The Pentagon's Misnamed Battle Campaigns





Mr. Friedman teaches the history of U.S. foreign relations at Florida State University. He is the author of Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Reuters News Agency reported that the Pentagon's code name "Iron Hammer" for its latest offensive in Iraq is an echo (almost certainly unwitting) of the Nazis' Operation Iron Hammer, an air campaign intended to destroy Soviet power plants in World War II. This is not the first time American officials have stumbled into infelicitous language because of their lack of attention to history. But the gaffes are not merely symbolic: they represent a deeper failure that can have serious consequences.

In December 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered cruise missile strikes on Iraqi targets in what was dubbed "Operation Desert Fox." The purpose was to punish Saddam Hussein for not cooperating with weapons inspectors and demonstrate America's resolve. But as any graduate of West Point must have known, the original "Desert Fox" was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Nazi Germany's most skillful general, who led the tank campaign against Allied forces in North Africa. Critics of U.S. attacks on Iraq, observing that the missile strikes caused an unknown number of civilian deaths (including that of Leila al-Attar, Iraq's leading woman artist), had a field day with that one.

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush promised to launch a "crusade" against terrorism. To Muslims around the globe, the word invoked centuries of bloody invasions by Christian zealots. Bush stopped using the term. The Pentagon then hurriedly renamed the attack on Afghanistan "Operation Enduring Freedom," after critics pointed out that its first choice, "Operation Infinite Justice," was sacrilegious to Muslims who believe that infinite justice can come only from God.Lt. Gen. William Boykin More recently, the President failed to reprimand Lt. Gen. William Boykin for giving speeches, in uniform, calling the struggle against terrorism "a battle with Satan" which America would win because it is "a Christian nation." The general likes to show photos he took of black streaks in the sky over Mogadishu he says are "demonic forces." He claimed President Bush was "appointed by God," and said of a Muslim warlord in Somalia, "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol." Boykin remains Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence-an appointment that defies satire, and not one that instills confidence in the Pentagon's powers of analysis at a time when better intelligence is a matter of life and death.

A poor choice of words is not a crime. But the names given to military operations and public speeches by high military officials should serve a public relations purpose, whether by justifying a given military action, or rallying support for it. In all these instances, though, the opposite effect is produced: the "iron hammer" landed on our own thumb.

Beyond such PR failures, the verbal gaffes are rooted in a deeper problem. American officials who use such terms are reflecting their lack of knowledge of history and their disregard for cultural sensitivity. The trouble is not merely that this leads to unsuccessful symbols. The trouble is that it leads to unsuccessful policies.

The turn to "Iron Hammer" tactics like dropping 500-pound bombs on targets in urban Baghdad, what Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, calls "using a sledgehammer to crush a walnut," is unlikely to harm the underground resistance there (especially if he can't find the walnut in the first place). But it is likely to undermine the campaign to win Iraqi hearts and minds. Gathering intelligence from sympathetic Iraqis is essential to combatting the resistance. Further alienating the general population, on the other hand, will reduce cooperation and while bringing the guerrillas new recruits.

Administration figures who cheerily predicted grateful Iraqis showering American troops with flowers and sweets had not spent much time thinking about the tradition of resistance to foreign occupiers in that part of the world. When President Bush urged Turkish troops to participate in the occupation, he did not consider what this would mean to Iraqis, who used to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire. American authorities soon found themselves in conflict with their own handpicked Iraqi allies in the Governing Council, who were aghast at the idea of seeing Turkish soldiers back in their streets.

French President Jacques Chirac is now restraining himself from indulging in a celebratory "I-told-you-so" as the Bush administration alters its diplomatic policy to be more in line with France's call for a speedier transfer of power to Iraqis. Chirac has explained his original opposition to the war and his eagerness to see Iraqi sovereignty restored as coming in part from his memory of France's long, doomed campaigns to quell nationalist movements in Indochina and Algeria.

History does not allow us to predict the future, but it does offer insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures. At least for leaders who pay attention to the past.


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


NYGuy - 12/7/2003

Cram,

I hope my comments are not regarded as a sign of weakness. We will meet on another day on another field of battle. You and your two special friends will be given no special considerations and I will not show any mercy.:)

Cheers.


Cram - 12/7/2003

On that, we are in total agreement!


NYGUY - 12/7/2003

Cram,

Interesting response. I believe we have exchanged enough ideas and I will let this one go by and score one for you.

As for your standing up for Derek I applaud that in a peron. I have seen that happen before on this board and acknowledge it as a favorable character trait.

I mean nothing personal in my comments, and enjoy a spirited debate by both you and Derek. One can disagree with another but respect that your counterpart believes strongly in what they say and one has to give credit to such a spirit.

One of things I learned when I was at Oxford is that there is often a great tension between "Town and Gown", and that diagreement has gone on for centuries.

Now if you are trying to quiet things down to only logical, reasonable debating than I expect we may have a disagreement and a boring board. :)

So long as we have tenacious posters such as you, Derek and Jonathan we will have a good exchange of ideas. All I am saying is the in the "real world" we do not take them personally. :)


Cram - 12/7/2003

The lessons of Pearl Harbor are an important reminder of how history can help our understanding of what is going on. I am able to glean the following lessons from the attack:

1) Do not assume that your enemy will not attack you during peace negociations,
2) Do not concentrate your aricraft in such a way as to make them vulnerable to an attack
3) Coordinate all intelleligence between agencies (it took 9/11 for politicians to put this lesson into practice- perhaps had historians been in charge, there would have been a department of Homeland Security in 1942 instead of 2002.)

No one is saying that every event in history is relevant to Iraq. However, I think that Iraq history in the 20th century is extremely relevant to the current war.

I also must say that as a fan of Derek Catsam's articles, I find his imput useful and appriciate his joining in on our conversation to give us some of his insights into our debate over the importance to history, definitions, and other issues that go well beyond classroom discussion.


Cram - 12/7/2003

Wow,
I never thought I would see the day when NYGuy is praising Hillary Clinton as an exmaple of what other Democrats should do!

As for myself, I will support Bush's so-called genius as soon as I become convinced that the Iraq war was absolutely neccessary, and that it was carried out the best way it could have been.

On the homefront, I will be convinced of Bush's so called genius when he able to create one single net job in his tenure as President.

Until those things happen, I will respectfully disagree with Senator Clinton.


NYGuy - 12/7/2003

Hillary showed strong support for Bush's war on terrorism on Meet the Press today. Not only does she support his leadership but wants to spend more money to send additional troops to Iraq and Afganistan.

Democrats are starting to wake up to Bush's genius. It is about time.


NYGuy - 12/7/2003

Today some of us remember Pearl Harbor and the sneak attack by the Japanese, whose bloody attempt to rule the world was stopped by American Servicemen, among many other freedom loving peoples.

The name of that operation is immaterial. What is important is that the Japanese lacked the sensitivity to understand the feelings of Iraq, Arabs and Muslins throughout the world.

Remember those who fought that war. Many of them are your grandparents. If you want to learn about history, talk to them.


NYGuy - 12/7/2003

Derek,

It has been an enjoyable exchange with Cram. At least he doen't go around threatening to punch people in the mouth.

How you inject yourself into our exchange is beyond me. I can't deal with your paranoia.

If you enjoy definitions so much you should be working to put the next Edition of the Oxford dictionary out.

Actually I enjoy definitions and I saw on one the cable channels an author who recently published a book on the history of the dictionary. It would be a worthwhile article for HNN.

You remarks remarks only confuse me more. How am I unfair to historians who specialize in the history of Egypt, Greece, Rome and every period before Shakespeare. I don't think we had "definitions" and dictionaries before his time. And still the world continued to spin around.

Still a lose to understand how my exchange with Cram effects you.

Derek

In your attempt to snidely dismiss us, you probably at least owe many academics the courtesy of being fair, especially those academics who have worked hard to integrate "real world" stuff with our "book learnin'".

NYGuy

Just shows a little book learning is a dangerous thing.



Derek Catsam - 12/7/2003

I have rather enjoyed Cram and NYGuy's exchanges on this and another post recently. Civil, smart, interestiung, and so forth.
THAT SAID, given the not so subtle slam of my piece in NYGuy's post (about how "definitions of terrorism" are popular in the classroom and on HNN, etc. but not on the ground) that is,to say the least, baloney. It was only after being ojn the ground in Israel on my antiterror experience that I discovered just how important definitions of terror are to those on the ground. You may agree or disagree with it, but to proclaim that these are irrelevant issues is, simply put, not to know what you are talking about. Matters of definition were important to the academics who study terrorism, yes (and in Israel are these people really somehow removed from society -- especially since many of them serve as advisors?) but we also saw far more thaq our share of reconciling with definitions among intelligence folk, military and police, and politicians. In your attempt to snidely dismiss us, you probably at least owe many academics the courtesy of being fair, especially those academics who have worked hard to integrate "real world" stuff with our "book learnin'".
dc


NYGuy - 12/7/2003

Cram

I don't know if being a historian alone would do it. However, if 2 people made predictions about Iraq, one who knew a great deal about the history of the region and its people, and the other who did not, I would not hesitate to believe the one who knws about history.

NYGuy

Irag is a small part of the world. A student of the world would be better able to judge the country as a part of the 21st Century. Knowing camel trails is not very useful. :)

Cram

Not at all, however history does provide useful tools for looking at contemporary political things, as this website was designed to facilitate.

NYGuy

So do economics, international trade, politics and other disciplines. The best tool is working in the real world which enables one to identify the trends and forces that are changing and shaping the future of the world.

Cram

I don't see how, given that I have pointed out how his points really were translated into policy when the US changed the name of the mission in Afganistan and ceased using a political controvercial word.

NYGuy

This guy is a magician causing one to think he said something he did not. For example:

The turn to "Iron Hammer" tactics like dropping 500-pound bombs on targets in urban Baghdad, what Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, calls "using a sledgehammer to crush a walnut," is unlikely to harm the underground resistance there (especially if he can't find the walnut in the first place).

Old Max gives us this “now you see it now you don’t” sleight of hand:

1. The turn to “Iron Hammer” tactics like---
2. dropping 500 bombs on targets in Baghdad
3. what Major Gen. Swannack calls (dropping 500-pound bombs)
4. using (the 500-pound bombs) using a sledgehammer to crush a walnut.
5. etc. etc.

He offers nothing of consequence for policy or the impact on Iraq because of the use of the term “Iron Hammer” but he is cute in his wordsmithing.

I also did not see any justification for your comment: “when the US changed the name of the mission in Afganistan.” Perhaps it disappeared with his disappearing ink trick. Can you help me?

Cram

I think the purpose of the article can be summed up by the last segment of the article:

"History does not allow us to predict the future, but it does offer insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures. At least for leaders who pay attention to the past."

NYGuy

I agree we can get insight from past failures and that was my point with Clinton, he failed to understand history and inflamed the world with terrorism with his ill-conceived decision to make Arafat a world leader. Since Bush has been so successful he evidently did learn from past failures so I have to agree with this one.

Cram

I think the point of the examples and of the whole article was the bad PR these things have. He says that "Reuters News Agency reported that the Pentagon's code name "Iron Hammer" for its latest offensive in Iraq is an echo... of the Nazis' Operation Iron Hammer." For people who read this, it might effect their impression of America by a name that has its roots with the Nazis. What kind of effect, if any, it translates into, the author does not speculate. Merely that it is bad PR. I do not disagree.

NYGuy

The sky might also fall, but that is not a reasonable argument. If the author truly had a point he would back it up with facts not a supposition. Since Bush has been so successful in Iraq I can only assume old Max just pulls these thoughts out of the air. This is fine for a group of 18-year students but it does not fly in the real world.

Cram

His point was that Iraq has a history of resisting occupyers of all kinds throughout its history, but America just kinda assumed that we would be different since we were liberating them. In fact, as we have seen, even many Iraqis who are grateful to have Saddam gone want the US out as well. The author is trying to say that had the administration looked at Iraqi history, it may have been able to better predict the long term reaction of average Iraqis.

NYGuy

One must say what they mean and mean what they say. Your attempt to bolster his position does not carry much weight. I will agree with you that he is setting up straw men and then second-guessing the straw man. Not worth discussing. If it makes sense to the little kiddies then I am not going to disillusion them. They can wait until they graduate and enter the real world for that.

Cram

7) "I am going to love your spin on this one."

:)

NYGuy

What do you mean by that. :)

Crum

Frankly, that surprises me. You must acknowledge that your depiction of Bush as a gunius who the world loves is a political opinion, since we cannot possibly quantify "genuius" in any other, objective way. People have called me partisan many times (and far worse on these postings) and you know what my friend? They are right, I am partisan.

Because I have a developed politcal ideology, I am predisposed to look at certain things (say, size of the federal government or what have you) in a certain way. I honestly did not mean it in a bad way. I tend to believe that everyone is partisan, after all, who amoung us can be said to be truely objective, when we have a lifetime of experiences and backgrounds that shape our thoughts?

NYGuy

I don’t understand your criticism of my calling Bush a genius. After all as they say, “it takes one to know one.” :)



Cram - 12/6/2003

1) "Perhaps what you are referring to is that I don’t believe someone can call themselves a historian and then claim some special privilege in either forecasting or analysis."

I don't know if being a historian alone would do it. However, if 2 people made predictions about Iraq, one who knew a great deal about the history of the region and its people, and the other who did not, I would not hesitate to believe the one who knws about history.

2) "Are you suggesting that history is something that must be squeezed into a political mold?"

Not at all, however history does provide useful tools for looking at contemporary political things, as this website was designed to facilitate.

3) "I never made any judgment on its use in the classroom; I just said it made no sense to those of us in the real world. Perhaps you have proved my point that articles such as this one do not make sense in the real world."

I don't see how, given that I have pointed out how his points really were translated into policy when the US changed the name of the mission in Afganistan and ceased using a political controvercial word.

4) "So again, I ask what was the purpose of this article. You see the problem is that people like Carpenter have used the bait and switch so many times that it becomes easy to spot in a bogus report."

I think the purpose of the article can be summed up by the last segment of the article:
"History does not allow us to predict the future, but it does offer insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures. At least for leaders who pay attention to the past."
I do not disagree.

5) "What prove of harm was shown in this sentence: “ In all these instances, though, the opposite effect is produced: the "iron hammer" landed on our own thumb.""

I think the point of the examples and of the whole article was the bad PR these things have. He says that "Reuters News Agency reported that the Pentagon's code name "Iron Hammer" for its latest offensive in Iraq is an echo... of the Nazis' Operation Iron Hammer." For people who read this, it might effect their impression of America by a name that has its roots with the Nazis. What kind of effect, if any, it translates into, the author does not speculate. Merely that it is bad PR. I do not disagree.

6) "Now this part of those code words really stumped me: “Administration figures who cheerily predicted grateful Iraqis showering American troops with flowers and sweets had not spent much time thinking about the tradition of resistance to foreign occupiers in that part of the world."

His point was that Iraq has a history of resisting occupyers of all kinds throughout its history, but America just kinda assumed that we would be different since we were liberating them. In fact, as we have seen, even many Iraqis who are grateful to have Saddam gone want the US out as well. The author is trying to say that had the administration looked at Iraqi history, it may have been able to better predict the long term reaction of average Iraqis.

7) "I am going to love your spin on this one."

:)

8) "This is the first time I have been accused of being partisans"

Frankly, that surprises me. You must acknowledge that your depiction of Bush as a gunius who the world loves is a political opinion, since we cannot possibly quantify "genuius" in any other, objective way. People have called me partisan many times (and far worse on these postings) and you know what my friend? They are right, I am partisan.

Because I have a developed politcal ideology, I am predisposed to look at certain things (say, size of the federal government or what have you) in a certain way. I honestly did not mean it in a bad way. I tend to believe that everyone is partisan, after all, who amoung us can be said to be truely objective, when we have a lifetime of experiences and backgrounds that shape our thoughts?


NYGuy - 12/6/2003

Cram
Simply that I believe history is important, and you do not. Nothing more. It is a difference that neither one of us can ever fully convince the other of, simply a difference in philosophy.

NYGuy

Not sure how you come to that conclusion. I read and prefer books on history and find it not only enlightening but also very enjoyable. Perhaps what you are referring to is that I don’t believe someone can call themselves a historian and then claim some special privilege in either forecasting or analysis.

I thought that history was one of those fields where those involved are seeking the truth. Are you suggesting that history is something that must be squeezed into a political mold? I don’t think that is what you mean, but many historians believe that is a perfectly proper role for historians.

Cram

I don't really see why. He has a premise, evidence to support his premise, and a conclusion the defines the implications. I found it perfectly acceptable for any class, or colleague.

NYGuy

How do I love you, let me count the ways. Iron Hammer, Operation Desert Fox, William Boykin. That makes three. No we can’t count Boykin since he was a private citizen and not involved with a military mission at the time of his speech. Now let me count them again. One, Two. OK you win, as we used to say it takes two to make a trend so I concede he did show a trend in his work.

Now let me get this right he discussed or mentioned these two words in only 4 of his 9 paragraphs but gave no evidence of what effect they had in the real world. Hmm. Now I remember he did not have enough room since the other 5 paragraphs were devoted to his anti-bush rant.

I never made any judgment on its use in the classroom; I just said it made no sense to those of us in the real world. Perhaps you have proved my point that articles such as this one do not make sense in the real world.

Cram

You seem to be a conservative who supports President Bush.

NYGuy

I am an American who supports what I believe is the best for my country. I believe you do also. We just disagree on the best way to do it. Unfortunately we had a lawyer for a President and he infected discussions with the lawyer’s attitude of winning at all costs. And many of those who debate use that as a standard. I believe I have made my positions clear and supported my conclusions with evidence. Globalization, electronic revolution, growing international trade, emerging of new world powers, etc are the starting points for my thinking. This is different than making a linear extrapolation from the past as many historian do, particularly those of the Vietnam generation.

NYGuy

Yes Lee, Jackson and others knew something about history and they also studied math. If I had to weight these subjects I would put a great deal more weight on math vs. history if I wanted to be a military leader.

Cram

I submit that definitions, and history, do matter, both to the military, and to politicians.

NYGuy

I do think people should know what they are talking about and that is why we have dictionaries. Beyond that I don’t know what exaggerated importance you put on these subject. But the author was talking about the importance on both topics to our friends and enemies. Except for a political rant I don’t see where he showed any harmful meaning of these two code names. So again, I ask what was the purpose of this article. You see the problem is that people like Carpenter have used the bait and switch so many times that it becomes easy to spot in a bogus report.

What prove of harm was shown in this sentence: “ In all these instances, though, the opposite effect is produced: the "iron hammer" landed on our own thumb.”

I’m debating this one: “ Beyond such PR failures, the verbal gaffes are rooted in a deeper problem. American officials who use such terms are reflecting their lack of knowledge of history and their disregard for cultural sensitivity”

Hmm. Well first I missed the failures that never appeared in his article. But I guess I can agree that American officials may lack knowledge of history, but isn’t a disregard for cultural sensitivity a little strong, and I am not sure how that follows since both code names referred to the Nazis attack on Amerians and not the Iraqis. Perhaps he did not realize that is how these code terms were used and got confused in trying to make a case for Iraqi, Muslin and Arab sensitiviites.

Now this part of those code words really stumped me: “Administration figures who cheerily predicted grateful Iraqis showering American troops with flowers and sweets had not spent much time thinking about the tradition of resistance to foreign occupiers in that part of the world.”

What has this got to do with the two code words? I am going to love your spin on this one.


My career has been in the global economy. This is the first time I have been accused of being partisans. I guess our differences are that some believe, (I am not talking about you) that if put a lot of information on the table it carries the day. As an analyst I have to weight each element in my conclusions. By giving little weight to the future of France, Germany and Europe in general is not a partisan position. It does not say no one pays attentions to France, and does not involve how people around the world feel about them. It is a purely objective conclusion based upon economic, political, technological, immigration, and other factors for France vs. others counties. And its failure in not being able to lead the world in the SC of the UN is not part of the analysis. And the conclusion of the author about France did not appear to be convincing nor meaningful to his article on the two code words so I did not consider them either.

Cram

To be honest NYGuy, sometimes I think we are not talking about the same article. Again, the title of the piece is "The Pentagon's Misnamed Battle Campaigns," and that is exactly what the piece is about.

NYGuy

You are right we are not seeing the same thing in this article, but we can agree on one point he was able to identify two battle campaigns for his article even if he did not know who the campaigns were directed against.


Cram - 12/6/2003

NYGuy,
1) "Language and definitions of terms like terrorism are fine in the classroom, and such articles seem to be popular on HNN, but they have little meaning in the real world."

I respect your position, but to me, those definitions have tremendous implications, considering that all countries oppose terrorism and have agreed to end it, and yet they do nothing, because no one agrees on the definition of terrorism.

2) "Do you classify someone like Chiraq, who no one pays any attention to, can get to be defined as a world leader? I doubt it, except by partisan historians."

Actually, I have always believed that only partisans pay no attention to France. Indeed, France was the leader in the coalition against the US, bringing along Germany, as well as others. Any analysis of BBC or other foreign news source will tell you that yes, people do pay attention to France, regardless of how Americans may feel about them. Could one say the same for Britain, does anyone care what Blair says? I argue yes, they do.

3) "Meanwhile, I have always emphasized that Bush’s appeal is to the leaders in the world. Your example refers to the reaction of only a few average people in these countries."

So long as you replace the words "a few" with "a majority," I agree with that.

4) "Actually his disjoined article would hardly pass in the average high school history course."

I don't really see why. He has a premise, evidence to support his premise, and a conclusion the defines the implications. I found it perfectly acceptable for any class, or colleague.

5) "I don’t see how you can conclude that I am a partisan who supports wars and having American killed."

I don't really know where this statement came from, but I certainly never suggested anything of the sort. I do believe that you are a partisan however. You seem to be a conservative who supports President Bush. I am a liberal who voted for Gore. Perhaps I chose the wrong word, but I consider us both to be partisans.

6) "Meanwhile, they were both innovative and geniuses that dealt with war based upon the conditions at the time not on some historical event. It is called tactics, leadership and genius. You can’t teach what they knew in a history course."

Well, I can't get into the minds of these people, but the fact is, they read and studied history and taught history in a military institute. I can only assume that, to them, and every other military leader I can think of, something of value was indeed being learned.

7) "So what are the philosophical differences that I am I missing?

Simply that I believe history is important, and you do not. Nothing more. It is a difference that neither one of us can ever fully convince the other of, simply a difference in philosophy.

8) "I see nothing in this article that would have any meaning to either the Iraqis, the terrorists or the American military. I do detect a partisan reason for its publication. As I said, article on definitions have become quite popular and useless on HNN."

But don't you see, the article notes that there WAS a difference. The military really did change the name of Infinite Justice, that is not partisan lies. Bush really did stop using the word "crusade" because of the negative reaction, that is not some liberal propoganda.

If a world leader called America a colonial, racist state, would that be OK or would you mind it at all? Why, if definitions don't matter and I happen to define those terms in a way that applies to the US. I submit that definitions, and history, do matter, both to the military, and to politicians.


NYGuy - 12/6/2003

Cram

1) His article points out how we should be more sensitive. His evidence is in language that could appear insensitive.

NYGuy

Language and definitions of terms like terrorism are fine in the classroom, and such articles seem to be popular on HNN, but they have little meaning in the real world. What is one who is sensitive to do? The suggestion that ones understanding in the classroom can be immediately expanded into a global understanding for others is unrealistic. So my guess is that the answer is nothing significant can come out of his arguments, or others who focus on definitions, that would reach the mass audience.

Cram

2) "A Class D player does not have the capacity to play in the big leagues and his opinions don’t justify him to get that type of acknowledgement."

If it were not for the French veto on the SC in the UN, it is likely that the Iraq war and reconstruction would have gone very differently under an international mandate. Like him or not, France IS important internationally and diplomatically, even if not militarily.

NYGuy,

Do you classify someone like Chiraq, who no one pays any attention to, can get to be defined as a world leader? I doubt it, except by partisan historians. Again this argument is more suited for a cloistered classroom. It does not fly in the real world. Chiraq is not important diplomatically, internationally and certainly not militarily since the French reduced their Armed forces they are lovers not fighters. And beside it is the Arabs who control French thought today and are the true leaders in Europe.

Meanwhile, I have always emphasized that Bush’s appeal is to the leaders in the world. Your example refers to the reaction of only a few average people in these countries.

Cram

4) "Suggesting that the Iraqis are different and would rather return to the misery experienced under Saddam rather then look at the better life they can achieve seems suspect to me."

Perhaps you misunderstood my point. I shall repeat it: "I think the biggest problem Americans have to get through is the realization that just because Iraqis are glad to be rid of Saddam, it does not automatically mean they will love to have US." In other words, being happy to be free does NOT equal being happy to have American troops occupying the country. I need no evidence to support this premise since it is a theoretical
proposition, not a statement of fact.

NYGuy,

Theoretical concepts are fine in the cloistered atmosphere of those who teach young kids. We in the real world live in real time. The Iraqi’s never had much of a choice under Saddam and to suggest that they want to go back to the murder, rape and killing of their kin as the preferred theoretical view of the life they seek, is a little difficult to understand. Most human beings have a positive spirit of improving their lot, and, in the real world, human beings go for what is in their best interests.

Cram

5) "suggesting that the focus of this piece is military history is difficult to fine. The names of a few small operations with no other supporting evidence does not make an article a piece of military history."

To be honest NYGuy, sometimes I think we are not talking about the same article. Again, the title of the piece is "The Pentagon's Misnamed Battle Campaigns," and that is exactly what the piece is about.

You may believe that the campaign names are NOT misnamed, but I am not entirely sure how you can make the following claim:
"I must confess as one who has studied military history I see nothing remotely close to that subject by the author. Trying to dress up an immature political piece of propaganda, as military history does not fly."

Given the article and your reaction, I really must conclude that your disdain for it is more out of partican support for the war in Iraq, than for legitimate disagreements with the article. I do not mean to be harsh, but the above statements do leave me with that opinion.


NYGuy,

You are not harsh. The basic question remains, “With all the problems in Iraq, I don’t see what the author is saying. He jumps around and says nothing and does not look like a military historian. Actually his disjoined article would hardly pass in the average high school history course. But, for a bunch of young 18 year old college kids I am sure it can pass for education.

Cram

6) "And as you may know I always find it humorous when historians try to convince us that history offers insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures."

This is simply a philosophical difference between us. I believe that ignoring history is the road to disaster, not the other way around. Every biography of military men I have read (Napoleon, Patton, Bismark) showed that the soldier had a tremendous interest in military history, often basing their strategy on it. Before the Civil War, both Lee and Stonewall Jackson taught at Westpoint and you can be sure, they believed that "history offers insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures."

NYGuy,

Having lost a cousin who was killed in the first Gulf War and received the Silver Star I don’t see how you can conclude that I am a partisan who supports wars and having American killed. My approach is what is best for America, the same attitude that my relatives have about this country. Teaching history at West Point just tells me that the men you mention were interested in a job and making a living. After all they were teaching during a time the U. S. was at peace. Meanwhile, they were both innovative and geniuses that dealt with war based upon the conditions at the time not on some historical event. It is called tactics, leadership and genius. You can’t teach what they knew in a history course. .


My ancestors fought at Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and on the Western Front in WW1 and I have studied these events in great detail. I am a little at a loss to see how that study prepares one to understand Military History in today’s Iraq. In other words, I see nothing in the article that makes any mention of the lessons learned from the stationary forces of these earlier battles and the current era when high technology weaponry have become more powerful, versatile and more mobile. So what are the philosophical differences that I am I missing?

I see nothing in this article that would have any meaning to either the Iraqis, the terrorists or the American military. I do detect a partisan reason for its publication. As I said, article on definitions have become quite popular and useless on HNN.


C.R.W. - 12/5/2003

The only argument I see for insisting on the inclusion a real name is that it would disincentivize against propounding a point of view with which one would not want to be associated.

However, there is more than one reason to not provide a name with an idea.

In academia, we all know the way politics works to make "unpopular" points of view effectively unacceptable. If an idea has merit, why should it matter who proposed it? Likewise, it should make no difference who proposes an idea that lacks merit, either. I think names can be abused (and I'm not making any accusations or pointing any fingers) by people who want to either inflate the importance of a post or to defame someone based on the lack of academic popularity of their idea. Such a tactic would only extend the concept of using academic notoriety in ways in which it serves no useful purpose.

No one here is proposing to copyright their posts.

So let's recognize the irrelevance of anonymity. Yes, anonymity is a double-edged sword that provides protection from those taking pot shots in the same way that name-dropping provides the potential for an inflated opinion of posts written by those with a well-recognized "reputation." In the aggregate, therefore, I believe that anonymity is less harmful to the purpose of a debate than an insistence on name-recognition. To argue otherwise would be like saying that Galileo's ideas would have been widely accepted if only he could have been a member of the clergy, and rightly so.

And one can always choose to ignore what is perceived as a cheap shot.


Cram - 12/5/2003

David,
1) "First of all, Boykin has a right to think whatever he wants about islam."

As do I, you, ot the President. He could have said that America is an evil Nazi state and that Aliens rule the world if he likes. However, it is also the right of his supiriors to find his comments inappropriate for an officer in his position and to tell him to stand down.

2) "Second, Boykin never said the war on terror is against "islam". This is a false accusation. Boykin said that the war on terror is against Al-Qaida, but that it also has a spiritual dimension. And he said it in a church, which is entirely appropriate because church is all about confronting spiritual issues."

If I assumed he meant Islam, I am not alone. I leave you with the following excerpt:
"Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Virginia, and the committee's ranking Democrat, Carl Levin of Michigan, wrote to Sec. Rumsfeld asking that the Pentagon inspector general review whether "there has been any inappropriate behavior" by Boykin.

"We recognize the right of every American to free speech. However, as is well established, there are limits on the right of expression for service members," said the letter, released Tuesday.

"Public statements by a senior military official of an inflammatory, offensive nature that would denigrate another religion and which could be construed as bigotry may easily be exploited by enemies of the United States and contribute to an erosion of support within the Arab world, and, perhaps, increased risk for members of the U.S. Armed Forces serving in Muslim nations," Warner and Levin wrote."


David - 12/5/2003


First of all, Boykin has a right to think whatever he wants about islam.

Second, Boykin never said the war on terror is against "islam". This is a false accusation. Boykin said that the war on terror is against Al-Qaida, but that it also has a spiritual dimension. And he said it in a church, which is entirely appropriate because church is all about confronting spiritual issues.

He never said Islam, but it was assumed he meant islam. And you may assume he meant islam, that's your prerogative. But he never said it. And he should be judged by what he said only, not what he thinks, and not by what you think he meant.

But I think most people assumed he meant islam, the "religion of peace", because islam IS under the spotlight right now, and we know that terror is being waged in the name of islam.

That's why it was assumed he took a shot at islam. But it was not in his comments, and that's why he still has his job


Cram - 12/5/2003

NYGuy,
1) "He presents no substantial evidence to back up his propaganda assertions."

His article points out how we should be more sensitive. His evidence is in language that could appear insensitive.

2) "A Class D player does not have the capacity to play in the big leagues and his opinions don’t justify him to get that type of acknowledgement."

If it were not for the French veto on the SC in the UN, it is likely that the Iraq war and reconstruction would have gone very differently under an international mandate. Like him or not, France IS important internationally and diplomatically, even if not militarily.

3) "You may believe “we” have a pathological hatred for the French but the people I know don’t reduce their logical reasons to an emotional level."

A fair point, however people in the media and those in Congress who wuold remove the workd "Franch" ftom items do not reflect the opinions of your friends.

4) "Suggesting that the Iraqis are different and would rather return to the misery experienced under Saddam rather then look at the better life they can achieve seems suspect to me."

Perhaps you misunderstood my point. I shall repeat it: "I think the biggest problem Americans have to get through is the realization that just because Iraqis are glad to be rid of Saddam, it does not automatically mean they will love to have US." In other words, being happy to be free does NOT equal being happy to have American troops occupying the country. I need no evidence to support this premise since it is a theoretical proposition, not a statement of fact.

5) "suggesting that the focus of this piece is military history is difficult to fine. The names of a few small operations with no other supporting evidence does not make an article a piece of military history."

To be honest NYGuy, sometimes I think we are not talking about the same article. Again, the title of the piece is "The Pentagon's Misnamed Battle Campaigns," and that is exactly what the piece is about.

You may believe that the campaign names are NOT misnamed, but I am not entirely sure how you can make the following claim:
"I must confess as one who has studied military history I see nothing remotely close to that subject by the author. Trying to dress up an immature political piece of propaganda, as military history does not fly."

Given the article and your reaction, I really must conclude that your disdain for it is more out of partican support for the war in Iraq, than for legitimate disagreements with the article. I do not mean to be harsh, but the above statements do leave me with that opinion.

6) "And as you may know I always find it humorous when historians try to convince us that history offers insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures."

This is simply a philosophical difference between us. I believe that ignoring history is the road to disaster, not the other way around. Every biography of military men I have read (Napoleon, Patton, Bismark) showed that the soldier had a tremendous interest in military history, often basing their strategy on it. Before the Civil War, both Lee and Stonewall Jackson taught at Westpoint and you can be sure, they believed that "history offers insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures."


NYGuy - 12/5/2003

NYGuy

Not sure if your answer proves: “when little of his analysis on naming battle oporations can be disputed. His conclusion, perhaps, but not his analysis.”

If either one of the above is wrong it just proves that Friedman does not know what he is talking about. I won’t concede that his analysis has much merit since it is nothing but conjecture and personals opinion. He presents no substantial evidence to back up his propaganda assertions. At least not any that I see based on your defense of him.

Cram

You say we in America ‘We in America might have a pathological hatred for the French right now, but since they are the leaders in the anti-war movement in Europe, Chiraq is the most worthy of being quotes as a counter to President Bush.”

NYGuy

Not sure I follow you. A Class D player does not have the capacity to play in the big leagues and his opinions don’t justify him to get that type of acknowledgement. You may believe “we” have a pathological hatred for the French but the people I know don’t reduce their logical reasons to an emotional level. Europe in general is undergoing great change. Muslin’s are immigrating in great numbers and France and Europe now have no identity. Meanwhile France and Europe have put their economies in a quagmire because of their social policies and are hurting. Pointing out this deterioration in these countries is based upon reason not hatred, as you seem to believe. So when I say that the sun is falling on France, Germany and other European countries it is not an emotional outburst but based upon my experience and personal knowledge.

I have repeated this many times. The world is growing smaller each day because of rapidly changing technology and all peoples in the world recognize these changes. This is not a love fest with the Iraq and the U.S. but rather a reflection of these major world wide changes and that human beings in general want to improve themselves and make a better life for themselves. Suggesting that the Iraqis are different and would rather return to the misery experienced under Saddam rather then look at the better life they can achieve seems suspect to me. Your argument seems to be that the Iraqi’s want to cut off their noses to spite their face. Possible but I don’t see any evidence of that proposition. Do you, and can you, support your premise or is it just another thought that you and the author are throwing out?

Generals and others who live in the real world acknowledge that once the shots begin to fly the plan goes out the window, so agreeing with everyone else on this point does not make an argument for or against planning. It is just an understanding of reality. And, as you know most well planned plans turn out successful as adjustments are made. You can see that already in Iraq.

Cram

Looking at a situation in the so called "real word" and applying it to historical analysis and theoretical possibilities is the entire point behind this web-site.

NYGuy

If one's analysis in anything but in the “real world” than I believe they are only dealing in fantasy and self-gratification, not analysis. Real world analysis is well defined and while historical analysis has some merit the projection is based upon seeing reality in the future and understanding the various forces that shape and change society.

I must confess as one who has studied military history I see nothing remotely close to that subject by the author. Trying to dress up an immature political piece of propaganda, as military history does not fly.

Cram

Again, if we do not care what Arabs think of us, then it doesn't matter what we say or do. If we do care, then it does matter.

NYGuy

This comment sounds fine but it is not about our caring for the Arabs since we get along with most of them. Of course we care and they care about our opinions and us. Suggesting that some how Friedman’s article has any meaning in the real world is presumptuous and not accurate. Preoccupation with definitions on this site is more a reflection of the classroom and testing not the real world where more is at stake. .

Cram you post some fine pieces but suggesting that the focus of this piece is military history is difficult to fine. The names of a few small operations with no other supporting evidence does not make an article a piece of military history. Come to think of it I don’t think he even mentioned a particular war.

And as you may know I always find it humorous when historians try to convince us that history offers insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures. Strange construction, the author can’t predict the future but he says he can see failure in the future from the history of past failures. Just shows how historians think they have something to say even when they say they don’t have any understanding of the forces that make the future.

Anyway can't wait for the Babes Against Bush calendar. Finally the Democrats have come up with something the NASCAR crowd would be interested in. :)



Cram - 12/5/2003

I believe that Boykin's actions do warrent his removal from his current post and I am certainly no apologist for terror. His comments were not only insensitive, they were discriminatory. I think if a Mulsim officer said similar things about X-ianity, that person would be removed from a post working at the Vatican. Boykin is clearly predjudiced against Muslims, who he believes are all idol worshipers and yet is is allowed to remain in a post that he must deal with Mulsims all the time. He should be removed.

However, that was not the only point of the article.


Cram - 12/4/2003

Mr. Giraffe,
You post, while showing contempt for the author, does aknowledge that he knows something about military history. Given the fact that military history was the focus of his piece, I am not quite sure where your problem with the piece lies.


Jack Giraffe - 12/4/2003


Alec Lloyd does not know beans about history, except some military history, nor does he understand the difference between history and propaganda. I wonder which left wing Marxist high school teacher he is acting out his wounded pride against.


Cram - 12/4/2003

The point of the article was not to say what the crusades were (they were violent and murdered Jewish and Muslim men, women, and children indiscriminately, by the way, regardless of the provocation), the point is how the crusades are PERCIEVED by Arabs.

Again, if we do not care what Arabs think of us, then it doesn't matter what we say or do. If we do care, then it does matter.


Alec Lloyd - 12/4/2003

The problem with your analysis is that it is bad for history.

The Crusades were defensive in nature. By acting as if they were unprovoked aggression, we fuel the ideology of victimhood - and grossly distort the truth.

The Crusades have become the Big Lie.

I don't expect politicians to take this on, particularly in diplomatic ventures. That should fall to historians to straighten out.

Sadly, the history profession is so blinded by political bias it no longer cares to set the record straight.


Cram - 12/4/2003

NYGuy,
I am not entirely sure why his opposition to the war in Iraq makes the author "just another propagandist masquerading as an historian." His problem extends to before Iraq and even during the Clinton administration. I believe,frankly, the fact that he mentions Iraq at all simply leads to a knee-jerk reaction of hostility, when little of his analysis on naming battle oporations can be disputed. His conclusion, perhaps, but not his analysis.

(of course, I have to number everything- you know me :)
1) "To believe Chiraq has creditability, and is worthy of quoting him in a serious discussion is humorous."

We in America might have a pathological hatred for the French right now, but since they are the leaders in the anti-war movement in Europe, Chiraq is the most worthy of being quotes as a counter to President Bush. Again, I don't agree with him at all, but let us acknowledge that if he really were that minor, why do people hate him so much?

2) "But, I just don’t see how the terms used would hurt Bush’s program for the Iraqis. After all the true Iraqi’s are people who have endured great hardship and now want to have a safe and better life. Can you imagine them saying, “I don’t like those words so lets get Saddam and his thugs to take back the country”. I think not."

I think the biggest problem Americans have to get through is the realization that just because Iraqis are glad to be rid of Saddam, it does not automatically mean they will love to have US. This is an important realization that people in general seem to have a hard time grasping. We see any Iraq that doesn't like us as either ungrateful or a Saddam loyalist. Words matter, actions matter, and I think it is wrong to assume how much we are loved in order to not have to worry about trying to change our policy to be more sensitive to Iraqi culture.

3) "I think this is another example of the difference between real people who live in the real world and those who exist in a cloistered environment, have too much time on their hands and come up with ideas that have no relevance in the real world. "

Except for one thing: Bush really did change the name of the battle plan, he really did stop using the word "crusade" and the debate over Gen. Boykin is really happening.

Looking at a situation in the so called "real word" and applying it to historical analysis and theoretical possibilities is the entire point behind this web-site.


NYGuy - 12/4/2003

Cram

Whether that should concern us or not is open to debate, but since the administration has made the attempt to "win the hearts and minds" of the people whose government we have deposed, I think Mr. Friedman's critisism is valid, as are the rest of his concerns.

NYGUY,

You are correct that Bush wants to “win the hearts and minds” of the people, but I don’t see how Mr. Friedman’s comments effect that policy. When Mr. Friedman’s article is properly analyzed, he is just another propagandist masquerading as an historian. His true intent is betrayed in his silly comment about Chiraq, a minor player on the world stage. To believe Chiraq has creditability, and is worthy of quoting him in a serious discussion is humorous.


But, I just don’t see how the terms used would hurt Bush’s program for the Iraqis. After all the true Iraqi’s are people who have endured great hardship and now want to have a safe and better life. Can you imagine them saying, “I don’t like those words so lets get Saddam and his thugs to take back the country”. I think not.

I think this is another example of the difference between real people who live in the real world and those who exist in a cloistered environment, have too much time on their hands and come up with ideas that have no relevance in the real world.


C.R.W. - 12/4/2003


Yes, there are adherents to the Geneva outline, in principle, (myself included), but here's the beef:

It is obviously true that the Palestinians had some successes with the Clinton "approach," off-and-on, but as a dictator, Yasir Arafat has *no* incentive to improve the lot of his people or to engage their better interests should they differ from popular will. My contention is that this is not an abstraction with regards to the crisis of the micro-states, but a major point, since effectively, it is only required that ONE person's interests be served to gain full "Palestinian" support of any bilateral accord. I don't have complete disclosure over the contents of Yasir Arafat's mind, does anyone? What's wrong, in the meantime, with judging the single Palestinian whose opinion counts based on his actions? All official Palestinian actions are, after all, subject to his approval.

The approach to mediating between a functioning democracy and a corrupt dictatorship is fundamentally flawed if you put them on equal moral footing in a binding negotiation. I recommend a commitment to fundamental American principles in a morally murky situation - namely freedom. Freedom to self-defense by the Israelis and freedom to the political representation we hope will evolve on the part of the Palestinians. The two sides are currently in a state of conflict, let's admit it, and abandoning our commitment to principles for the sake of a process that is flawed is not in our interest.

Benign neglect until they can get their act together.

My post is based on my inference that you think the Clinton approach should be revived. If your argument is merely that it has some adherents, then I wouldn't disagree at all.

And since I have posted in a civil and intellectually rational manner devoid of ad hominems, I hope you don't feel unnecessarily threatened and see fit to respond in kind manner (if you choose to do so), regardless of whether or not you believe I use a pseudonym.


David - 12/3/2003


Boykin probably didn't exercise "good judgement" in his comments, it's true. But they don't warrant his dismissal.

And we know Boykin's detractors aren't motivated by the harm his words may have done to the "capture of UBL", because most of his detractors are basically apologists for terro on a bad day, and opponents of the 'war on terror' on a good day. Basically, calls for Boykin's head are entirely political.


Mike Jordan - 12/3/2003

I can't believe the narrow mindedness shown on this thread. So many respondents are so busy protecting "their guy" that they fail to read and understand. Friedmman's article is questioning Boykin remaining in his position. Does any reader believe he has excerised good judgement in some of his statements? Will his actions improve relations with Muslim countires? One of his primary objectives is the capture of UBL. Will his words help Muslin leaders help in that search?


Cram - 12/3/2003

"If I decide that use of the letter "q" is offensive, and begin killing people to demonstrate my sincerity, does that mean my opinions have merit?"

No, but if I am trying to win your heart and mind, I would think carefully about using the letter as freely as I otherwise would. Hope that answers your question.

"At what point do we stop this disastrous flirtation with appeasement?"

At whatever point we decide that it is no longer in our interest to have the support of any Arab country.


Alec Lloyd - 12/3/2003

If I decide that use of the letter "q" is offensive, and begin killing people to demonstrate my sincerity, does that mean my opinions have merit?

At what point do we stop this disastrous flirtation with appeasement?


Alec Lloyd - 12/3/2003

Military operations are named not as part of a public relations branding effort, but to preserve operational security. “Operation Overlord” went through several incarnations and names, all designed to conceal its ultimate intent. It is only recently that we’ve allowed the civilian press to know what the code-words are.

Thus Mr. Friedman’s very premise is flawed. Does he suggest the military vet every operational name with, say, State Department Public Affairs before choosing it? Should we also include the operational details so they can tell us whether it is appropriate?

These are simply unserious criticisms, not things to worry about. The military names operations in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. If anything, the names probably shouldn’t be publicized at all. It is a feature of our military predominance that we feel comfortable giving away the code words almost as soon as they go into use.

The complaint about using the words “iron hammer” is weak. For one thing, the Germans probably used something like “Eisenhammer,” or “Kronhammer.” For another, the Germans used lots of code words, including red, white, yellow and green. If language and operational terms have to be cleansed of all items relating to the Third Reich, we’ll not only have to purge the dictionary, but rewrite many military terms that we shared with the Wehrmacht – including some that we learned from them.

But I applaud the author’s new and inventive way of bringing Vietnam into the Iraq debate as well as his assertion of France’s moral superiority. Coupled with the obligatory reference to the American military and Nazis and we’ve got an anti-war cliché trifecta!


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

Er, where did I either name call or use mumbo jumbo in my last post, anonymous one? Oh, wait, I didn't. Name one example of name calling. One. One. One simple, rudimentary example. By the way, do you have a basic grasp of tenses and plurals? At some point it is not all about typos, now is it? Nit pick? All I am asking you to do is respond to the op-ed in the NYT that appeared in the last couple of days. This is not about Clinton or Bush. It is about a workable policy in the Middle East. If you think it is not a substantial issue, fine.
By the way, are you EVER going to publish anything under your own name? Seriously -- ever? I mean, I have written several articles on HNN, many others elsewhere, and I have always managed to write my own name. Meanwhile you accuse people of namecalling where it does not exist and hide underneath the cover of a vacuous pseudonym.
Again -- please show ONE EXAMPLE of namecalling in the post I gave prior to this one. You can't. Gutless whining and now LYING anonymity. Mrs/Ms NYGuy must bevery proud to have produced an offspring unwilling to stand behind her/his own name. I still await the insightful and unassailable and trenchant and publishable piece from you. We all wait with baited breath. OK I overstate -- we all know it ain't gonna happen. It must be nice to be an armchair quarterback who's never taken a snap.


NYGuy - 12/3/2003

Derek,

There you go again. I made an analysis and you start in with name calling.

If you want to nit pick go ahead. The fact remains that Clinton's photo-op with both Israel and Palistine gave them no incentive to resolved the issue.

As I said it is time we followed GW's vision to protect our country and not get caught in the quagmire of Israel/Palestine. There is a bigger world out there.

And please stop name calling everytime you disagree with someone. And also stop the mombo-jumbo.


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

NYGuy --
And yet the Geneva process is still what many on both sides still adhere to, including, if we are to believe it, the Israeli and the Palestinian who wrote in the NYT in the last few days. In other words -- for all of your ad hominems, it is Clinton's model, and not the asbsurd "Road Map" to which some adhere. The latter has demonstrably failed; some on both sides adhere to the former. Do you actually want peace, or are you more concerned with reelection?.
dc


NYGuy - 12/3/2003

Thanks C. R. W.,

Bush is a true leader. Unlike Clinton he does not invite the small rogue states to the White House for a photo op so he can build himself up. That policy inflated the importance of countries such as Palistine/Isreal, distracted us from world problems and give comfort to our enemies that we were paper tigers.

What is interesting is that Bush does his duty as CC and is critics claim he is looking for publicity. What frame of reference do the critics use?

Look at the Bush strategy with North Korea, and now Palestine/Isreal, Iran, and other countries. He is saying to each leader you solve the problem, and I will be a mentor who will help you improve. Remember all the terrorist a few months ago who were terrorizing the Philipines, Indonesia, Afganistan, Iraq, Africa etc. Doesn't seem to be as noisy world anymore. Now, other countries are telling these country threats to calm down and others terrorist threats are being ferreted out to create a more peaceful and growing world.

Bush does not use the WH for political and photo-op purposes and he does not make heros out of pint size leaders. He just does his job like a true American


Cram - 12/2/2003

Regardless of your inbterpretation of the Crusades, I think we can all agree that Muslims and Arabs view the term as inflammatory.

Whether that should concern us or not is open to debate, but since the administration has made the attempt to "win the hearts and minds" of the people whose government we have deposed, I think Mr. Friedman's critisism is valid, as are the rest of his concerns.


C.R.W. - 12/2/2003

It seems amazing when you look at it in that perspective, as many people forget. How, indeed, could the bulk of the world's problems be the result of a border/existential dispute between two territories the size of about Connecticut? The fact that it is about something broader within the context of the failure of certain societies that currently lack the means for reform seems obvious. Bush's strategy is not only bold, it is the only logical answer.

Unfortunately, too many people even in the states still don't get this. Much of the electorate believes that if we were just nicer to dictators everyone would get along and life would be hunky dory. Howard Dean won applause last night at Harvard by blaming the "breakdown" in the peace "process" on Bush for not being more personally invested. (Which is absolutely incorrect from a factual standpoint). When 2 countries genuinely want peace they'll sign on to it and enforce it. Until the sponsors of Edward Said's "discontents" stop dicking us around we might as well encourage them to try getting on with their lives without us.

The "respect" that Dean exhorts us to display is dangerously misdirected if not applied to the people's better interests, rather than to their dictator as some sort of personal favor.


NYGuy - 12/2/2003

NYGuy,

I see Friedman starts off with throwing a little “Nazi imagery ” into this objective piece and then throw Clinton overboard to make it look non partisan.

To heighten tensions he adds in the “crusade” before spewing out his propaganda piece with the usual, “what if, than arguments” and personal unsubstantiated opinions of failure.

Finally he can’t restrain himself for his cleverness and in my opinion, superimposes his feeling on to Chirac:

Friedman

French President Jacques Chirac is now restraining himself from indulging in a celebratory "I-told-you-so" as the Bush administration alters its diplomatic policy to be more in line with France's call for a speedier transfer of power to Iraqis. Chirac has explained his original opposition to the war and his eagerness to see Iraqi sovereignty restored as coming in part from his memory of France's long, doomed campaigns to quell nationalist movements in Indochina and Algeria.

NYGuy,

I thought I knew most of the world leaders that have credibility but I am not familiar this person. Oh yes he was the corrupt Mayor of Paris who filled his pockets over the bodies of tortured and murdered Iraqi citizens. Hmm. Strange bed fellows. But, I agree with Friedman we should pay attention to the past.

Finally he gives us this sage advice:

Friedman:

History does not allow us to predict the future, but it does offer insight into contemporary conflicts and warnings from past failures. At least for leaders who pay attention to the past.

NYGuy,

Not sure what insights this article gives. But, thank goodness Bush didn’t follow history and bet his Presidency on getting a “Nobel Prize” like Clinton by foolishly squandering it on two countries with only 7 million people, while allowing terrorism to proliferate.

Perhaps this shows the difference between the two men, Bush is a world leader who is interested in putting the interests of the American people first. I think Bush did learn from history, but he also made history. What a guy.






Irfan Khawaja - 12/2/2003

The worst feature of the name "Operation Infinite Justice" is not that it commits sacrilege, but that it makes absolutely no sense at all. Does it mean that justice is realized after an infinitely long campaign? But then justice would never come into existence....Or does it mean that the Operation was to consist of a series of just acts, infinitely repeated? But then the operation would neither come to an end nor achieve victory....
What on earth were they thinking? Is earth even the right location for the question?


David - 12/2/2003


Finally, why is it folk who get all wound up by the Crusades, fail to note it was the Muslim zealots who created the Christian zealots called Crusaders by invading the non-Muslim Holy Land and non-Muslim EUrope to spread Islam by sword?

Agreed. The islamic "crusades", or Jihad, started almost 400 years BEFORE the first Templar set foot in the Holy Land, and only ended when muslim armies were defeated at the gates of Vienna in 1687.

Enough about the Crusades already. It makes me sick to hear people apologizing for things that require no apology.


Garrison - 12/2/2003

What was it -- last June -- Chiraq demanded Iraqi sovereignty be restored in 30 days. Currently, we are looking at June 2004 as the target date for transfer of power. Our view is not exactly in-line with
Chiraq's advice.

In fact, given France was Iraq's chief financier, among his top two arms suppliers and against the liberation of Iraq, Chiraq then and now appears insensitive to the Iraqis who could not care less about obscure references to Nazis conjured up by "Iron Hammer" or "Desert Fox. Iraqis seem to care most the USA will take the advice of the friends of Saddam like Chiraq and bug out too soon leaving them to the tender mercy of a triumphant Saddam.

As for President Bush and President Clinton being ignorant of history: Saddam is a student of Hitler and the Nazis. Perhaps the use of "Operation Iron Hammer" was an intended irony. As was "Operation Desert Fox".

The use of the term "Operation Infinite Justice" may be sacrilegious, but it seems odd to quibble given the sacrilege committed in abundance by any number of Islamic terrorists, clerics, dictators and potentates who enjoy broad support among Muslims most prone to taking offense. After all, America did adjust, when will the Islamists do the same?

Finally, why is it folk who get all wound up by the Crusades, fail to note it was the Muslim zealots who created the Christian zealots called Crusaders by invading the non-Muslim Holy Land and non-Muslim EUrope to spread Islam by sword?


David - 12/1/2003


A poster to HNN previously commented, on a different thread, that the vast majority of readers who can and will read the entire piece and take it at more or less face value, will never speak up.

I think this essay makes a great point about language, about what it reflects, and how it can be damaging or constructive. I support this administration's policies in the mid-east, but I too cringed when Bush used the word "Crusade" two years ago. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard it. How did they let that one slip through, I thought to myself. And sure enough, we haven't heard the end of it.

Of course, I don't blame mistakes like this on Bush, just as I don't fault Clinton for his "Dessert Fox" gaff, but rather I blames his advisers and speech writers. That's their friggin job for crissakes. They're supposed to be the subject matter experts. They failed him then, and again with their latest choice of words, "Iron Hammer."


Edmund Birkenstock - 12/1/2003


This article contains excellent points from (that rarity on HNN) a real historian discussing real current problems rooted in real history. Well done.