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Re: <nettime> Saskia Sassen: Cities and new wars: after Mumbai
Jonathan Lukens on Fri, 5 Dec 2008 20:32:07 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Saskia Sassen: Cities and new wars: after Mumbai


> These contrasts have many origins: the actual and theorized  
> relationships between cities and their surroundings, the need for  
> invading forces to establish strongholds close enough to support  
> command and logistics needs, the various technical capacities of  
> forces in conflict (of which there are, as often as not, many),  
> styles of warfare that are much more complex than the simplistic  
> dichotomy of a/symmetrical warfare, efforts to manipulate media  
> (regional, global, sympathetic, etc), and so on. Take, for example,  
> the Vietnam War. Films of American bombers dropping bombs in pairs  
> seemingly at random across the Viet countryside have become a  
> generic symbol of a futile effort to "bomb them back into the stone  
> age" or "turn the country into a parking lot" -- two strikingly  
> different historical vectors, yes? But this bombing wasn't random in  
> some euphemistic sense of the term akin to "random violence,"  
> rather, it was *systematically random*: the purpose of this approach  
> to bombing, which left deep craters, was to disrupt rural water  
> tables and thereby drain rice paddies. This, in conjunction with  
> chemical warfare (Agent Orange is well-known, Agent Blue, Agent  
> White and others less so) and armored bulldozers formed the doctrine  
> of "Landscape Management": an effort to deny the Viet Cong any and  
> every form of cover -- physical, social, nutritional -- *in order to  
> urbanize them*.

It's worth noting that many of the pipe-dreams tied to the goal of  
"persistent area dominance" in the so-called revolution in military  
affairs -- Darpa's "Combat Zones that See" or "Heterogeneous Urban  
RSTA" for example -- and the related emphasis on urban warfare or  
urban "battlespaces" are informed by a concern that the organization  
of urban spaces limits the effectiveness of precision conventional  
weapons (that's smart bombs to you and me)**. The denial of "any and  
every form of cover" that you mention as a means of forced  
urbanization underlies some of the emphasis on urbanization in  
current .mil wanking. Just goes to show you that the folks who drop  
the bombs aren't satisfied either way.

**See Stephen Graham's article Robowar Dreams (afaik locked away in  
some overpriced proprietary database) for a good overview.


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