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  1. Member
    Interested in Language
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    ... he would write ...

    In the January, 1993 document containing “Defense Strategy for the 1990s”, Dick Cheney would write: /quotation/. (seen here:

    What is the meaning of this "would write"?

    1. He used to write?

    2. He happened to write?

    3. He was (wise, naive, bold, cheeky - depending on context) enough to write?

    4. Something completely different?

    or is this particular nuance of English impossible to explain?

  2. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
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    Re: ... he would write ...

    At the time (of the narrative) he was going to write it. In fact he did.


  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: ... he would write ...

    A few paragraphs later, you have many examples together:

    "These defense plans that embody the Cheney-Powell-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz (CPRW) strategy would lead to the US war policies of the twenty-first century. They would lead to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya among others. They would lead to the effort to oust Syria’s government, to sanctions on Iran and Russia, and to drone warfare in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. They would lead to the blowback of 9/11 and to the Islamic State. They would lead to the Department of Homeland Security, to the growth of the national security state, and to the TSA. They would lead to confrontation with Russia over Ukraine and to a Pacific “pivot” that confronts China. They would lead to AFRICOM."

    This frequent repetition is meant to have some polemical value. But the use of "would" here is looking forward from a time in the past. This is common in historical writing.
    Another example is:
    "Mozart began composing from the age of five and performed before European royalty. By the age of 17, he would be engaged as a court musician in Salzburg," The biography has not reached age 17 yet. It is a look to the future before going on with the history of his childhood.

    Interestingly, while Mozart began composing at the early age of five, he
    would begin decomposing at the early age of 35.

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