Monday, March 29, 2010

When Does War Escalate?

War is said to escalate when it increases rapidly in scale or intensity. The word was added to the military vocabulary by the Americans during the Vietnam War to denote the increasing degrees of United States involvement in fighting. It has also been used by military writers to describe the development of a possible war between two powers through successive stages from the use of conventional weapons to the localized employment of atomic weapons and finally, an all-out exchange of annihilating nuclear missiles.

It is a far cry from the use of the word escalator by the American Jesse W. Reno to describe the moving staircase he invented in 1891. Both words come from the word escalada, meaning the scaling of the walls of a fortress by means of ladders. A staircase moving inevitably upwards provides a more fitting image than a scaling ladder of the horrifying expansion of which war today is capable.

No comments: