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War in/on/with Iraq

Every media organization had its pick. The implication for each is quite interesting.

1. War in Iraq: This implies that it is a war that is happening in Iraq, almost as though it just happens to be happening IN Iraq. It manages to stay neutral on the political and ideological stance of the war.

2. War on Iraq: This sounds strong. It is almost equivalent to saying “war against Iraq.” It implies either that the enemy is Iraq as a nation or Iraq as the regime. The latter being the preferred implication of the Bush administration.

3. War with Iraq: Now, what does this imply? “With” is a funny preposition to use, because it makes it sounds friendly, like, “We are doing this together.”

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The phrase, "war with X," assumes the preposition, "at," thus becoming "at war with X." Back when offically declaring wars was de rigeur, during hostilities, two (or more) nations were considered to be IN a state of war. Therefore, both counties existed alongside eachother in whatever their current state was. Hence, two nations could be, "at war, at peace, at odds, or even at loggerheads WITH one another." I personally consider the phrase, among the three, to be the most formal. Likewise, the phrase has little positive or negative connotations since, it's merely a statement on the state of relations between two states.


allerc1 April 21, 2003, 2:00am

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Hmmmm, interesting point. The slightest implications of each word (in/on/with) is definitely conveyed between me and my friends >>which poses the question: is that supposed to be (my friends and I)?<<. My Republican friend (please don't judge me by the fact that my friend is a Republican ^_*) always refers to the war ON Iraq, whereas I prefer to say the way IN Iraq, and I've been called a tree-huggin-herb-smoking-guitar-slinging-hippie.

jikhwang June 28, 2003, 5:54pm

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Haha, well, I wouldn't necessarily call it friendly, but you are right to say that it means the two countries at it together. It infers the battle is not one-sided, and the US is not simply invading, while Iraq is twiddling its thumbs, allowing the US to take over.

bakemono July 10, 2003, 12:52am

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Based on what Rufus said, the term "war with iraq" then is completely abused unless the word "at" is the word preceding. "The War with Iraq ...." suggests that war is just something to do and may or may not include others. "The drive with so-and-so to wherever..." Capitalizing the word "war" also suggests that "with Iraq" simply implies which of the great wars it is, which I do not believe it was worthy of recieving that demarcation.

vampyro July 10, 2003, 11:13am

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Maybe, we should start calling it - "The war for Iraq." It draws up a nice image of the vultures, swooping down to gobble up the natural resources...

powerfulideas July 22, 2003, 2:20am

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Perhaps the choice between in or on is decided by the phrase the writer uses for being in or on line.

Many publications are based in the northeast and people in the northeast who find themselves waiting in a queue typically say the are "on line." People in the rest of the country are more likely to be "in line."

Anonymous November 25, 2003, 9:38am

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'The latter being the preferred implication of the Bush administration.'

As a general rule of thumb: if George Bush said it it's wrong.

'The war with Iraq' is correct.
'The war in Iraq' is correct.
If the war with Iraq moved to America (if Iraqi troops landed on American soil) then the war with Iraq would also be the war in Iraq and America.

If civil war breaks out in Iraq 'the war in Iraq' will refer to the war between Iraq and America or to the civil war within Iraq. Native speakers will also be confused if that happens.

It may help to remember that the American Civil War was fought between Americans, not between America and any other country.

Anonymous April 10, 2004, 11:39pm

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it's "the war against iraq," for crissakes.

speedwell2 April 12, 2004, 6:42am

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dealer January 2, 2006, 4:16am

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Actually, isn't "the war in Iraq" the only correct phrase? The Iraqis are our allies. We're helping them, right? According to Bush, aren't we at war against "terror"? The terrorists are the enemy, not Iraq. There WAS a war WITH or ON or AGAINST Iraq, but didn't that end in 2003? Personally, I am really tired of how our US leaders have become Orwellian spin-doctors.

Anonymous January 2, 2006, 9:27am

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Yes     No