Thursday, January 15, 2009

The War word

This post isn't political or at least I don't mean it to be. Given the subject matter, I'm sure it will raise some hackles and I apologize for that. I really only meant this to be about the word 'War'.

First some background. I'm a liberal product of the 60s and as such I grew up mocking the political euphemism 'Police Action' that was used to describe our involvement in Vietnam. If my recollection is correct, (forgive me, I was but a youngster), the arguments used to justify the phrase followed this simple reasoning: no war has been declared so it was not a war. As a young person that never sat well with me. We were bombing North Vietnam; we were in pitched battles with the North Vietnamese army; so not calling it a war was just silly word play by the people who wanted to continue the fight.

Time has proven that point. No one talks about the Vietnam Police Action anymore it's always referred to as the Vietnam War.

So hear I am 35 or so years later and I find myself in a semantic pickle. Everyone keeps talking about the Iraq war as if it's still going on. We certainly were in a war with Iraq but in my working definition of the word that war ended when Sadam's government collapsed and new government was established. We are still in Iraq and soldiers and civilians are still dying but is it really a war anymore? The circular irony is that I think the phrase 'police action' would be pretty darn appropriate.
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