Surreality

“[Former Doobie Brothers Guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter] knows all about weapons technology and has a better understanding of the strategic game going on than I do, and I’m on the International Relations Committee.” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA

Well, at least we know how congress was bamboozled into believing that Saddam Hussein was planning to load fictional chemical and biological weapons onto hundreds of model airplanes, then stuff them onto ships at sea and launch a massive attack on the East coast. They defer to a Doobie Brothers guitarist on defense matters.

But, it’s entirely possible that this particular guitarist really is smart about defense, at least until one reads the rest of the article that quote is from. It states that he “learned everything he knows about military defense from reading war history books, technical weapons texts and defense manuals,” and believes that “[The USSR] had smallpox on some of their offensive nuclear warheads at one point.” Aside from the obvious surreality of a Doobie Brothers member being a national defense anything, I have to wonder who expected smallbox to survive a nuclear blast? Perhaps it’s the cockroach of diseases. Perhaps he was misquoted. Perhaps he said “nuclear weapon” when he meant “long-range missile” (which raises the issue of why listen to someone who can’t keep the two distinct concepts separate).

Funny thing is, back when I was a kid I wanted to be a nuclear missile submarine captain. You know, the nutjobs that actually turn the keys to end the world—that was my dream job. I even had a little USN keychain from age 12 until about 21. I learned quite a bit from various Jane’s publications, “war history books,” etc.; essentially the same sources the article claims Mr. Baxter got his information from. The most important book I ever checked out of the library was the one that described the effects of nuclear weapons use. All the effects. Yields, blast radii, radiological effects, dead-zones, cancer rates, skin lesions, nuclear winter, it was all in there. I didn’t really understand it at the time, and forgot about it as I got into computers. At some point (I’m going to guess I was 17), in the middle of a discussion I was having, the whole book came flooding back to me, and suddenly I did understand it.

Nuclear war is roughly akin to opening that little box from the Hellraiser movies—there’s no end to the horrors contained within. You can’t possibly plan for hell, so nobody bothers. The closest anyone comes is planning how to avoid hell. Being “born again,” going to church every sunday, being a good person, praying 5 times a day, whatever; they’re all just plans to avoid hell. Some or all may be successful, some or all may fail (kinda hard to empirically test ’em, after all), and hell may not even exist, making the whole exercise moot. Planning for a war that goes nuclear is roughly akin to planning on how best to create and live in hell.

This is the insanity behind any government that votes against nuclear test bans but for missile defense (ask any Army guy, in the eternal race between ordinance and armor, ordinance wins far more than it looses). It’s planning for a life in hell rather than planning to avoid a life in hell.

I should probably note that decrying Bush’s plans to research new nuclear weapons was the one thing I actually applauded Kerry for.

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