Saturday, September 01, 2007

Military Pharmacology

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all ~ White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane
Where has the drug culture of the '60's gone to? In the words of the old folk song, "Gone to soldiers, every one." From the ubiquitous "go pill" that allows soldiers to fight on without sleep to new medicines designed to strip away a soldier's guilt and allow him to wage war without conscious, there is a drug culture growing inside the Pentagon that believes with the proper mix of chemicals they can make perfect fighting machines.

Sleep is the enemy
Generals hate the fact that pilots and soldiers have to sleep from time to time. If there is one thing generals dream about it is a warrior who never sleeps and never rests. The little orange "go pill" (dextroamphetamine) is the stuff of legend. Air Force and Navy pilots are required to be speed freaks, those who refuse to take the pills are grounded. Hopped up flyers have fewer fatigue accidents, can stay in the cockpit longer, and have a ready made excuse when drug addled brains cause them to bomb friendly targets. After the "go pill" comes the "no go pill" (temazepam). Between the two, on-duty flyers are almost always under the influence of narcotics.

The next stimulant for the battlefield is modafinil, know to street addicts as "zombies." Meant for the treatment of narcolepsy, when taken by normal people it lights them up so hot they will stay awake and alert for 40 straight hours. This pill squeezes three times more fight out of each soldier. It is a chemical surge.

Stripping Away Humanity
Fear, conscious, grief, regret, morality, these factors of humanity have no place on the battlefield. Post-traumatic stress, a difficulty dealing with the horrors of war, plagues returning soldiers. Pentagon chemists are seeking ways to treat PTS by finding a drug to suppress a soldier's moral codes. No morality, no stress at remembering the butchering of innocents. Here is a rightwing website that loves the idea.

The New Mustard Gas
Chemical weapons like Mustard Gas and Phosgene have been banned. The new chemical weapon tactic is using drugs (The Use of Drugs as Weapons, British Medical Assn. -pdf). One might argue that a drug is a chemical, hence a drug weapon is also a chemical weapon and illegal. But, military lawyers have made their careers obscuring such facts. The military is developing drugs that inflict severe pain without doing physical damage with the prospect of inflicting mass torture on a population. Others will inflict paralysis or panic. There is even experimentation on a drug that will induce cancer that has been described as slow-motion genocide. It is a Brave New World.

Other sources: The Body as Battlefield; BBC report on is modafinil; New York Times on Bombs and pills; Wired, the need for speed; Reason online, Crank Hypocrisy


Anonymous said...

Military research also generated the Internet, which has turned out to be one of the most paradoxically liberating and terrifying technologies created by human beings.

Modafinil is used by the military to keep soldiers awake for long periods of time, but it might also have non-military applications (e.g. studying, painting, playing games) that are more benign.

PoliShifter said...

The day will come when even more frightening genetic warfare is unleashed on the world.