Of course it was the Trump Administration that was the first to use the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb whose military acronym MOAB was also spelled out as “mother of all bombs.”
Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama had the weapon, but both chose not to use it. Perhaps because this is a classic bully’s weapon, not just over-scaled in destructiveness, but only to be used against air-defenseless nations.
The GBU-43 is so big none of our Air Force bombers is capable of carrying it. The MOAB is dumped by a cargo plane, which would be a slow-flying duck for any adversary with a ground-to-air missile system.
It is, therefore, probably not strategically intimidating to North Korea or Syria.
It is a terrifying weapon, but mostly because it is in the hands of a cruel and reckless bully, backed by an angry and frustrated nation that elected Donald Trump President.
But as great as the fear such a weapon, in such hands, may inspire, it is dwarfed by the rage and hatred it puts into the hearts of all those who can conceive of themselves as its target.
Bullies may be delighted to inculcate such emotions; sane people, moral people, may feel differently.
When he was a military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. H. R. McMaster echoed an idea put forward by his own former commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus: that killing one insurgent can inspire 10 members of his family, clan, tribe or nation to take his place.
In this case, 2 comforting thoughts come to mind.
1) Dropping the MOAB on Afghanistan’s Nangahar province has caused no reported civilian casualties, so far at least.
2) Few fighters of the Islamic State of Khorastan, the IS franchise in Afghanistan, seem to be locals, minimizing the effects on Afghan family or tribal loyalties.
Still, America’s use of such a weapon may indeed multiply global hostility towards and terrorist attacks targeting — us. A bad bargain not much considered in at least the first round of exultant media coverage of “the mother of all” imperial killing machines.
Speaking of which, the Pentagon’s claim that its late January commando raid in Yemen, despite the death of Navy Seal “Ryan” Owens, and the loss of a $70 million airplane, was a “success,” gets a serious challenge on Wednesday’s HERE & THERE. Award-winning journalist Iona Craig, who covered Yemen for 5 years while living in Sana’a, defied a government ban to return to the country and make a 1000-mile trek to the scene of the raid. What survivors told her made her conclude that the main result of the raid was not to damage Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but to turn former Yemeni allies into irrevocable enemies of the United States. Some “success!”
*****On Monday, journalist and author Charles Glass, one of the world’s best-informed people on Syria, looks at the aftermath of the US’ Cruise missile attack on the base from which deadly Sarin gas was launched against anti-government civilians. President Trump’s use of force may change expectations, Glass says, but it did not change the either the balance of power or advance an end-date of the war in Syria.
On Tuesday, Joel Simon, the Executive Director of The Committee to Protect Journalists, explains why President Trump’s war of words with the American news media is making reporting abroad, especially for local journalists, much more life-threatening.
And on Thursday, Dr. Lindsey Marvel, who runs a vision clinic for the SEVA Foundation in the Kewa-Santo Domingo Pueblo in central New Mexico, details the similarities in treating the eye problems of poor people in India and Native Americans in the United States.
Again, join me in admiring the artistic interpretations of these stories by Amy Marash.
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