what do we know about unmarked-category war

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Fri, 14 Oct 1994 20:29:47 CDT

at Chicago, for calling to my attention the extent of ritualized gesticulation
which occurs in "our" own warfare, that is to say, "unmarked-category" warfare
[or in terms of the categories I used yesterday, Advanced warfare, by reference
to what I might have called Historic or Backward warfare, i.e., that of the
agrarian state-systems, and Primitive War, whatever that is]: Ritualized
gesticulation is sometimes thought a characteristic of Primitive War. (Once I
sat in on an anthropology class to see a film the instructor was showing about
war between a couple of Papua New Guinea tribes. There was much yelling and
shouting; also much waving of spears in the air; and nobody much got hurt.
The sense of the film was that this was a type case of Primitive War.)

David Beer illustrated his point by reference to the dropping of nuclear
weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was allegedly presented to the Japanese
as a gestural token of more generalized devastation which might occur were not
surrender fortcoming immediately. There were other conjectural options, such as
dropping the weapons on an uninhabited place, or not dropping them at all to
preclude the precedent elsewise set.
The gesticulation dimension was, however, far more complex than David Beer
It was not revealed to the US population at the time, August 1945, that the
Japanese government was making desperate efforts to sue for peace at almost any
price prior to the resort to nuclear weapons. Instead, it was represented to
the US population that dropping nuclear weapons was the only way to prevent the
US ground forces from incurring a projected million and a half casualties in a
presumptively necessary and inevitable invasion of the Japanese Home Islands.
Second, it was not revealed that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki weapons
represented two of the three total stockpiled atomic bombs available for use
at that time.
Third, Gabriel Kolko, in Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam, citing the
Stimson Diaries, found that the dropping of nuclear weapons on Japan was used
as a crude and unsuccessful bluff to cajole Stalin out of his crude and
successful imposition of a pro-Communist government on Poland at the Potsdam
Conference, also in August 1945.
Fourth, the dropping of nuclear weapons induced a euphoria of omnipotence
in the US population, the puncturing whereof was later to contribute to the
intensity of the McCarthyite hysteria (including the bizarre Rosenberg spy
case). The extent to which this omnipotence-euphoria was intended is unknown;
Henry Luce's coinage, "The American Century," is, however, a historic fact.

Case 2 is more recent. That is the Second US Occupation of Haiti (where
the first lasted from 1915 to 1934), still in progress at this time. This
is a political event so seemingly bizarre and overlaid with multiple layers
of propaganda that, at about the time it began, I sent in a contrivedly
ludicrous post about "post-political-correctness," in part as a cryptic
Personal Statement, and in part to test for the extent, if any at all, of
disoriented weirdness on this list. (The Progressive Sociologists Network
had, by that time, stabilized in a condition of nicely balanced utter
ambivalence, suffused by bombastic rhetoric and Paranoid quests for
"imperialist" ulterior motives.)

For this writer, at any rate, the ritualization and gesticulation
associated with the Haitian occupation reached the point of "signification
saturation," say, or perhaps let's try "semic overload." (Most of you were
to all intents and purposes reacting with benumbed apathy; but after all,
this is *your* culture, not mine.)

Here is more of my subjective reaction, as posted to another list, as of
October 10; the context was, perhaps I'm mistaken, the hypotheses adduced
to account for untoward behaviour exhibited by otherwise Responsible persons
on that list, the Haitian Invasion Ambience Hypothesis vs the Zodiac
Hypothesis. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, there are quite analogous
Thingies occurring on ANTHRO-L; and culture, we know, is a screwy thing,
pardon my language.

> This morning someone scrawled on the subway wall, in the pedestrian tunnel
>between State and Dearborn, "The Revolution Has Begun," which was slighly less
>absurd than usual. On Saturday, there was a front page story about the
>Col. Biamby, who had organized the Haitian "attaches," the toughs who scared
>off the last US invasion threat in 1993, having been on the CIA payroll. Today,
>the papers said that this same personage, with the junta leader, General
>Cedras, were going to retire any day now. Also, that a pro-junta attache-type
>killer drove a van through a pro-Aristide crowd, deliberately running over
>as many people as possible, and killing fourteen. Another day in what is
>perhaps the most bizarre military escapade in US history. Not because of
>the country invaded, we've been there before, 1915-1934, but because of
>the reasons for it, some of which may still be unknown to the president
>of the united states himself. Understand, this is not a war. War, we know,
>was averted because Jimmy Carter, announcing, "I'm ashamed of the policy of
>my own government," which was that Clinton, not Carter, was supposed to get
>the credit, struck a Deal, specifics unknown, with two seconds remaining on
>the clock. So Operation Uphold Democracy <choke choke> went ahead with the
>approval, not the resistance, of the government it was supposed to replace,
>a matter of no practical importance.
> On the pretext of preventing a horde of starving refugees of the wrong
>color from reaching the lush white abundance of Florida, which is much too
>good for them, the government was forced to act, "We must act," Clinton said,
>for fear of not appearing to be passively doing nothing, as opposed to moving
>forward, dynamically, doing nothing, as it is trying to do now, and may not
>succeed. Because the government which came to power in 1991 in a CIA-supported
>coup, I mean, in Haiti, is intensely unpopular, I mean, again, in Haiti. Your
>government, you recall, came to power in 1993 as a result of what we politely
>call "the democratic process" but do not know, really, what it is. The
>government, people, are those you pay to run the State. The State is something
>you pay for to be real enough to shoot you. It also, in principle, is paid to
>make more sense than the zodiac. The failure of this assumption to hold is
>part of what helps [name of astrologer deleted] make a living.

The Economist ran, on the cover of its Sept 28 issue, a picture of the
President of the United States captioned "Meet Jimmy Clinton."

What do you think, perhaps there is much yet to learn about [Advanced] War
in [Advanced] culture.

Daniel A. Foss
<who is not slandering anyone these days>