Yammering on about ‘Shock and Awe’

Interesting discussion lately about the Pentagon’s so-called “Shock and Awe” plan for the opening round of the Iraq war (the official war; the current bombing doesn’t count). Pentagon planner Harlan Ullman told CBS News about Shock and Awe in late January, and folks on both ends of the pro/anti-war spectrum have been making pretty outrageous claims about it since then. Ira Chernus asks if Baghdad is going to be the next Hiroshima, while Geov Parrish wonders if the rest of the world will ever be able to forgive us. Meanwhile, the arch anti-liberals at Blogcritics pooh-pooh such alarmism, asking, at one point, “Do seemingly reasonable people really think the United States military would willfully and purposefully engage in indiscriminate bombing and mass murder?” Um, actually, yeah, I think it’s a demonstrated fact. The truth about what we intend for Baghdad probably falls somewhere in the middle, between those who say we’re planning to reduce its population to ashes, like we did in Dresden and Hiroshima, and those who say we’re going to employ weapons so intelligent that they will only destroy water treatment facilities, power plants, and “command and control” centers, while not actually harming any of the millions of human beings who live in their vicinity (well, at least until they succumb to the resulting disease, thirst, and famine). But think about it for a moment: A cruise missile, when it detonates, has an effect roughly similar to that of an airliner, fully loaded with fuel, plowing into a building. This country experienced three such events, over the span of a few hours, and the horror of it is still with us a year and a half later. What we’re talking about now is unleashing 800 such explosions on a densely populated city over two days. Eight hundred. Your tax dollars at work. Sigh.

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