Compound Warfare: An Anthology

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These seven are listed in the tolkAppiyam as:. Even the metaphors had conventionalized schemes of signification. Of course, the analysis developed over the centuries, and by the time the anthologies of sangam literature were compiled c. But what is striking to the modern reader is that, as in China, by the first centuries CE, not only had these large body of poems been composed, but there was a poetic sensibility refined enough to order these into genres of akam and puRam and then these many tenai or mood categories.

Clearly this is the tip of a much older oral tradition that persisted for many centuries in Tamil verse. Further, a large number of the Sangam poems were translated later into Sanskrit and may have also influenced tropes in classical sanskrit poetry. War and drinking In terms of content, it is interesting to note the extent to which the poems are soaked through with toddy. The warrior king is forever indulging in his favourite toddy, made from palm, mohua flowers and other fruits.

It is regularly drunk before battles poem and to fight off "shivers and chills" Strong liquor is clearly more heroic "aged toddy strong as the sting of a scorpion", After drink, the warrior-king becomes more generous with his gifts , and a shared drink is a sign of bonding , etc. A couple of poems mention wine, which was brought to them by the yavanas greeks. When it hits, the drone pilot can see the extent of the destruction on the ground but hear nothing.

Meanwhile, the child on the ground is barraged by sound. In Drone: remote control warfare Hugh Gusterson opens with exactly the same comparison but to a different effect — and one that resonates with Killbox. A technology that is almost magical gives its owners, who are looking on the scene from high in the sky, a godlike power over life and death.

Compound Warfare: That Fatal Knot

The observation of the scene is simultaneously intimate and remote. It is also deeply asymmetrical: Mehsud, unaware of his exposure, is watched by faraway drone operators who can see him as if close up, reclining on the roof of his house on a hot evening as his wife attends to his medical needs. They get to frame the picture while he does not even realize he is in it. Seen from Virginia, the drone strike is quick, clean, and bloodless.

Nor, described unambiguously as a terrorist, does he seem undeserving of death. The other deaths are almost outside the frame. And in a way that amplifies the strange mix of distance and intimacy, the scene is mediated entirely through a single sense—vision. The attack has no sound, smell, taste, or texture. And we are invited to experience it through a narrative of mastery and control—of the cool, righteous exercise of overwhelming power.

This account is from the point of view of the victims, not the executioners. We share the experience of those who do not even realize that they are in the crosshairs until they are attacked. The account emphasizes the sudden incomprehensible eruption of violent force, literally out of the blue, in a warm scene of familial togetherness on an important holy day. We are led to experience the drone strike through multiple senses, of which sight may be the least salient: we are told about the blackness of the smoke, the sound of the screaming, the smell of the explosion, the sensation of the ground trembling, and the pain of shrapnel wounds.

It is a narrative of helplessness, terror, and injustice.


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This mute world of dumb figures moving about on a screen has particular consequences for how we experience the image. The gaze hovers above in silence.

The Road to D-Day

The detachment that critics of drone operations worry about comes partially from the silence of the footage. Because drones are able to hover at or above 30 thousand feet, they are mostly invisible to the people below them. But they can be heard. Many people from the tribal areas of Pakistan FATA describe the sound as a low-grade, perpetual buzzing, a signal that a strike could occur at any time.

The locals call the drones machar, mosquitos. Because the drone can surveil the area for hours at a time, and because each round of surveillance may or may not result in a strike, the fear and anxiety among civilians is diffuse and chronic. That sense of optical power is not necessarily one of detachment.

Ever since its invention, aviation has embodied the dream of perpetual peace between nations, yet the other side of this is the nightmare of an unprecedented deadly power. A power initially deployed on populations that the colonizers deemed too restive, it was then used to strike the cities of Europe and Japan during World War II. With air war it is now the people who are directly taken as target, the people as support for the war effort, and the sovereign people identified with the state.


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This amounts to a democratisation of war, and so blurs the distinction between war and peace. Air war thus brings together the major themes of the past century: the nationalization of societies and war, democracy and totalitarianism, colonialism and decolonization, Third World-ism and globalization, and the welfare state and its decline in the face of neoliberalism.

The history of aerial bombing offers a privileged perspective for writing a global history of the twentieth century. More in an interview with Charlie Smith from the Georgia Straigh t her e. This post draws on those discussions but also on a close reading of the redacted report of the US military investigation [all page references refer to that report], on work by investigative journalists, and on ancillary materials and commentaries.

For militarized vision , like any other optical modality, is never a purely technical affair. A series of cascading technical errors bedevilled the US attempt to re-take Kunduz from the Taliban, who had swept into the city a few days earlier, but these were compounded by a series of profoundly human decisions and interactions and it was the intimate entanglement of the technical and the human that determined the hideous outcome. At least 42 people were killed, including 24 patients, 14 medical staff and 4 caretakers.

Irregular military

Many others were wounded and traumatized. Here is Dr Evangeline Cua , a Philippina surgeon who was on duty when the attack started:. The nurses who were with us a moment ago had run outside the building, braving the volley of gunshots coming from above.

by Arie Perliger (April 2009)

I was coughing, half-choked by dust swirling around the area. Behind my surgical mask, my mouth was gritty, as if somebody forced me to eat sand. I could hear my breath rasping in and out. Layers of smoke coming from a nearby room made it hard to see where we were. He seemed mortally wounded but was still trying to send a message…perhaps to a loved one? I stood transfixed, not knowing where to turn or what to do. All around us, bombing continued in regular intervals, shaking the ground, sending debris sweeping and flying. I tried to count but there seems to be no abatement to the explosions.

I stopped counting at eight and silently prayed that we could get out of there alive. Fire licked at the roof at one end of the building, dancing and sparkling in the dark, reaching towards the branches of the trees nearby. The ICU was burning.

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Outside, only the constant humming from above pointed to the presence of something. An aircraft? Why the hospital? Why us? Then, without warning, another tremendous, ear splitting blast shook the building. The ceiling came crashing down on us and the last remaining lights were turned off, sending us to total darkness. I screamed in terror as wires pinned me to the ground. That was the last thing I could remember. What follows is an attempt to answer those questions. It is fraught with uncertainty: the most detailed investigation to date has been carried out by the US military, but the redacted version of the final report that has been released to the public is by the standards of other US military investigations profoundly unsatisfactory — redacted with a brutishly heavy hand.

A former Afghan special forces commander who was at the command and control center in Kunduz during the fight assured me I would never get to the bottom of the attack. By September the focus of US concern in Afghanistan was Helmand in the south — where the Taliban were on the ascendant, forcing Afghan government forces to retreat as they seized control of key districts and gained control of the Kajaki dam — and US Special Forces were rushed to Camp Bastion after the fall of Musa Qala gave the insurgents a strategic advantage.

But those previous operations in Kunduz had targeted Taliban operations areas and did not extend to support zones outside the city. Obeid Ali reports that during the summer the Taliban continued to make inroads until they controlled areas to the south west, north west and south east of the city.

In the face of the well-organised and coordinated insurgent operation, most held out for only a few hours. Kunduz was a spectacular, strategic prize : the first city to fall to the mujaheddin in and the first time the Taliban had seized a major city since , its capture signalled both a resilient Taliban and a faltering government footprint in the region.

Common Misconceptions - Technology & War

Like every Operational Detachment — Alpha OD-A it consisted of just 12 soldiers, all cross-trained and capable of operating for extended periods of time with little or no support. There were repeated US airstrikes against Taliban positions in and around the city throughout the day, but by the time the OD-A reinforcements, together with other Afghan troops including Afghan Special Security Forces below , arrived in the evening it was clear that the original plan was unworkable and their immediate priority had to be the defence of the airfield [, ].

It was in the eye of the storm. We all knew that at times, our hospital was in the middle of the rapidly changing front line — we could feel it. When the fighting was close — the shooting and explosions vibrated the walls. I was scared — we were all scared. We also tried to move the patients and large flammable oxygen bottles away all from the windows, but the layout of the ICU prohibited doing this effectively.

I worried constantly about the exposure from those windows — yet never thought to worry about the exposure from the roof. Most of the patients were civilians. By that night the Taliban announced that it was in control of the district. Kathleen Thomas described the scene:. The first day was chaos — more than patients poured through our doors in only a few hours. Despite the heroic efforts of all the staff, we were completely overwhelmed. Most patients were civilians, but some were wounded combatants from both sides of the conflict.

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