Shock and Awe

I think I finally understand why McCain is still in this thing: We are a nation that loves all things martial; military heroes, military uniforms, military strategy. So it would only make sense that a certain portion of the country would have a collective warm and fuzzy feeling for this fossil of a man. I dig it. I can’t get with it, but I dig it.

But I do find it odd that the only time we know how to use military strategy (versus the reactionary tactics that reign supreme in Iraq) is when it comes to duping the American people. We’ve already discussed “divide and conquer,” which involves splitting the troops to dilute their power. That’s what is at play when we hear stories about how Latinos will never vote for a Black candidate, which a Pew Hispanic study found to be patently false, as 66% of Hispanics registered voters are planning to side with Barack Obama in November.

Now we’re getting a face full of “shock and awe.” Now you might say, “Hold on, there, Kenrya. Isn’t that what we used when we first started this war, bombing homes and killing an estimated 6,616 civilians? No one’s dropping any bombs on my apartment building.” But I’d haughtily tell you that you’re wrong.

Here’s a definition of shock and awe that is so dead-on that it makes me feel sick to my stomach. According to a memo from the U.S. National Defense University, it’s officially called “rapid dominance,” and it means to “impose this overwhelming level of Shock and Awe against an adversary…to paralyze its will to carry on…[to] seize control of the environment and paralyze or so overload an adversary’s perceptions and understanding of events that the enemy would be incapable of resistance at the tactical and strategic levels.” In short, scare folks until their fear overrides their ability to reason and fight for themselves. Merde.

The early “October Surprise” that is our current economic situation is just the latest tactic in this strategy. From capitalizing on the fear following 9/11 to picking our pockets last week, it’s working. Let’s see: First we gave up our privacy rights with the USA PATRIOT Act and let the administration pay their homeboys to manage the war on terror. Then we sat idly while developers rushed in to turn the Ninth Ward into condos and casinos following Hurricane Katrina. And now we’ve allowed our so-called democracy to socialize the financial system, making us pay for them to take ownership of private banking centers and the shitty securities they sold, but not cutting us in on the profits that will come when the market rebounds in a couple of years. Unbelievable. Meanwhile, we’re stomping all over the idea of the capitalism we claim to support, looking for a political solution for a problem that the free market is, by definition, supposed to solve.

I’m not the only one who sees how our government uses fear to take away our rights, one by one. Naomi Klein wrote an excellent book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, about just that. I bought it for the hubby last year and never got around to reading it myself, but the current situation has made me pull it down from the shelf. Klein’s site tells visitors that “information is shock resistance. Arm yourself.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

—Kenrya

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