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Generic Freedom

I once read, somewhere, that during WWII codenames for military operations were randomly generated words. It makes sense. Easy to remember and with no possible connection to the subject matter - that's reasonable attributes for a codeword.

Now, selection needn't be completely random. Military planners have a natural affinity with martial and heroic sounding words. But that's ok, as long as the word give no clue as to what military action is being planned: "Archer". "Champion". "Jupiter". "Torch". "Overlord". "Iraqi Freedom".

The latter one is interesting, though. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" does indeed say something about what was being planned. Maybe that's why the name wasn't announced untill the operation was well underways.

There's been several operations Freedom in US history. There was, of course, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan just prior. But fossils like yours truly are probably more likely to remember Operation Freedom Train (Nixon's bombing campaign in North Vietnam, 1972), and Operation Freedom Deal (Nixon's bombing campaign in Cambodia, 1973). The analogy is there, all three operations focusing on destroying the bad guys infrastructure to degrade their offensive and defensive abilities.

Attacking infrastructure is sound strategy: The bad guys can't operate without infrastructure. Roads. Rails. Factories. Hospitals. Families, if you want to go right down to the basic element of infrastructure. Just ask the Mob. The Mafia has a very clear understanding of what attacking an enemy's basic infrastructure does to him.

So, Operation Iraqi Freedom is a logical moniker. But why just this moniker? There's been US codenames with equally long histories. "Liberty" was of course grabbed by Homeland Security at the same time - for the rather scary Operation Liberty Shield - but there were other possibilities. Why just "Freedom"?

I think I know why: Dick Cheney is a closet SF fan.

Just resently I read a novel published in 1998, "Semper Mars" by Ian Douglas. It's not a bad book; a lightweight near-future space opera with US Marines in space. The dastardly United Nations is set on world dominion. US space installations are under attack from the French Foreign Legion (mainly concisting of uncouth Germans with thick accents and looks borrowed from Nazi posters - boo!). It's a rousing read, I rather liked it.

And it's just the kind of SF Dick Cheney would like: Under French leadership, the UN starts lobbing cruise missiles at the hapless USA, aiming for population centers and public symbols like Capitol Hill in an attempt to demoralize the citizens. Of course, it does not work. Although hard pressed, the Marines strike back. And the operation is named --- Operation Freedom.

I mean, how could they NOT use that name?

There's another interesting thing with the codename "Operation Iraqi Freedom".
It's generic. A plug-and-play operational concept. Just insert your target of coice: "Operation Iranian Freedom". "Operation Korean Freedom". "Operation Dutch Freedom"....

But it's comforting to know that Dick Cheney reads science fiction. He can't be all bad.

Comments (1)

Operation Dutch Freedom is already authorised. Should the International Criminal Court ever indict and jail an American (say, for setting mad dogs on naked Iraqi prisoners), we'll be at the receiving end of it. It is this fact that drove me into shrill unholy madness by the way.
http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/08/aspa080302.htm

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