Friday, February 19, 2010

Coming soon in Iraq: "Operation New Dawn" part 1

         In the State of the Union, Obama spoke of withdrawing forces from Iraq.  The original aggression was named by Bush Operation Iraqi Liberation - or OIL.  When somebody realized this Freudian slip, some bright Pentagon official (maybe even a neocon, there must be one who doesn't live entirely on Planet Cheney) hastily renamed it "Operation Iraqi Freedom" - or OIF (not quite oaf, but if we had only had oafs running the Operation instead of Cheney, probably torture wouldn't have become the American way...).  
         Now Barack and Gates are trying for a poetic new brand:  it's a "New Dawn."  Good to know that the sun has a brand and that Pentagon advertizing has cornered it.
         It would be really good if Barack meant what he said - probably a slip of the tongue or a misleading political tone - in the State of the Union, and the US were to get out of there. Andrew Sullivan mistakenly worries about a blood bath; our occupation has in fact produced ethnic cleansing among many other harms, and is a constant spur to enmity - it acts out what Bin Laden predicted every day - that the US would invade and occupy a major Middle Eastern oil producing country - and as John Mearsheimer has rightly suggested for Afghanistan - see here - with just negative effects. I seem to remember the fear of a "bloodbath" in Vietnam (a term which apparently did not refer in the American lexicon to the government's slaughter of 3 million Vietnamese, ecocide, and other matters) that American withdrawal was supposed to produce. Give people a chance and sometimes they do better than under American attack.
          Of course the U.S. also  suppressed the democratic uprising of Shia and Kurds against Saddam in the first Gulf War - which occurred given the American/Coaltiion invasion, Bush the first's urging, and, in one of the great political betrayals of modern history, Bush's broken 'promise."  Saddam murdered the democrats with Apache helicopters while the US army barred these heroes from picking up the weapons of the Iraqi soldiers it had killed.  Even when America attacks in the name of democracy, it is usually the enemy of the real thing.
        What's in a name?  If the US actually starts withdrawing troops, that will be a late accomplishment of sanity in the midst of criminality, decadence and domestic economic collapse.  It would be better if Barack could pull out in Afghanistan, too, but sadly, he is a Democrat, bent by the war complex and by campaigning against Republican national security baiting.  Perhaps he actually believes that that escalated occupation is a "good war" or a "not dumb war" there.  Say what is plainly untrue enough times, and even the smartest person in the room begins to believe it.  In other words, how come any child can ask (or even Vice President Biden): but where is Al Qaida in Afghanistan?  
       Somehow the "New Dawn" has echoes of a silly horror movie like Dawn of the Dead. Barack and Gates are humble, hard at work, stitching the Emperor's New Clothes. It is hard to shoot low enough to satirize the American government.      
        Agence France-Presse, whose intelligent stories are not picked up the commercial media, claims that the American troop total in Iraq, according to the Pentagon, is currently under 100,000 (97,000).  One can hear the advertizer's mentaility - it's got to be under that big number, 100,000.   If true, however, this is not much of a withdrawal. Perhaps that is why Obama could not advert to this important Pentagon fact* in his State of the Union address. That an anti- "dumb" Iraq war President, a man of often noble words, a good human being aside from being the head of the Empire, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in whom the world has projected great hopes, way smart, and a multiracial guy whose election in racist America was starling is reduced to changing the name - though probably yet to diminish the original invading and occupying force by a single soldier - is pretty sad.

Iraq War To Be Rebranded 'Operation New Dawn'

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's administration plans to rebrand its military operation in Iraq "Operation New Dawn," beginning September 1, a Pentagon memorandum shows.

[President Barack Obama's administration plans to rebrand its military operation in Iraq "Operation New Dawn," beginning September 1, a Pentagon memorandum shows.]President Barack Obama's administration plans to rebrand its military operation in Iraq "Operation New Dawn," beginning September 1, a Pentagon memorandum shows.
The memo, signed by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, shows the Pentagon approving a request to switch the name of the US military effort in Iraq from its current designation -- "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

"The request... is approved to take effect 1 September 2010, coinciding with the change of mission for US forces in Iraq.

"Aligning the name change with the change of mission sends a strong signal that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission," Gates wrote in the memo, first reported by ABC News.

The document, which is addressed to General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, adds the rebranding "presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communication initiatives... and recognize our evolving relationship with the government of Iraq."

The move quickly drew criticism from Military Families United, a national security pressure group.

"You cannot end a war simply by changing its name," Brian Wise, the group's executive director, said in a statement.

"Despite the administration's efforts to spin realities on the ground, their efforts do not change the situation at hand in Iraq.

"Operational military decisions should not be made for purposes of public relations but should be made in the best interests of our nation, the troops on the ground and their families back home."

Obama ran for office in 2008 on a platform that emphasized a pledge to withdraw US troops from Iraq and focus on the war in Afghanistan.

There are now some 97,000 US troops stationed in Iraq, the first time the number has fallen below 100,000 since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, according to the Pentagon.

That figure is scheduled to fall to around 50,000 by the end of August, with those troops left behind functioning in advisory and training roles solely.

All US troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011.

*For Pentagon facts about Pat Tillman, see here.

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