Week 9 Discussion Prompt: Money and War

First, summarize Klein’s argument in the Introduction. According to Klein, what are the connections between neoliberal economic policy and militarism/war? Then, how does Chapter 14 illustrate Klein’s argument. Do you agree or disagree with her argument, why or why not? Can we use Klein to make sense of wars going on in the present day?

54 thoughts on “Week 9 Discussion Prompt: Money and War”

  1. Klein’s argument is that neoliberalism has developed “shock therapy” tactics of waiting for a massive crisis and swiftly implementing massive economic changes in the aftermath. She points to economic reforms in South America during the 70s, China in 1989 and Russia in 1993 as prime examples of capitalism taking advantage of a disaster to institute irreversible economic changes. To me, her most upsetting example is Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Although I knew about the public housing that was torn down despite being undamaged by the storm, I was unaware that the entire school system had been ostensibly privatized into charter schools directly after the disaster.

    To Klein, neoliberal economic policy relates to militarism and war for two main reasons: war is a useful national “shock” with which to rush in and apply neoliberal economic policy as well as being fought and organized by one of the last bastions of public bureaucracy. During the Iraq War, Klein lays out how the chaos of war and toppling Saddam Hussein’s government allowed for the US push through a 15% flat tax, completely free trade and plentiful privatization.

    What is terrifying about Klein’s arguments is that it is hard to view the mass privatization of the US military from any other angle. Throughout the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, more and more services necessary for our military have been being performed by private contractors, with skyrocketing costs and exorbitant amounts of waste. In Chapter 14, Klein lists the myriad ways in which taxpayers have funded the privatization of the government’s function in ensuring national security: from the military to border security to healthcare.

    I completely agree with Klein’s argument. I think that when one looks around the globe, it is not difficult to spot other examples of these changes occurring. In Haiti after the 2009 hurricane, over $20 billion dollars was pledged in disaster relief. Of the money that did materialize (not all money pledged was actually disbursed), most of the money just went to the NGOs and governments themselves. I understand NGOs have overhead, but in Haiti it was so bad that prices for rental cars, clean water, food and hotel rooms skyrocketed well out of the reach of any Haitians save a few elites.

    Klein has incredible relevance for our current wars. It is not shocking (though saddening) to see that the final part of military complex to be replaced and privatized was the actual soldier. We have seen through the rise in use of unmanned drones fighting our wars in Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Most of these countries we have never even officially been at war with. As Klein contends, when we have an economic incentive for war, we will keep fighting them.

    http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/jan/14/haiti-earthquake-where-did-money-go (source for some of the Haiti information)

    1. Hi,
      Children are more vulnerable to the disaster because adults can process the disaster better then children. for the disaster happening children can be living life in fear that the disaster will happened again. Its very hard for them to fully comprehend this because their brains are not fully developed. The children are starving can you imagine their desperation, fears, and trying to survive. Adults brains are fully developed and they can ask other adults for comfort and advise.

    2. Great overview of Klein’s argument, Maggie. I like how you added discussion about Haiti, and how the “shock treatment” is relevant there as well (unfortunately). I recall reading about how the U.S. donated lots of rice, which drove the local price of rice up, negatively impacting the livelihood of Haitian rice farmers; an example of the disaster-complex. I also like how you use the word “terrifying” to describe the industrial and military-complex because it truly is!

    3. The school system overhaul in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was also a shock to me. It is sad to see how quickly people like Friedman use disasters to push their economic agenda instead of assisting the people who are in need. Similarly in Sri Lanka, where expensive hotels replaced places of operation for fishermen after the tsunami, business needs reigned over the needs of the people in desperation.

    4. Maggie,
      Great discussion on Klein’s argument. It is upsetting that taxpayers’ money go to private companies to provide disaster relief and warfare services. These companies make a significant profit as the result of privatization and, as you mentioned, as long as there is an economic motivation, wars continue to occur around the world.

    5. Hey Maggie,

      It was a great summary of the arguments. I really like how you pointed out the case of Haiti which definitely applies to shock therapy as most of the money went to NGO’s and governments and it did not go where it was supposed to.

    6. I enjoyed the part of your response where you say “What is terrifying about Klein’s arguments is that it is hard to view the mass privatization of the US military from any other angle.” While I was reading Klein’s paper I had a hard time accepting some of the conclusions that Klein was drawing, and I wanted to reject them. Yet her evidence and argument, along with their implications for the course of institutions of our government such as the military, seem to be sound. I too found myself unable to see certain developments from any other rational angles, which involved the acceptance of some less than palatable ideas.

    7. Hi Maggie,

      I think that mentioning Haiti is very important. It’s sad to see how whenever a ‘tragedy’ strikes some nations are able to recover faster than others. Also, it seems to me that some nations receive more help than others.

  2. In Naomi Klein’s introduction, she argues that the “Shock Doctrine” has become the primary means to install neoliberal capitalism. This notion states that a traumatizing event creates the best time possible to implement new radical economic or political policies, which then become permanent. The first example that she describes is in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. While the city was being repaired, neoliberal economist Milton Friedman suggested that the city use the disaster to change public education by opening more charter schools. The most common way to force shock doctrine is through war, if a nation-state will not comply through negotiations. For example, Pinochet’s coup in Chile started when the people elected a socialist government. Because this did not make trade between the capitalist economies during the Cold War, Pinochet, with United States support, overthrew the elected government. With Pinochet’s finance ministers previously studying under Milton Friedman, the transition from socialist economy to neoliberal economy began. This became the first successful shock doctrine effect in the world, but it would not be the last. In Iraq, the United States government used the same tactics to remove the Iraqi government from power. Finally, a disastrous tsunami hit Sri Lanka. Corporations used the disaster to build resorts at the beaches where people used to fish to make their living. Chapter 14 continues this idea by bringing shock to American citizens, with the means to privatize the economy. An example Klein uses is the controversial speech delivered by Donald Rumsfeld that equated the Pentagon bureaucrats to being enemies of the state. The intention of this declaration was to privatize more of the American government, particularly of the military. Klein discusses the change in government spending by mentioning that many functions became privatized during the 1980s and 1990s. The shock that came from the speech and the terrorist attacks the next day launched the United States into two wars. These two wars are significant because they increased the amount of private contractors.
    I agree with Klein’s argument. When looking at the disasters and wars in recent memory, there has been an increase in privatization as a response to disasters while increasing the military industrial complex. This can be seen in Halliburton’s impact in the Balkan wars. Halliburton took advantage of the private contracting that was available and created these “mini cities.” The purpose behind these structures was to keep the military happy, with the intent to increase its revenue by signing more contracts. This cycle will become dangerous for American citizens when corporations become more and more powerful while lobbying in the government. This will give these corporations immense power within both the economy and the politics of the nation that will go without any checks or balances and continued unequal wealth distribution.

    1. Hey Matt,
      I was really interested that you brought up Halliburton’s work during the Balkans crisis because it something I knew nothing about! I felt like I had a a gap in knowledge in how these policies were implemented in between in the 80s and pre-9/11 and I think you are spot on in assessing that the Balkans was the laboratory for neoliberal policies during this period.

  3. Klein makes an argument in the Introduction that disasters are seen as profitable by the capitalists. They make profit from the shock that people or the economy go through. Klein also calls it the “Shock Therapy,” the government or the organizations that support this therapy tell people in disaster that they are giving profit to them. However, in actual, they are taking away these benefits from people. Furthermore, these organizations and agencies do not let people organize themselves with whatever they have left. Instead, they tell people to “reconstruct,” which takes away the chance from them to rebuild themselves. In addition, if people resist, they will be captured because they are coming in the way of capitalists’ profit that they want to make from this disaster. Also, fear and disorder boosts these agencies’ profit. For example, in Iraq, security companies made great profit because of fear and disorder among the public.
    Chapter 14 illustrates Klein’s argument. Throughout the section, the article talks about the shock therapy. This shock therapy theory is produced by Milton Friedman and it is used greatly by Rumsfeld who is the secretary of Defense. He believed that government is not to handle the defense; however, it is the private companies that do that. Furthermore, he supported the cheap labor or less services that will save the budget. During the Bush administration, Freidman’s theory of Shock Therapy was being used. With the great fear of 9/11 and other upcoming incidents, people started to feel scared. Companies make profit from this fear among people in which, scared public would buy policies and things that will protect them in their future and by this private companies earn a lot of money. Additionally, first, this type of thinking was being popular in the developing countries only; however, now we see this theory becoming popular at home. For example, we can take a look at the Counter Intelligence Field Activity (CIFA), which is an intelligence company and the founder of this company was Rumsfeld. As he supports the profit for the private corporations, he outsources more than half percent of the budget to them. Furthermore, there are many other corporations that are earning profits in the name of shock therapy. Using this shock therapy to earn profit is not beneficial for the public because first, they are in a situation from which they need to heal and with this they have to face these corporations, which are extracting money from these people.

    1. I really enjoyed reading your post. You provided a great analysis of the reading and made some compelling argument. I agree with your statement about “Shock Therapy” and the government or any organization that support this therapy tell people in disaster that they are giving profit to them.

    2. Lalah,
      Psychological and emotional stages that people experience in case of natural disasters or wars do not allow them to make efficient decisions at the moment. Victims, for stated reason, are not able to defend themselves. Unfortunately, this condition creates an excellent opportunity for some companies/organizations to take advantage of situation and sell their service and products in order to make more profit.

  4. In the Introduction, Klein discusses the “shock treatment” phenomenon – a method of using moments of collective trauma (such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack) to engage in radical social, political, and economic change which eventually stays permanent. This method was adopted heavily by Milton Friedman, who claimed that only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. For example, Friedman used the shock treatment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to privatize education: the number of public schools diminished significantly, while charter schools became the majority; the ultimate goal was less government, more privatization. More severe examples lie in the case of militarism and war. The shock treatment was utilized during the Iraq War, when American influence caused Iraq to adopt radical economic changes (mass privatization, complete free trade, 15% flat tax, dramatically downsized government). In fact, an Iraqi trade minister declared he was “sick and tired of being the subjects of experiments,” highlighting how war was pursued for far greater reasons than “advancing democracy.” Other examples include the debt crisis in the 1980s that Latin American and Africa faced, where they were forced to become “privatized or die”. All of this reveals how neoliberal economic policy is being snuck into these traumatic events, when the public is most vulnerable and unaware of such policies occurring. In times of such trauma, privatization, government deregulation, and deep cuts to social spending – the three trademark demands of shock treatment and neoliberal policy – can have detrimental consequences.
    In Chapter 14, Klein continues to list the numerous ways politicians and corporations have sought to privatize government and capitalize on shock treatment – particularly in military affairs. For example, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney significantly increased reliance on private contractors instead of active military for the purpose of adopting more for-profit tasks on a large scale. Essentially, the discussions centered on the military industrial-complex. Klein sums it up well by stating, “you have corporatism: big business and big government combining their formidable powers to regulate and control the citizenry” (307).
    I am in agreement with Klein, and believe that this shock treatment and its relationship to neoliberal economic policies and militarism is an appropriate explanation as to why wars (at least, with U.S. involvement) continue to be rampant today. Whether it is the disaster complex, or the military industrial-complex, both signify the reduction (some might say significant decline) of our true American “democracy.” With corporations holding immense influence and power over policies, the majority of American citizens feel the repercussions, suffering economically, socially, and politically.

    1. Hi, I do agree with your post it is about disaster or about war. People literally go into shock about the events that are happening. I do not think you can plan for a war or a natural disaster I think it just happens and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Good post!

      1. I really like your analysis. It is a perfect explanation and you did explain how the policy makers are involved in the “Shock treatment” deem their policy reforms to be important than providing aid in the event of a disaster. I also like how you relate natural disaster with military industrial complex together and then explained it further.

    2. Hey Tabatha,
      I’m so glad that you brought Klein’s concept of “corporatism” to your discussion because I think that is one of her stronger arguments. I really liked in the text how she places corporatism as the logical successor to the spread of kleptocracies and oligarchical governments that spread during the 80s and 90s.
      I also really appreciated that you connected these policies to a decline in true American democracy. Pulling from our small group discussion, I feel like you and Mason hit the nail on the head in terms of expressing that both free market policies and democracy can’t function when you have such powerful corporate interests getting involved.

    3. Hi Tabatha:
      It is great arguments regarding Iraq war and I ‘m glad you brought out this arguments ,which is how Iraq adopting new methods to privatized their economics and predate of neoliberalism. Besides, it is true that many administrations have used the shock therapy to enforce economic changes in their countries like Latin America & Africa. Military complex and disaster complex they are mutual with each others and both have the same aim.

    4. Hi Tabatha,
      It was a very good summary of the arguments that were discussed in the article. I definitely agree with your statement that with corporations holding the power over policies, the majority of Americans suffer economically, socially, and politically over this.

    5. I totally agree with you, America and other countries benefit from wars, civil wars, and natural disasters. Without them defense and Aid corporations would not thrive, so they use their influential lobbyist to encourage wars and involvement in aid missions for profit. Its a very sad reality but in my opinion the Iraq war in particular could have been completed avoided if it wasn’t for corporations.

    6. Tabatha, I enjoyed reading your analysis and believe that a small group of nations and corporations tend to benefit from these disasters. Whether they are natural or man-made ones, there is always a small elite that seems profits one way or another.

  5. According to Klein, the shock doctrine is her understanding of the late neoliberal economist Milton Friedman’s strategic legacy. He proclaimed that “only a crisis- actual or perceived- produced real change.” He was convinced that it was crucial to act swiftly, to impose rapid and irreversible change before the crisis-racked society returned to status-quo. Friedman predicted that the speed, suddenness and scope of the economic shifts would provoke psychological reactions in the public that would facilitate adjustments, a tactic that became to be known as economic “shock treatment”. Klein looks at different case studies from Sri Lankan post-Tsunami and New Orleans post-Katrina stages and argues that the preferred method for advancing corporate goals had become using moments of collective trauma to engage in radical social and economic engineering.
    In several cases throughout the last three decades, a major collective shock was exploited to prepare the ground for economic shock therapy. Friedman understood that the atmosphere of large-scale crisis provided the necessary pretext to overrule the expressed wished of the voters and to hand the country over to the economic “technocrats”. After 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration immediately seized upon the fear generated by the attacks through “War on Terror” and also ensuring that it is a for-profit venture, a booming new industry that has breathed new life into the faltering US economy. Klein cites statistics showing the immaculate increase in spending on security contracts and the homeland security industry following the attacks of 2001. Maintaining the US military is now one of the fastest-growing service economies in the world. Nowadays, wars and disaster responses are so fully privatized that they are themselves the new market. Klein argues that “Chicago School” policies in the real world has led to the emergence of powerful ruling alliance between a few corporations and a class of wealthy politicians. The invariable lines between the government and free-market businesses are characterized by transfers of public wealth to private hands, increases income inequality, aggressive nationalism etc.
    I find myself in complete agreement with the author’s standpoint. It’s not hard to make sense of it all. It’s clear that military spending over the decades has skyrocketed and most of it went into efforts of privatization of military. The US spends the most out of any nation on its army and we are the pioneers of neoliberal ideas and policies therefore it is not hard to make the connection between these two aspects. Today, due to recent execution of civilians we have found ourselves a new enemy called ISIS to exhaust our counter-terrorism efforts on in the same way we did, and continue to do, for Al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks. There will constantly be an “enemy” as long as corporations and private contractors are involved and feeding off of taxpayers money in the name of national security.

    1. Bharti, I enjoyed reading your comprehensive post, particularly your commentary on the post-9/11 militarization. You make a good point that with these “Chicago School” policies, there will constantly be an enemy in order to legitimatize all the privatization. I also like your discussion of the invariable lines between the government and free-market businesses; these lines surely lead to excessive income inequality and aggressive nationalism.

  6. Klein’s main argument in the introduction is that neoliberal economic policy has facilitated the use of natural disasters to implement its policies in one fell swoop, using the chaos caused by these disasters as the perfect time to change course for the good. As Klein discusses, before this way of implementing neoliberal policy came about, usually the only way to introduce it so drastically and rapidly was to be a military/dictatorial government, as that allowed you the ability to do whatever you pleased without having to worry about backlash from citizens. Thus, Klein points out how neoliberal economic policy loves militarism and war, as it provides it the opportunity to swiftly and succinctly implement its polices without having to fear the backlash of unhappy citizens, along with giving it a way to profit more of off the suffering of others, this time by making war a commercialized and for profit endeavor for a wide range of companies. Klein then uses Chapter 14 to give concrete examples to her claims in the introduction, discussing how people like Rumsfeld went about privatizing much of the war effort, allowing it to be a for profit endeavor for companies that could sign up and exploit the crisis in Iraq and Afghanistan as ways to make money during the subsequent rebuild. Klein also offers examples in the US, such as after Hurricane Katrina, where the government used it as an opportunity to get rid of the project housing that had existed there before, and end state sponsored education, all while distracting people from this with the continued fallout from Hurricane Katrina. Klein also uses post 9/11 as an example, where she discusses how the Bush administration used this as the perfect opportunity to swiftly implement neoliberal policies while everyone was still in a post 9/11 haze. I agree somewhat with Klein’s argument, because we have seen a large number of uses of disasters as a means for neoliberal politicians to implement their ideas rapidly and succinctly, but at the same time, throughout history, differing regimes and governments have used crises to implement their own brand of rapid economic and political change, and it is not something that is almost exclusive to neoliberals as Klein seems to say. We can also use her ideas to make sense of ongoing wars in a sense, as the desire by companies to make profits has influenced and led governments, even the US, into wars and into post-war scenarios that are not ideal for the government, but ideal for companies, but on the same hand, there are also wars that are fought for the same reasons that wars have always been fought, just now more companies are attempting to take advantage of these situations economically.

    1. Hello Michael!

      Yes, we can definitely relate Klein’s ideas to make sense of the ongoing war – private companies earning profit from the war (sub-contracting). I also like how you explained that however this is not the only reason that wars take place, but companies have found their ways to earn profit from the war. Nice post! thanks.

    2. Michael,

      I think you made a good point. Profits aren’t the only reason wars take place, but its definitely a motivating factor now. Could you give an example of some neoliberal policies taking place after disasters?

  7. Naomi Kleins argument is that a tactic power houses are using to implement neoliberal capitalism in the swiftest manner with very little opposition is through “shock therapy”. Especially after a major environmental disaster with severe damages to infrastructure or a war torn territory. Everyone is trying to rebuild and get their lives back together, nations and other powerful sources pour in money and reconstruct the infrastructure to their own specifications to benefit them. It is kind like blindsiding the population when they are weak and unorganized. This was especially noticeable in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Huge reforms were made to institutions that were difficult to alter when people noticed.
    Neoliberal economic policy is similar to militarism and war because both are orchestrated by the upper elites who benefit from such activity the most. Also the most effective form of “shock therapy” is war, there is a breakdown of infrastructure and desperation in the population. This is very noticeable in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has been actively reconstructing their governments to their liking to benefit from. The privatization of the military through out the Iraq and Afghanistan war has exploded in the funds necessary to carry out the same missions the military could at a fraction of the price. The American people have funded the private sector that carries out such tasks as border security, infrastructure rebuilding, and healthcare. All of which can be done by the military and not cost as much and there hasn’t been much positive outcome from private contractors.
    I completely agree with Kleins argument we are see these devastating tactics across the globe. I watched a Vice documentary that detailed the wasteful spending of having private contractors run operations in Afghanistan. From electrical grids being built for millions of dollars and than never used or halted because of the costs. Maybe if there was significant progress I wouldn’t view it so negatively but crucial taxpayer dollars are being wasted.
    Using Kleins perspective you can definitely see it in current international operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and most of the middle east. Its everywhere the United States doesn’t want an active military presence but wants a US influenced security force. Such companies as the former Blackwater still operate in the Middle East carrying out US missions under the private sector. These companies thrive off of war and “shock therapy” using it to increase profits and grow their companies.

    1. I also think that the use of “shock therapy” is widespread around the world. This promotes the neoliberal ideas by allowing private companies to have control over the economy through privatization of land and resources, constructions, etc. In addition, after the 9/11, many private companies carry out military jobs. At the end, these private companies exploit disasters and crisis to gain profit and continue to prosper. I think it is ironic that disasters to many locals are miserable experience while to some people it is a golden opportunity to make profit.

  8. In Naomi Klein’s the “Shock Doctrine”, she explains to us some processes that somehow tie up with Friedman’s ideas like “disaster capitalism”. A lot of her arguments connect with Freidman’s articles. She takes us back to past events to point out how governments would take advantage of disasters and come up with some lies to apply some new policies.She points out some reforms South America which took place in the 70’s, Russia in 1993 and China in 1989 and these serve as examples of capitalism taking advantage of a tragedy and instill new policies. Klein also pretty much explains that the government is betraying or swayed into betraying their people for corporate growth which will put the rich in a good position. Bottom line is neoliberalism is responsible for the “shock”.An example she also talks about is the reforming of New Orleans school system when Hurricane Katrina took place. When Friedman voice out his suggestions on New Orleans should turn into charter school and just do away with public school system, the shock doctrine turned out to be successful. We can say that Neoliberalism can be connected with war with the “shock therapy” which means there is a right and perfect time and place to apply new irreversible policies. A lot of people take advantage of war, and Klein highlights some points of loosening economic control in some countries when war takes place. The author talks about the Iraq war and how many people disagreed with the changes made in their country after the shock. During the war there was decrease in the government’s size, free trade and a lot of institutions were privatized. In chapter fourteen, Donald Rumsfeld former secretary of defense used the September eleventh attack to pursue more privatization. This tragedy further focuses on Klein’s argument as this tragedy example highlights Donald Rumsfeld role in shock therapy. Klein argues that the creation of the Department of Homeland Security happened when Rumsfeld was seeking to turn the Department of Defense into a neoliberal model kind of government.I can say that I agree with Klein, her arguments are pretty compelling however I feel like her work served as a way to bring attention to Friedman’s works. I don’t think I would have fully understood was she is trying to say if she had not tied some of her arguments with Friedman’s ideas.But overall I think it she did a very good job in vividly explaining the “Shock Doctrine” and after reading this I think I will be doing more observation on future disasters.

  9. Naomi Klein argues in her book “The Shock Doctrine: The rise of Disaster Capitalism,” how the big well-known business and government exploits disasters for economic purposes, to possible bring a boost to their own company or government. It also argues on how the natural disasters and national uproar can be used to enhance the free market polices. Her introduction starts with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how all the housing and schools were destroyed by the hurricane. What was shocking to read was that, instead of the government trying to help and improve the new Orleans public school system, they spent millions of dollars in building charter schools which are obviously under control by private entities, and similarly have their own set of rules and regulations. It is well known that charter schools are polarizing in the United States, ethnically and racially. The concepts and ideologies of Milton Friedman are also introduced in the introduction. For Friedman, he believed that building such schools in New Orleans will, “to protect our freedom both from the enemies outside our gates and from our fellow-citizens: to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets.” Klein also argues in the introduction how the natural disasters can be exploited and can cause the government to privatization. In chapter 14, Klein introduces the shock therapy in the Untied States. She harshly criticizes Donald Rumsfeld and how he stated in a speech to his staff saying, “we were the enemy, that the enemy was us.” He wanted the military to be outsourced and increase the privatization in the country. I agree with Klein and her argument and how the neoliberal economies and shock treatment are a market for constant war fighting. If privatization and influence of big companies and corporation continues, American citizens will suffer the most,

    1. I also agree with you that shock treatment are a market for constant war fighting. I think that furthermore the incentive of profit makes matters worse because the true matter at hand (ex. recovery from a hurricane) is not being focused on.

  10. Klein’s argument is that economic shock therapy, as a response to crises has become the norm. What she is referring to can be seen in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. After this disaster, when every day people were trying to recover from the crises, businesses and lawmakers seized an opportunity to privatise the public sector and increase their wealth. Milton Friedman’s idea to privatise public education and bring in charter schools happened rather quickly as a “educational land grab”. These types of occurrences are referred to as “disaster capitalism”.

    The connections between neoliberalism and militarism can be seen with the cutting and selling off of appendages of the government and military. Disaster capitalism can be seen here with a never-ending “war on terror”. If companies like Blackwater can just send in mercenaries to war zones, what’s the point in having real soldiers? Taken directly from the text, I think this quote summarises neoliberalism within the military, “For us, the fear and disorder offered real promise”, Mike Battles a former CIA operative talking about his contracting firm and profits it gained.

    Then, how does Chapter 14 illustrate Klein’s argument.

    Chapter 14 goes to talk about Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush administration and the money that was to be made from selling off pieces of the government. Donald Rumsfeld was a successful businessman and associate of Milton Friedman. He came into political power and began to change policies around to create a hollow government. It goes on to explain how military and security contractors began popping up left and right to gain some of this wealth from privatising almost EVERYTHING. From doctors to janitors, the military began to contract these jobs out. The thinking behind all this privatisation was that the private sector could do it better and cheaper than the government itself. 9/11 was the catalyst the Bush administration needed to induce shock treatment and Friedman ideas. The war on terror had no real ending and therefore very profitable.

    I agree that Klein has some valid points. It seems from the reading there was a lot of money to be made off selfish interests. I don’t agree that companies can stand to make profit off customer’s information and purchases.

    Klein is even more relevant in the present day. It’s something that can be seen everywhere, especially in this area. When you travel, you have no idea if you will be stopped and detained because your name may be similar to some one else’s. You end up flagged because your private information was sold to the highest bidder for “security” reasons.

    1. I also agree that companies should not be profiting off of ill intent like using customer information and purchases. It becomes problematic when people aren’t aware that the situation they are in is being profited off of. Especially after a shock.

  11. Klein’s argument in the introduction is that the relationship between applying neoliberal economic policy and militarism/war is that the first usually happens after the second. Neoliberal economic policies are instituted in nations after a crisis, in this case war, because the nation is going through a crisis. Whether the crisis is actual or perceived, does not really matter as long as there is a sense of unrest and insecurity in the population. After a war and because of its psychological aftermaths, the government applies what is called ‘economic shock therapy’, which calls for a rapid and radical change in economic policy. Klein uses examples such as Pinochet and Chile and the Iraqi war to illustrate her point. A more local (and less violent) example is also used early in the introduction by utilizing a flooded city in New Orleans and how the government changed education by creating ‘charter schools’. Another aspect of neoliberal economic change after a war is described when Klein mentions the type of responses that come after wars and/or natural disasters. These responses are now mostly carried out by privatized corporations, like contractors instead of NGOs. In chapter 14, Klein continues to illustrate her argument by using domestic examples. The speech made by Donald Rumsfeld, in which he names the Pentagon’s bureaucracy as an adversary, but whose final goal was to privatized more of the government. The events of 9/11 are also used by Klein to illustrate her argument, after the tragedy the American public was terrified and in response some people were susceptible to agree with the government when they called for a war against terrorism. Utilizing a major tragedy to reap profits and apply neoliberal economic policies was illustrated by using both domestic and international conflicts. I agree with Klein in that there is a relationship between tragedy and profit, and also that this is not a recent situation, but instead it is now more available for us to see because of the rapid access to information. By reading the examples provided in the readings, it is clear that tragedies and now being used to benefit corporations and get profits. Post-war scenarios and natural tragedies leave people unstable and her use of torture as a metaphor for the economic shock doctrine make her argument much clearer and agreeable. I agree with her and see why wars seem to be a constant in today’s world and how some nations never really recover from natural disasters, or if they do, they take longer than they should.

    1. It is a good point that the development of technologies allow us to see the exploitation of “shock therapy” around the world. I think that it also allows private companies to see opportunities in disasters around the world and make profit off of it. I think this is one of the reasons why wars are constant in the world. Wars and conflicts brings profits to private companies as many supplies and military services are needed for a war and reconstructions are needed after many things have been wiped out.

    2. I cam to that realization too, the recovery process of natural disasters and war torn countries takes forever but we have all the resources necessary. Its especially noticeable in Iraq with all the private contractors flooding the country with government money. The longer Iraq is reconstructing the more money these corporations are making. In result fueling more hate and violence from the Iraqi people.

    3. I wholeheartedly agree with your views on Klein’s argument, and especially agree that this is not something new, it is just easier to see because of our improvement in technology and social media. I also agree that wars seem to have become profitized, making them something that countries don’t want to end because of the profits that they are able to reap from them and their aftermath.

    4. Hey Julia,
      Great post. I agree with your statement that even today some countries take longer to recover from disaster than they should, I guess that the only way they can make profit.

    5. Julia,

      Great post. Don’t you find it as sickening that contractors are making money off of tragedies such as 9/11? I think its enlightening to read your post as you pointed out something I missed; that despite all the resources to do so, many countries are taking a long time to recover from a disaster natural or man made.

  12. Klein states that disasters are profitable to the capitalists. They make money off the people that are going into shock after natural disasters. The society of Haiti has always been poor and are constantly struggling to provide food for their families but with the earthquake it made things nearly impossible. Haiti is a small Caribbean island that is next to the Dominican Republic. The earthquake took place in 2010 in Haiti and demolished everything around killing many people. With every environmental disaster that happens anywhere in the world comes great grief. Recovering from an earthquake is very time consuming, hard, and does not happen overnight. This happened about four years ago and they are still to this day recovering from this tragic event. Thousands of homes, schools, and hospitals were destroyed as well as the U.N. headquarters in Port-au-Prince, the presidential palace and the main prison. Estimates of damage and losses range between $8 and 14 billion. To make matters worse, a cholera epidemic started in October 2010 and spread across the country, killing thousands. Four years after the earthquake, nearly 150,000 people are still living in tents and makeshift shelters in Port-au-Prince (Haiti earthquake). The children are more vulnerable to the impact of the environmental disaster because they lose their parents, they don’t have a place to call home, and no food. The lost children of Haiti are under the age of 18 and are living on the streets or in orphanages. These kids are separated away from their families and left confused, hurt, and angry. The programs that are set up in Haiti are trying to reunite the children back together with the families.

    Klein makes it relate to war because people go into shock from war because it destroys the environment, homes, families, and lives. The war in Iraq was crazy and the US removed the government in Iraq out of power and also created free trade. The war increased the numbers in the military and also in contracting for the government.
    Chapter 14 the shock theory is by Milton Friedman. He basically states that people go into shock from natural disasters and wars because of fear and devastation. Rumsfeld states that the government does not handle the defense, but the contracts that do. He says it saves money and everything in the government is about budget and how they can save money. During 9/11, people were scared about the terrorists and of the chance of getting hurt or killed. People wanted peace of mind. The big corporations make money off of the people because they will buy things to get that peace of mind.
    I agree that the shock treatment is a good reason on why wars continue to happen and nobody is doing anything to stop them. I also believe businessmen rule the world and a lot of stuff is done to make sure they continue to make money. This can relate to the wars that are going on today because the government, contracts, military, and the businessmen (corporations) are making money and making money is good. Who doesn’t like money? I also think that’s why nothing has been done to stop the wars from continuing and why they keep on happening all over the world.

    Haiti Earthquake Fast Facts. (2014, February 28). Retrieved March 18, 2015.

    1. Great information find on Haiti. It is amazing the amount of damage caused in the Haiti earthquake. The fact that 150,000 people still are homeless after the earthquake is a travesty.

      It is amazing how easily people are willing to sacrifice lives to make profit in these wars. The military industrial complex that we are heading towards is dangerous for the world. When war becomes profitable, the “necessity” of war will increase.

    2. Hi Sofia :
      I like your arguments regarding Haiti earthquake .. It is epidemic how it was happening and still people until nowadays suffering as well struggling to get their commodities. In today’s news I heard the administrative they thank people who they are paying taxes in order to finance Wars missions especially in Afghanistan which is ridiculous because people sacrifices themselves in order to go to the war which is insanity !

    3. Though I enjoyed your detailed look at the relation of the disaster in Haiti to the themes of Klein’s paper, I had an issue with some of your comments at the end of your response. I disagree with the idea that businessman rule the world or that the causes for war can be attributed to profit motives. I believe that the people still have a substantial amount of power in determining the course of their nations and that we allow for much of what occurs by our own failure to mobilize for action. It is easy to attribute wrongs to businessmen, but hard to take action for change.

  13. The shock Doctrine explained implementation of Neoliberal economics put into practice, quickly and forcefully. After catastrophe, such as war or a natural disaster. She challenges these thoughts and argues that in the past they have only occurred alongside moments of trauma, and state of chaos. She also states even though Washington belief, free market ideals can coexist with public policies such as universal health care, publicly funded schools, and state guarded economies, but she recognizes that this state would not be the perfect model of their ideas.
    Based on Freeman and his followers the most opportunistic time to fill radically new market opportunities is within six to nine months of a catastrophic event. Throughout this time period, citizens and local institutions are left generally displaced and reeling from shock thus rendering them essentially helpless. There are few examples that Klein used here. They are the United States experience with Iraq’s economy during Iraq war, ranging from the reformation of the New Orleans School system following Hurricane Katrina. In brief, the following reforms essentially work to delete Public system in favor of private one, despite the fact that being falsely advertised as “reconstruction system.” According to Klein the connection between neoliberal economic policy and militarism is that one is often accompanied by the other and in the form of shock therapies. Shock therapy of government policy is often accompanied by warfare and persecution of adversaries to the new system. In the 1970’s when Chile saw a radical capitalist makeover, it was also accompanied by widespread torture in prisons of those individuals who were most likely to stand in the way of change. “Many in Latin America saw a direct connection between the economic shocks that impoverished millions and the epidemic of torture that punished hundreds of thousands of people who believed in a different kind of society.” This quote explains that it can also be likened to warfare in the nature of the reform itself. Policy makers make radical changes that wage war figuratively on those who do not stand to benefit from their capitalist agendas. In chapter 14, Klein illustrates this through his example of the policy reforms proposed by Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary. In his speech, Rumsfeld proposed that the government agencies be reviewed for over employment, that employment in the government should be slashed by 15%, and that many jobs should be moved to private contractors where they could be performed more cheaply. This included all jobs from the government employed trash cleaning staff to soldiers. Why employ so many when their jobs could be given to someone in a private sector who would not require the same benefits and could be paid low wages. Yes I do agree with her writing. It seems like to be that in the last forty to fifty years the value of profit and money has been escalated while morals and ethics have decreased. Public money is being used to fund private companies and organizations that in return make large profits that benefit only a certain amount of people. We are seeing all around that human element that keeps us interconnected is slowly dissolved.

    1. Hello Fatima,

      Nice post, you have touched on very important points that we also discussed in the class, related to private companies taking advantage of shock that an economy is going through. Also, I felt amazed at Rumsfeld’s cutting proposal on the services as well.

    2. I agree with your comment that it seems that recently in this country we have come to value profit and money much, much more over what is morally or ethically right. I wonder how much that was influenced by the Cold War, which seemed to really increase the commitment of the West to capitalist ideas, and to strongly and vehemently oppose anything that could be construed as communist or socialist.

  14. In the introduction, Naomi Klein argues that “Shock Doctrine” in crises and wars has become the tool for the governments in order to establish neoliberal capitalism. She also points out that capitalism takes advantage of disasters and residents’ mental stage in those situations for long-lasting radical economic as well as political and social changes. In case of crises people experience significant emotional and psychological distraction simply because they are shocked. Thus, they will care less about decreased wages, high inflation, and privatization of the social services. In other words, they are too terrified to defend themselves against these negative changes. The social breakdowns that have accompanied neoliberal economic policies are not the result of incompetence or mismanagement. They are integral to the free-market project, which can only advance against a background of disasters. The terms “all-at-once shock treatment” and, or “shock therapy” refers to the situation that governments and organizations take advantage of crises, disasters, and wars to apply free-market programs. Governments and organizations encourage people to “reconstruct” the whole thing rather than repairing whatever left after the disasters. These programs are intended to make profits for the governments and organizations rather than helping people. The first example that Klein provided to support her argument is the condition of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina where schools became privatized right after the hurricane. The shock treatment occur more significantly in case of warfare. As instance, shock treatment exhibited in the Iraq war as the U.S government control lead Ira to accept the radical economic, political, and social changes intended to pursue other caused rather than democracy.
    In Chapter 14, Klein highlights the various ways that governments and organizations spend the tax payers’ money to imposed privatization in order to make profits. This function, in addition of making profit, enable governments to regulate and controls the citizens. Governments and big corporations use the shock treatment method to maintain national security which is included border security and military. In my opinion Klein argument makes a perfect sense and is very relevant to the current crises in the world. Often time lots of big businesses and governments make a significant profit when crises, especially wars, occur. Even though the country in crises suffers from the economic, political, and social issues, some other companies and governments enjoy the benefit that they receive from the shock treatment. This is perhaps one of the most important reasons that wars are still happening in the world.

  15. In the introduction of The Shock Doctrine, Klein describes “shock treatment” which takes advantage of a large-scale crisis to bring economic reforms. Whenever there is a crisis, it is an opportunity for the capital economist to reconstruct the economy through economic reforms that support tax cuts, free trade, privatizations, etc. She provides many examples to illustrate this idea. She begins with the flood in New Orleans which was a disaster to the local people while it was an opportunity for the capital economists to reconstruct on a “clean sheet.” They believed that privatization of public school would bring permanent reform and made public schools into charter schools. Thus, The New York Times writes, New Orleans became “the nation’s preeminent laboratory for the widespread use of charter schools. (p5)” Similarly, she illustrates how foreign investors exploited the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka as an opportunity to build large resorts and tourism. This idea can be also applied to a war as well. When there is a war, this crisis is a perfect chance to bring changes through the neoliberal economic policy. For example, after the war in Iraq, the idea of free market and democracy became incorporated into the country.
    In Chapter 14, Klein explains how “shock therapy” is being practiced in the United States. She introduces Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of Defense who argued for privatization of military. He believed that the government should leave the defense to the private companies who are more capable of handling the job. Then she describes 9/11 as the crisis that brought great shock and fear to the public which allowed increase in privatization of defense in the United States. As a result, the military spending showed significant increase and the large corporations thrived off of taxpayers’ money. I completely agree with Klein’s argument. The shock therapy can be observed around the world as a mean to bring radical economic changes. However, this economic reconstruction only benefits a few and hurt the rest of the people in society as large corporations start to absorb more resources and wealth through privatization. Therefore, I think that ongoing wars in the present day could be explained by Klein’s argument along with the interests of government and large corporations. When there is a war, it destroys and wipes out everything that was present before. This gives “clean sheet” for large corporation to privatize public spaces and goods and allows politicians to bring economic reforms that support capitalism and neoliberalism. Moreover, the great shock and fear makes the public attracted to private companies thinking that they will be able to do a better job. Thus, the war continues on as it is in the interest of a few who see it as the perfect opportunity for privatization and new economic reforms.

    1. Hello there! I like the fact the you pointed out and made a very good point as to why you agree with Klein’s argument and how it is demonstrated still to this very day.I agree that when war is still ongoing there are people out there just waiting for the perfect timefor new economic reforms.

  16. Naomi Klein’s argument is that shock therapy was developed by neoliberalism. The shock doctrine attempts to achieve on a mass scale what torture does one on one in the interrogation cell. How the shock doctrine works is that the original disaster: the terrorist attack, the market meltdown, the war, the tsunami, and the hurricane that puts the entire population into a state of collective shock. An example was the shock of September 11, which for millions of people, exploded “the world that is familiar” and opened up a period of deep disorientation and regression that the Bush administration exploited. Another example is that after hurricane Katrina New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools. Before the storm, there were 7 charter schools and after the hurricane, it increased to 31. These are the results of a shock treatment; the government is trying to implement things while the country is in chaos that people don’t recognize the changes during that time. According to Naomi Klein, neoliberal economic policy relates to militarism and war because war because it is a national shock and neoliberal economic policy should apply to the situation. Neoliberal economic policy made it easy of the use of natural disasters or terrorist attacks to implement their policy by taking advantage of the social disorder as a result of the disasters to change to their desires. The shock treatment was used during the Iraq War. Then, the radical economic shock therapy was imposed, while the country was still in chaos; mass privatization, complete free trade, a 15 percent flat tax, a dramatically downsized government. Using tragedies that like this leading to privatizing companies make them gain profits. I agree with Klein because the government will always want to make profits and if this is the way they make huge profits then things like this will never stop because they won’t stop wanting to make profits for themselves.

    1. Hi Elif,
      Your post was detailed and i agree with most of your comments and insights regarding the Klein argument and how governments are always finding ways to make profits and privatizing companies.

  17. Klein’s argument in the Introduction conveys the idea that people who promote a capitalistic model for the economy, especially those of the “Chicago School” of what she deems as “radical capitalism,” search for opportunities to rapidly apply their ideology in the aftermath of widespread disaster or turmoil. Their process involves implementing swift privatization, government deregulation, and cuts in public spending during the recovery of areas that have recently faced some kind of trauma that has decreased their capacity to resist such change. It aggressively forces an economy closer to the ideal free market envisioned by economists such as Milton Friedman, often yielding immense profits to some in the process. She calls this strategy “Shock Therapy,” and she contends that it has defined a number of events in recent history from the capitalistic revolution of Chile to the destruction of the public school system in post-Katrina New Orleans. Klein also links this neoliberal economic policy to militarism and war, contending that war constitutes an excellent example of the kind of shock that can open the door to a capitalistic takeover. She uses the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the context of the post 9/11 frenzy to combat perceived terrorist threats as an example, claiming that the messy invasion and “Shock and awe” tactics used by the military coercively created the space for the implementation of neoliberal policy, thereby attaching an economic incentive to war.
    Chapter 14 illustrates Klein’s argument by examining how the U.S. government has slowly faced a similar capitalist takeover through the efforts of people such as Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, and Dick Cheney pushing neoliberal policy and opportunistically exploiting shocks. This takeover, she contends, has had strong undertones of private interest and has effectively privatized government functions ranging from military services to healthcare. She emphasizes the War on Terror as perhaps the best example of the effort, displaying how to shock of 9/11 allowed the Bush administration to build privatized national security from the ground up.
    I do not disagree with Klein’s conceptual argument that shock therapy and opportunistic privatization occurs, sometimes in a way that is deeply coercive and exploitative. She clearly has a number of empirical examples to make her case, and it is hard to deny that some of them illustrate a very negative and undemocratic trend that benefits few people. At the same time however, I believe she demonizes the free market system of economics which I believe can yield some of the greatest gains in wealth creation that humans can attain. She also fails to recognize how bureaucracy can be deeply wasteful, and that some of the alternatives that have been introduced might have a positive effect on the long-term economic situation of areas. She has deep bias and agenda against those who advocate for neoliberalism, and seems to adhere far more closely to the Keynesian school of economic though which has been shown to inhibit economic activity. I admit that in a democratic society people should be able to choose which area thought to believe in, and she makes a good point that this is often not the case.
    Klein’s argument can be used to make sense of wars going on today. Afghanistan and Iraq have seen unparalleled levels of corporate privatization in their implementation, referring back to Klein’s argument that the U.S. government is facing a trend towards neo-liberal policy. Both countries have also faced economic structural changes towards free markets as part of the war efforts on their soil, an element of modern war that Klein does a good job of explaining.

    1. Hi I was very impressed by your opinion of Klein’s argument. You listed every reason why you disagreed with her and I think your observation is great especially the part where you stated that she failed to recognize how bureaucracy can be deeply wasteful so on and so forth.I never would have thought of that.Thanks! your post was very detailed.

  18. The Shock Doctrine
    The introduction of Naomi Klein’s book discusses the practice of neoliberalism, which has become increasingly common in the past three decades. The introduction exposes how neoliberalists such as Milton Friedman have taken advantage of natural disasters and large scale crises to advance their capitalistic economic agenda. The basic idea of neoliberalism is taking advantage of the mass confusion that follows catastrophic events to make orchestrated raids on the public sphere and then institute permanent reforms. This strategy is called “the shock doctrine” and the practices that treat disasters as exciting market opportunities are called “disaster capitalism” (Klein, 2007). The author cites the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans as an example of disaster capitalism; when the midsize American city was destroyed and disaster capitalists seized on the opportunity to replace public housing and public schools with private charter schools and condos respectively.
    The connection between neoliberalism and militarism, according to the author, is that militarism is usually used to enforce neoliberal policies. Militarism is used as a form of shock therapy just like natural disasters cause massive confusion and disorientation. The author cites examples of Chile, Russia, Argentina, China, and Iraq to explain the connections between war and neoliberal policies. He explains that war is waged on a population to “control the adversary’s will, perceptions, and understanding and to literally make an adversary impotent to act or react” (Klein, 2007, p. 7). Different shock and awe tactics are usually used. In the 1970s Argentina, for example, the junta caused the disappearance of thousands of leftist activists and this was integral in imposing Chicago School Policies. In China, it was the 1989 massacre at the Tiananmen Square that silenced dissent against the Communist Party. Another example of the shock and awe tactic was the burning of Russian Parliament in 1993 by Boris Yeltsin, which set the stage for Russian oligarchs.
    In chapter 14, Klein discusses the policy reforms instituted by Donald Rumsfeld at the Department of Defense following the September 11 attacks. It argues that Rumsfeld took advantage of the catastrophic terrorist event and its shock effects on the American people to champion for outsourcing of some of the Department’s functions. Klein paints Rumsfeld, former President George W. Bush, and former Vice President Dick Cheney as powerful figures at the vanguard of the push to create a “privatized police state” (Klein, 2007, p. 289). She notes that Rumsfeld wanted to apply “market logic” and corporatism to the United States military after the terrorist attack, an idea that he got from his liaisons with Milton Friedman. While the stated goal of these privatizations was to fight terror, the effect was the creation of “disaster capitalism complex – a full-fledged new economy in homeland security, privatized war and disaster reconstruction” (Klein, 2007, p. 299).
    I agree with Klein’s arguments, especially the correlations she makes between wars/ disasters and opportunistic capitalism. It is true that many administrations have used the shock therapy to enforce economic changes. The examples that she cites in the introduction of regimes that have used militarism to enforce policies in China, Russia, and Argentina are particularly resonant. There is a lot of secrecy in Department of Defense contracts but her arguments in chapter 14 can explain the unprecedented privatization of utilities post-9/11 (Bonefeld, 2008). Klein’s arguments can also be used to make sense current wars going on in the world. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its hostility to Ukraine is a good example.

    Bonefeld, W. (2008). Subverting the present, imagining the future: insurrection, movement, commons. New York, NY: Autonomedia. Print.
    Klein, N. (2007). The shock doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt. Print.

Leave a Reply