There has been much attention given in recent years to non-lethal focused energy weapons designed to incapacitate enemy troops or an unruly mob without a lot of blood and severed body parts and such.
There is a weapon known as the Active Denial System, which transmits a beam that makes people feel like their skin is on fire. And then there is something called LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) which can be used to transmit noise loud enough to make people flee.
Or, it can transmit the Voice of God.
And it is apparently being usedto Iraq to do just that.
It appears that some of the troops in Iraq are using “spoken” (as opposed to “screeching”) LRAD to mess with enemy fighters. Islamic terrorists tend to be superstitious and, of course, very religious. LRAD can put the “word of God” into their heads. If God, in the form of a voice that only you can hear, tells you to surrender, or run away, what are you gonna do?
So, what exactly is LRAD? Its manufacturer explains:
The LRAD 1000 can issue a verbal challenge with instructions in excess of 500 meters and has the capability of following up with a warning tone of 151 dB (at one meter) to influence behavior or determine intent.
The LRAD 500 produces a sound pattern that provides clear communication beyond 300 meters. The deterrent tone can reach a maximum of 145 dB (at one meter) to influence behavior or determine intent.
So, from 500 meters away you can say something like, “Drop your weapons and put your hands up.”
Or, you can say something like, “This is the voice of Allah. I command you to submit.”
And if the guys on the receiving end are the type who believe there are 76 virgins waiting for them in Paradise, they might just believe Allah is actually talking to them when it fact it’s probably some guy from Des Moines.
Now, at first glance, this might seem like a good thing. If you can clear people from a building by telling them you are God, that’s preferable to calling in an air strike.
And this would also seem like a more benign weapon than its cousin, the so-called Death Ray (ADS) that makes your skin feel like it’s on fire. In fact, LRAD seems to be moving forward precisely because the Death Ray just sounds so bad.
Deployment of ADS has been delayed for years because of concerns about how non-lethal it really is. ADS has been fired, in tests, over 2,500 times. Many of these firings were against human volunteers, and the device performed as predicted, without any permanent damage. But generations of exposure to lurid science fiction descriptions of “death rays” has made the defense bureaucrats anxious over the negative public relations potential if something like ADS was actually used. From a publicity perspective, using more lethal “non-lethal-weapons” is preferable to deploying something safer, but that could be described, however incorrectly, as a “death ray.” In any event, it appears that the cheaper, smaller (about 45 pounds), gentler and more flexible LRAD has taken ADS’s place in the American arsenal. At least for now.
So, instead of making Iraqis feel like they are on fire we are making them believe God is speaking to them.
Those Iraqis are so lucky.
Ever since we liberated them they have been shot at roadblocks, blown up in random suicide truck bombings, kidnapped by death squads, driven from their homes in ethnic cleansing campaigns, forced to endure brutal summers with little or no electricity and rounded up and sent to Abu Ghraib.
Now, we are messing with their faith.
I’m sure many people think the Voice of God weapon is just harmless fun. And maybe those subjected to it will feel no aftereffects greater than embarrassment — “I can’t believe I fell for that.” — or maybe not.
Maybe this will just reinforce the idea that America has come to the Middle East to disrespect Islam.
Either way, it’s another example that shows that the Law of Unintended Consequences is at work in Iraq. A weapon like Voice of God might sound great back in the lab, but when it’s put to use in the field, there is no telling what will ensue.