I made a big deal a couple of months ago of not allowing the White House to frame the debate on Bush's "surge" and to refer to it as it plainly is: an escalation. Unfortunately, it's been pointed out to me that I need to follow my own advice and stop referring to our military action in Iraq as a "war," but what it truly is: an occupation. And that's absolutely right. To call it a war lends credibility that Bush's actions do not deserve.
Cunning Realist expands on the thought:
"War" is obviously a powerful word. It conjures up a lot of basic instincts like survival, patriotism and pride; no one wants to lose a war. It also acts as an off-switch for analysis and skepticism. As long as there's a "war" on, lots of people -- about 30% of this country, as the polls indicate -- will overlook just about anything. [..]
So, a question: when does a war become an occupation? We have a war that's manifestly unwinnable based on the current definition of victory. After four years, we have more troops than ever on the ground. We know the President will remain intransigent until he leaves office, and even if a Democrat wins in 2008, a meaningful withdrawal is far from certain. We can debate endlessly the meanings of war and occupation. But when public opinion polls of Iraqis consistently show that the majority opposes our presence and approves of attacks on U.S. troops (and even the Saudi royals start speaking in public of the "illegitimate foreign occupation of Iraq") parallels to historical examples of occupation become more pronounced.