Let’s Review the Imagery
Dr. Joseph A. Palermo
Joseph A. Palermo.com
Above: Bush’s “Mission Accomplished’ speech on May 1, 2003, when US casualties stood at a few hundred. The
list would grow to nearly 5,000 dead and 30,000 wounded.
The results: the break-up of Iraq and permanent US bases near major oil fields.
The cost: $3-5 trillion to American taxpayers.
(Clip from “Fahrenheit 9/11″ by Michael Moore)
SO WE’VE REACHED the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” spectacle, the nadir of any US presidency since the time Richard Nixon made his getaway in a helicopter from the White House lawn.
The aircraft carrier stunt was a Karl Rove PR production designed to provide images for Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. Back in 1984, Ronald Reagan’s media Svengali, Michael Deaver, patched together– to great effect– campaign footage of a flak-jacketed Reagan gazing into binoculars at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
As with everything else, Rove sought to turn Bush into a cowhide version of the Great Communicator.
On May 1st, 2003, Rove apparently believed that a victory lap with Bush donning a “Top Gun” costume and prancing around the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln would be political gold for 2004. Bush could burnish his “wartime president” bona fides and thwart any Democratic attempts to talk about anything other than the “War on Terror.”
When the U.S. occupation of Iraq soon degenerated into the totally predictable ethnic and sectarian bloodbath it became, Rove dropped the idea of running the images and even used surrogates to blame the sailors for erecting the “Mission Accomplished” banner.
In US-occupied Iraq, every car bomb, every IED, every suicide bomber, and every sectarian killing that followed that sunny day in May off the San Diego coast made a mockery of Bush’s premature spiking of the proverbial football and brought deserved derision from the rest of the world.
“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” Bush proclaimed. “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
This news might come as a surprise to the families of the 3,424 Americans who died in combat in Iraq over the course of the next eight years.
With all the warmongering we’ve heard lately regarding Syria from the usual suspects and the anti-Muslim bigotry following the Boston Marathon bombings, I wonder if we’ve learned anything over the past ten years…
…You can continue reading the rest of Dr. Palermo’s article here.
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Before earning a Master’s degree and Doctorate in History from Cornell University, Professor Palermo completed Bachelor degrees in Sociology and Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz and his Master’s degree in History from San Jose State University.
An Associate Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento, Professor Palermo’s most recent book is The Eighties. He’s written two other books: In His Own Right: The Political Odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy; and Robert F. Kennedy and the Death of American Idealism.