According to CBS National Affairs Correspondent Mark Noler, it looks like the US Senate will postpone sending the military spending bill to the President, for a sure veto, until May 1. Why? Because, May 1, 2007, is the fourth anniversary of the President’s famous visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln – a ship that sported the equally famous banner that read, “Mission Accomplished.”
Noler, firmly believing Americans have very short memories, commandingly reported, today, that when President Bush spoke aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, on May 1, 2003, the clear implication was that the mission, in Iraq, had been accomplished.
That’s not true, at all, Mr. Noler! (insert expletive)
Nevertheless, due to Noler’s brazen attempt to "confuzzle" and in light of yet another possible (probable?) slap at the President, I thought I might share a piece I wrote three years ago about the fabricated “Mission Accomplished” debacle.
From May 3, 2004:
Saturday, May 1, 2004, was the first anniversary of President George W. Bush’s dramatic landing on the aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln. In reviewing the news clips of the speech President Bush delivered that day in 2003, I noticed the camera panned to a banner with these words: Mission Accomplished. I also noticed the accompanying chatter, from the reviewing “talking heads,” criticizing the President’s speech of a year ago, by focusing solely on the theme of Mission Accomplished.
On May 1, 2003, was the mission of the USS Abraham Lincoln accomplished? If the mission, in conjunction with myriad others, was to topple Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq, then, indeed, the mission was accomplished. However, due to the success of the mission, was the Battle of Iraq triumphantly concluded, as well? No, it was not and is not, any more than the World War on Terrorism is finished. The World War, about which many of us may be in denial, promises to be a long haul. Consequently, it is folly to suggest the battles to win it – often viewed as wars in and of themselves - should last no longer than a television miniseries.
Increasingly, what I am reading and hearing, particularly in terms of the Battle of Iraq, is a politicized avoidance of accurate definitions and concomitant distinctions regarding the words “mission,” “battle” and “war.” A mission is defined as a military action or expedition. A battle is cited as a prolonged fight between armed forces. The definition of war is a sustained, specific instance or period of armed hostility or contention between people, groups and so forth. Parenthetically, military maneuvers of all sorts are tagged “operations,” therefore, a mission, a battle or even a war might bear the name Operation Such-and-Such. That being said, in today’s pundit parlance and newspeak, one would think “mission,” “battle” and “war” all mean the same thing. They do not.
Consider this: In 1991, Iraq signed an armistice to end what is called the Persian Gulf War. Saddam Hussein broke that armistice fifteen days from signature, causing American troops to remain in Saudi Arabia to enforce the No Fly Zone and to honor a protection pact with Saudia Arabia, signed in 1945 by King Abdulaziz bin Saud and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Supposedly, the Persian Gulf War ended, although tension and fighting with Saddam Hussein’s forces continued, at varying levels of intensity, for more than a decade. In fact, our continued military presence in Saudi Arabia was the reason Usama bin Laden gave for al-Qaeda’s attacks on the United States, September 11, 2001. Which prompts the questions: Was the Persian Gulf War, in hindsight, the first battle in the World War on Terrorism and, therefore, misnamed? Should Saddam Hussein’s recalcitrance be blamed, at least in part, for al-Qaeda’s attacks of September 11, 2001?
If my analysis is correct, then the answer to the second question is yes, and the Persian Gulf War should be renamed the Battle of the Persian Gulf, or referred to as Operation Desert Storm. Subsequent battles in the World War on Terrorism are the Battle of Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Battle of Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). As with all wars, specific missions are carried out within each battle, ergo a series of missions geared to eject Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait, to eliminate Taliban control of Afghanistan and to defang Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq certainly are missions that have been accomplished. Other missions within the Battles of Afghanistan and Iraq and, thus, the battles themselves, are ongoing. The War on Terrorism, actually begun in 1979, will end only in total worldwide victory… ours. Yes, our specific goal was achieved, swiftly, in Desert Storm and we are currently earning success, mission by mission, in Enduring Freedom and in Iraqi Freedom, but we have a long way to go. Where did I learn that? I listened to President Bush’s speech on May 1, 2003, for cryin’ out loud!
So let’s get the lingo right, in an effort to keep our perspectives clear and our priorities straight. Missions are components of battles; battles are components of war. Despite what is being said and written by the oft biased media and power hungry politicians, operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are not individual wars, separate and distinct. And, lest we forget, the mission of the USS Abraham Lincoln, one of many to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein and his regime, was truly a Mission Accomplished.