One of the most surprising aspects of musical culture in the post-Cold War United States is the methodical use of music as a weapon of war. First impending to mainstream attention in 1989, when US troops blare loud music in an effort to induce Panamanian president Manuel Norriega’s surrender, the use of “acoustic bombardment” has turn into standard practice on the battlefields of Iraq, and purposely musical bombardment has joined sensory deficiency and sexual humiliation as among the non-lethal means by which prisoner from Abu Grab to Guantanamo may be coerced to yield their secrets without violate US law.
The dreadfully thought that music could be an instrument of torture confronts us with a novel—and disturbing—viewpoint on contemporary musicality in the United States. What is it that we in the United States might recognize about ourselves by contemplating this viewpoint? What does our government’s use of music in the “war on terror” tell us about us?
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