An Orwellian War: U.S. routinely calling operations in Iraq what they are not

Last night, 25 kilometers southwest of a surrounded Baghdad, Iraqi Security Forces came under attack by forces loyal to the Islamic State.

This could be new. The Islamic State began seizing tunnels constructed under Saddam Hussein to encircle the capital city. In early August, the paralyzing anxiety over what many believed was an imminent assault on Baghdad – fears which prompted Barack Obama to request the Pentagon draw up a list of targets to strike inside Iraq as early as June 13began to dissipate. Instead, the terrorist army embarked on a campaign to soften the capital for an eventual siege; executing coordinated insurgency operations and car bombings designed to sow chaos and demoralize the city’s defenders.

It is unclear just how large the assault on Iraqi Security Forces was, but the assault was so extensive that local forces had to call in American air support. Now, nearly one month after the White House claimed that it began executing strikes on Iraqi targets in defense of American personnel in places like Baghdad, American forces are finally executing strikes near the capital. Six ISIS vehicles and a hardened position that were firing on Iraqi forces were destroyed in those airstrikes.

What is bizarre is that these strikes are being described by American officials as part of an offensive campaign against ISIS targets.

“The airstrike southwest of Baghdad was the first strike taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense, as outlined in the president’s speech last Wednesday,” read a release via United States Central Command.

It seems odd to characterize these as offensive strikes. American personnel were not in immediate danger when the U.S. executed these airstrikes, but the United States has been carrying out airstrikes on ISIS positions around the strategically key Haditha Dam for weeks under similar circumstances.

But those strikes were characterized by administration officials, however, as defensive. If the dam were to burst, they dubiously claimed, it could unleash a biblical flood which would cover 120 miles of territory and swamp the Green Zone. There were, however, no American personnel in immediate danger in the area in which American airpower was used to dislodge ISIS from their positions around that dam. The goal of those strikes was to create momentum for Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground and to allow them to maintain their operational tempo.

Up is down, defensive is offensive, war is… well, an extensive counter-terrorism operation. This may not be the first Orwellian war, but it is certainly taking a page from the book of newspeak.