Time Magazine has named "The American Soldier" as its Person of the Year, honouring not leading US politicians but rather those at the sharp end of the government's foreign policy.
President George Bush and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, were candidates for the award, but "the very messy aftermath of the war has made it clear that Washington's policy was going to have to be carried out day by day by the soldiers on the ground", Time's managing editor, Jim Kelly, said. "We thought the title belonged to those people."
There was little disagreement in Time's newsroom that the US-led war in Iraq was 2003's top story, Mr Kelly said. But there was a spirited debate about who would best represent that story as Person of the Year.
The magazine, on news stands today, glorifies American soldiers but not the Bush administration for putting them in Iraq.
The justification for a US military presence in Iraq has been widely questioned, as coalition forces have found no weapons of mass destruction.
Time made a similar decision in 1950 when "The American Fighting-Man" got the title as the US waged war in Korea.
Mr Kelly said Mr Rumsfeld had suggested that this year's honour go to the 1.4 million men and women in US uniform.
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