Friday, March 13, 2009

ZEPPELIN UBER ALLES

Years ago DD did a weekly column for the Village Voice called "Weapon of the Week." Its purposed was to lampoon American-made weapons and gadgets that were alleged to be wondrous in the run up to war with Iraq. And I was regularly cursed out anonymously in e-mail for doubting the supreme greatness of our arms tech. But the logic of "Weapon" stood the test of time. And everything and everyone who was in it is now disgraced. (Example: This bit of completely reprehensible dogshite here.)

Today, then, behold the "absolutely revolutionary" US super-zeppelin for future spying on weak countries that can't do anything about it and whose protests can be ignored.

"It is constant surveillance, uninterrupted," brags a military man for the Los Angeles Times here.

The ISIS dirigible project fit the old WeaponOTWeek main criterion: It contains empty-headed boasting by the garbage truckload.

"The things we had to do here were not trivial; they were revolutionary," a p.r. lady for DARPA, Jan Walker, tells the newspaper. Reporter Julian Barnes takes it all down like a good stenographer.

"It is absolutely revolutionary," air force scientist Werner J. A. Dahm babbles.

Yes, but will it fix the banks and our broken nation?

Wait, there's lots more. The super dirigible will stay in the air for ten years over places, like, Afghanistan or Pakistan or Somalia -- anyplace that's thought to be not spied on from above enough.

A prototype will cost $400 million and is supposed to be delivered by 2014. By which time almost everyone will be out of work or have seen their lives go up in smoke some way from economic catastrophe. But we'll have the big spy blimp to snoop on anyone we like from 65,000 feet.

It would seem sure to be just another among many golden promises, one that -- if it shows up -- will just seem like another load of superfluous lead, increasingly cementing the national reputation as a sort of musclebound but brainless man who occasionally goes berserk over something only he can see and then unloads a knuckle sandwich on someone, always preferably small and weak.

DD can imagine the sky blimp's sales pitch, a slam dunk: Boy, if we'd just had the spy blimp around, we would have found Saddam's WMD's before they were taken to Syria. Man, if we'd just had the spy blimp around, we would have been able to track and take out Osama bin Laden as he left Tora Bora. Holy moly, when we have the spy blimp around we'll be able to [fill in the blank with whatever crap you like about some other country.]

Like everything else that was originally in Weapon of the Week, it means paychecks for those who give our society the most, you know, the people who make landmines, incendiary bombs, etc. In this case, that means workers at Northrop Grumman or Lockheed.

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