The Frayed Ends of Sanity

Heavy Metal, it is well known, has long been used as a psychological weapon. The Taliban, it is also well known, have outlawed music when they held power in the late 1990s. Logically, that makes the Mullahs even more vulnerable to dry guitar riffs and fast drums. Now U.S. special forces are escalating, probably inspired by Luftwaffe tactics.

During the Marjah offensive a few weeks ago, U.S. Special Forces apparently used The Offspring, Metallica and Thin Lizzy to “piss off the Taliban,” according to one officer. In recent days the 82nd Airborne has taken the tactic to its next step: a YouTube-enhanced spoof of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.” The clip has been making the rounds and is approaching 4m views on YouTube. Presumably with many flabbergasted Taliban and al-Qaeda viewers among the stunned audience.

But it is a little know fact that the German Luftwaffe has pioneered the brutal tactic in 2007. Their tune — Olaf Henning’s “Cowboy und Indianer” — is far more devastating than, say, Rammstein’s “Heirate Mich.” The Germano-pop boasts unmistakably suggestive undertones, “Komm’ hol’ das Lasso raus,” or “come get the lasso out.” Without doubt a crippling blow to the Mullahs’ morale. Most lethal are the phallic missiles, I’d say.

Watch your back, Talib.


13 thoughts on “The Frayed Ends of Sanity

  1. Kenneth Payne says:

    In Morrissey we Brits surely have the ultimate weapon in psychological warfare…. Perfect for instilling ennui and a sense of general hopelessness in any adversary.

    • Madhu says:

      “In Morrissey we Brits surely have the ultimate weapon in psychological warfare…. Perfect for instilling ennui and a sense of general hopelessness in any adversary.”

      Ha ha. It’s funny because it’s true.

      (Somehow, the man has gone from depicting the ennui of youth to the ennui of middle-age, seamlessly. Was there ever any period of non-ennui? How did he do that?)

    • Tom Wein says:

      There is a rare work of fizzy sherbert-pop about the joy of a being a toddler.

  2. I wonder whether boy-band spoofs had any particular psychological effect on pacifying spoilers and conducting peacekeeping in Kosovo.

    In fact, with lyrics such as ‘oh in Kosovo; we’ll kick some ass and then see how it goes’ or ‘every time we go to little places like Kosovo, we never really know what happens after we go – tough luck for Kosovo’ — never mind the water-fight — I think it was actually the Norwegian government and ministry of defence that got the most rattled.

    • Thomas Rid says:

      Respect! That sets the bar pretty high. No doubt, the Norwegians live up to their tough reputation.

    • Not to hijack this thread, but having now read up on it, it appears the Norwegian PSYOP backfired in all directions:

      It was very helpful for the resulting outrage that the Serbian subtitles transformed Milosevic (who was addressed quite mildly with “you sorry son of a bitch”) into Miloš Obilić: a Serbian hero from 14th century Kosovo, or to be more precise, from the Battle of Kosovo (or Amselfeld, perceived as quite a big thing throughout the whole Kosovo issue) where he died on 28 June 1389.

      Slobodan Samardžić,8 since 2001 Professor for European Science and then-counsellor of Serbian Prime Minister Koštunica, stated according to AFP that the clip suggested the NATO mission – being allegedly impartial – was biased: “Such things only help the Serbian side to prove that there is no security in Kosovo, no respect for human rights and no multiethnicity.”9 His assessment of the situation in Kosovo may be easily agreed with, albeit for completely other reasons.

      Nevertheless, the Norwegian ambassador Hans Ola Urstad apologised instantly: he called the video “highly regrettable” and promised an investigation; the latter did not took place, as all the “perpetrators” had already left the armed forces.10 The New York Times published an article on the issue with the statement that his was “not the only case of cultural insensitivity by NATO troops in Kosovo”. Well, that’s also a point of view, especially if you want to find out a culprit.

      More here.

  3. Phil Dyson says:

    I understand that the pioneers in this field were in fact Canadian. Unfortunately for them, their hitherto highly classified programme went rogue some years ago and is now banned under a number of UN Weapons Conventions. It’s called ‘Celine Dion’ and none of the world’s Special Forces would dare use such a weapon for fear of ushering in The Last Days.

  4. Cincinattus jr. says:

    Of course this is not new. I suppose the “modern”(remembering the Biblical applications such as in the fall of Jericho) application of music to war was popularized in the helicopter attacks to Wagner in Apocalypse Now, our psy ops “experts” used similar metal music to rout the evil dictator Noriega from his lair in Panama as well as various uses in domestic US paramilitary law enforcement debacles, erm …. I mean operations. If we are talking an arms race in audio , I offer crooner Barry Manilow.

    • Formerly Grant says:

      If P. W. Singer is to be believed, the Coalition forces when attacking Fallujah used the sounds of the Predator* laugh to demoralize the besieged.

      *As in the Predators from the movies.

  5. Marc says:

    Considering that one of the more popular forms of entertainment in Afghanistan appears to be having young boys dress up as women and dance… perhaps this is not psyops and more ‘Hearts and Minds’?

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