Streetwise Professor

March 20, 2011

What’s In a Name?

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 3:09 am

The names of military operations can give a glimpse into the mindset of those in charge. For instance, Overlord, Dragoon, Husky, Torch, all from WWII.  These names connote strength, power, dominance.  In Viet Nam, Rolling Thunder was evocative of the administration strategy of threatened escalation; its successor operations, Linebacker I and Linebacker II, connoted something far different, a determination to hit the enemy hard.  (This was the era of Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke; people knew that linebackers inflicted pain and knocked people out.)  More recently, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom were quite descriptive of American intentions.  My favorite operational name is Ripper, the sobriquet given by Matthew Ridgeway to the offensive to push Chinese forces back to the 38th parallel and to retake Seoul.  That name oozed aggressiveness and violence.

And today, the Obama administration brings us . . . Operation Odyssey Dawn?  That sounds like the name of some kid born at a California commune, circa 1970.  Operation Odyssey Dawn?  Really?  What does that mean, exactly?

The best explanation I can come up with is that the Pentagon is trying to warn the country that we’re at the beginning of a long, strange trip.  And they may be right.

The Pentagon has been signaling furiously since unrest began in Libya that it wanted no part of it.  SecDef Gates made it sound like operations against Libya would be as daunting as invading Festung Europa.

My hypothesis to explain the defense establishment’s obvious reluctance to get involved with Libya is that it was–is–petrified at the prospect of getting involved in a civil war under the command of an obviously reluctant, diffident, unenthusiastic, uncommitted, and distracted commander in chief who has articulated no coherent policy.  The military doesn’t want to get left hanging when things get tough–and they will, in a messy situation like Libya.  They sense that Obama’s commitment to the endeavor is extremely shallow, and that he is likely to bail at the first sign of trouble.  I am also convinced that they are deeply troubled by his lack of any military experience and strategic sense, and indeed, his complete disinterest not to say disdain in the subject.

These concerns are legitimate, and the actions of the last month only substantiate them.  The most opportune time to have struck passed weeks ago, when Khaddafy was reeling and the rebels were surging.  Now the reverse is true: the rebels are reeling and Khadaffy is surging.  Now, it is likely that the best outcome is stalemate, perhaps like in Iraqi Kurdistan between Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.  The rebels’ offensive capability is nil.  An air campaign can eliminate Libya’s air force and, depending upon how aggressively it is waged, Khaddafy’s ability to use armor and massed infantry to reassert control over the rest of the country.

But as Saddam showed in 1991 when brutally suppressing the Shia revolt in the south, after his forces were routed in Kuwait and southern Iraq, a dictator bent on restoring control can often do so.  And as it was with Saddam in 1991, this is an existential conflict for Khaddafy.  He loses, he dies, most likely.  He may be denied some means of prevailing by an allied air campaign, but he has numerous asymmetric tools at his disposal that are not as vulnerable to air attack that he can–and will–employ to survive and prevail.

It doesn’t seem that Obama, Sarkozy, and Cameron have fully appreciated the capacity for ruthlessness, and the endurance, of people like Khaddafy when they are against the wall.  Indeed, Obama’s perfunctory speech, delivered before jetting off to the Copacabana–literally–betrays considerable confusion.  On the one hand, he presented a damning portrait of Khaddafy as a murderous psychopath who “must go.”  (Is it news that Khaddafy is a murderous psychopath?  Who didn’t know this, in say, 1985, or particularly, 1988?  Or even in late-February, when the opportunity to strike was far more promising?  Is it a surprise that Khaddafy has reacted brutally?  To whom?  Other than Louis Farrakhan, of course.)

On the other hand, he committed the US to extremely–extremely–limited military objectives: safeguarding civilians.  He has indicated publicly, and apparently to Congress, that he will employ extremely limited means to the task: evidently, American aircraft are not committed to the campaign, only British and French (and perhaps later some Arab forces).  Americans will “shape the conditions”: can you imagine Churchill saying “we will shape the conditions on the beaches.  We will shape the conditions on the landing grounds.  We will shape the conditions on the hillsides . . . ?”

What’s more, the message is apparently a mixed one, because some sources, including but not limited to Stratfor, claim that regime change is the true objective.  Given the predicate (Khaddafy is a murderous psychopath and numerous civilian lives are at risk) this makes sense: how do you really protect the civilians from said murderous psychopath when he is still in charge?

But if regime change is the true goal, then why is Obama so insistent on the limited nature of the objectives, and on the extremely limited nature of the American resources committed?  If regime change is the real goal, why won’t he come out and say it?  Is it that he cannot admit to Bushian impulses?  Waging war under false pretenses is always a bad idea, and usually inflicts huge political damage on the president that attempts to do so.

Make no mistake, as was demonstrated in both 1991 and 2003, even extremely intensive, comprehensive air campaigns far more powerful than those contemplated in Libya today provide few assurances of achieving decapitation, let alone regime change.  “Shock and awe” didn’t deprive Saddam of his means of political control or prevent him from brutally repressing civilians.

So I think that the military is having LBJ flashbacks.  Only worse.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. A lot of military code names are random picks from two columns of words. The operation in Panama back in ’89 was originally called “Blue Spoon” but got changed to “Just Cause” when it when live. Even more just have code like “OpPlan 1307”.

    Comment by tps — March 20, 2011 @ 6:54 am

  2. Words left of centre. Deeds right of centre. Pleases no-one. Tough to be Obama. Thanks to democratic airstrikes we are finally seeing dead bodies from Libya. . I realise that Sarko’s wife has him by the balls, and he is in danger of being bitch-slapped by a woman at the next election. But couldn’t he instead leak some shirtless photos, fondle some stunned wildlife, dive to the bottom of Lake Geneva, or something?

    Comment by So? — March 20, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

  3. For a change this time NATO “allies” – France and UK – are willing to commit more resources this time…..

    Comment by Surya — March 20, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

  4. @So?, Whats wrong with those dead bodies?

    They are military servicemen, although you being a Russian I guess you prefer to see these sort of dead bodies:
    Hint, they are all civilians killed by Russian military action, or Russian sponsored separatists.

    Or these:
    Hint, all Chechen civilians killed by Russians.

    Comment by Andrew — March 20, 2011 @ 11:10 pm

  5. To me it seems like the “allies” manufactured the whole thing and cajoled Uncle Tom to paint their fence for them.

    Comment by So? — March 20, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

  6. I indeed prefer to see Andrew’s first photo.


    Because it’s a manipulated photo. – hence, no-one actually died.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — March 21, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  7. For a change this time NATO “allies” – France and UK – are willing to commit more resources this time…..

    When has the UK ever not done so? We’re stretched beyond belief.

    Comment by Tim Newman — March 22, 2011 @ 1:39 am

  8. And the rest Sublime O?

    Actually there is no evidence the pictures were faked, has it not occurred to you that the dead man in the 1st photo was turned over by either the medical staff or his relative?

    Of course, there are some factors that morons such as yourself don’t really understand, such as foreshortening or lengthening of the depth perception in photo’s due to the focal length of the lens being used.

    For example, the dead body in the second pic is up against the kerb in both pictures, now tell me Sublime retard, did they magically stretch the road as well when they supposedly moved the body, also not the old man is standing in exactly the same place, it is simply the difference between lenses.

    Of course, Russia hasn’t exactly been BS-free in this conflict; Moscow’s claims of 2,000 killed in South Ossetia were later debunked by Human Rights Watch. The real number: fewer than 100.

    Update, 9/5/08: Asked for comment yesterday, Reuters photo editor Gary Hershorn just scoffed, “A bunch of bloggers!”

    “I got nothing to say to you. I’m not allowed to talk to you,” he added.

    This morning Reuters media rep Alexandra Honeysett referred me to an official statement, written in Russian, from Reuters’ Russia head Michael Stott. She helpfully provided this translation: “Local reports in Russia have inaccurately accused Reuters of issuing staged photographs in its coverage of the conflict in Georgia. These accusations are completely false and entirely unfounded.”

    Reuters has investigated the situation and firmly stands by its reporting and coverage, and adheres to the Reuters Trust Principles, specifically, “that the integrity, independence and freedom from bias of Reuters shall at all times be fully preserved.”

    Aside from that, Reuters has no comment, Honeysett said.

    The statement includes links to the digital negatives of many of the photographs in question. While they do provide more context, I’m not sure the negatives necessarily prove that the photos weren’t staged. All we have here are more photos warranting scrutiny.

    Some commenters at this blog are convinced that the accusations of staged photos are way off base. They point out that using different camera lenses in the same shoot can create the illusion that subjects in the photos have moved, when in fact they’ve been in exact same spots all along.

    In 3 & 4, it’s called perspective distortion

    perspective distortion describes one of two phenomena – the appearance of a part of the subject as abnormally large, relative to the rest of the scene, or an apparent lack of distance between objects in the foreground and those behind them.

    Comment by Andrew — March 22, 2011 @ 2:50 am

  9. When it comes to naming aggressions and ethnic cleansing, one needs short names. Like when Germans called their attacks on USSR Operation Barbarossa (Redbeard) and Operation Nordlicht (Northern Light), or when Germany and USA’s best friend Croatia named its ethnic cleansing of 200,000 Croatian Serbs Operation Storm.

    Operation Storm (Croatian, Bosnian: Operacija Oluja, Serbian: O?e?a??ja O??ja, Operacija Oluja) is the code name given to a large-scale military operation carried out by Croatian Armed Forces, in conjunction with the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to gain control of parts of Croatia which had been claimed by separatist ethnic Serbs, since early 1991.[8]

    The operation, which lasted 84 hours, was documented as the largest European land offensive since World War II.[9] It began shortly before dawn on 4 August 1995 and ended with a complete victory for the Croatian forces four days later.

    These forces had received instruction by a U.S.-based firm, Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), headed by retired general Carl Vuono

    Former President Bill Clinton wrote in his memoirs that he believed the Serbs could only be brought to the negotiating table if they sustained major losses on the ground.

    Three Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina, Ivan ?ermak and Mladen Marka?, who were involved in the planning and execution of Operation Storm, were indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and are on trial in the Hague on charges of allegedly operating a joint criminal enterprise for the purpose of permanently removing the Serb population from the Krajina by force and of crimes against humanity.[17][18]

    Serbian casualties and losses

    742 soldiers killed, at least 1,196 civilians killed, 200,000 refugees (Serbian sources)
    150,000-200,000 refugees (UN)

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 22, 2011 @ 5:40 am


    Operation Northern Light (German: Nordlicht) refers to two distinct German military operations on the Eastern Front during World War II.

    This article is about German operations in World War II. For the U.S. counter-insurgency operation in Iraq, see Operation Northern Lights.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 22, 2011 @ 5:42 am

  11. Interesting to see the Americans eagerly recycle Nazi nomenclature, just as President Bush took the title of Hitler’s 1928 sequel book to “Mein Kampf” – “New World Order” – to denote the new era of American domination of the post-Cold War world:

    Hitler – New World Order (1928)

    Zweites Buch (Secret book) Adolf Hitler’s Sequel to Mein Kampf “Politics is history in the making.”

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 22, 2011 @ 5:42 am

  12. http://www.sw**

    ‘Toward a New World Order’

    A transcript of former President George Herbert Walker Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress and the nation

    September 11, 1990

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 22, 2011 @ 5:43 am

  13. O.B.,

    how very wise of Russians not to have invented any stupid codename for bombing Grozny into the dust – makes it so much better. How come you are clinging to this terrible new-world-order U.S. when Motherland so desperately needs you back in Skolkovo?

    Comment by Ivan — March 22, 2011 @ 7:36 am

  14. @Ivan: My country is USA. I am a typical American liberal. We were very angry at what Bush had been doing to our country. Obama is not nearly as bad. One day we shall get somebody good. Do you get to see American satirical political shows like Politically Incorrect by Bill Maher or the Daily Show by Jon Stewart on your satellite dish in your own desert country? If yes – then you can watch them to understand my political positions.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 22, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  15. Gostapo, you are in no way an American liberal, you have repeatedly shown yourself to be a Russian Imperialist.

    Such as your support for the massacres in Grozny, Sukhumi, Gagra, etc etc etc.

    Your support for SVR operations in the US.

    Your refusal to recognize the crimes of Russia against the nations that have been its victims for the last 200 years or so.

    You are not a liberal, you are, as Marko Attila Hoare states, a scourge: Corbyn’s argument was disingenuous; if Cameron had simultaneously argued for intervening in all those places and Libya at once, he would have been accused by various Corbyns of being a crazy warmonger who wanted to fight the whole world, but if he concentrates on Libya he’s accused of being inconsistent. That is the way these people operate; they banged on about how the Iraq war was ‘illegal’ because it wasn’t supported by a UN Security Council resolution, but now that this intervention is supported by such a resolution, they’re still opposed. There is a certain type of leftist whose sole raison d’etre is to rubbish and sabotage every positive initiative that Western leaders try to take on the world stage, purely as an end in itself. Leftists of this kind are, quite simply, a scourge.

    Comment by Andrew — March 23, 2011 @ 12:28 am

    Andrew | March 14, 2011 at 6:28 am wrote:
    “Hopefully they will start targeting FSB sympathisers such as Maimoneedes/Ostap as well”

    Robert | March 14, 2011 at 7:58 am wrote:
    “Geez Andy, cool it off. Assassinating anyone over writing stuff on the Internet?” .

    Andrew | March 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm wrote:
    I just feel the world would be a better place without you Gostapo… LOL

    Andrew | March 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm
    And why would I want to stay away from you …

    Andrew, you should be institutionalized before you commit irreparable damage.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 23, 2011 @ 12:54 am

  17. O.B.,

    to understand your political position, it is quite sufficient to read the statements by Sergey “Tarantula” Lavrov and his superiors – you echo them perfectly. Although a certain percentage of Kremlin’s “useful idiots” has been a norm among soi-disant American liberals, your hardwired sovok habit of trying to speak as “we, the Soviet People the Progressive Mankind” the American liberals” is pretty telling about who you really are.

    Comment by Ivan — March 23, 2011 @ 1:34 am

  18. Ivan,

    Your idea of judging me by saying that I remind you of some politician that I have no connection to, sounds exactly like the Soviet propaganda that tried to condemn one person by saying that he is like some other person that the Soviets hated.

    So, which particular “statements by Sergey “Tarantula” Lavrov” are you trying to hang on me and my American liberalism? Cite some of them, if you can. Did Lavrov, a foreign minister, ever talk about American liberals?

    BTW, out of curiosity: which country do you live in, and how much do you know about America and American liberals? FYI, most American liberals don’t care about Russia one way or the other. They care about their own country, USA, and its foreign policies.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 23, 2011 @ 2:51 am

  19. > most American liberals don’t care about Russia one way or the other. They care about their own country, USA, and its foreign policies.

    Precisely. Yet somehow you seem to think your constant kremlinophilic drivel can pass for “American liberal” agenda. Think harder.

    Comment by Ivan — March 23, 2011 @ 3:20 am

  20. Hey, Ivan, I have no “kremlinophilic” agenda whatsoever. I hate Putin. I support Ryzhkov. You must be confusing me with somebody else. Do all russophiles look alike to you?

    But this article is not about Russia. It is about USA foreign policy and about Libya. And my comments here are about that, not about Russia. Stay on-topic.

    You are so preoccupied with your impotent hate for Russia that you are polluting all our discussions with it. Go find some blog dedicated exclusively to Russia and pour out your russophobia to your heart’s delight. Not everything in the world is about Russia. Let us, Americans, discuss our foreign policy without your childish russophobic outbursts, child.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 23, 2011 @ 4:17 am

  21. But Gostapo, ypu spend more time defending Russia’s illegal interventions in neighboring countries and the resulting crimes against humanity, denying the Red holocoaust that killed around 61,000,000 people in the USSR alone, and generally slagging off all non Russian ethnic minorities than anything else.

    Not to mention your claims that Russian SVR agents operating illegally in the US under deep cover were illegally arrested for “speaking to their kids in Russian” and other assorted BS.

    Like I said, you are a certain type of leftist whose sole raison d’etre is to rubbish and sabotage every positive initiative that Western leaders try to take on the world stage, purely as an end in itself. Leftists of this kind are, quite simply, a scourge.

    BTW, don’t forget, big brother is definitely watching you now….

    Comment by Andrew — March 23, 2011 @ 7:33 am

  22. Andre,

    You mentally ill:

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 23, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  23. Wow Gostapo, I think you are mentally ill little man.

    After all, I don’t try and deny the deaths of millions of people, but you do.

    I don’t support or justify any form of ethnic cleansing or mass murder, but you do.

    I don’t support dictatorships or undermine democracy, but you do.

    I don’t support foreign agents operating illegally in my country of residence, but you do.

    Like I said, the FBI station chief has been alerted to your posts, he is quite frankly disgusted with your support for the SVR, FSB, and your anti-americanism in general.

    Have fun Gostapo.

    Comment by Andrew — March 24, 2011 @ 12:34 am

  24. BTW LOL You mentally ill very funny, a bit like your I live in USA damn boy, if you have been there so long at least learn some decent English, especially if you claim to be in the top 1% of US taxpayers (how did you do that without being one of those wall street types you slag off so much….).

    Really Gostapo…..

    Comment by Andrew — March 24, 2011 @ 12:36 am

  25. Well, looks like we know what organisation Gostapo is part of:

    March 23, 2011
    The existence of China’s 50-cent party is well known. But now it seems Russia is attempting to form its own army of online contributors, who are paid a small sum to comment on articles or in forums critical of the ruling elite.

    Vadim Isakov at Global Voices has a post shedding some light on this new wave of “human bots,” after a number of Russian opposition bloggers noticed numerous critical comments coming from users with accounts created on-the-fly:

    Other bloggers (dolboeb, man_with_dogs, and aiden-ko, to name just few) got to the core of the issue and came up with a research-like posts [ru] on their LiveJournals. They talked about a peculiar posting on, a Russian website with job ads for people working in IT field. The posting has been deleted but man_with_dogs has a saved screenshot [ru] of the original.

    “I need 5 people,” the ad says. “Each of them will leave 70 comments a day from 50 different accounts (the accounts need to be live). Urgently. The job is 5 days a week. The duration of this project is 3 months. The payment is every 10 days (Webmoney, Yandex Money [methods of payment – GV]). Total: 12,000 rubles [around $400-G.V.] a month.”

    The author of this ad, someone named Vladimir Alekseev (probably a fake name since it sounds too conventional) also provided the details of the “job.” The human bots need to target the blog of navalny.

    The task is to create the maximum believable wave of comments to degrade the rating of the journal’s author and to form a negative attitude toward him. You need to comment each new post correctly and persuasively. It is also important to create a positive image of “United Russia” party [the ruling party in Russia – G.V.]. Can you do it?


    The Russian Internet is remarkably free in terms of filtering, with the authorities preferring to shape the narrative instead of banning dissent (for instance by calling for Facebook and other online forums to be regulated during election time or by setting up schools for bloggers and hackers). The Kremlin also like to create the experience, but not the reality, of a democratic process, via the Internet. And if that fails, they help create a climate of impunity where crusading journalists get their legs broken.

    If it plays out, “human bots” are also a pretty typical public-private partnership in Putin-Medvedev’s Russia. In addition to the paid commentators, Russia’s 30-ruble army, there are hoards of volunteers — those Russians who trawl forums and articles because they have an axe to grind and genuinely feel the need to speak up for their motherland. Hard to prove, but the Russian authorities’ approach to cyberwarfare seems to be much of the same. Outsource some of it to professionals and allow nationalist script kiddies to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the DDOS attacks.

    Comment by Andrew — March 24, 2011 @ 1:51 am

  26. Antdrek wrote: “Like I said, the FBI station chief has been alerted to your posts, he is quite frankly disgusted with your support for the SVR, FSB, and your anti-americanism in general.

    I love this! Which “FBI station chief” have you talked to, child? And what exactly made this man of steel so “disgusted” with me? Give me his name. Does he have nothing better to do than read free political opinions? And did you tell him that you want to commit terrorist acts in the USA, or should I tell him, and have him tell your boss what you do at while at work? After all, that’s what FBI is there for: to investigate terrorist threats.

    You live in a very dangerous imaginary world, Drek, and you need psychiatric help.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 24, 2011 @ 4:15 am

  27. The FBI officer in the US Embassy Gostapo, they are called “Legal Attache”, they provide a lot of assistance to the Georgians in counter espionage work, tracking of Russian attempts to undermine Georgian independence, countering proliferation of WMD, all fairly important work.

    This guy was one of those who helped uncover the Russian agents conducting bombings in Tbilisi recently.

    What made him so disgusted was your support of the SVR, you know, your claims the FBI “illegally arrested” “US citizens” for “speaking to their children in Russian” and other such rubbish.

    They are very keen to probe the support for SVR illegals amongst the Russian community in the US. People like you are considered a threat to national security.
    Political opinions are one thing, providing moral support to a foreign intelligence agency, and probably more in your case, is quite another.

    He thought my comment about you being a legitimate target for anti FSB operations quite amusing.

    You see, if I say “I hope they start targetting FSB sympathisers like Ostap”, thats not a threat, just a pleasant thought. Try harder little one, your paranoia is quite amusing.

    Comment by Andrew — March 25, 2011 @ 12:04 am

  28. Good for you, Andrew. I now believe you that the FBI agents have nothing better to do with their time at work than to talk to a liar like you. You are very important, child. Everybody in Tbilisi wants to talk to you. Now that you are so popular, maybe you will not feel obligated to follow-up to everything I write here.

    I don’t really mind your feeling that everything that I write, be it on Libya or US taxes or Wisconsin teachers, is of great importance and needs rebuttals. But I have no intention to engage in discussions with you because you are a fool, a compulsive liar, and a psycho. When I engage in a dialogue with you, I get death threats from you.

    It is LR and SWP who should mind. Have you noticed that you have managed to have made both blogs almost deserted?

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 25, 2011 @ 2:19 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress