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Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2007 at 1:30 PM
"Shock and Awe" is what the media and pentagon called the bombardment of Baghdad by U.S. forces at the start of the 2003 Persian Gulf War. We remember the horrible visuals well, just as we remember, in graphic detail, our own shock and awe event on September 11, 2001, when we were treated to the first in a series of psychological trauma for the new the "War on Terror" PR campaign. All of these horrible events were designed to turn us, and Iraqis, into pliable infants, willing to let our government do whatever they want in order to "protect us."
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Many of us picked up early on how this shock therapy was being used to remake society to the benefit of the planners of these events, however, we just didn't know the root philosophy or the faces behind the doctrine. Now Naomi Klein helps us fill in the holes to our understanding with her new tour de force book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
Based on years of research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, Klein outlines for us how the "shock doctrine" is used an instrument of foreign and domestic policy to reengineer the political/economic landscapes of the world. Here is a quote from Naomi Klein's website on how it works:
"At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts.... New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets."
The book traces the Shock Doctrine's origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay."
Klein also writes in October's Harpers Magazine, "Disaster Capitalism" on how this reengineering by the elite is radically remaking the United States government by destroying the "New Deal" programs put in place by Franklin D. Roosevelt, in favor of pay-as-you-go privatized services by corporations. In effect, she outlines, that those that can afford good schools, health care, policing and fire department services will get them; and those that can't will have to try and survive with the decaying public-sector programs and infrastructure. She writes that what is being planned is the setting up of two parallel forms of government—one for the rich and one for poor.
Though I think Naomi has done a phenomenal work of research here, there is just one criticism I have regarding her conclusions as to who or what are behind these "shock" events. She lays out in Harpers that she doesn't believe these disasters are the work of conspiracies, with, perhaps, the exception of Iraq:
"The disaster-capitalism complex does not deliberately scheme to create the cataclysms on which it feeds (though Iraq may be a notable exception), but there is plenty of evidence that its component industries work very hard indeed to make sure that current disastrous trends continue unchallenged."
Naomi, I hope you will examine September 11, 2001 as much as you have examined this "shock doctrine". If you do, you will note that many of these disasters are man-made -- from the 9/11 event itself, to the Reichstag Fire, to the Gulf of Tonkin and Pearl Harbor -- these events where either planned and carried out or instigated by people who wanted war. With such a level of understanding it will bring a whole new level of Machiavellian insight to your research.
In hindsight, the "shock doctrine" shouldn't surprise us more jaded individuals; the fact that the people that are behind this doctrine and are still getting away with it is the more shocking still.
Thanks Naomi for the great research into the twisted philosophy of unchecked corporate capitalism.
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