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War vs. Invasion

"War" is something that, in my country, only our Congress can declare. As such, we are not at "war" with Iraq. Yet Fox, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC refer to the "war" in Iraq. By dictionary definition, yes, there is a war going on. By that same definition, I suppose that, in fact, America has previously waged wars on drugs, poverty, and who knows what else.

How about we wage a war on war? Or at least its proper usage. Does saying "War on Iraq" get higher ratings than "Iraq Invasion?" Why do the news outlets see fit to call this a war - using the dictionary definition and not the one established by law? I'm not saying that if our government defined "pink" to be a shade of green that we should call it that, but surely calling this a "war" is contributing to a great deal of misunderstanding about how the laws in this country work, isn't it?

Imagine the surprise on a high school student's face when they get the question "are we at war with Iraq" wrong on their American government quiz*. The answer is no, because we aren't. Not officially, anyway.

I'm trying to recall previous "wars" and "invasions." Desert Storm was called a "war" right? Vietnam was. Korea was. But those are big ones (the latter two). What are some of the smaller "invasions" that we called "war?"

The "War on Terror" seems oddly oxymoronic, but even our government officials used the term "War" quite liberally (pun subconsciously intended?). Should we come up with a new term for a Congress-granted "war" to distinguish it from the commonplace "war" that seems to pervade our lives these days?

This isn't a political post, merely one of musing about our language, our educational system, and so on. Most sociology, history, and government teachers these days must feel like they're fighting the mainstream press, explaining how things really are, legally and constitutionally. Hmm.

* Would most likely be one prick of a teacher to give that question and expect anything short of a "sitting-on-the-fence hedge-your-bets explain-both-sides" kind of answer. The kind I'd give when asked a bad question like that.

7 Responses to "War vs. Invasion"

  1. The U.S. had declared war only four times: War of 1812, Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. Just info I looked up through sheer boredom.

  2. I thought it was a "liberation of an opressed people who just happen to have a lot of oil" or something like that, not an "invasion".

  3. What we call the Korean War was a U.N.-led "police action," and never a congressionally-declared war. Congress never declared "war" on Vietnam, either. Congress used the Gulf of Tonkin resolution to give L.B.J. the authority to prevent aggression against U.S. forces. So, "technically," it was an invasion, to use your argument. That congressional resolution is an important precedent, because if you'll do some simple fact checking, you'll find that Congress empowered the current president in an Oct. 2002 resolution to attack Iraq if they failed to give up their WsMD per U.N. resolutions.

    It's unfortunate that this is becoming a peace blog, but even more unfortunate that it's an uninformed one.

  4. I'll leave Erik to do the full-scale rebuttal, but I do want to point out the obvious logical fallacy in your argument, Brian. Just because the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam are called "wars" doesn't make that the conflict in Iraq is clearly one as well ... could be that those are misnamed as well. You're basing your argument on grounds that I doubt Erik will yield. And the way I see it, this isn't a particularly political point, more just a terminology one.


  5. I don't think this is really becoming a peace blog just because Erik points out how the media does a disservice to education by mislabeling military actions as war. But then again, why should they act any different then they do everyday? Sensationalizing the news seems to draw people in better then straight reporting. After all we can't let facts get in the way of getting the emotional response from soccer moms.

    The fact still stands that war hasn't been declared, only the authorization of the use of force. Those are two different things.

  6. Nick, thanks. But no full-scale rebuttal is necessary. This post says nothing political. It says nothing about whether I'm for the "war" or against it. It only talks about how the media has misused the word "war" from a legal standpoint (i.e. only Congress can declare "War") but is using it properly from a dictionary standpoint (i.e. "war" = people fighting with each other).

    I never said we - "the government of this country" - called the Korean or Vietnam conflicts "wars" officially, but c'mon, people are "Korean War" or "Vietnam War" veterans. They were fighting a war in the dictionary sense, but not the legal sense. That's my only point - a grammatical, point of interest, "misleading our youth" sort of thing. Not a political one.

    So you can call me out for lack of research or fact-checking, but frankly, it doesn't seem that you even read the post, so I'll just hold up a mirror, Brian. You're criticizing me for things I didn't even discuss or touch on.

  7. >It's unfortunate that this is becoming a peace blog, but >even more unfortunate that it's an uninformed one

    I don't get it, why it's "unfortunate" to be a PEACE blog ?

    one : I don't think it's a "peace blog", and TWO : from when is it bad to be for peace ???!!

    and yes, USA is doing an "invasion" of Iraq. it's really great than Iraq got Oil, old good America can go to invade, destroy town, and kill people, youhou !

    and all this stuff about Saddam would be responsible for the twin towers horrible destruction.. ho please, how someone can believe that ? ho I'm so disapointed. it's terrible to see how the people in arabish countries are now fanatized more and more against the Occident.

    And all of that for oil. damn !

    sigh, whatever, Erik is right, technically, the USA doesn"t make "war" this time or while vietnam

    but frankly I can think people will agree it was a very difficult time and a lot of deads (for american and others) "war" or not.