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Friday, July 22, 2005

Overwhelming democracy

The US military will be introducing a "Star Wars" style gun in Iraq next year, despite concerns over its effectiveness and safety. MSNBC reports: "The Active Denial System weapon, classified as “less lethal” by the Pentagon, fires a 95-gigahertz microwave beam at rioters to cause heating and intolerable pain in less than five seconds. The idea is that people caught in the beam will rapidly try to move out of it and therefore break up the crowd."

New Scientist has published concerns about the weapon. "How do you ensure that the dose doesn’t cross the threshold for permanent damage?" asks Neil Davison, coordinator of the non-lethal weapons research project at Britain’s Bradford University. "Does the weapon cut out to prevent overexposure?"

Is this the kind of weapon Australian troops may be using during their deployment in Iraq? Will any journalists actually ask the Defence Minister this question? Unlikely. Much easier, as the Sydney Morning Herald pontificates today, to simply mouth official platitudes and champion the US goal of bringing democracy to the country, whatever the costs.


Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

Only one thing to say about this - propaganda-induced diversion. This is akin to the marketing of smart weaponry. It's principle aim is to 'show' that the US tries its darndest to only target the bad guys and minimise harm. Similar arguments were made about the atom bomb around the time of Hiroshima and Nagaski when ‘marketing’ it to the public (obviously the message to the USSR was slightly different). That, somehow, even this most lethal of weapons would actually save lives.

More useful is to ask, what are Americans doing in Iraq using their ray guns in the first place?

Of course, also remember that billions of American taxpayer dollars go into researching new ways to be violent (well the ultimate aim is to subsidise big business, but violence is one of the corollaries of that. It's what they call the Pentagon System). In other words, if you don't keep spending it on eccentric new technologies, not to mention constantly finding new enemies to blow up, the military budget risks being reduced.

Ok so that's more than one thing.

Friday, July 22, 2005 8:55:00 pm  
Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Agreed with Iqbal that this is a diversion.

The question is not -- is this safe?

The question is -- why are we, as a human race, spending all this money to find more ways to be violent to each other? Why are we not focusing on eliminating the reasons why we are violent to each other?

Saturday, July 23, 2005 12:03:00 am  

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