War. Like other emotive words - rape, genocide, tragedy, war has had its corners worn off of it by excessive and inappropriate use.

On the one hand, war is a legal state of affairs, declared by a government (in the US, by Congress, according to Section 8 of the Constitution). It's declared and waged by one nation, on another nation.

But war has also become any form of all-out agression, notwithstanding the legal status. The War on Poverty, or the War on Drugs. I don't recall seeing soldiers in camoflage on the streets, making war on poverty. These were wars of political hyperbole, dramatic at the time, but having the effect of cheapening the word.

After September 11, 2001, America is half at one kind of war, half at the other. The situation has all the informality of a hyperbolic war...and threatens all the violence of a real one. This hybrid beast is dangerous. It circumvents the care and caution the framers of the Constitution put into controlling how the nation goes to war, but still gets people killed.

Mind you, the United States hasn't declared a war since Pearl Harbor. Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War were not officially declared wars, either. The American government may be be outside of the strict definitions of the law right now, but they've been here before.

On another note, I see that some noders feel that anyone who points out the flaws in the administration's proposed action is a coward and a weak person. Actually, criticism of bad government policy is the only way to get good government policy, and people who do it are better known as responsible citizens.