Although our President was careful not to say, “Mission accomplished” or any other such nonsense with regard to the end of combat in Iraq, he did still say, “the end of combat in Iraq,” which is a bit problematic. After all, we do still have soldiers there, and they are still getting shot at and shooting back. Some of them even go on missions. To a layperson, this looks and feels a lot like combat.
And that doesn’t even take into consideration the tens of thousands of private contractors, sometimes referred to as “mercenaries,” depending on who you’re reading or listening to. They’re armed and shooting and getting shot at also. In other words, they’re in an armed conflict, which also sounds like combat to me.
At my job, we use the AP Stylebook. For those of you who may not know it, it’s the Associated Press’s guide for writing and offers standards for the everyday grammar or punctuation issues a writer might come upon.
Today, I was pleased to see that the AP has clarified its standards:
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials.
The whole memo from the standards guy is worth reading.
Even just as a standards issue, it’s nice to see writers speaking truth to power.