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Rebranding War :: What is It Good For?


What’s in a name? That which we call a war
By any other name would smell of death, destruction —
And a democratic resurrection
Of burning flesh dipped in oil
Buried deep in foreign soil…


Uncle Sam’s hot-shot marketing machine (sponsored by the Military Industrial Complex: Where one soldier’s misery is another man’s bottom-line prophecy…), armed with the monumental task of re-branding the war in Iraq. Which begs the question:

How does one sell repackaged rotten meat
To an electorate that’s fast asleep?

That is precisely what Obama’s marketing machine intends to find out when it re-brands the war in Iraq in September with “Operation New Dawn.” A little too close to the 1984 film “Red Dawn” for my taste. That film has already branded itself into the nostalgic catacombs of my memory. Not only can I not make this marketing leap of faith, but the thought of imagining a bunch of high school students, hopped up on Molotov hormonal cocktails, running around the hills flanking Baghdad and shouting “Wolverines!” will only serve to undermine the objectives of the current mission — whatever the hell that is supposed to be.

"Red Dawn": The last line of defense standing between Capitalism and Communism (note the "Star Wars" product placement; George Lucas = merchandising genius)

By the way, the current US occupation in Iraq is known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, for those of you dear Civilians who did not know about the third re-branding since our troops were deployed to this oil-enriched wasteland. President Bush’s Marketing Team, deeply couched among the hidden branches of its Spin Machine, had initially branded the preemptive attack on Iraq “Occupation of Iraq,” which later evolved into “Second Gulf War” (a serious blunder, given the fact that everyone knows the sequel rarely lives up to the novelty of the first, not to mention the box-office profits tend to take a nose-dive). The D.C. Spinsters quickly realized their sinister marketing SNAFU and quickly plagiarized itself by pilfering its other major campaign in Afghanistan, “Operation Enduring Freedom” by replacing “Enduring” with “Iraqi.”

I confess, dear Civilian, I had no idea the “War in Afghanistan” (which is what most of us, including the media call it) was called “Operation Enduring Freedom” unit I saw it marketed, in of all places the mens bathroom at Sycamore Mall in Iowa City during the early stages of the US occupation. While standing above a urinal, I began relieving myself by thoroughly icing the pink urinal cake, but when I looked down, the obligatory urinal mint had been replaced by a plastic, webbed piss-deflector that looked like a badminton birdie that had been partially swallowed by the urinal beast.

Reminiscent of a mass-produced Andy Warhol portrait, Osama bin Laden’s bearded mug was stamped in the middle of the target and served as the bulls-eye for budding marksmen such as myself. The usual words on the outer rung of the target, “Please Don’t Eat the Urinal Cakes,” were replaced with “Operation Enduring Freedom.” At first I was impressed with the cleverness of the marketing strategy and product placement, but my temporary joy was hijacked by my trigger-happy and over-zealous prostrate which kicked in M-60 style and drilled bin Laden full of imaginary holes.

“Take that you terrorist bastard,” I shouted, while dropping several other f-bombs.

I will admit, dear Civilian, I did feel some satisfaction and sense of redemption through my actions, but in hindsight, was also relieved nobody happened in upon me while I was unloading on what they may have thought to be an unsuspecting urinal mint, while shouting obscenities at it.

My therapeutic sojourn in the john was quickly overshadowed an hour later during my trip to the grocery store. While standing in the check-out line, barricaded on both sides by Hollywood tabloid magazines, I saw a ten-year old boy in front of me who was wearing a t-shirt that had a mug shot of Osama bin Laden propped up behind the scope-end of a sighted rifle target. I remember wondering: What underlying message was more disturbing: the eye-for-an-eye violence promoted by the boy’s t-shirt or America’s preoccupation with who was having Michael Jackson’s love child?

While branding "The War on Terror," merchandisers set their sites on a new target market: kids

I realize that President Obama inherited these wars from his predecessor (an inheritance tax all of us are STILL paying out of our proverbial asses), but I am not sure why he wants to re-brand the war in Iraq, since he had already promised to bring our troops home. Maybe the O’ Man is pulling something from the Coca Cola marketing campaign, when the soft-drink giant injected New Coke into the market, only to see customers stockpile the old serum, just in case we were invaded by Commies from Russian and their Cuban counterparts.


This way, if Obama’s new end-game strategy starts to go sour by winter, he can change the name back to “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and the electorate will not only clamor for more war but will savor how great the taste of war in Iraq was before “New Dawn.” Not to mention, voters will be consumed with a blind nostalgia for the catchy jingles of yester-yore:

I’d like to buy the world a democracy and furnish it with guns,
Build missiles and fighter planes and H-bombs measured in tons.
I’d like to teach the world to wage war in perfect harmony.
I’d like to buy the world a war and keep it company.
It’s the real thing, Democracy, that’s what the world wants today;
It’s the real thing, Democracy, that’s what the world wants today…

I’m not usually a sucker for marketing manipulations, but I confess, dear Civilian, that I do have an unhealthy thing for jingles.

Who knows, maybe the Military Industrial Complex is looking for a few good jingle writers to help spice up their “War on Terror.” It wouldn’t kill me to send a copy of my resume off to the Pentagon. I’m sure the pay is good, not to mention, it doesn’t look like the MIC’s new business venture will be closing up shop anytime soon – at least not in my lifetime.

::T.M. Lindsey also writes at Confessions of a Cold War Veteran::

When T.M. Lindsey isn’t waiting for Cold War II to fire up, he can be found playing on his other blog, Say Something Funny, or holed up in a fortified bunker in the basement of his house penning his memoir, “Confessions of a Cold war Veteran” — which, if all dominoes fall as planned, is scheduled for publication sometime before Cold War II begins.

March 19, 2010 2:48 pm

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