Happy Third Anniversary…
Well, things haven’t exactly finished up neatly in Iraq in the last 3 years since the Commander Codpiece stunt of an aircraft carrier passenger landing, now have they? Talk about your bad PR stunt ideas. Just FYI, today the President says we’ve had a "turning point" in Iraq — you’ll pardon me if I’m not holding my breath on that one. Guess the Decider has deciderated on rose colored glasses for the day.
Bob Geiger has put together some great information on the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco, just for this third anniversary of the flight suit PR stunt.
"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," declared President Bush, in a nationally televised address, backed by a giant banner proclaiming "mission accomplished."
I’m sure that many Americans — and certainly the military families with loved ones in harm’s way — breathed a sigh of relief and hoped that the Bush administration’s pre-war claims would come true: That the effort would be quick, decisive and with minimal spilling of American blood and that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld knew what he was doing to protect the troops in the occupation that would follow.
Of course, we now know that the president’s shipboard posturing was premature at best and, at worst, a device to mislead the American people into believing that the toughest times in Iraq had past.
E&P also has more on the anniversary — through the lens of NYTimes coverage, including a bit from Judy Miller. (*sniffle* *wipes eyes* Ahhhh, good times.) The AP (via CBS News) also has some coverage.
The NYTimes reports today that we’ve constructed a training center for urban guerilla warfare training in the Mojave desert.
In a 1,000-square-mile region on the edge of Death Valley, Arab-Americans, many of them from the Iraqi expatriate community in San Diego, populate a group of mock villages resembling their counterparts in Iraq. American soldiers at forward operating bases nearby face insurgent uprisings, suicide bombings and even staged beheadings in underground tunnels. Recently, the soldiers here, like their counterparts in Iraq, have been confronted with Sunni-Shiite riots. At one village, a secret guerrilla revolt is in the works.
With actors and stuntmen on loan from Hollywood, American generals have recast the training ground at Fort Irwin so effectively as a simulation of conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 20 months that some soldiers have left with battle fatigue and others have had their orders for deployment to the war zones canceled. In at least one case, a soldier’s career was ended for unnecessarily "killing" civilians.
Gee, that sure sounds like things are winding down, now doesn’t it? Of course, given that there have been numerous reports that the Iraqi troops we are training have been collaborating with insurgents, it’s not exactly a surprise, is it? Oh yeah, I got yer Mission Accomplished right here! (And, btw, let me just say again that the nation’s military is doing an amazing job with what they have been given in terms of support, materiale and orders from the idiots at the helm. My thanks to soldiers and their families. A very good friend of mine just got news that her husband will be deployed to Iraq in July — this issue continues to hit very close to home for me.)
Enough gloom and doom, though. I prefer to think about it as it was — a happy day, filled with joy and triumph and a whole lotta hot air. A day when phrases like "Bring it on!" seemed pithy and not at all like asanine, swaggering bravado from a man who has no relatives at risk in uniform. (Ooops, let that disgust slip out again. Bad me.) Let’s take a trip on the way back machine, shall we?
I call this "Commander Codpiece Meets the Power Rangers." (I thought about saying teletubbies, but they are too fit and, frankly, there is no freaky sweeper — and the purple guy is missing his purse.)
Here we have the President of the United States flanked by two men who actually risk their lives every day as combat pilots. It was nice of the President to dress up just like them, so he could seem like he had that same mojo. No attempt at PR spin here, nuh uh.
Wow, too excited about our clear victory and imminent pull-out from Iraq to be able to speak without a teleprompter. Swell. (Too bad that was the hot air part…)
Deja vu? (Note to self: If the President stands behind a podium and makes a speech about something, commence the worrying. As someone said at the time of Katrina, only George Bush could take an act of God and make it worse. This deciderating is hard work.)
PS — Just a little note to Elisabeth Bumiller — the puff piece in the NYTimes on the WH Correspondent’s Dinner was amusing. But you should know that the President and his double comedy routine was already done — by Reagan and Rich Little back in the 1980s. Might have been nice to note that fact in your "news" article.