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Thursday, July 10, 2008

"We" Invaded Iraq

It is common to say, as a shorthand phrase, that "we" did this or "we" did that when we're talking about some action of the United States. It is, of course, a part of idiomatic, conversational English to speak in this way. So, for example, when John Elway and several other members of the Denver Broncos won the NFL about ten years ago, people in my hometown (Denver....duh) were wont to say "we won the Superbowl!"

But this way of speaking is dangerous when we talk about military actions. I, certainly, never risked my life or had my life taken from me during the invasion of and subsequent "anti-insurgency" mission in Iraq. So, it is quite inappropriate for me to say that "we" invaded Iraq when it was quite the task and accomplishment of the U.S. armed forces. A friend of mine said a few months ago that speaking that way ("we") is part of living in a "democracy." Of course, she didn't explain what she meant by democracy, but apparently she meant that since our (again...the "we" language!....even I can't escape it) leaders are popularly elected, their decisions and the actions of those who carry out those decisions are common property. This isn't an unreasonable take on the whole matter, but I happen to disagree with it. I have not lifted a finger in armed service to this country, and while that fact may or may not be a reason to criticize me, I refuse to compound the issue by saying "we" carried out a military order when "I" never once risked my life for that cause.

Of course, the idiom of using "we" is so common, I may trip up every once in a while and slip into "we" language. I apologize ahead of time.

P.S.: At least one other person, Paul Campos, a law professor at CU who writes op-ed pieces the Rocky Mountain News, has made similar comments long before I ever thought of blogging them. So I do need to give credit where credit is due.

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