Shock and awe? Sounds familiar

AMatthew Mecklenburg As has been propagated across every pundit’s lips, the United States has adopted a “new” tactic of shock and awe. Perpetually mispronounced, this tactic is based on the idea that scaring your enemy into surrender is not only feasible, but also desirable to reduce casualties and collateral damage. Not shockingly, this tactic has been tried before, the most obvious example being a little bombing campaign in February 1945 in which a similar cadre of allied forces bombed the militarily unimportant city of Dresden.

A few parallels cannot be drawn. First, shock and awe is not the indiscriminate carpet bombing of a civilian city. Second, shock and awe is not designed to result in the firestorm that brought one of Germany’s cultural hubs to lie in embers. However, the use of scare tactics as justification for a bombing strategy is even more morally repugnant than going to war with a county who failed to prove it was not a threat, while it was trying to disarm and without U.N. approval. To terrorize a city through a massive spectacle of might is, at best, an infrequent insurer of a government’s changing. This tactic of shock and awe worked against the Japanese in World War II. But no matter how many civilians were bombed in Germany, the same tactic did not work. One can easily make the macabre argument that in order to force the powers that be in either country to make a decision regarding surrender, hundreds of thousands of civilian lives needed to be extinguished. This argument reasons that the Japanese government was more reasonable than the Germans’ in regards to loss of life in World War II. This administration has made it clear Saddam Hussein cannot be reasoned with. Logically, the United States should not try to rely on tactics that appeal to his reasonableness.

When the United States is in the process of changing regimes in Iraq, when we are placing ourselves in the position of setting up a postwar relationship with Iraq’s people, we should not try a ploy of terrorizing their leaders. By bombing with shock and awe, the people we are trying to help are the only ones who will be afraid.

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