“Houston, we have a problem”
A couple of days ago, I mentioned that Baghdad was code named “Phase-1 Houston.” Well, additional sources in the government and military have told me that all targets in Baghdad have code names based on places in … Texas.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
Still with me? if it doesn’t worry you, if it doesn’t call into question the seriousness of the war planners, it should.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with code names for targets. It’s SOP for the military and Omaha Beach at Normandy is probably the most famous, I’d guess. But you really have to wonder at either the immaturity or the profound political tone deafness of war planners who code name targets in Baghdad after places in the commander-in-chief’s home state. President Bush already suffers around the world, and especially in the Arab world, from the perception that he’s finishing his father’s business, that this is a personal vendetta against the man who tried to kill his dad.
Vendettas are fine, I suppose, if you live in 17th century France where personal slights were settled by duels, but they aren’t kosher when you’re the president of the United States commanding a terrible arsenal.
OK. Let’s assume this isn’t some kind of Hatfields and McCoys with mustaches (well, one mustache, anyway.) Let’s assume this really is about the security of the United States. If you’re at all concerned about world opinion, especially in the region you’re about to bomb the hell out of and kill thousands of innocent people, shouldn’t you be a little more, I don’t know, concerned about how this all looks?
I know, I know. Military target codes aren’t for public consumption and political considerations don’t really enter into it. OK, then. Obviously, naming the Ba’athist Party HQ after Austin or Saddam’s palace after Nacogdoches is a little nod to your commander-in-chief. It’s a little, “Hey! We’re thinking of ya!” from the planners. In short, it’s an inside joke.
War is no joke. People will die, probably in the thousands, and the places where they will soon be incinerated are a bit of a bon mot to the CinC.
At the peace protests over the weekend, I saw signs that read, “Bomb Texas — It Has Oil Too.” I found it clever; now I just feel sick.