08 August 2009

Music as a Weapon of War

"We tend to have a misconception about music—
that it is this thing that delights the senses, elevates
the spirit. While I like that idea, it is only part of
what music has been." ~ Jonathan Pieslak

When I think of the intersection of popular music and war I think about something like Tom Waits singing "The Day After Tomorrow." Unsurprisingly, my perspective is somewhat skewed.
Jonathan Pieslak is a music professor who has written what sounds like an interesting - actually, pretty frightening - book on the ways American military personnel in Iraq use music, as it seems to me, mostly to antagonize and terrorize civilian populations. He was the subject of this profile at The New Yorker. There is a website that is an advert for the book here.

I posted earlier today on the legal battle over whether the military should be required to release photographs of prisoner abuse and torture. The claim by those who think not is that the images will create increased hostility to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. If what Pieslak reveals is vaguely true, the images are the least of our problems in that regard. The problem is that our "boys in uniform" create all sorts of images that will stiffen resistance to their mission.

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