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Kidd Millennium: Shock 'N Awe

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By Ron Callari

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since the US's first pre-emptive strike on Iraq and still no sign of that new boy band "Shock "Nawe". American patriots and war protestors alike have been glued to their TV sets like moths to a flame to catch a glimpse of this new ultimate Reality Show. Leaked by the Department of Defense and hyped by the media, this much heralded fireworks display over the skies of Baghdad fizzled out with only one "decapitation" bombing (missing Saddam's head by miles) and a couple of misguided Bush Bunker Busters.

Is this all that our taxpayer dollars can muster up? I've seen better hi-tech performances at a U2 concert.

Is shock and awe shuck and jive?

Wartime rhetoric is almost always euphemistic to make it more palatable for us average Joes to absorb. In World War II, "resettlement" really meant imprisonment, where today, we talk about "detainment" (as if we only have a few questions, before we send POWs on their merry way). In recent conflicts, civilian casualties was termed "collateral damage"; destruction of water supplies, electricity and road systems is known as "targeted attacks on the military infrastructure"; and bombs strategically inserted into terra firma are "surgical strikes."

But the much-ballyhooed detonation of a city populated by millions of men, women, and children actually sounded like a kid's video game entitled "Shock and Awe."

In actuality, the battle plan was based on a concept developed at the National Defense University. It's was called "Shock and Awe" because it focused on the psychological destruction of the enemy's will to fight rather than the physical destruction of his military forces.

They were calling it "A-Day," -- not to be confused with the "D" or "V" days of previous wars. "A as in "airstrikes" was supposed to be so devastating that it would leave Saddam's soldiers' quaking in their boots, unable and unwilling to return a volley. A sort of pre-emptive farewell to arms!

However when all is said and done, what is shock and awe other than another form of terrorism? A way to get Saddam and his forces terrified into submission.

So we fight fire with fire? Will it work? Is our method of shock and awe any different from the Al Qaeda's attack on the World Trade Center? I don't think so. That didn't get us to stop fighting - it only incensed a large population of this country into rage and an insatiable thirst for revenge.

And so the escalation begins. If the most pronounced example of shock and awe was the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, what says we will not descend once again to those depths of inhumanity?

Supposedly, our administration's position in Iraq is to proactively counter what Saddam would have done to us first.

Yet, here we sit several weeks later and while the mainstream media says we have been militarily successful, Saddam's hidden weapons of mass destruction are no where to be found. Backed into a corner, don't you think he would have pulled one or two out of his pocket?

Ironically the origins of shock and awe date back several thousand years, when Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese military philosopher wrote in the Art of War that the best way to win a battle was to not fight it.

Harlan Ullman, a longtime war strategist latched onto this ancient haiku and shared it with the Bushites. He called it "rapid dominance," or "shock and awe." The idea was to scare the enemy to death at the onset. To win, you don't need to inflict physical pain and destruction. The fear of pain would be enough to scare the be-Jesus (or the be-Allah) out of the enemy and in so doing you win without fighting.

Ullman's analysis of Bush is a guy who has had three epiphanies in his life -- "His decision to give up drink, his decision to embrace God, and Sept. 11." And this has proven to be a mighty potent elixir for a president that swung into office on a wing and prayer.

If all this leaves you awestruck, then the new Zen of today's administration has enlightened you. As time will tell, all the Bushies want out of this war is to frighten the whole world into submission, so no one will dare retaliate. Let our enemies be as mad as hell, just so long as they know who is the meanest, baddest son of a bitch on the planet.

That is a fundamentalist point of view and one the US has embraced. And Bush et al seriously believes it is the first step in putting an end to all future wars? I suppose

Hannibal and Hitler believed it too.


Ron Callari is a freelance journalist and editorial cartoonist who resides in Jersey City, New Jersey. He and co-creator Jack Pittman produce kidd millennium cartoons weekly.

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