You know how whenever anyone brings up the topic of US sonic weapons and music torture, someone always says, “What do they do, just turn on WFMU? Hahahahaha.” No? Maybe you hang out with smarter people than I do. On the other hand, WFMU has always been a leader in the irritainment industry; some of my favorite DJs, people I’ve been listening to for decades, do shows I’ve never been able to listen to all the way through. So I got to wondering—what is on the playlist when our government wants to break the will of its enemies? (“Enemies” being defined in the broadest sense, of course, in that the term has included US citizens minding their own business in their own homes.)
Manuel Noriega vs. Van Halen: Noriega was Military Governor of Panama from 1984-89, when elections were held with results he didn’t like. Also, he refused to help Oliver North with the whole Nicaraguan Contra thing. (Noriega had been working with the CIA since the 1950s.) Meanwhile, US troops stationed around the Panama Canal were conducting a series of ludicrously named “operations,” and then a Marine Lieutenant got killed, and then the US invaded, which was condemned as a flagrant violation of international law by the UN. Noriega fled to the Vatican embassy in Panama City, where US troops laid siege in Operation Nifty Package. (I am not kidding about that name.) They stood around outside playing high-volume rock music, specifically the Van Halen song “Panama.” A week later, Noriega surrendered.