Yesterday I learned that the MOAB was dropped on Afghanistan. Of course, I was horrified. So were some of my friends. One believed the third world war was on the horizon (I think we’ve been fighting that since 9/11).
Until yesterday I thought Moab was a place in Utah (that I like), now I know it’s the “mother of all bombs.” I guess they reserve the “F” for nuclear weapons.
First I realized last night that Obama did the same kind of things, but I didn’t pay any attention because I trusted him to be the president. Other people DID pay attention, and some of them ended up not liking him for reasons other than skin color.
Second, I was tossed into that paradox of nuclear vs. conventional weapons. I grew up near a major target during the Cold War where most of the B52s hung out and where there were nuclear — and other — weapons. A Minuteman Missile stood in front of Strategic Air Command Headquarters. It might, still. Since then, I’ve studied a lot of wars.
All bombs kill people. Ask Dresden. A bomb is a bomb. The difference is the “collateral” damage caused by nuclear weapons, yeah, I get that. Still, I’ve always been grimly “intrigued” by how we measure the “relative evil” of a bomb.
“Well, it’s not like we used nuclear weapons.”
“That’s true. Good on us.”
Third, since I was a kid I’ve been bewildered by the notion that it’s better to kill few people than many. I never resolved this conundrum. I started thinking about it when were were sitting around the family table in Nebraska, where my dad worked for Strategic Air Command. We were talking about the missile silos in South Dakota.
“They put them there, honey, because there aren’t that many people out here compared to New York City.”
“Don’t the people in South Dakota matter as much as the people in New York?” Even then I guess I had a loyalty to the empty spaces.
“Sure they do, but there aren’t many of them. A bomb dropped on New York would kill millions. A bomb dropped on South Dakota would only kill a handful,” explained my dad, but I don’t know how he felt about it.
I don’t get that yet. How in the world do you quantify human lives?
I have a lot of other thoughts about this, but when Old 45 decided to send missiles at Syria, a switch flipped in my mind. Whatever happens with him, his reign, his rat-faced family, the Russians, our economy, will happen and THIS little person out here in the back of beyond has a life to live.
Back in the day, when George Bush I started the first season of the Gulf War Show, I was very sad. I had friends, former students, in Kuwait. I don’t know how to explain my choices now, but what I did in response was take my collection of Yeats’ poetry on a hike with me (why?) and I sat on a hilltop and read poetry. On my way home, I stopped at K-Mart, bought a bare-root yellow rose, brought it home and planted it. One yellow rose to stem the tide. My desert island book is Candide. I think Voltaire was right; in all the absurdity, cruelty and wackiness of life, the best thing we can do is “cultivate our garden.”