- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Goodbye, rogues. Hello, "states of concern."

By semantic fiat, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright yesterday disclosed that the U.S. government has banished "rogue" nations from the face of the earth.

Saying the evocative phrase had outlived its usefulness, the State Department declared that the nations formerly known as rogues Iraq, Libya and North Korea prominent among them would henceforth be known as "states of concern."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, in an explication that took up a good-sized chunk of his daily briefing yesterday, said the shift was not intended to be "an enormous policy step."

Mr. Boucher said the change reflected the reality that not all rogue states are equally roguish.

Rogue nation Libya has made some tentative steps to address international concerns on terrorism and rogue nation North Korea just held a summit with archrival South Korea, Mr. Boucher noted. Rogue nation Iraq, by contrast, remains largely unrepentant in U.S. eyes.

"The point is not to categorize or re-categorize anybody," the department spokesman said, declining to itemize just which country qualifies as a "state of concern. "The point is to deal with each country on the basis of what we can accomplish in terms of what we care about."

But it remains to be seen whether "states of concern" will have the linguistic legs of rogue nation a phrase that shows up in The Washington Times database 227 times since the beginning of 1999, or once every 1.92 days.

Even Mr. Boucher seemed to have a little trouble getting his tongue around the newly correct phraseology.

He said the United States was still prepared to respond forcefully "if we see states of concern that continue to be of concern because they are not willing to deal with some of the issues we are concerned about."

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