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What does "must" mean?

Reader comment on item: George Mitchell's Return to Middle East Diplomacy

Submitted by jzj (United States), Jan 30, 2009 at 11:43

Senator Mitchell, President Obama's Middle East Envoy, has now proclaimed that "Palestinian arms smuggling must end."

Previously,any number of speakers has said similar such things: "Terrorism must end" (President Bush); "Peace must prevail" (Colin Powell); "Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons" (President Obama).

Do these people have any understanding of the meaning of the word "must"? Websters says, to be "required" or "compelled." "Must" needs
to be coupled with some punitive action that will drive the prescribed behavior.

In this context, in order to have any signifiance, Senator Mitchell's "must" has to be followed with a specific "or else": 'or else we will
suspend aid'; 'or else we will file a frosty UN objection'; 'or else we will bop our clown noses with squeaky rubber mallets.'

In Senator Mitchell's case, I advise he go out and get himself a really loud squeaky mallet: after all, he must do something. (If
he's a sport, he'll buy a case and hand out a bunch of them.)

Submitting....

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