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Here is Hillary Clinton’s Speech in response to the news that Osama Bin Laden was found and killed yesterday.

At about minute 3:30 Clinton Says:

“You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us, but you can make the choice to abandon Al Quaeda and participate in a peaceful political process.”

This seems like an odd construction to me. Is it possible to have a “choice” when there is only one option? It seems to me that a “choice” involves at least two options. If there is only one option then it is no choice at all. Why is the rhetoric of ‘choice’ being invoked when the speech also makes clear that only one so-called “choice” will be supported?

It is not that I think other options (e.g. continuing to support Al Quaeda, or engaging in violent political processes or something else) should be supported. But nevertheless it still seems odd to couch this in the language of choice. It would be more honest, I think, to simply say something like:

“You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us, but we will offer you support if you decide to abandon Al Quaeda and participate in a peaceful political process.”

Why is volunteerism being invoked in a place where it so clearly does not belong? To support a “choice” is to support both (or many) possible options. But that is not what Clinton is suggesting. The USA will not support any option other than the abandonment of Al Quaeda. They are not therefore supporting “choice,” but instead supporting an outcome they desire. With force, if necessary. That is not choice, but coercion. It might be a justified form of coercion, but it is coercion nonetheless.

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