July 11, 2008 | National Review Online

“Iran’s CIVILIAN nuclear program”

Secretary of State Rice said the usual things about U.S. determination to defend our interests and allies as Iran continued test-firing missiles.  The New York Times report comments (italics mine):

The remarks came amid tense exchanges between Iran and the United States over Iran’s civilian nuclear program, which Washington and many Western governments have warned could be used to cloak the development of a nuclear weapon, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.

Iran aside, who other than the New York Times says Iran’s nuclear program is a civilian program?  It is a military weapons program.  Even if you don’t want to leap to that obvious conclusion (made even more obvious by the fact that the program is run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps), isn’t it at least true that the nature of the program is exactly what is in dispute in the controversy?

Of course, the State Department does not help by continuing to offer Iran civilian nuclear power assistance and (as Jonah observed some weeks back) by offering similar assistance to Saudi Arabia, which is sitting on even more oil than Iran.  (A primary part of the evidence that Iran’s nuclear program is a weapons program is the fact that it doesn’t need nuclear power for civilian energy purposes.) 

But this is how the Left always gets a leg up in the language battle, which becomes the prism through which the public perceives these debates.  Start calling it a civilian nuclear program and pretty soon it becomes a civilian program in the media template and in much of the public mind … regardless of what it really is.