Weapons in America’s overwhelming Shock and Awe arsenal

As the prospect of total war lurches ever-closer to reality, it appears that America’s planners intend to attack according to the principles of “Shock and Awe” — an apocaplyptic rain of warheads, thousands fired in a matter of hours, generating a shitstorm that will make Desert Storm seem like kids playing with peashooters in the backyard. The intention is to leave the Iraqis as stunned and dispirited as the Japanese were after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, twinned cities of megadeath that serve as the inspiration for this approach.

Laura at net.narrative environments has put together a fine posting about Shock and Awe, which she puts into the context of that venerable Rumsfeld hobby-horse, the Revolution in Military Affairs, which in turn is “what happens when the U.S. Military starts waking up to complexity, network dynamics, and the power of simulation.”

I won’t rip off too many of her links here, but can’t resist pointing to the complete text of the book Shock and Awe, written by the model’s creators, Harlan Ullman and James Wade.

If an online book is too much about too grim a subject, I happened to be listening when CBC Radio’s smart international affairs program Dispatches interviewed Dr. Ullman last week. The first part of the interview proceeds as you might expect, with Ullman methodically outlining his theory and justifying it on humanitarian grounds (arguing that in the long run it reduces casualties to both military and civilian populations). It gets more interesting towards the end, when host Rick MacInnes-Rae draws out Ullman on his broader opinion of the impending conflict. Ullman raises a number of factors why this attack charts a perilous course — violent backlash in the Arab world, and the absence of the international support required to withstand a vulnerable post-war occupation. The architect of what may be the war’s battle plan clearly has doubts about the mission.

Listen to the interview (RealAudio 2.4 MB download)

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