FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Shock and Awe as Sexual Fantasy

It is surely predictable that Harlan K. Ullman, the author of Shock & Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance (Published by National Defense University, 1996), has been named by D.C. madam, Deborah Palfrey, as one of her regular customers. Palfrey denies that her business provides sexual services for its customers and Ullman has simply labeled the claim “beneath the dignity of comment” and referred all questions to his lawyers. Nevertheless, Ullman’s possible use of Palfrey’s business, which her lawyer describes as “adult sexual fantasy” are a complete analogue to his military strategy which depends centrally on a misguided sexual fantasy of virile, masculinist domination as D/s.

That testosterone guided displays of manly vigor, more than military intelligence, have guided the botched invasion of Iraq, is not news. Reinforcing gender dichotomies has been central to the promotion of colonialism and imperialism for some time. Vowing cowboy-like to “smoke out” Osama, jumping atop a navy carrier with a “mission accomplished” speech, the dodge drafting President has encouraged marines to continue overzealous manly missions like “saving” Jessica Lynch with overwhelming, Rambo-like force.

Small wonder, then, that top advisers savored the male-dominance recipes of Shock & Awe as they pondered the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Ullman became a regular on TV shows. No older George Bush wimp factor here. Ullman’s strategy is a competition for masculinity, an anxious display of virility. He writes: “Physical dominance includes the ability to destroy, disarm, disrupt, neutralize, and to render impotent.”

The doctrine is to apply “massive or overwhelming force” “in order to disarm, incapacitate, or render the enemy militarily impotent.” Hence Ullman describes the “shock” of Blitzkreig as male sexual penetration: “The image is that of a shaped charge, penetrating through a relatively tiny hold in a tank’s armor and then exploding outwardly…”

But Ullman didn’t simply follow the time-worn rhetoric of describing war through male conquest. The fantasy is that shock produces awe. Ullman wrote glowingly about the bombings of civilians in Guernica and the bombings of Hiroshima which the ordinary mind could simply not comprehend and which “produced a state of awe.”

Shock & Awe was nothing if not sadism written as a fantasy of D/s where the partner masochistically desires dominance, is awed by it. Little wonder that Ullman might well be the most regular customer of the sexual fantasy service. Our war strategists need the fantasy of shock and awe to continue keeping troops in Iraq.

Unfortunately, instead of “awe” what seems to be getting produced is a castrating “saw.” Time to bring the troops home.

MALINI JOHAR SCHUELLER is a professor at the department of English at the University of Florida where she teaches courses on American literature culture. Her latest book, co-edited with Ashley Dawson is titled “Exceptional State: Contemporary US Culture and the New Imperialism” and is forthcoming from Duke University Press in June 2007.

 

 

More articles by:
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail