Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Don’t silence me, bro!

There’s some more good news for those who have, by now, learnt to love bad news. Water cannons and tear gas shells are on their way out of the scene. TASERs and other stun guns will soon be antique pieces. Don’t get upset, or protest. I’ll tell you the good news I promised, for sure. It is about what they call the Silent Guardian. Even the much-celebrated Chinese torture techniques will look like squirt guns before the Grand Guardian.

The U.S. military equipment manufacturing giant Raytheon, the makers of Patriot missiles that got famous during Papa Bush’s Iraq war, has announced its new find. They are very particular about not calling it a ray gun. And as far as their claims go, this new Direct Energy Solution, which a layman would call a Direct Energy Weapon, is not designed to cause any permanent harm, but only to inflict pain and make people run away from places that the same people might want to walk to, or accidentally had stepped in to. The peace loving technological innovation is christened as Silent Guardian. But the message is quite vocal: Shut up and run.

In its final, field model, it will be a square transmitter that can be mounted on a defence vehicle. When activated, it’ll emit a microwave radiation that is tuned to the exact frequency to stimulate human nerve endings, to simulate the sensation of extreme pain. It can be effective up to half a mile of distance. According to Raytheon, the radiation penetrates only to the depth of 1/64th of an inch, and thus wouldn’t leave any visible injuries on the victims. Don’t you think bloodless wars are going to be fun?

Daily Mail had a report on the equipment, a few weeks back. The reporter had seen, and experienced the effect, of a tabletop prototype of the weapon. He describes the sensation as equivalent to touching a red-hot wire, minus the burn injury. The field model mounted on a defence vehicle is potent to give the same pain all over the victim’s body. As per Raytheon experts the maximum a person can stand the pain is for a second. They didn’t tell whether the radiation will be emitted only for a second, or for an hour. The reporter humbly admits that he was not able to stand it even for a second. He had tried it only on the tip of one of his fingers.

The Silent Guardian is not that new an innovation. It’s only the latest, and one of the most potent inventions of the like. Dazzlers, that can cause temporary blindness to human eyes and electronic sensors were in use even at the time of WWII. The other direct energy weapons under development and production include particle beam weapons that can cause permanent damage, and laser and sonic weaponry with worse effects.

It’s not lethal, and absolutely harmless, asserts Raytheon. But that’s what TASER International claimed too. As per the count until 2006, there are over 150 deaths caused by the administration, often unnecessarily, of TASERs by the police in US alone. Just like TASER, Silent Guardian too is introduced as an alternative to lethal weaponry. But unlike TASER, the new weapon fixes its eyes on war fronts. But what I see is them being used by the police to handle protesters and mobs.

When thinking hypothetically, and with blind optimism, such an invention is a wonderful solution for peacekeepers. A Raytheon executive gives an example of a situation where it can be the only solution. He talks about a situation the US military faced in Iraq, where the combatants had taken media personnel as human shields. The invaders were left with the option of letting the combatants escape, or kill the non-combatants along with them. And it is in such situations a Silent Guardian can be of great, and only, help. And it could be the best possible ammunition against violent mobs. Or even peaceful protesters, like the one the world saw in Burma a week back. Well, Buddhist monks are a different matter all together. Remember the picture of a monk who torched himself and sat there like he was dreaming, during the Vietnam War protests?

Killing is unavoidable in wars. The amount of killing and destruction is the sole determinant of a victory. If victory could be accomplished without destruction, the war wouldn’t have happened in the first place. And that’s why machines like the Silent Guardian are of no great use. Or, of great use, where it is not necessary. Like in a prison as a torturing tool. With the police, where they can have some harmless, sweat-less fun.

Raytheon have no plans to sell its product to countries with questionable human rights records, informs the company executive. Except the United States of America, of course. The vast majority of the company’s US$ 20 bn revenue is contributed by US government’s defence purchases. That’s something they call the Military-Industrial Complex, and the Iron Triangle. Something, which was criticised and warned against by even Eisenhower. It was no surprise to anyone when the biggest contributors to the last Presidential campaign in US were Lockheed Martin, the top most military equipment supplier in the world, and Raytheon. They would most probably retain that status in the coming elections too.

The economics of war is not as complicated, when one looks in to the complete picture. In his 1961 masterpiece Catch 22, Joseph Heller simplifies it as simple as it can get – with the story of the character Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder. In a free economic system, which is the fuelling idea of the contemporary libertarian discourses, cluster bombs and chocolates are given equal rights. More rights to the one, which can make more profits, quite deservingly.

In the US, the country that spends more than half of the global military expenses every year, many organisations and individuals are frequently heard of denouncing the wastage of State money on unnecessary military movements and wars. For a taxpayer, that worry might have some weight. Not as much as they are told to be though, as war is only one of the major GDP contributors for that country. This country, the USA, is home to seven of the top ten defence contractors in the world. These seven, including Raytheon, together has the revenue of about US$ 150 bn, only from defence contracts in a year. It’s only the revenue of the seven companies of the 44 US companies in the list of top 100 global defence equipment suppliers. Procurement cost specified in the last US defence budget is a mere US$ 84.2 billion, and is just about half of revenue of the top seven companies. There are more than 150 such companies in the US with global businesses. The specified amount is not inclusive of the expenditure on the war on terror. But the same equation works there too. More than 95% of the spending of the government is paid to its own citizens – as salaries and procurement charges. And it opens up the market for its powerful GDP generators. That way the US dollar is not only staying safe inside the US, but also sowed and harvested from the fertile desserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m not ignoring the cost of human lives, but that’s only worth the labour it can contribute, and is a cause of spending than earning, in a capitalist system.

While we are at it, let’s talk a thing about capitalism. It was on this day, in 1967, Ernesto Che Guevara was shot dead and buried under a runway in Bolivia. 40 years after his murder, that famous portrait of Guevara for which the photographer Alberto Korda never received any royalties, is merchandised on anything and everything imaginable. From vodka bottles to bikinis. Many Catholics in Bolivia pray to the legend that the call Saint Ernesto of La Higuera, and the Christ of Vellegrande. “Shoot me, coward you are only going to kill a man,” Guevara had told his executioner. This solider, Mario Teran, received a free cataract operation by Cuban doctors under Cuba-Venezuela Operation Miracle programme, last year. And the news of it is being now celebrated in Cuba as a great act of unconditional forgiveness of the revolutionaries. Guevara proved to be a failure not just in Congo and Bolivia. More than a man was killed. If not then, by now.

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At Tue Oct 09, 11:03:00 pm, Blogger D said...

I'm ill-equipped to say much on this topic except there never could be such a thing as a peaceful weapon that they're trying to create. And considering that war is more about money than anything else, the stats from US don't comes as a surprise at all!

At Sat Oct 13, 11:23:00 am, Blogger Ridwan said...

Hola Jubin George:

What is up brother?

Nice post man, the US is a country fixated on violence. Even in times of peace, the US needs to construct an enemy.

In fact, if you look at their history there has never been a time when the US existed without and enemy, real or imagined.

And when there is a lull, they turn on the Blacks or other people of color.

The funny thing is that even their national anthem is about "bombs" falling.

This is a nation founded on genocidal violence and maintained on the same.

And they wonder why folks are so violent here. Kids walking into schools and mowing folks down.

Stuff can't change though since the arrogance level is so high that fault is not an American thing.

Be well brother. And holla when you can.

Peace and struggle,

At Sat Oct 13, 02:07:00 pm, Blogger SARANSH said...

lovely job

wud u like 2 xchange link with me

At Sun Oct 14, 01:41:00 am, Blogger Jubin George said...

D: I guess, everyone believes that anything comes out of that country has a stink of business plan to it.

Ridwan: I don't think it's only about the attitude of violence. Violence and aggression are very natural instincts. And is there in every community in varying degrees. What I would accuse of the US is employing coldblooded violence after carefully weighing its value in terms of profits alone.

Saransh: Thank you for dropping in.

At Sun Oct 14, 11:10:00 pm, Blogger Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

A very informative piece ...

At Mon Oct 15, 05:56:00 pm, Blogger dharmabum said...

a complicated post - us bum kinds don't unnerstand world politik and al, bro :P

but yeah - what a horrible thing to invent.

and i couldn't help laughing at the reference to countries with 'questionable human rights records'...

At Mon Oct 15, 11:41:00 pm, Anonymous Clash said...

Ha this is interesting! Skipping through pages of some American Alternate media journals gives us an idea as what their corporates are up to. Sometimes it is very disgusting and you might end up in having an aversion towards yourself, when you come to know various startling facts.
I read www.alternet.org, www.commondreams.org, www.radicalleft.org and some other websites like these continously for 6 months, it left me with a sheer sense of disgust. I stopped reading some of them now, i just cant take it. These subterfuges they invent are incomprehesible, why and for what? Is it to curb dissent? If so, where is it heading? I really have no clue, these kind of questions raise serious fear in me.

A shock and awe treatment for Iran might help the depriciating Dollar. War seem to be an inevitable reality, a method to keep the world away from a recession and more over 40 cents of every dollar payed as taxes goes to these "war corporations" .Its just business!

Wonderful post!! I liked the Catch22 reference, Joseph Heller was prophetic to say the least.

At Tue Oct 16, 01:39:00 am, Blogger Jubin George said...

Arun: Nice to see you here again!

Dharmabum: Did I make it too complicated? It's not very complicated. It's only a bit Orwellian. War is peace. Destruction is prosperity.

Clash: I do check the sites you mentioned, once in a while. There are quite a few of them. And I guess, it's safe to assume that at least half, if not complete, they say is true. Even that's horrible enough.

Another funny thing about the US economy is, it's the other countries like India, China, Japan and Brasil, who get more worried than the US itself when the dollar falters. The reason: all these countries have invested huge amounts in US bonds to 'safeguard' their own economies. These figures are often bigger than the FDI inflows of these countries. Only that's good for the US is good for the world!

At Tue Oct 16, 09:47:00 pm, Blogger GuNs said...

This is a very well written insight into the things that are deemed acceptable in the modern definition of society. As I can quote the great Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame), "History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That's why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices." - Calvin & Hobbes (Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat p152)

The article on Thich Quang Duc was so moving that I decided to link it on my blog too.

Do drop in a leave a comment if you can ever spare time to visit. http://peacewithguns.blogspot.com


At Fri Oct 19, 07:18:00 am, Blogger Ridwan said...

Hello Jubin George:

The Tourist Boycott of Australia Petition has reached its target date. We were able to record 123 signatures. I will prepare a report and send it to Howard and others.

Thank you for your work on this petition.

Peace and struggle,

At Fri Oct 19, 04:42:00 pm, Blogger Jubin George said...

Ridwan: That's not a very bad number! And, it's Howard's last chance to do something.

guns: Stuffed tigers do really get animated in the real world! We need more calvins to handle them.

At Mon Oct 22, 03:13:00 pm, Blogger Kiran said...

I like your blog.Your blog is nice. I think you should add your blog at www.blogadda.com and let more people discover your blog. It's a great place for Indian bloggers to be in and I am sure it would do wonders for your blog.Keep writing.

At Thu Oct 25, 04:55:00 am, Blogger Ridwan said...

Jubin we have decided to keep our Petition going. I have submitted letters to Prime Minister Howard and Minister Ian McFarlane.

Please see Tom's post below.


Peace and struggle,


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