Food for thought: pain weapons

I was just reading a little blurb at BoingBoing that had to do with plasma-based, non-lethal weaponry that the US government is working on. They have been developing non-lethal weapons for some time, sticky sprays that glom onto adversaries, high-powered stink bombs to drive away crowds, directed energy weapons that cause intense pain (euphemistically called Active Denial Systems), etc.

In a Clausewitz-ian sense, it illustrates that the true objective of nation-state warfare is about control and establishing authority rather than destruction and violence, even if violence is used to gain those objectives. Non-lethal weaponry also provides arguable benefit for those seeking authority via force:

  1. Diminishes outrage at civilian casualties due to non-lethal means of coercion. This prevents using these casualties as justifications for violent opposition or revenge.
  2. Insulates armed-forces from internal problems of conscience due to diminished deadly violence.
  3. Non-lethal force can be applied widely and with less discrimination.
  4. Negates the effectiveness of mass gathering or “protests”. Dispersal is effective and immediate.
  5. Forces who use non-lethal weaponry can cloak themselves under a non-violent moralism. In other words, occupation forces would draw a moral distinction between themselves and armed insurgents.

One comment

  1. You forgot to mention the brown sound.