Nukes, Germs, and…


The phrase "weapons of mass destruction" may be on the verge of losing whatever descriptive usefulness it has left.

NEXT: Pinker and the Brains

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  1. A gun can only fire one bullet at a time. If a gun is a weapon of “mass destruction” then so is a knife, a piece of rope, a rock, my hands…

  2. I’m just surprised that the Washington state legistature hasnt added a provision labling razor blades as weapons of mass destruction because of their 911 links. Not only are they used to hijack planes, but they also opress wimmin too!
    Just as glad however, because that was attention me and my LadyBic can use without.

  3. I agree, Jesse. Using the term “weapons of mass destruction” to include chemical, bio and radiological weapons blurs the threshold between conventional and nuclear. I’d think fuel-air explosives and other super-powerful conventional explosives are more deserving of being classed with nukes. In the case of Moab, you’re talking about an explosive force in the low kilotons.

  4. Amen, Kevin. My guess is that the Olympia council isn’t quite certain what the %@$#^( they’re supposed to be doing.

  5. It’s really just nukes and everything else.

    Kevin – is the MOAB really in the low kiloton range? A kiloton is the equivalent of 1000 tons of TNT. I’d be surprised if 10 or so tons of conventional explosive of any kind could approach that. Do you have a link?

  6. Well then it’s pretty pittance. Don’t just go lighting it off next door, ‘kay?

  7. Coming soon: Second-hand smoke as a “weapon of mass destruction.” Just you wait and see.

  8. Bill,
    Kilotons are 1000s of tons of TNT. I believe explosives in the MOAB are more powerful than TNT (don’t remember the magnitude). A common fallacy regarding kilotonnage. Regardless, the MOAB still doesn’t hit one.

    I never liked the weapons WMD described. Anthrax and various chemical are less WMDs than the MOAB. Yet the MOAB is conventional and the less destructive ones are WMDs.

  9. It seems to me that what Timothy McVeigh did with fertilizer meets most folk’s definition of a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ as wielded by a terrorist – as did the 767s crashed on Sept. 11. That said, it’s a little difficult to see how we’ll rid the world of agricultural fertilizer and airplanes. Better to just stick to prosecuting crimes as they are. Do we need more severe punishments for terrorism? McVeigh got the death penalty and that’s about as severe as you can get without decending into barbarism. In any case I doubt people motivated to acts of terrorism on this scale (especially suicidal ones like 9-11) are not going to be deterred by the presense or absence of more severe penalties for terrorism.

  10. Oops… improper use of the double negative. What I meant was I doubt terrorists would be deterred by additional penalties for terrorism.

  11. JDM:

    Yeah, my bad. That’s what I get for trying to do math in my head. Like the time Jethro tried to add up the weekly allowance he got from Uncle Jet and came up with $50 million a year.

  12. The MOAB is 22,000 lbs of conventional explosive.

    11 tons.

    0.011 kilotons.

    That’s in the very, very, very low kiloton range. 😉

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