shapes the nature of the american nuclear strategic project, that it plays a central role in allowing defense intellectuals to think and act as they do, and that feminists who are concerned about nuclear weaponry/war must give careful attention to the language we choose to use – whom it allows us to communicate with and what it allows us to think as well as say
language as control/enclosure et al..t
and why we need to default to listening deeper ie: giving idio-jargon a go
stage 1: listening
Entering the world of defense intellectuals was a bizarre experience bizarre because it is a world where men spend their days calmly and matter-of-factly discussing nuclear weapons, nuclear strategy, and nuclear war
Yet what is striking about the men themselves is not, as the content of their conversations might suggest, their cold-bloodedness. Rather, it is that they are a group of men unusually endowed with charm, humor, intelligence, concern, and decency. Reader, I liked them. At least, I liked many of them. The attempt to understand how such men could contribute to an endeavor that I see as so fundamentally destructive became a continuing obsession for me, a lens through which I came to examine all of my experiences in their world.
In this early stage, I was gripped by the extraordinary language used to discuss nuclear war. What hit me first was the elaborate use of abstraction and euphemism, of words so bland that they never forced the speaker or enabled the listener to touch the realities of nuclear holocaust that lay behind the words
Anyone who has seen pictures of Hiroshima burn victims or tried to imagine the pain of hundreds of glass shards blasted into flesh may find it perverse beyond imagination to hear a class of nuclear devices matter-of-factly referred to as “clean bombs.”
“Clean bombs” are nuclear devices that are largely fusion rather than fission and that therefore release a higher quantity of energy, not as radiation, but as blast, as destructive explosive power. “Clean bombs” may provide the perfect metaphor for the language of defense analysts and arms controllers. This language has enormous destructive power, but without emotional fallout, without the emotional fallout that would result if it were clear one was talking about plans for mass murder, mangled bodies, and unspeakable human suffering. Defense analysts talk about “countervalue attacks” rather than about incinerating cities. Human death, in nuclear parlance, is most often referred to as “collateral damage”; for, as one defense analyst said wryly, “The Air Force doesn’t target people, it targets shoe factories.”
Air Force Magazine’s advertisements for new weapons, for example, rival Playboy as a catalog of men’s sexual anxieties and fantasies.
The United States frequently appeared in discussions about international politics as “father,” sometimes coercive, sometimes benevolent, but always knowing best. The single time that any mention was made of countries other than the United States, our NATO allies, or the USSR was in a lecture on nuclear proliferation. The point was made that younger countries simply could not be trusted to know what was good for them, nor were they yet fully responsible, so nuclear weapons in their hands would be much more dangerous than in ‘ours. The metaphor used was that of parents needing to set limits for their children.
Sanitized abstraction and sexual and patriarchal imagery, even if disturbing, seemed to fit easily into the masculinist world of nuclear war planning. What did not fit, what surprised and puzzled me most when I first heard it, was the set of metaphors that evoked images that can only be called domestic.
In the ever-friendly, even romantic world of nuclear weaponry, enemies “exchange” warheads; one missile “takes out” another; weapons systems can “marry up”; “coupling” is sometimes used to refer to the wiring between mechanisms of warning and response, or to the psychopolitical links between strategic (intercontinental) and theater (Europeanbased) weapons. ..These nuclear explosives are not dropped; a “bus” “delivers” them. In addition, nuclear bombs are not referred to as bombs or even warheads; they are referred to as “reentry vehicles,” a term far more bland and benign, which is then shortened to “RVs,” a term not only totally abstract and removed from the reality of a bomb but also resonant with the image of the recreational vehicles of the ideal family vacation.
These domestic images must be more than simply one more form of distancing, one more way to remove oneself from the grisly reality behind the words; ordinary abstraction is adequate to that task. Something else, something very peculiar, is going on here. Calling the pattern in which bombs fall a “footprint” almost seems a willful distorting process, a playful, perverse refusal of accountability-because to be accountable to reality is to be unable to do this work.
These words may also serve to domesticate, to tame the wild and uncontrollable forces of nuclear destruction. The metaphors minimize; they are a way to make phenomena that are beyond what the mind can encompass smaller and safer, and thus they are a way of gaining mastery over the unmasterable. The fire-breathing dragon under the bed, the one who threatens to incinerate your family, your town, your planet, becomes a pet you can pat.
Using language evocative of everyday experiences also may simply serve to make the nuclear strategic community more comfortable with what they are doing. “PAL” (permissive action links) is the carefully constructed, friendly acronym for the electronic system designed to prevent the unauthorized firing of nuclear warheads. “BAMBI” was the acronym developed for an early version of an antiballistic missile system (for Ballistic Missile Boost Intercept).
The imagery that domesticates, that humanizes insentient weapons, may also serve, paradoxically, to make it all right to ignore sentient human bodies, human lives.. t.. Perhaps it is possible to spend one’s time thinking about scenarios for the use of destructive technology and to have human bodies remain invisible in that technological world precisely because that world itself now includes the domestic, the human, the warm, and playful-the Christmas trees, the RVs, the affectionate pats. It is a world that is in some sense complete unto itself; it even includes death and loss. But it is weapons, not humans, that get “killed.” t.. “Fratricide” occurs when one of your warheads “kills” another of your own warheads. There is much discussion of “vulnerability” and “survivability,” but it is about the vulnerability and survival of weapons systems, not people.
There is one set of domestic images that demands separate attention images that suggest men’s desire to appropriate from women the power of giving life and that conflate creation and destruction. The bomb project is rife with images of male birth
Forty years later, this idea of male birth and its accompanying belittling of maternity-the denial of women’s role in the process of creation and the reduction of “motherhood” to the provision of nurturance (apparently Teller did not need to provide an egg, only a womb )-seems thoroughly incorporated into the nuclear mentality, as I learned on a subsequent visit to U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs. One of the briefings I attended included discussion of a new satellite system, the not yet “on line” MILSTAR ~ystem.~ The officer doing the briefing gave an excited recitation of its technical capabilities and then an explanation of the new Unified Space Command’s role in the system. Self-effacingly he said, “We’ll do the motherhood role-telemetry, tracking, and control-the maintenance.
The possibility that the language reveals an attempt to appropriate ultimate creative power is evident in another striking aspect of the language of nuclear weaponry and doctrine..the religious imagery. In a subculture of hard-nosed realism and hyper-rationality, in a world that claims as a sign of its superiority its vigilant purging of all nonrational elements, and in which people carefully excise from their discourse every possible trace of soft sentimentality, as though purging dangerous nonsterile elements from a lab, the last thing one might expect to find is religious imagery-imagery of the forces that science has been defined in opposition to. For surely, given that science’s identity was forged by its separation from, by its struggle for freedom from, the constraints of religion, the only thing as unscientific as the female, the subjective, the emotional, would be the religious. And yet, religious imagery permeates the nuclear past and present. The first atomic bomb test was called Trinity-the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the male forces of Creation. The imagery is echoed in the language of the physicists who worked on the bomb and witnessed the test: “It was as though we stood at the first day of creation.” Robert Oppenheimer thought of Krishna’s words to Arjuna in the Bhagauad Gita: “I am become Death, the Shatterer of world^.”^^
Perhaps most astonishing of all is the fact that the creators of strategic doctrine actually refer to members of their community as “the nuclear priesthood.” It is hard to decide what is most extraordinary about this: the easy arrogance of their claim to the virtues and supernatural power of the priesthood; the tacit admission (neuer spoken directly) that rather than being unflinching, hard-nosed, objective, empirically minded scientific describers of reality, they are really the creators of dogma; or the extraordinary implicit statement about who, or rather what, has become god. If this new priesthood attains its status through an inspired knowledge of nuclear weapons, it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “a mighty fortress is our God.”
stage 2: learning to speak the language
.. my attention and energy were quickly focused on decoding and learning to speak it. The first task was training the tongue in the articulation of acronyms. Several years of reading the literature of nuclear weaponry and strategy had not prepared me for the degree to which acronyms littered all conversations, nor for the way in which they are used. Formerly, I had thought of them mainly as utilitarian. They allow you to write or speak faster. They act as a form of abstraction, removing you from the reality behind the words. They restrict communication to the initiated, leaving all others both uncomprehending and voiceless in the debate. But, being at the Center, hearing the defense analysts use the acronyms, and then watching as I and others in the group started to fling acronyms around in our conversation revealed some additional, unexpected dimensions. First, in speaking and hearing, a lot of these terms can be very sexy.
But it seems to me that speaking about it with that edge of derision (kneecap) is exactly what allows it to be spoken about and seriously discussed at all. It is the very ability to make fun of a concept that makes it possible to work with it rather than reject it outright.
In other words, what I learned at the program is that talking about nuclear weapons is fun. I am serious. The words are fun to say; they are racy, sexy, snappy. You can throw them around in rapid-fire succession. They are quick, clean, light; they trip off the tongue. You can reel off dozens of them in seconds, forgetting about how one might just interfere with the next, not to mention with the lives beneath them.
I am not describing a phenomenon experienced only by the perverse, although the phenomenon itself may be perverse indeed. Nearly everyone I observed clearly took pleasure in using the words.It mattered little whether we were lecturers or students, hawks or doves, men or women we all learned it, and we all spoke it. Some of us may have spoken with a self-consciously ironic edge, but the pleasure was there nonetheless.
Part of the appeal was the thrill of being able to manipulate an arcane language, the power of entering the secret kingdom, being someone in the know.It is a glow that is a significant part of learning about nuclear weaponry. Few know, and those who do are powerful. t.. You can rub elbows with them, perhaps even be one yourself.
That feeling, of course, does not come solely from the language. The whole set-up of the summer program itself, for example, communicated the allures of power and the benefits of white male privileges. We were provided with luxurious accommodations, complete with young black women who came in to clean up after us each day; generous funding paid not only our transportation and food but also a large honorarium for attending; we met in lavishly appointed classrooms and lounges. Access to excellent athletic facilities was guaranteed by a “Temporary Privilege Card,” which seemed to me to sum up the essence of the experience.Perhaps most important of all were the endless allusions by our lecturers to “what I told John [Kennedy]” and “and then Henry [Kissinger] said,” or the lunches where we could sit next to a prominent political figure and listen to Washington gossip.
A more subtle, but perhaps more important, element of learning the language is that, when you speak it, you feel in control.The experience of mastering the words infuses your relation to the material. You can get so good at manipulating the words that it almost feels as though the whole thing is under control. Learning the language gives a sense of what I would call cognitive mastery; the feeling of mastery of technology that is finally not controllable but is instead powerful beyond human comprehension, powerful in a way that stretches and even thrills the imagination.
The more conversations I participated in using this language, the less frightened I was of nuclear war. How can learning to speak a language have such a powerful effect? One answer, I believe, is that the process of learning the language is itself a part of what removes you from the reality of nuclear war. I entered a world where people spoke what amounted to a foreign language, a language I had to learn if we were to communicate with one another.So I became engaged in the challenge of it–of decoding the acronyms and figuring out which were the proper verbs to use. My focus was on the task of solving the puzzles, developing language competency not on the weapons and wars behind the words. Although my interest was in thinking about nuclear war and its prevention, my energy was elsewhere.
Learning to speak the language of defense analysts is not a conscious, cold-blooded decision to ignore the effects of nuclear weapons on real live human beings, to ignore the sensory, the emotional experience, the human impact. It is simply learning a new language, but by the time you are through, the content of what you can talk about is monumentally different, as is the perspective from which you speak
Both of these differences may stem from the difference of perspective: the speaker in the first is a victim of nuclear weapons, the speaker in the second is a user. The speaker in the first is using words to try to name and contain the horror of human suffering all around her; the speaker in the second is using words to ensure the possibility of launching the next nuclear attack.
Thus, speaking the expert language not only offers distance, a feeling of control, and an alternative focus for one’s energies; it also offers escape from thinking of oneself as a victim of nuclear war… the speakers of technostrategic language are positionally allowed, even forced, to escape that awareness, to escape viewing nuclear war from the position of the victim, by virtue of their linguistic stance as users, rather than victims, of nuclear weaponry.
stage 3: dialogue
although I was tempted to use my newly acquired proficiency in technostrategic jargon, I vowed to speak English. I had long believed that one of the most important functions of an expert language is exclusion-the denial of a voice to those outside the professional community..t~‘ I wanted to see whether a well-informed person could speak English and still carry on a knowledgeable conversation.
What I found was that no matter how well-informed or complex my questions were, if I spoke English rather than expert jargon, the men responded to me as though I were ignorant, simpleminded, or both. It did not appear to occur to anyone that I might actually be choosing not to speak their language
Using the right phrases opened my way into long, elaborate discussions that taught me a lot about technostrategic reasoning and how to manipulate it.
I found, however, that the better I got at engaging in this discourse, the more impossible it became for me to express my own ideas, my own values..t
idio-jargon as freedom and security and equity
I could adopt the language and gain a wealth of new concepts and reasoning strategies-but at the same time as the language gave me access to things I had been unable to speak about before, it radically excluded others. I could not use the language to express my concerns because it was physically impossible. This language does not allow certain questions to be asked or certain values to be expressed.
To pick a bald example: the word “peace” is not a part of this discourse. As close as one can come is “strategic stability,” a term that refers to a balance of numbers and types of weapons systems-not the political, social, economic, and psychological conditions implied by the word “peace.” Not only is there no word signifying peace in this discourse, but the word “peace” itself cannot be used. To speak it is immediately to brand oneself as a soft-headed activist instead of an expert, a professional to be taken seriously.
If I was unable to speak my concerns in this language, more disturbing still was that I found it hard even to keep them in my own head. I had begun my research expecting abstract and sanitized discussions of nuclear war and had readied myself to replace my words for theirs, to be ever vigilant against slipping into the never-never land of abstraction. But no matter how prepared I was, no matter how firm my commitment to staying aware of the reality behind the words, over and over I found that I could not stay connected, could not keep human lives as my reference point. I found I could go for days speaking about nuclear weapons without once thinking about the people who would be incinerated by them
The problem,..not only ..abstract terminology that removes them from the realities ..There is no reality of which they speak. or, rather, the “reality” of which they speak is itself a world of abstractions. ..These abstract systems were developed as a way to make it possible to “think about the unthinkable”-not as a way to describe or codlfy relations on the ground.*
So the greatest problem with the idea of “limited nuclear war,” for example, is not that it is grotesque to refer to the death and suffering caused by any use of nuclear weapons as “limited” or that “limited nuclear war” is an abstraction t..but, rather, that “limited nuclear war” is itself an abstract conceptual system, designed, embodied, achieved by computer modeling. It is an abstract world in which hypothetical, calm, rational actors have sufficient information to know exactly what size nuclear weapon the opponent has used against which targets, and in which they have adequate command and control to make sure that their response is precisely equilibrated to the attack. .They would act solely on the basis of a perfectly informed mathematical calculus of megatonnage.
“The aggressor ends up worse off than the aggressed”? The homeland of “the aggressed” has just been devastated by the explosions of, say, a thousand nuclear bombs, each likely to be ten to one hundred times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and the aggressor, whose homeland is still untouched, “ends up worse off “? How is it possible to think this? Even abstract language and abstract thinking do not seem to be a sufficient explanation.
I was only able to “make sense of it” when I finally asked myself the question that feminists have been asking about theories in every discipline: What is the reference point? Who (or what) is the subject here?
In other disciplines, we have frequently found that the reference point for theories about “universal human phenomena” has actually been white men. In technostrategic discourse, the reference point is not white men, it is not human beings at all; it is the weapons themselves. The aggressor thus ends up worse off than the aggressed because he has fewer weapons left; human factors are irrelevant to the calculus of gain and loss.
In “regime A” and throughout strategic discourse, the concept of “incentive” is similarly distorted by the fact that weapons are the subjects of strategic paradigms. Incentive to strike first is present or absent according to a mathematical calculus of numbers of “surviving” weapons. That is, incentive to start a nuclear war is discussed not in terms of what possible military or political ends it might serve but, instead, in terms of numbers of weapons, with the goal being to make sure that you are the guy who still has the most left at the end. ..Many strategic analysts fear that in a period of escalating political tensions, when it begins to look as though war may be inevitable, this combination makes “the incentive to strike first” well nigh irresistible.
..there simply is no way to talk about human death or human societies when you are using a language designed to talk about weapons. Human death simply is “collateral damage7′–collateral to the real subject, which is the weapons themselves.
Second, if human lives are not the reference point, then it is not only impossible to talk about humans in this language, it also becomes in some sense illegitimate to ask the paradigm to reflect human concerns. Hence, questions that break through the numbing language of strategic analysis and raise issues in human terms can be dismissed easily. No one will claim that the questions are unimportant, but they are inexpert, unprofessional, irrelevant to the business at hand to ask. The discourse among the experts remains hermetically sealed.
The problem, then, is not only that the language is narrow but also that it is seen by its speakers as complete or whole unto itself-as representing a body of truths that exist independently of any other truth or knowledge..t
The isolation of this technical knowledge from social or psychological or moral thought, or feelings, is all seen as legitimate and necessary. The outcome is that defense intellectuals can talk about the weapons that are supposed to protect particular political entities, particular peoples and their way of life, without actually asking if weapons can do it, or if they are the best way to do it, or whether they may even damage the entities you are supposedly protecting..t
It is not that the men I spoke with would say that these are invalid questions. They would, however, simply say that they are separate questions, questions that are outside what they do, outside their realm of expertise. So their deliberations go on quite independently, as though with a life of their own, disconnected from the functions and values they are supposedly to serve.
Finally, the third problem is that this discourse has become virtually the only legitimate form of response to the question of how to achieve security. If the language of weaponry was one competing voice in the discussion, or one that was integrated with others, the fact that the referents of strategic paradigms are only weapons would be of little note. But when we realize that the only language and expertise offered to those interested in pursuing peace refers to nothing but weapons, its limits become staggering, and its entrapping qualities-the way in which, once you adopt it, it becomes so hard to stay connected to human concerns become more comprehensible..t
stage 4: the terror
Within a few weeks, what had once been remarkable became unnoticeable. As I learned to speak, my perspective changed. I no longer stood outside the impermeable wall of technostrategic language and, once in- side, I could no longer see it. Speaking the language, I could no longer really hear it. And once inside its protective walls, I began to find it difficult to get out..t The impermeability worked both ways.
I had not only learned to speak a language: I had started to think in it. Its questions became my questions, its concepts shaped my responses to new ideas. Its definitions of the parameters of reality became mine.
My grasp on what I knew as reality seemed to slip. I might get very excited, for example, about a new strategic justification for a “no first use” policy and spend time discussing the ways in which its implications for our force structure in Western Europe were superior to the older version. And after a day or two I would suddenly step back, aghast that I was so involved with the military justifications for not using nuclear weapons-as though the moral ones were not enough. What I was actually talking about-the mass incineration caused by a nuclear attack-was no longer in my head.
There is tremendous pleasure in it, especially for those of us who have been closed out, who have been told that it is really all beyond us and we should just leave it to the benevolently paternal men in charge.
But as the pleasures deepen, so do the dangers. The activity of trying to out-reason defense intellectuals in their own games gets you thinking inside their rules, tacitly accepting all the unspoken assumptions of their paradigms. You become subject to the tyranny of concepts. The language shapes your categories of thought (e.g., here it becomes “good nukes” or “bad nukes,” not, nukes or no nukes) and defines the boundaries of imagination (as you try to imagine a “minimally destabilizing basing mode” rather than a way to prevent the weapon from being deployed at all).
My own move away from a focus on the language is quite typical. Other recent entrants into this world have commented to me that, while it is the cold-blooded, abstract discussions that are most striking at first, within a short time “you get past it-you stop hearing it, it stops bothering you, it becomes normal-and you come to see that the language, itself, is not the problem.”
Listening to the discourse of nuclear experts reveals a series of culturally grounded and culturally acceptable mechanisms that serve this purpose and that make it possible to “think about the unthinkable,”
Learning to speak the language reveals something about how thinking can become more abstract, more focused on parts disembedded from their context, more attentive to the survival of weapons than the survival of human beings. That is, it reveals something about the process of militarization..t
learning the language is a transformative, rather than an additive, process. .you enter a new mode of thinking-a mode of thinking not only about nuclear weapons but also, de facto, about military and political power and about the relationship between human ends and technological means.
Thus, those of us who find U. S. nuclear policy desperately misguided appear to face a serious quandary. If we refuse to learn the language, we are virtually guaranteed that our voices will remain outside the “politically relevant” spectrum of opinion. Yet, if we do learn and speak it, we not only severely limit what we can say but we also invite the transformation, the militarization, of our own thinking.
One of the most intriguing options opened by learning the language is that it suggests a basis upon which to challenge the legitimacy of the defense intellectuals’ dominance of the discourse on nuclear issues. When defense intellectuals are criticized for the cold-blooded inhumanity of the scenarios they plan, their response is to claim the high ground of rationality; they are the only ones whose response to the existence of nuclear weapons is objective and realistic.
..below the surface ..we find currents of homoerotic excitement, heterosexual domination, the drive toward competency and mastery, the pleasures of membership in an elite and privileged group, the ultimate importance and meaning of membership in the priesthood, and the thrilling power of becoming Death, shatterer of worlds. How is it possible to hold this up as a paragon of cool-headed objectivity?
..as defense intellectuals rest their claims to legitimacy on the untainted rationality of their discourse, their project fails according to” its own criteria. Deconstructing strategic discourse’s claims to rationality is, then, in and of itself, an important way to challenge its hegemony as the sole legitimate language for public debate about nuclear policy.
Our reconstructive task is a task of creating compelling alternative visions of possible futures, a task of recognizing and developing alternative conceptions of rationality, a task of creating rich and imaginative alternative voices-diverse voices whose conversations with each other will invent those futures..t
Carol Cohn is the founding director of the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights and a Lecturer of Women’s Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Cohn is recognised for addressing issues of gender in global politics, particularly conflict and security issues. She has published in academic and policy contexts with major research interests lying in the realm of gender and armed conflict, the gendered discourses of US national security elites and gender mainstreaming in international security institutions. In addition to her research, Cohn facilitates training and workshops for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and has been active in the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security since 2001.
Cohn’s career includes a stance described as feminist anti-militarism. Cohn edited a well-received 2013 collection of essays on the topic of women and war in which it is argued that the topic of war cannot be understood without understanding gender dynamics.
In her 1987 article, “Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals,” Cohn discussed the language and imagery used in defense professionals discourse with a concentrated focus on the sexual subtext used and the extensive use of abstract language and euphemisms. Terms such as “collateral damage” replacing “loss of life” and “RV’s” in place of “nuclear bombs” are argued to demonstrate the abstract language used by defense intellectuals. Cohn argues that sexualized language including terms such as vertical “erector launchers”, “thrust to weight ratios”, “soft lay downs”, “deep penetration”, and “orgasmic whumps” are common place in nuclear weaponry and strategy conversations. Cohn links the domesticated and humanized language and imagery as a way for defense professionals to distance themselves from the reality and anxiety of war. Additionally, the ‘technostrategic’ language that is used is a way to restrict debate solely to defense intellectuals and professionals who are versed in the language. It is argued that this effectively dismisses and silences voices from outside the military and nuclear sphere. Cohn suggests that the reference point of the language revolves around the weapons themselves, thus, because the language is designed to talk about weapons there is no way that concerns of human life or society can be legitimately expressed. If it is not part of the language these values or concerns are effectively dismissed or deemed illegitimate. This piece demonstrates how important language is and how it can be gendered. It brings up questions about language relating to whom it allows communications with and what it allows one to think as well as say.