I think that Colonel Lang and Patrick Bahzad have made the relevant technical points. There is also a rather different issue, to which these technical questions are relevant. What Obama said, in his attempts to argue against Putin, was that: 'In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse.' Taken literally, the grammar of this sentence suggests that Assad drops barrel bombs with the intention to 'massacre innocent children.' So, one might imagine Assad presiding over a meeting – rather like those in which Obama apparently picks targets for drone strikes. Only, taking Obama literally, Assad picks out schools and orphanages. Of course, one can't take Obama literally. But that is part of the corruption. He starts with the – clear – fact that these bombing attacks do kill children. From this – displaying a combination of military illiteracy and sleazy sentimentality – he passes to the suggestion that there is something uniquely evil about these attacks. And from this, he moves to the suggestion that somehow killing children is their objective. At this point, the evidence seems to me to be moving from the interpretation according to which Obama is 'just a prat', to that in which he is actively evil. As to the British angle to this, there was, of course, a man called 'Bomber' Harris. At the time, and subsequently, there have been all kinds of arguments about the British – and American – bombing of Germany. Many of the issues involved are quite complex – and are also part of my own family history, in complicated ways. On the one hand, I am not prepared to see either Harris, or Churchill, or Lindemann, as simple figures of evil. But when I read any British politician, or journalist, treat the use of 'barrel bombs' by the Syrian 'regime' as an indication that Assad and his associates are simply figures of evil, I really get close to wanting to vomit. And, incidentally, if any Americans tell you that, by contrast to British night bombing, their own efforts in the daylight were purely directed at surgically effective attacks on purely military targets, I would reach for the salt cellar. A 'pinch' really is not enough. On the political effects of the corruption of language, incidentally, one of the classic writers is the great Viennese Jewish satirist Karl Kraus, whose whole-heartedly repudiation of the mentalities that led to the carnage of the First World War seems to me highly relevant to current issues.