What if we stopped calling them wars? I'm not talking about the only-sometimes-militaristic war on drugs, war on poverty, or Cold war. I'm talking about 'war'. You know...Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Gulf1, Grenada, Vietnam, Korea, and all the little ones in between. These are the locations our executive branch has called 'war' -- the aggressive application of US military power since our last real WAR (WWII).
Why would I advocate such a change? Simple.
1. They aren't really WAR
2. Calling them WAR does them more harm than good
3. 'war' is too simple and easy
4. WAR powers are exercised during times of 'war'
Sure, some definitions of the word 'war' in the dictionary might apply, but other terms more accurately describe what we've been calling 'war.'
* Police action.
* Proxy fight.
* Regime change.
* Preemptive strike.
* Sabre rattling.
As far as Iraq and Afghanistan are concerned, I would like to call it Invasion-and-Occupation (IaO). I'm not even a fan of the term 'military engagements' that Congress has approved.
My claim to the harm that 'war' plays must be framed in the US constitution and the War Powers Act. If we were to limit the use of the word to truly declared-by-congress WARs, then presidents would have reduced 'powers' to act in ways we've seen with this Bush/Cheney administration.
'war' is used to fear-monger the populace. 'war' is mono-syllabic and rolls of the lips too easily. Being 'at war' has won at least one recent presidential election, since we wouldn't want to change commanders during a time of 'war.'
What I propose is to start with our current IaO operations. Have the White House, Congress, CIA, and Pentagon all issue statements that direct their staff to not call Iraq and Afghanistan operations 'wars.' Have the FCC issue a warning period and then start fining broadcasters who incorrectly use the term.
Let's make 'war' one of the things you can't say on radio or television unless we really are at WAR. George Carlin would be proud.