Friday, January 02, 2009

Full Metal Shock Doctrine

For the sadly unitiated, Full Metal Panic is an anime series about Sagara Sousuke, a 17-year-old mercenary serving in an organization called Mithril.

Born in Afghanistan and rescued from a civil war there, Sousuke operates an AS unit -- basically a common mech as imagined in various anime series, but perhaps most notably in the Mech Warrior series of video games.

In the opening episode of the third season of the show, Sousuke and his unit are sent to intervene in an ethnic conflict in the Republic of Balic, an ambiguously Eastern European country in which militia led by Colonel Maress are slaughtering civilians.

When Kurtz Weber -- another teenaged mercenary, a sniper -- wonders aloud about the purpose of the conflict, Melissa Mao, the commanding officer of the unit, offers an explanation that is rather reminiscent of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine.

"They probably use actions that violate international peace treaties to give major countries suitable provocation and then look at the results to decide who to approach for backroom deals regarding the rights to their mineral resources or whatever," Mao explains, before admitting, "our involvement here is part of that, too."

In other words, Mao is suggesting that the beligerents in many civil and ethnic conflicts engineer the conflict in order to provoke an international outcry. While the media and general public focus on the atrocities being committed, the country in question quietly sells its natural resources to the highest bidder -- regardless of whether or not such countries may or may not be under a trade embargo of some sort.

Quite often, such arrangements could be augmented -- or obfuscated -- by foreign aid arrangements.

An interesting case is that of Myanmar -- also known as Burma -- where the government refused foreign aid after a cyclone devestated a local "undesirable" population.

Eventually, the government of Myanmar allowed foreign aid from members of the Association of South East Asian Nations. Less than one year prior, however, a proposed free trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN provoked international outcry because of Myanmar's poor human rights record.

Despite such outrage -- which only became worse as it became evident that the governmeny of Myanmar was allowing victims of the cyclone to die of starvation and disease following the cyclone -- the ASEAN-New Zealand-Australia free trade agreement was signed on August 28, 2008.

With their eyes glued to the situation in Myanmar, many international observers failed to notice until it was too late.

While Naomi Klein clearly intended her shock doctrine to only be applied to market capitalist regimes, it's clear that the doctrine has fascinating implications anywhere a catastrophe is exploited to further an economic agenda.

Scenarios such as that portrayed in Full Metal Panic may turn out to be far more plausible than one may prefer to imagine.


  1. Basically, we've got a poor, starving nation that does the equivalent of intentionally shooting itself in the foot so it can recieve dole-outs from its neighbors.

    Speaking of which, Sagara's a buffoon (a satirial one though) - he reminds me of Major Payne.

  2. Hmmmm.

    I've always thought of Kurz as more of a buffoon than Sagara. I think Sagara's awesome.

    "I'm not a nerd! I'm a specialist!"


Post your comments, and join the discussion!

Be aware that spam posts and purile nonsense will not be tolerated, although purility within constructive commentary is encouraged.

All comments made by Kevron are deleted without being read. Also, if you begin your comment by saying "I know you'll just delete this", it will be deleted. Guaranteed. So don't be a dumbass.