A misguided celebration of the MOAB

Last week, the US military dropped the largest bomb in combat since it dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki during World War II. This explosion had the American media in post-coital delirium.

According to CNN, “The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, was dropped…on a network of fortified underground tunnels that ISIS had been using to stage attacks on government forces. The strike in Nangarhar province near the Pakistan border killed 36 ISIS fighters, Afghan officials said. The US military previously estimated ISIS had 600 to 800 active fighters in the area but was unclear whether it had hoped to strike more.”

That’s right, folks. It killed only 36 out of 800 terrorists. Yet everyone’s hailing the explosion as the mother lode. Here’s some perspective:
The last nuclear bomb killed approximately 50,000 in Nagasaki. The first killed approximately 80,000 in Hiroshima. One ISIS terrorist using a gun killed 49 and injured 53 in Orlando last June; another using a truck killed 84 and injured 202 in Nice last July. This MOAB killed 36. (ISIS terrorists say it killed nobody.)

On any given day, any terrorist could buy a gun for $160 and replicate Orlando anywhere, or commandeer a truck for free and replicate Nice anywhere. This MOAB cost $16 million, and the logistical operations required to drop it cost millions more. Replicating this dubious feat would fatten the already overstuffed coffers of military contractors, but it would do nothing to make America safe again.

These points should throw cold water on the smug satisfaction American politicians and pundits clearly derived from this MOAB explosion. Nothing demonstrated this smugness quite like FOX News playing Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” over looping footage of the bomb’s impact.

US is desperate
But they should also demonstrate that, far from “sending a message of invincibility,” this MOAB explosion exposed just how desperate and feckless America has become in its war on terror.

Indeed, given the barren effect 60 cruise missiles had on Syria, it’s arguable that never before in the history of warfare has a military so potent shot so many impotent blanks.

Consider the juxtaposition between the way dropping a bomb on Nagasaki ended that six-year war, and the way dropping one on Afghanistan is only intended to send a message (an unwitting SOS perhaps) in this never-ending war.

Wake up!
America must come to its senses about its entanglements in sectarian conflicts in the Middle East. I have pleaded for this awakening in many commentaries, including “Afghanistan: How Many More US Soldiers Must Die for a Mistake…?” in 2012; “Bombing ISIS Smacks of Masturbatory Violence,” in 2015; and “Obama Continues Vietnam-Style Mission Creep in Iraq (Afghanistan and Syria),” in 2016.

If one could glean any sensible utterance from Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it would be his constant refrain about the utter stupidity of such entanglements. Unfortunately, President Trump picked up right where President Obama left off. And despite his campaign rhetoric lamenting their utter stupidity, President Obama picked up right where President Bush left off so infamously.

Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian native with an international law practice in Washington, D.C. Read his columns and daily weblog at www.theipinionsjournal.com.


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