Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Next Sound You Hear Will Be.......

I saw my first acoustic cannon two years ago, in 2006, when it was deployed to ward off pirates in the Straits of Malacca. My wife and I were aboard a small luxury cruise ship sailing northwest from Singapore. We’d left port there about midnight, and when we woke up in the morning off the coast of Sumatra, the deck of the ship had a new look. Watchmen were stationed at the rail with binoculars, and deployed next to them were parabolic dishes, black in color, looking like slightly larger versions of the Direct TV satellite antennas that you see mounted on houses in America.

Fortunately, one of our table mates in the ship’s dining hall was a retired army weapons specialist. He told us about the new equipment on deck, explaining that the acoustic cannon is a non-lethal weapon designed to disable humans at distances up to one mile. I’ve stayed in contact with him for the last two years. I telephoned him yesterday to ask about a rumor that’s making the rounds in Denver, a rumor that acoustic cannons are being sent to Denver for the August Democratic convention. He verified that the rumor is true.

I’m struck by a kind of cosmic irony in this. We invaded Iraq, wishing to give them a democracy so that they would be more like us. We may be seeing our wish come true. Our democracy is becoming more like theirs, with elected representatives disunited and partitioned by competing ideologies to the point of dysfunctional non-governance. The only piece of the picture of similarity that was missing was the insurrection in the streets. Now, however, we seem to be on the verge of seeing that, too, come to pass. Denver may give us our first glimpse of the ugly next chapter in this pathetic saga.

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