MOAB, Killer of the Helpless

Exultation over the new MOAB—perhaps the ugliest and most stupid of new weapons in the U.S. armory—reveals a poverty of intellect and heart in the country. A clumsy multi-ton monster bomb tested in Florida last week has no practical war purpose other than terror, in a military whose signal achievement in the last decade has been to make smaller weapons unerringly accurate.

The MOAB is the natural result of allowing munitions engineers to run amok, a design by the aggressively mediocre who in a better time and place would be sent into early retirement for the good of the taxpayer.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or Mother of All Bombs (quite the rib-tickler), is so big it must be shoved out the tail of a lumbering transport plane on a sled attached to a drag parachute. This means MOAB can only be used against the helpless—an enemy who cannot shoot back because its air force has already been utterly smashed, its anti-aircraft missile network erased from the target area. A very large, undefended mosque would be a good hit for MOAB—meeting the bomb's criterion of use for "psychological" effect.

An idiot stationed in the Pentagon TV newsroom jabbered about the MOAB's "guidance" by Global Positioning System—great precision being unnecessary on the 21,000-pound bomb, another clue to its construction by government-sanctioned ninnies.

A small part of the blame for the MOAB must go to Dynetics, one more in a dismaying number of corporations that exist to provide applications in mayhem. The company's logo on the MOAB's tail was probably thought of as a coup in corporate advertising, although a bracing "Fuck You!" might have better created the impression that the thing was made by real people rather than a labful of killer androids on Eglin Air Force Base.

The MOAB is said to be a long-awaited improvement on the 15,000-pound Commando Vault ("Daisy Cutter") bomb, a canister of aluminum powder mixed in a slurry originally made to clear landing spaces of underbrush and demolish minefields. Daisy Cutters were used in Gulf War I and again in Afghanistan, to no obvious effect other than the creation of media and Pentagon erections. These cost $27,000 and change per bang, so even allowing for a three-ton increase in weight, MOAB should be cheap by Defense Department standards.

If the MOAB makes an appearance over Iraq, count on it to be enthusiastically superfluous due to the military axiom: A handful of really big bombs dropped in the open can't compare to thousands of much smaller ones smashing through windows, doorways, and hidey-holes.

 
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