Names for Military Actions
Jennifer referred to "Operation Just Cause" in a comment and this reminded me of a friend's telling me that the loftier the name of a military operation, the less morally lofty it will be. He was retired from the military and I think he was mostly trying to be funny but there is a kernel of truth to what he said.
Before going further, let me say that I am neither a pacifist nor against the military per se. The latter more or less does what the Commander in Chief tells them to. Sometimes though the military, or, perhaps more accurately, members of the military do some pretty nasty things on their own. However, as citizens, we are responsible for everything our government or its representatives do and taking a close look at what they say and do is inherently meritorious.
So, what was "Just Cause," some of you younger sorts might ask who haven't read J_G's comment? It was an operation in Panama to depose and arrest Noriega and demobilize his thugish military and paramilitary forces the latter, interestingly, being called the "Dignity Battalian." This Op seemed to many to be quite problematic and there were jokesters who exploited the name "Just Cause" by asking the question, "Why did we invade Panama?" and then answering it with, "jus-cuz," the casual speech pronunciation of "Just Cause." There do seem to have been some good reasons for this invasion but the fact is that we invaded a country and captured its leader and that is normally thought not to be a very good thing to do. After our long history of military interventions south of our border (recall the Monroe Doctrine, as imperialist a doctrine as one will ever find), it is hard to see any use of military force south of our border as legitimate.
Moreover, Just Cause followed upon "Operation Urgent Fury," in which the US military mounted an operation in Grenada, one of the tiniest countries we have ever invaded. This Op was so flawed in its execution that a documentary on it might seem like a comedy of errors with a plot something like "The Mouse that Roared" but with reversed roles for the USA and the little country. The plot would include the US PsyOps folks setting up "Spice Island Radio" and include calling the Op as a whole "Urgent Fury." The comic payoff would involve American medical students who presumably couldn't get into US medical schools kissing and hugging our soldiers as they were being rescued. I think a lot of people thought that rescuing the students was the point of Urgent Fury but it wasn't. It was part of our efforts to limit the influence of Cuba. But coming so quickly after Reagan's hasty retreat from Beirut after the very unfortunate and savage terrorist bombing of a Marine barracks it looked like a face-saving action both for Reagan and the military.
Compare names like "Operation Just Cause" and "Operation Urgent Fury" with such names as "Desert Shield" and "Desert Storm" from the first Iraq war. These are not especially colorful, as is consistent with the (surely false if pushed very hard) theory that the colorfulness of the name for an Op is in inverse proportion to its worthiness. When Little Bush named his Iraq war "Operation Iraqi Freedom" you had to know that there was something fishy about what he was doing (no WMD, no ties to Al Queda, no trucks with portable chemical weapons labs, etc.) One thing Little Bush has accomplished and that is to make his Dad look good by comparison. Big Bush's Iraq War combined with the Northern and Southern "No Fly" zones combined with UN pressure on Saddam to get rid of his WMD actually worked. At the time we invaded, his army was totally ineffective and would not have been able to invade any country or harm the Kurds in the North and the Shiites in the South, and he had no WMD.
Your homework is to think about what the following Ops names might mean and then find out what they were:
1. Operation Allied Force
2. Operation Restore Hope
3. Operation Deliberate Force
I would argue that they are consistent with the principle that the loftier the name, the less worthy the cause. Maybe you disagree. I wonder if there are any counterexamples to this principle that you know of, i. e., an overblown name for a just action or a modest name for an unjust one? There surely are some. You have to believe that some really bad thing was given a modest, unassuming name at one time or another just to distract us from looking closely at it.