What’s in a Name? Operation Odyssey Dawn

While checking Twitter last night, I saw Operation Odyssey Dawn as a trending topic. First thing I thought was a sci-fi movie? Then I thought it was a new band that I hadn’t heard of yet.

Turns out that it’s the Pentagon’s name for the international military intervention in Tripoli, Libya to stop Gaddafi’s continued violence against his own people. The US and UK have sent out Tomahawk cruise missiles  and airstrikes, but Obama said in a speech that he is only authorizing a “limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians.”

I find the naming of military missions fascinating, because a name really evokes a certain perception and spirit behind the intention of the action. The names can be accepted easily by the public or be viewed as slanted and inauthentic. Think of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” versus the “occupation in Iraq.”

The past operation names have seemed fairly standard macho-sounding with Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Overlord.

What does Odyssey Dawn mean in relation to Libya? Hopefulness, a wild journey or a light at the end of the dark tunnel?

People on Twitter have chimed in on their thoughts of the unusual name and comedian Andy Borowitz has offered up his own suggestions of rejected mission names. Operation Libyeration, anyone?

Others are weighing in on whether this intervention is a smart move considering the Arab world’s opinion of Western militarism. Can the US afford another war? Is this going to actually work to enforce the UN-sanctioned no-fly zone? And what does this say about possible US’s response (or lack thereof) to the unrest in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other countries?

Though the mission is being characterized as justifiable humanitarian intervention and one that the neither the US or its allies wanted, let’s hope our presence in Libya will not be as long and treacherous as Homer’s odyssey.

The world is watching.

Follow chronological updates of the action on the Guardian’s blog.

2 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? Operation Odyssey Dawn


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