Scanning the BBC news before breakfast, I read that U.S.-Pakistan relations are improving, and that this “coincided with an army offensive against suspected militants that officials say has left 17 dead.” I am doubly-irritated; first, at the current usage of the word “militant” (chiefly by the governments of the U.S. and its allies) meaning “someone whom it’s OK to kill” (or in this case, whom it’s OK to kill on suspicion). A militant is someone who is taking up arms in support of a cause: historical examples would include George Washington, Charles de Gaulle, and Simón Bolívar. Militants, historically speaking, are sometimes considered admirable people; particularly when up in arms against corrupt, oppressive, military dictatorships. Like, for example, the government of Pakistan. Which isn’t to say that everyone fighting against General Musharraf is a fine person. But when the Americans or Israelis or Saudis or whoever equate “militant” with “license to kill”, that’s offensive on a bunch of levels. And as for being on good terms with the current Pakistani regime... America has historically got very poor results from propping up enemy-of-our-enemies dictators, but keeps trying. Follow the link and look at the picture, which kind of says it all, for me.