scorched-earth policy

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scorched-earth policy (plural scorched-earth policies)

  1. (military) A strategy that involves destroying buildings, crops, and other resources that could be useful to opponents.
    • 1993 April 24, Donatella Lorch, "Eritreans Voting on Independence From Ethiopia," New York Times (retrieved 2 Nov 2013):
      The Ethiopian Army waged a scorched-earth policy with saturation bombings and destruction of Eritrea's infrastructure.
  2. (figuratively) An intentional course of action that is drastic or ruinous.
    • 1997 May 3, Warren Hoge, "Blair Takes Charge, Vowing 'Practicable' Policies," New York Times (retrieved 2 Nov 2013):
      The scorched-earth policy that voters adopted toward the Tories left them with no seats in Scotland and Wales and greatly reduced numbers through the prosperous swath called Middle England.

Related terms[edit]