A couple of days ago the leader of the free world decided the time was right to make good on one of his key campaign promises, namely to 'bomb the shit out of ISIS'
Well, he sure came through. Go Donald!
So exactly how much shit did he manage to remove care of his MOAB strike? Well one thing is for sure, it was an almighty big bomb. It was in fact the biggest bomb dropped by anyone since 9 August 1945 when Harry Truman dropped his 'Fat Man' atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Put another way, last week the Donald dropped the third biggest bomb in history.
I guess the main motivation for his MOAB strike was to rubber stamp the decision of all of those retired coal miners and steel workers to put a John Wayne style tough guy into the Oval office. No more pussy footing around. No more Mr Nice Guy.
The great thing with ordering up the third biggest human made bang in history is just how easy it is to do. You just give the nod to the four star guys and hey presto the job is done. You get your Cillit Bang moment in front of the cameras. Bang and the bad guys are gone!
It is a much easier promise to keep than all of those other pesky promises. You know the ones, building a wall and repealing Obamacare and locking up Hilary and banning Muslims. Poor old Donald has discovered the hard way just how many things are easier said than done.
So, when all else fails, drop a big bomb.
Finally he got the chance to bask in the glory of the cameras. He could barely hold back the tears as he pronounced just how proud he was of his wonderful military. And why shouldn't he be? They flew a plane through skies devoid of any enemy aircraft and hit the 'Drop' button when the onboard computer told them to hit the 'Drop' button. What's there not to be proud of? This wasn't some piece of cake walk in the park like Iwo Jima or Khe Sahn.
Then he fixed on a determined grin of satisfaction at what had been 'another successful event'. Well of course it was. He had sent 36 Isis bad guys into the next world.
Fair enough, as corpses go these were certainly at the top end of the market in terms of cost. $444,444 per dead guy is a tad on the steep side, but this was about more than money. It was something for all the diehards from West Virginia to the shores of Lake Michigan. A chance to yank a beer from the fridge and raise a toast to their guy. Way to go Donald. Way to go.
Was it really another 'successful event' ? Was it a tried and trusted way of clearing bad guys out of a deeply buried tunnel complex? Well, sadly there might be a couple of problems on this front.
No army in the world has more experience of dealing with bad guys in deep tunnels than the Americans. For ten years they tried everything under the sun to find a way to win their underground war against the Viet Cong.
Most particularly, to find a way to clear out the tunnels at Cu Chi. This huge sprawling rabbit warren was to be found in the so called 'Iron Triangle'. Twice the Americans threw the kitchen sink at the Cu Chi tunnels. In January 1966 they launched Operation Crimp. Wave after wave of B52 bombers dropped thousands of tonnes of bombs and 800 soldiers tried for weeks on end flush out the VC.
They got precisely nowhere.
Well, if at first you don't succeed....
In 1967 General Westmorland launched Operation Cedar Falls which was the kitchen sink and then some. There was more carpet bombing. There were great columns of bulldozers. They pumped in hundreds of thousands of litres of noxious chemicals. They pumped in hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of poison gas. Oh, and this time they sent in 30,000 troops.
And once again they got absolutely nowhere.
In the end they found the solution. It was an old school, low tech solution. They gathered together a bunch of the bravest men imaginable who volunteered to become the 'Tunnel Rats'. These guys went down armed with nothing more than a torch, a knife and a revolver and they cleared the tunnels one by one.
Up close and personal.
If Donald had been serious about actually clearing the ISIS tunnels, this would have been the only way to actually do it. Ask for volunteers and send them in. And it would have taken many weeks. And it would have been utterly brutal. And there would have been a lot of coffins landing Stateside wrapped in the Stars and Stripes. And of course everyone would have wondered if such a painful cost was really worth it. And maybe all of those good old boys in Ohio and Michigan might have got to wondering if their guy was actually any good at all.
But of course Donald wasn't much bothered about a few ISIS guys making like cavemen. What he craved was a good news day. Some attention. A pat on the back. He wanted to feel like one of those Presidents in the movies. Firm chin. Determined eyes. He was clearly tired of being painted as a draft dodging neurotic basket case wearing way too much make up. Those Holywood Presidents don't have any problems handling stairs and germs and the creepy crawlies at Camp David. He just wanted to be like the movie guys, right? I mean come on, give the man a break.
As I was splitting wood yesterday afternoon, I got to thinking about the cost of Donald's showboating. According to Twitter the third biggest bomb in history had cost $314 million. Surely not. I mean, high tech weapons are expensive, but $314 million seemed bloody ridiculous. A few minutes on Google proved my instincts to be correct. The whole MOAB programme had cost the American tax payer $314 and the bang they got for their buck was 20 bombs. Which when you think about it is a pretty serious amount of bang.
So the actual cost of the bomb was about $16 million. Then there was the fuel and the wages and the guys to write the press releases..
Is $16 million a lot for the biggest economy in the world? We have so many huge numbers thrown at us it gets hard to know what actually is a lot of money and what isn't.
Maybe the best thing to do is to take a trip through the looking glass to a place where there is sanity.
Cue the through the looking glass Donald stepping to the lectern to make an announcement to his people. He tells them about a bunch of ISIS bad guys in some Afghan caves. He explains the best thing to do is to drop the third biggest bomb in history on their heads and hope for the best. So will it work, my fellow Americans? Sadly, it probably won't. You see, we've been here before. In Vietnam. In Cu Chi. We bombed the shit out of Charlie's tunnels and barely gave him a headache.
So here's the thing.
If I am going to spend $16 million of your tax dollars to deliver the world a message about America, maybe I might have a few better options. Check out these numbers guys. And remember, these are your tax dollars I'm looking to spend here.
To fully inoculate a new born baby in Africa costs 40 bucks. So for $16 million we can immunise 400,000 babies.
Big number, right?
It costs a hundred bucks to cure someone of Aids. So instead of bombing the shit out of ISIS today, I could sign off on saving 160,000 people the trouble of dying from HIV.
So, OK. Another big number.
Or maybe we can take a look at the whole issue of fresh water. It costs $8000 to dig a well in a place where there is no fresh water. On average each of these new wells caters for 2000 people. So let's go. $16 million is enough to dig 2000 wells which will provide four million people with fresh water.
Now guys, that is a HUGE number.
So here's the thing. Y'all know I'm a Twitter guy. Go to my handle and each of these options is available on my online poll. It's your money so you can choose. Let me take you through it one more time. You can have 400,000 immunised babies, 160,000 cured of Aids or 4 million drinking fresh water.
Your call. Give me the nod and I'll get it done. I figure it's time for the rest of the world to see us in a better light. Like they used to, right? We've probably bombed the shit out of enough people already. And if we're honest about it, it really hasn't got us very far. So maybe its time to spend the cash smarter?
I mean, come on guys. As a businessman I really can't sign off killing bad guys at $444,444 a pop.
Cue exit Donald and the press corps looking on with gaping mouths.
But of course this is the kind of thing which could only ever happen beyond the looking glass. Isn't it strange how completely insane it seems when we take a moment to consider sane options?
Like my fellow Scouser John Lennon once said .....