The military stratagem known as Shock and Awe is not just for wars anymore.
Dazed and Confused
During the Gulf war of the early 1990's, the American public was introduced to both a relatively new kind of warfare, and the terminology used to describe it. Called, shock and awe, the idea was to strike an enemy with such swift and overwhelming intensity, employing multitudes of weaponry, that our adversaries would be left incapacitated, dazed and utterly confused during the early stages of an attack. During WWII, the Nazis had utilized a similar technique known as blitzkrieg, or "lightning war".
In the South Vietnamese jungles of the 1960's and early seventies, massive airstrikes by heavily laden B-52 bombers dispensed a similar effect, unloading endless tons of high-explosive bombs on enemy troops and civilians alike, disorienting them, shocking and awing them, terrifying them. The ploy was nearly successful and had all but ended the Vietnam war in America's favor--until the public suffered its own form of shock and awe based on high casualty rates and a less-than-hawkish news media.
Fast forward to a disturbing repeat of history when American television audiences were once again exposed to the hellish death and destruction wrought by a military whose primary purpose was victory, and only secondarily a concern for so-called collateral damage. And again, the gambit of shock and awe had won the day, if only temporarily. But shaken and distressed by graphic scenes of war, worse than those of any natural disaster, Americans once more welcomed the pursuit of compassion over total victory. And once more defeat was snatched from the jaws of triumph, so to speak.
As most any military general might advise, stratagems such as shock and awe are only productive when subsequent measures of reconstruction and education are implemented in ways similar to the forces and powers of destruction which had been brought to bear initially.
In the case of the Middle East wars, huge swathes of land, peoples, and opportunities were left unattended, uncultivated, and in too many instances, those sympathetic to American interests were abandoned to the wrath of unconquered, unswayed foes.
In the tragic wake of these repetitive military and political debacles, a new kind of devastating shock and awe is now in play. Presently global in its proportions, the rise of numerous terror organizations such as Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS, in combination with more focused groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, now deliver unimaginable doses of death and destruction to television and internet users the world over--on a daily basis.
Conflicts, skirmishes, and even wars are no longer temporary, brief, or concluded via clear winners and losers. The waters of world events are today murky and the color of blood, oceans of blood that fill basins that, like great bomb craters, are left over by battles in which permanent victories were never the objective.
Denial and a dazed civilian public -- a work-in-progress, to be continued. Stay tuned.