Of course this is just my opinion. But in the name of calling it what it is, the word “war” needs to be redefined; it’s certainly modifiable, with “covert” for instance.
And when establishing a benchmark for such things, we might do well to highlight a particular war’s root cause instead of a date upon which we say we marched in, or did or didn’t give authority. Kind of like the assassination of that archduke, or the sinking of the Lusitania, only less specious.
To wit: Iraq War Year Six
Not that a random headline necessarily delineates paradigm shifting occurrence, but the official and widely accepted interpretation of the exact date of this war’s onset does not even meet the standard set forth in constitutional law. So why set it at March 20, 2003? Why not August 2, 1990? People decry the invasion, but not the apparatus created to insure its happening again.
And back to the definition: If war can be “hell” and “a dirty business” and “that in which all is fair” (not fair), then I think war just might be “covert” as well.
Here, my attempt to find a more effective date to mark the beginning of this ongoing conflict by way of this little Socratic brainstorming session:
Omega: Well, if you’re going to include the strategery, why not count the tactical maneuvering, such as the decision to bomb a pharma lab planning to ship humanitarian aide to the country in question?
Alpha: Honestly, I’m pretty sure it was thought to have contained biological weapons, but you make a good point. Maybe the use of weapons by one nation against another does meet the benchmark for war. On the other hand, there is the death factor. I can’t remember, but I don’t think that that particular incursion killed anyone.
Omega: I can’t remember either, but if you’re not going to benchmark the use of the weapons alone, then we should move every war’s benchmark a couple of seconds back.
Alpha: That sounds like trying to make first strikes look innocent: “The launching of the missiles didn’t kill anyone! Those people were killed by the missiles which had been launched.”
Omega: Innocent? Like the starvation of children who have nothing to do with your conflict save for having incubated long enough to be able to starve to death?
Alpha: Hey! Those sanctions were partially bipartisan!
Omega: Don’t get excited, we’re only brainstorming.
Alpha: Sorry. I thought you were getting personal.
Omega: Me? Never. Nothing I say could ever be personal.
Alpha: So the question, then, is do we count killing without explosions and the like?
Omega: In a word, yes. (pause) I say, it depends.
Alpha: Good. Settled. So. If we’re gonna include killing without shooting and whatnot, then how about when we arm, say, both sides of a war?
Omega: If we’re gonna include that, we may as well say that we’re always at war! Besides, the left hand cannot be allowed to know what the right hand is doing.
Alpha: I know it’s silly, but just go with it. It depends, after all. In this case, we’re talking about having openly supported one tyrant with munitions, while secretly supplying his enemy, the one who’d been openly referred to as the actual tyrant at the time.
That would set it back to sometime in the eighties, though we skipped other details in between. Like the Kurds, Kuwait and…
Omega: I thought that the object was to establish a new official beginning to the current war in Iraq, that is, an actual benchmark, not just a bunch of complaints. Let’s continue to work our way backwards. For the anniversary.
Alpha: Yeah, I guess you’re right. No point in dredging up the more recent past. That clearly wouldn’t lead to consensus.
Omega: What do ya say we save ourselves a lot of time and use the Cairo Conference? That way we can keep March – and blame the British.
Alpha: Not bad. And besides, that was the twenties. Nobody remembers anything about the twenties except that they were “roaring” and that they preceded “the Great Depression”.
Omega: Agreed. This brainstorming is strenuous. Let’s go to the bar and argue some more like they do on lawyer TV shows.