Operation ‘We don’t know where we’re going’

The US is still bearing the brunt of the intervention in Libya, despite Washington's promise to minimise its involvement. The campaign has led to a spike of anti-war sentiment on American soil - the highest such surge in decades.

Some fear the title of the operation may spell out a long and painful conflict for the US.

Previously, the names that the US gave to its campaigns made some sense, like Desert Storm in the Gulf War, or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan or Iraqi Freedom.

But Odyssey Dawn? On top of making no sense as a combination of words in itself, if interpreted literally it could indicate something really lengthy in time, also, the word Dawn – could it possibly imply that what we are seeing is just the beginning?

RT talked to the US command in Africa that was tasked to come up with the two words, and they maintain that the title does not mean anything.

“What happened is there is a group of planning officers led by a Lieutenant Colonel; they sat down and looked at a list and decided to call it Odyssey just because they liked the sound of Odyssey. The second part of the nick-name is basically chosen at random,” explains US Africa Command spokesman Eric Elliot. 

But amid the growing confusion that Americans have over the ultimate goal that their government is pursuing in the oil-rich North African country, the title suggests different interpretations.

“The title is confused and so is the operation and so is the public’s understanding of the operation. So I think it is all very confusing,” says Ivan Eland, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute in Washington DC.

“What is really unhappy is if you think about the Odyssey, it is a story about people wandering around the Mediterranean for 10 years unable to find their way home. That seems exactly the wrong metaphor for what they want to convey about this,” says Geoffrey Nunberg, a Professor from the University of California.

President Obama has said the US will be in and out of Libya in no time.

The name Odyssey Dawn seems to be an odd choice for a quick operation, considering Odysseus' 10-year journey to return home after a 10-year war.

“It in some way represents the lack of clarity as to what the objective of the mission is. If Americans could call it something it would be Operation Here Today, Gone Tomorrow," says Hayes Roth, a chief marketing officer from Landor Associates.

For many in the US, Odyssey Dawn has become a joke. But not only do most US comedians poke fun at the name of the operation, they also best express the growing public frustration over the US involvement. Polls show that in the last four decades Americans’ disapproval of military action has never been as high as it is now with the Libya intervention.

Many fear, like Homer’s Odysseus, it may take the US years to finish the journey.