As we ready to open fire on Syria, get ready for doublespeak that comes with it.
The first thing to remember is that it won't be a war. This will be a "response." Here's how spokesman Jay Carney explained it:
"What we are talking about here is a potential response in consultation with our allies and partners, in consultation with congress, to the specific violation of an international norm."
So it is not an attack, but a response, and the legal justification is that we are enforcing not a law, but a "norm."
Carney told CBS it's in the interest of the U.S. and world that, "that violation of an international norm be responded to."
So this is not an "attack on a country," but a response to a "norm violation."
But like I say this is not a new phenomenon. The Korean War was not a war, it was a situation, according to Truman.
"My fellow citizens, at noon today I send a message to the congress about the situation in Korea. We have sent land, sea and air forces to assist in these operations," said Truman.
Nixon's bombing of Cambodia was also not an attack.
"I warned that if I concluded that increased enemy activity in any of these areas endangered the lives of Americas remaining in Vietnam, I would not hesitate to take strong and effective measures to deal with that situation," said Nixon.
It was a "strong effective measure."
Operation Desert Storm was an "offensive combat operation" and so on.
So if anyone asks you whether we're attacking Syria, explain that what we are doing is responding to a "violation of the norms of conflict," so that henceforward, when civilians are killed, which is allowed in a conflict, they are at least killed humanely.
Our last actual war was, of course, WWII.