Quando una medaglia non significa più nulla

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La nuova missione USA che si svolge in Iraq  e Siria per contrastare l’ISIS/ISIL non ha un nome. iniziare una nuova campagna militare, con un nuovo nome richiede negli Stati Uniti che ci sia un iter procedurale da seguire, mentre Mr.President non ha tempo da perdere in questi giochi “democratici”, la democrazia và protetta ed esportata senza discussioni! E infatti chi ha rimproverato l’amministrazione Obama di aver autorizato una missione senza nome in territorio straniero, compreso il dispiegamento di truppe con l’uso di droni e bombardamenti, di aver abusato dei suoi poteri e di aver creato importanti problemi anche a livello burocratico come ad esempio l’impossibilità di assegnare medaglie ai 1700 soldati scelti per questa missione dovrà ricredersi. Perchè? Ma è ovvio, questa non è una nuova missione! E’ il proseguimento o meglio una parte di EOF( Operation Enduring Freedom), la missione sinonimo della guerra di 13 anni in Afghanistan iniziata nel 2001 sotto l’amministrazione Bush ma tecnicamente, negli annali della burocrazia del Pentagono, OEF è stata definita nel 2001 come una vasta guerra al terrorismo che può includere qualsiasi cosa potenzialmente legata agli attacchi terroristici dell’11 settembre 2001. Tecnicamente un mandato di guerra a tempo illimitato nelle mani del presidente, basta che ci siano dei terroristi. Ora, i funzionari militari stanno rispolverando tale definizione in modo da garantire che le truppe a Baghdad oggi avranno un nuovo nastro sul petto.
“Truppe schierate in Iraq a sostegno di Operazione Enduring Freedom sono elegibbili per la “Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal” secondo un portavoce del dipartimento della difesa.
Invocare i legalismi del 2001 per le medaglie è simile a una giustificazione legale per la Casa Bianca in merito alla distribuzione di truppe in Iraq e per lanciare attacchi aerei in Siria senza chiedere esplicitamente l’approvazione del Congresso
. Così il soldato americano e le sue “onoreficenze” non sono altro che una scusa per una guerra senza significato. Così come senza significato saranno le sue medaglie ed i suoi nastri.

di Natasha Lennard

( news.vice.com) – “A soldier,” said Napoleon Bonaparte, “will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” The remark seems either a callous indictment of soldierly intention or a deferential nod to the importance of military decoration. Soldiers may not fight for medals, but medals matter still. If they meant nothing, Purple Hearts would not be handed down through generations, nor would 800 protesting veterans have thrown down their medals and ribbons from the Vietnam War on the steps of Capitol Hill in 1971. The symbol is the thing.

About 12 percent of the US homeless population is composed of military veterans, and the inadequate care for the mental and physical health of returning troops remains a national disgrace. With this in mind, it seems perhaps trite to focus on medals and decoration. Yet at the dawn of the latest US-led incursion in Iraq, questions of what it means to be “at war” loom large as the age of protracted, piecemeal military engagement drags on with no foreseeable end. If we are to understand the truly shaky legal ground on which President Barack Obama appears to be basing this conflict, we need look no further than bits of colored ribbon.

The war against the Islamic State was presenting a peculiar quandary for the Pentagon’s medals and awards division — 1,700 troops are being deployed to a conflict with no name. Military decorations, however, must be awarded under the remit of specific operations. Failures in nomenclature would not be sufficient reason to deny a soldier his deserved official recognition. So the Pentagon declared that forces deployed to the expanding operation in Iraq and Syria would be eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal under Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The award was created by then President George W. Bush in 2003. OEF refers, with irony only history can bestow, primarily to the Afghanistan War.

OEF had a broader remit than Afghanistan, and thanks to the War on Terror’s inherent ambiguity, it for now encompasses a battle against a whole new enemy (in terms of medals, at least). There is some “strained logic” at play here, Andrew Tilghman noted for the Military Times. There was already room for overreach under OEF, and its legal framework as codified in the 2001 Authorization of Military Force Act (AUMF), which authorized acts of war against parties affiliated with those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The war against the Islamic State takes this to new heights, with an enemy not only disaffiliated from but disavowed by al Qaeda. 

Like Oceania’s state of permanent war against either Eurasia or Eastasia in George Orwell’s 1984, America’s shift in enemies is being treated as something like protagonist Winston Smith’s “furtive knowledge” — not a matter of official recognition.

A Justice Department memo gives the CIA legal justification to kill a US citizen. Read more here.

When Obama unilaterally announced that he had the authority to expand operations against the Islamic State without Congressional approval, I wrote that the administration’s specific choice of legal justification for the war was essentially academic. The fact of war has been decided, and the administration will duly provide rubber stamp rationales; it matters little that they are bunk. 

Obama insists that the Islamic State and al Qaeda are “one in the same,” while they are not. The problem here goes deeper than bureaucratic pedantry. By reaching back to AUMF and trying to rhetorically elide the Islamic State with al Qaeda, the Obama administration maintains a historically dangerous standpoint — waging blanket war on Islamic terror with too little attention on the nuances informing different, unaligned terrorist groups.

Wars are never discrete events like linear histories ask them to be. Even in the age of “perfect” war — nation state against nation state — the historicizing of a war’s beginning and end was always a matter of some myth making. As streets in Paris, London, and New York roared with celebration on November 11, 1918, men on the Western Front had not yet heard that the World War I was over. Since they kept fighting and dying that day, it was arguably not over.

Today war is ontologically unstable in whole new ways, aided into ambiguity by drone technology, special operation force activity, and advanced intelligence gathering. So we find ourselves now with a nameless military operation, carried out under the authority provided by a war against a concept (terror).

There’s something poignant about service medals bearing out the peculiarity of this war’s framing. Certainly, experts will pore over whatever legal yarn the Obama administration retroactively spins to justify whatever acts of war may follow. But, all the while, troops will be decorated with awards left over, in name, from a battle against a different enemy. Arguably, the current military operation deserves a new name of its own. Twitter users responded to a Wall Street Journal article on this very topic, putting forward suggestions including “Operation Tentative Ambivalence” and “A Warlike Act on Terrorlike Acts by Soldierlike people.”

Quips aside, the failure to delineate this operation shows a certain incoherence on the part of the administration’s line on the Islamic State. In one turn, the group is an apocalyptic threat, the likes of which have never been seen, but for the purposes of bellicose bureaucracy and legal imprimatur, the Islamic State is the same as al Qaeda and the new war is just the old war we were already fighting. It’s sadly appropriate that the medals and colored ribbon with which service members will be honored reflect the confused framework of this war.