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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Shane Harris @War Repeats Racist Stereotypes

Despite its information-packed strengths, Shane Harris's @War appears to be another inside critique of the military-internet complex: when push comes to shove, the Foreign Policy writer opts for the old mentalities associated with the original 'military-industrial' complex: that, as Eisenhower warned, was potentially dangerous but also necessary - to protect America, freedom, civilisation and the West against the barbarians at the gates. This approach puts him squarely behind the conventional approach championed by American presidents since the beginning of the republic but especially since the social Darwinism of the late twentieth-century.

As the Anglo-Americans pulverised Korea through saturation bombing, 1950-53, dropping at least half the tonnage of bombs dropped on Germany throughout the Second World War, not to mention thousands of tons of napalm, and headed up towards the Yalu River bordering China, their leaders spoke of the sneaky methods of the Chinese and Koreans - fighting assymetrically as they were less well armed than the Americans, possessing few war planes, naval warships, missiles, tanks etc... They spoke about the lower value of Asian lives as there were 'so many of them'. They were willing to die in great numbers as a result while the Anglo-Americans valued life, though only their own, far more.

When General Douglas MacArthur's armies advanced at speed, theirs was heroic advance showing military prowess and strategic and tactical genius. When the Chinese entered the war, all the Anglo-Americans saw were "hordes" of Chinese, a rising tide, the 'yellow peril' inspired by Red fanaticism.

Shane Harris repeats the same old racist stereotypes and myths in @War: The Chinese cyber warriors are on the march. Apparently, and inexplicably, 'they' get really angry after events like the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War, and start retaliating via cyber warfare. And they filled official US government websites with 'anti-American' messages like: "Protest NATO's brutal action".

Any opposition or protest against US actions is therefore automatically 'anti-American' - bordering on racism - the 'anti-Semitism of the intellectuals'.

China's hackers are described as 'relentless... and shameless' and they know how to 'overwhelm' a more powerful enemy "by attacking his weaknesses with basic weapons." Probably unwittingly, Harris's argument chimes with the traditional narratives of the civilised Western ways of war with that of the barbarians: "Cyber espionage and warfare are just the latest examples in a long and, for the Chinese, proud tradition".

Forgotten, as inconvenient, was the guerilla warfare of the American patriots against English colonial armies during the War of Independence.

But what the Chinese do and think remains a "mystery" - the inscrutable East lives on; alien, different, beyond the pale, frustrating to the Western mind.

In the end, they are just a "Chinese cyber horde" motivated by "national pride" - unlike truly patriotic Americans motivated by a just cause.

In the Korean War, the advancing "Chinese hordes" - which on the spot war journalists showed to be an entirely spurious claim - were considered targets for atomic warfare.

The most critical, liberal elements of the military-internet complex today, like their military-industrial' complex counterparts of yesteryear, remain saturated in racialised and imperial thinking, threatened by any force, state or power that does not think or act like them.

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