Saturday, March 29, 2008

MOAB AND THE PAIN RAY: Only the media were shocked, awed and pacified

"Freedom sandwiches for Iraq, on me!" said Uncle Sam. Still flailing half a decade later.

Five years ago, as we hurtled unstoppably towards war with Iraq, I was busy with an alternative weekly column called "Weapon of the Week." At the time journalists were being fed - and in general, were happily eating - a stream of marketing for the weapons and ideas that would make the coming war neat and painless. Well, we know how the main event turned out - but whatever became of the pin-ups?

Of the weapons MOAB, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, was the war's alpha bomb. The Air Force celebrated its anniversary a week or two ago as a triumph of engineering under pressure.

The omega was the Active Denial System, a Hummer-mounted pain ray that was going to revolutionize the battlefield and pacification.

In their quest for publicity, the weapon's minders worked out a system whereby reporters would be given the opportunity to be burned and awed by it in return for cheerleading notices.

Like the war, both weapons haven't come close to living up to their advance billing. Both are emblematic of the conflict -- start with bragging, cheering and posturing, then try to rip down the goal posts and run off the field in victory before the game is over. When reality stubbornly refuses to bow to national whims, rinse it all down with embarrassed silences, excuse-making and denials.

Read the analysis/recap at el Reg.

Links to selected Weapons of the Week.


Blogger Caccia Esperti said...

"given the opportunity to be burned and awed by it in return for cheerleading notices."

Refreshing :) Thanks for it and keep up the great stuff!

5:09 AM  

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