This article is part of the Cobra After-Action Report series.

They do it all for you and Red, White, and Blue.Since I have been doing these Cobra After-Action reports that detail the forces and strategies of International terrorist organization Cobra I have covered campaigns to clone dinosaurs, steal explosive gas, and seize control of the world's oil supply. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" hits a little closer to home, with Cobra Commander insisting on interfering in world politics. While this plot might seem uncharacteristically shrewd that is only on the surface, underlying the realistic surface of the scheme is a rotten core just like every other Cobra plot. Cobra Commander's plan at first seems to be to take over the world by controlling world leaders. Clichéd perhaps, but he uses a diverse arsenal of means to do this, from kidnapping to hypno-mind control, and actually seems to stand a good chance of success. Then when you find out what his actual plan is you will groan with disbelief. He's taking over world leaders to prevent the United States from getting UN approval to attack Iraq.

Why does Cobra care about Iraq you might ask? Well, normally Cobra wouldn't give a damn who the United States wants to invade, but they just so happen to have teamed up with Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein who has developed a new super rocket in defiance of UN sanctions. Why Saddam Hussein would want a rocket designed to circle the world constantly is never really explained, but Cobra Commander wants to fill the rocket with gas that will force the world to obey his orders. Not taking into account the fact that gas dispersed in space would never make it through the atmosphere, Cobra forges ahead with these plans. What makes me really question the leadership of Cobra in this episode isn't even the gas nonsense, it's the fact that if they had this amazing mind control gas why do they bother using Dr. Mindbender, The Baroness, and The Crimson Guard to kidnap or control world leaders? Only Cobra Commander and maybe Destro know the answer to that.

Before we find out how spectacularly the bumbling antics of GI Joe manage to stop this sinister scheme let's take a look at what sort of forces Cobra has committed to the operation. By all accounts the sheer number of troops should be able to stop an invasion by even the United States, but if you believe that you haven't read any of my past columns.

Theater Commander: Cobra Commander
Theater Resources: Globe circling rocket, mind control gas, nearby stockpile of laughing gas, armed forces of Iraq.

Corps Level Resources

3 Infantry and 3 Mechanized Divisions of Cobra troops
1 Armored Division consisting mainly of HISS tanks
2 Regiments of elite Crimson Guard
5-6,000 Fedayeen Destro Paramilitaries
700+ Rattler ground attack aircraft
The Baroness
Dr. Mindbender
Automated SAM launchers
Giant Cobra-Headed Fortress

Known Opposing Forces

The United States Armed Forces
GI Joe
Potentially the United Kingdom and other US allies

Primary Mission Objectives

Force the United States to act unilaterally by taking control of world leaders
Launch rocket filled with mind control gas to circle the world

Secondary Mission Objectives

Global domination

Even if Cobra's plan to force the United States into acting unilaterally were to succeed they would still be up against the largest foe they have ever faced. GI Joe has its nebulous place in the United States Armed Forces, a spot that usually makes it the only enemy of Cobra. In this episode Cobra has cast its lot with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein who is already in the gun sights of the entire US Armed Forces. Keep in mind folks that Cobra made this alliance fully aware of the consequences, because Saddam had a rocket that would fly around the world. That's some great strategic planning right there. Without further ado let's find out if this pragmatic plot succeeds for Cobra.

200X, TuesdayThe joint Iraqi and Cobra rocket sits ready to launch.The episode opens in media res to Deep Six inexplicably dog fighting a Rattler above some generic desert in his flying submarine. He manages to launch a missile and seconds before it hits the Cobra pilot ejects. Deep Six then remarks on the fact that it's a bit odd that there are Cobra jets flying over Southern Iraq's no fly zone. Since the only thing he is good for is investigating crap Deep Six decides to fly to Baghdad and see what he can see from his submarine. I'm not sure why Deep Six and his flying underwater funcapade would be in the middle of the desert, but the creators of GI Joe apparently thought it made perfect sense.

Mountains have mysteriously cropped up around Baghdad and lo and behold nestled snugly in their midst is a giant Cobra shaped base. The laser fire gets a little too intense for Deep Six and the Nautilus so he heads out, reporting back to Flint and Lady Jaye back at GI Joe headquarters that he has spotted a Cobra base inside Iraq. Even though Iraq is heavily monitored by the US and the United Nations Cobra has somehow managed to smuggle the building materials to construct a five-hundred foot high Cobra fortress. Actually considering they go through about one of these bases a week they probably have some construction firm prefabricating them.

Seeing as how this latest development involves a sovereign nation as well as the international terrorist organization known as Cobra, Flint immediately calls the president on the magical GI Joe giant TV communicator. Apparently the oval office has one of these as well because President George W. Bush answers and stares dutifully into the camera. In his good old boy Texas twang Bush hems and haws about the dangers of Cobra and Iraq forging an alliance. Flint defers to the president but advises that swift and immediate action should be taken, Bush replies that when countries are involved it has to go to the UN for a vote. Bush promises to investigate and have Colin Powell take it to the United Nations.

The action then shifts to the interior of the Cobra base in Baghdad where Cobra Commander and Destro are showing Saddam and some of his generals around. After giving him the grand tour of such interesting locations as "room containing soldiers standing around" and "other room containing soldiers standing around" they reach a large hangar containing a rocket. Cobra Commander thanks Saddam for providing him with the rocket which will allow Cobra Commander and Saddam to rule the world together. After laughing way too much at some joke Destro makes about flatulence (I wish I were kidding) the pseudo-camera pans over to a giant stack of gas drums. Some are labeled "Mind Control Gas" and conveniently placed next to them are drums labeled "Laughing Gas", proof that Cobra knows how to party Frank Booth style.

To kick off the obligatory "explain the entire plot" section of the episode, Cobra Commander and the Iraqi tour group end up in the futuristic control room of the "secret" Cobra base. A map of the world shows all of globe covered in the blue of Cobra domination with the exception of Iraq and the United States which are controlled by Iraq. Obviously unaware of the huge amount of shooting that just happened around the secret base not three minutes earlier Cobra Commander quips that "GI Joe will be none the wiser".

Wednesday

Colin Powell explains the dangers of Cobra appeasement to the United Nations.A diplomat is driving through New York City in a black sedan and based on the crudely drawn diplomatic flags it can be inferred that the man inside is an emissary of Germany. Inside the limo the German diplomat is reading the paper when he notices that the car has stopped in an unusual location. Then we see, much to something approximating our horror, that the driver of the limousine is none other than Zartan. Nonplussed by the crazy faced chauffer the German diplomat starts to get mad about the delay when the door opens and he is yanked out by a pair of Crimson Guard troopers. He is then subjected to a cackling tirade courtesy of one Dr. Mindbender. Once the good doctor has had his laughs he proceeds with the hypnotism and commands the diplomat to vote against the United States at the upcoming "UN summit".

Meanwhile, back at the United Nations, Secretary of State Colin Powell is preparing to give a speech in front of a Jumbotron. A perky assistant whispers to Powell that she expects the vote for military action against Iraq and Cobra to easily succeed with strong allies like France and Germany backing the US proposal. Powell proceeds to give a dramatic speech complete with images of the Cobra base and arrows pointing to "chemical weapons" and "rockets" which are just lumps sticking out of the huge Cobra head. The speech wraps up and Powell, unaware of normal United Nations procedure, calls the vote on the resolution to attack Iraq and Cobra. Everyone in the room is shocked when the blank-faced German diplomat, talking liking a robot, votes against the proposed resolution.

The Baroness reveals that it was her posing as Jacque Chirac all along.Then French president Jacque Chirac stands up and yells "down with American imperialist pigdogs!" There is a gasp and the Jumobotron reports that the resolution has failed. Then Chirac begins laughing maniacally and, much to no one's surprise, tears off his face to reveal that it was…THE BARONESS! Dun-dun-dun! This part is stupid on so many levels it's difficult to know where to begin. First of all why the fuck would Cobra reveal that they had an agent impersonating the president of France on live TV? What purpose does it serve? Wouldn't the UN just invalidate that round of voting and start over? I guess not, because the Baroness simply walks out and the vote fails anyway, leaving the United States and the United Kingdom to deal with the Cobra and Iraqi menace by themselves.

Unhampered by the red tape of the rest of the military, GI Joe swings quickly into action, dispatching an entire platoon of - hahaha, I'm just kidding folks, Flint and Lady Jaye each get in a fighter plane and head to Iraq. This isn't all the GI Joes have up their sleeve though. As Flint and Lady Jaye head to Baghdad they are joined on the ground by Dusty and some other shitty GI Joe who gets even less air time than Deep Six. They are waiting near Baghdad to rendezvous with Flint and Lady Jaye. Once again proving that they are no better at planning operations than Cobra as Lady Jaye and Flint are shot down almost immediately by a Cobra automated SAM turret. I don't know why these weren't used against Deep Six and his flying submarine. Maybe Cobra was just too busy laughing at the fact that he has to fly around in a submarine to put up a coordinated effort to shoot him down. Either way Lady Jaye manages to bail out over the desert outside of Baghdad, but Flint is forced down in the streets of the Iraqi capital itself and is apprehended by a mixture of Cobra and Iraqi troops.

Thursday

Like all Cobra-related TV broadcasts the Iraqi Information Minister was carried world-wide.Dusty and Generic link up with Lady Jaye in the desert and they lead her back to a house they are bunking in with the permission of the family living there. In a touching moment a teenage boy in the family says in stereotypical broken English that "Saddam is bad, Cobra is bad too". The plight of the people tug our heartstrings and we realize that this battle is about more than stopping a rocket laden with hypno gas, it's also about freeing the people of Iraq. Or that was the intended effect anyway, I just got kind of irritable and paused the video to get up and make a sandwich.

Despite all the talk of oppression the family has managed to scrape together enough money to purchase a television set. Lady Jaye puts it to good use, wise cracking about the Saddam video montages even though her fuck buddy is MIA. Just as she is about to switch it off the Iraqi Information Minister comes on with pictures of a bedraggled Flint being interrogated by Destro and several Iraqi officers. He helpfully explains that GI Joe is negotiating a surrender after they have captured their best warrior and goes on to describe the might of the Iraqi and Cobra Axis of Evilness. Lady Jaye gets mad and kicks the TV over apathetic to the concept that the family they're staying with probably saved for five years to buy it. She and Dusty resolve to rescue Flint before continuing with the operation and Dusty conveniently knows where the Iraqis keep their prisoners of war.

The action cuts to a dank dungeon where flint is being kept tied to a mattress spring and brutally tortured by two stony-faced Iraqi soldiers. As they apply shock torture to Flint's genitals, Destro repeatedly asks him hard hitting questions like "why are you here Joe fool?". The Baroness, who seems to be enjoying the torture portion of the interrogation to a disturbing degree, begins to have second thoughts about the intelligence of broadcasting that they have Flint as a prisoner on TV. Destro reassures her, explaining that the prison is being protected by the paramilitaries of his Fedayeen Destro, fanatics willing to fight to the death for him.

Outside those stereotypically Arab Fedayeen Destro are getting a test of their loyalty as Lady Jaye, Dusty, and Generic Joe utilize the time-honored strategy of frontally assaulting the prison. After shooting a number of barrels and vehicles and making them explode the Fedayeen prove that Destro's confidence was ill-placed by fleeing in terror without ever suffering a single casualty. A few Crimson guard hold out for a while but Lady Jaye and Dusty knock them unconscious and burst into the prison cell where Duke is being tortured. Destro and the Baroness beat a hasty retreat through the window using a questionable foot-rocket technique. I say questionable because in the previous scene the windows were clearly enclosed by bars, yet Destro and The Baroness effortlessly propel themselves through them.

Friday

With Destro and his Fedayeen out of the picture, the Joes find the approach to the Cobra base almost undefended, which is basically standard Cobra procedure. They like to have a lot of troops standing at attention scattered around and inside the base. Even though their defenses have never withstood a single attack by GI Joe, Cobra still has not learned the concept of defense in depth. Wearing stolen Iraqi uniforms the foursome passes themselves off as guards and infiltrates the Cobra base. There is a brief incident at a gate where some Cobra troopers doubt their disguises but a few haymakers from the surprisingly spry Flint put an end to their line of inquiry.

Saddam and Cobra Commander escape their fates.Once inside Mount Saint Cobra Lady Jaye accesses a Cobra computer system on which Cobra Commander or whoever has conveniently stored the entirety of their plans for world domination without so much as a password prompt. They realize that the rocket is fully loaded with the hypno gas and is preparing to launch in ten minutes and they have to act fast. Thanks to Cobra's love for retractable roofs the rocket is being launched directly from the hangar where the gas was being stored. The Joes realize this and make haste for the missile hangar, beating off a few Cobra and Iraqi troopers and triggering an alarm in the process.

Back in the control room Cobra Commander is made aware of the incursion and becomes furious as he is wont to do. He threatens to put Saddam in the rocket with the hypno gas if he and his men can't stop the Joes from interfering with the launch proceedings. In a dramatic show of Cobra and Iraqi unity, Saddam draws his laser pistol and leads a mixed team of blue-clad Cobra troopers and beret-wearing Republican Guard towards the hangar. A brutal firefight ensues and it quickly becomes apparent that the GI Joes simply do not have the firepower to win this one. Pinned down near the rocket, Dusty spots the stacks of Laughing Gas and suggests they give Cobra Commander a "chuckle". With Lady Jaye covering them, Flint and Dusty set about the manly work of unloading the barrels of Mind Control Gas inside the rocket and replacing them with Laughing Gas. Even though several shots clearly show at least a hundred of these barrels crammed into the gigantic missile somehow Flint and Dusty manage to unload the barrels of Mind Control Gas and replace them with Laughing Gas.

Which raises the question of why even replace them with anything, why not just let Cobra launch an empty rocket? Who knows.

Even though the Iraqi and Cobra troopers are firing in the general direction of the Joes they somehow fail to notice this entire unloading and replacing process and the launch proceeds on schedule. You would think that the Joes would be burned to a crisp when the rocket lifts off, but they don't seem too concerned as the missile shoots out of the open hangar and into the sky. Flint, ever the pussy, comments that they might as well surrender now but in a Deus Ex Machina twist of fate dozens of US Rangers start parachuting into the hangar through the open launch door. Saddam loses his courage and retreats back to the control room where he and Cobra Commander find themselves cornered by the US and GI Joe forces.

Bush and Flint yuck it up in the Oval Office.Proving that Cobra Commander and Saddam are friends until the end Cobra Commander gives Saddam a jet pack and the dynamic duo escape into the air. As usual the Joes don't even attempt to pursue the evil mastermind once he's trying to escape. While the Army Rangers set up overlapping fields of fire and try to bring the villains down Flint just starts giving a speech about how even though the entire leadership of Cobra and Iraq escaped their plan to dominate the world has been thwarted.

The last scene of the episode takes place in the Oval Office of the White House, where Flint, Lady Jaye, and Dusty are talking with President George W. Bush. He congratulates them on a job well done and then Flint explains that the missile should be passing overhead any time now. Bush makes the exact fucking same fart joke that Destro did earlier in the episode and the Joes chuckle nervously. The scattered laughter becomes a roar as the missile's payload of laughing gas begins to pour into the Oval Office.

This is bar none one of Cobra's most ill-conceived and executed operations. Even though they deployed the bulk of their troop strength AND allied themselves with a fairly militarized country they still totally failed. The number of tactical mistakes made throughout the episode pale in comparison to the overall stupidity of choosing Iraq as their ally. GI Joe is not without blame either. It's like they insist on using as few troops as possible, even when the fate of the free world is at stake. Not to mention someone with the judgment of Flint and the bad luck behind a flight stick should not be leading an operation like that in the first place.

Special thanks go out to "The Yellow Yell" for helping me with this update by providing some exclusive GI Joe artwork. He's the Real American Hero.

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