Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

"Civil War"

Is there one in Iraq or not? Depends who you ask and whether that person works at the White House. Journalists, including those at TIME, have been using the phrase for months. NBC officially adopted it at the end of November. Other news organizations have been fudging it by adding a squishy preceding verb: "Iraq is spiraling/deteriorating/sliding/slipping/crumbling into civil war." As for President Bush, he characterizes the deadly battle between Sunnis and Shi'ites as "sectarian violence." When American troops and Iraqi civilians continue to die, it seems sillier than ever to argue over semantics.