Fallujah burns bright, as American news junkies note Operation Phantom Fury was quickly renamed Operation al-Fajr, translated from Arabic as Operation Dawn.
Calling things by their politically correct names is a perquisite of presidents and their imperial puppets, like Iraqi Freedom’s George W. Bush and Baghdad’s Iyad Allawi.
It is indeed fascinating to read the names of the ongoing and past operations our military has conducted in Iraq since the liberation. The pacification of Iraq has thus far included well over 100 different military combat or combat support operations, some very small in scope but each assigned operational titles, chosen no doubt at lower levels than the White House, and clearly with a bit of fun and entertainment in mind.
Reviewing the list of Iraq operations, we see American B-movie titles (Red Dawn, Suicide Kings, Final Cut as well as the great True Grit). We see lots of Texan and Wild West imagery (Abilene, corrals, rifles, rodeos, quarter horses and longhorns).
We find famous heroes of Britain and America honored, with Operations Chamberlain, Giuliani, and Slim Shady (er, Eminem).
It’s good to know that pacification of Iraq has a sense of humor.
Forget the rubble that once was Iraq’s urban and suburban heart, the destruction and idling of thousands of factories and productive enterprises between Iraqis, and 100,000 Iraqis who did not survive the past 18 months. Forget what neoconservative idiocy in power has wrought for Iraq in the name of social experimentation and creating friendly and free market regimes. These are not pleasant thoughts. And forget the tens of thousands of mostly young American men in uniforms who died, or were and will be permanently maimed, deep in some unpronounceable Iraqi hellhole in the glorious name of defending America.
Well, it isn’t defending America, and as we all know today, it never was. It could have been defending contracts a post-sanction Saddam would have so righteously withheld from America and British companies. It might have been, as the first Gulf War certainly was, an opportunity to test a few military industrial theories.
In 1991, we conducted a record-breaking logistical and base-building operation, with ships and ships of materials sent to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, with nearly nothing redeployed by design. We did much the same in Clinton’s Yugoslavian wars, with resultant bases like Camp Bondsteel scattered throughout Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, accomplished with a little help from the defense industrial welfare program, its honorary chair Halliburton’s Brown and Root, Inc.
Seems like the Iraqis wised up to Uncle Sam’s habits more quickly than did their Saudi and Balkan brethren. Hence the need to forcibly pacify literally millions of them.
Pacification has such a nice sound to it. Surely it’s all for a good cause, it whispers. Shush, little baby, don’t say a word, go to sleep.
Yet Fallujah burns. It is a shame heard around the world, but still only faintly in America. We do not hear the crackle of fire, the pop of snipers squeezing off death one by one, the screams of the wounded and the enraged on both sides. Perhaps the ugliness of war can be talked away, as our American media uses words like progress and peace in discussing our war of occupation in Iraq.
Ironically, our soldiers understand far better than the most well informed pundits what is really going on there. Their goal is not to "win" or "transform" or even rebuild, but simply to stay alive, keep a buddy or two safe while they’re at it, and come home for good.
My inbox today screamed Iraqi destruction. But in the midst of it, there was an email from the Air Force Retiree News, entitled "Edelweiss Lodge and Resort hosts grand opening." Despite a 15-year post—Cold War era of declining troop numbers in Europe, we have discovered a need to build and staff yet another military active duty and retiree resort in the Bavarian Alps. Your tax dollars at work, and in an age of the declining dollar, having a little vacation spot in Germany that honors the illusion of our paper is nothing if not happy and cheerful.
It’s too bad the Von Trapp family, or the residents of Fallujah for that matter, couldn’t have just used teleportation to escape fascism and martial law. But then we wouldn’t have the world-inspiring story about individuals and families living and acting at great risk in the spirit of freedom from the state. The Sound of Music was one of my earliest introductions to what freedom means, and what it is worth.
My favorite song remains the patriotic little Edelweiss, sung most powerfully and tragically as Austria glowed hot with fascism.
Every morning you greet me,
Small and white,
Clean and bright,
You look happy to meet me.
Blossoms of snow may you bloom and grow,
Bloom and grow forever,
Bless my homeland forever.
I bet there is an Iraqi version somewhere. A song for people who love their homeland and see its beauty and potential even as it is consumed by state force, sniper fire, explosions and fear, drenched in human blood all in the name of humanly designed, God-less central control.
May Iraqis survive to sing their own song of their own once lovely country. And may American troops, and our contractors with them, soon make their way home safely to our once — and future — beloved and lovely country.
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.