Accidental Moments of Honesty

The US Air Force made a bizarre tweet-post on New Years, of a bomber and the observation that they can drop bombs anywhere.

As reported by NPR [npr]

“TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball…if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger,” read the now-deleted tweet from Stratcom’s official account.

A slick video accompanied by pulsing music showed a bomber soaring through the air and releasing two conventional – not nuclear – weapons at a test range, according to media reports. “Stealth,” “Ready” and “Lethal” flash across the screen in all capital letters. The video concludes with an explosion flashing into a huge fireball.

Someone probably put some work into that. These things are not the choices and actions of a single person – someone cooked that idea up and thought it was clever, then told an artist to execute it, etc. When Trump makes a stupid tweet, we know we’re being treated to a glimpse into the mind of ${whatever} but when there’s a creative chain involved, it’s the work of a team. I tend to believe that is a reflection of popular culture, not an individuals’ actions.

It seems to me that the problem is the NYE tweet does reflect their values.

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At least they didn’t say “hospitals renovated while you wait.”


  1. lorn says

    Humans are strange. Mainly because we are not only one thing.

    Yes, in the military there is a tradition of well ordered self sacrifice and duty toward higher ideals and greater causes. There is also the visceral sense of power and danger. Of unequivocal agency. Both on your part but also on the side of other independent agents.

    Often expressed as ‘kill or be killed’ it is far more complicated than that. It has been observed that war is often less about winners and losers than survivors. Nobody goes away unchanged. PTSD and survivor’s guilt are, as I see it, largely a matter of transitions. How goes one gracefully go from tingling excitement and dread of instantaneous ‘pink mist’ high-explosive non-existence to disappointment over bad coffee and long traffic lights.

    No surprise that people trained to drop high explosives, and to risk their lives trying to do that job, might savor the excitement of the task, the thrill of agency, the resolute will of technical competency under threat. And yes, this is largely possible only because of the willful narrowing of focus, if not outright denial of, what the consequences are of visiting explosive violence upon human beings and their creations are.

    It is the transitions that cause problems. When the excitement of skilled application of explosives meets the society that doesn’t care to contemplate the violence done in their name, or the covering veil of euphemism and higher ideals slips and we see the underlying reality we recoil.

    I liken it to films of a slaughterhouse being shown inside a burger joint. I’ve seen it done that way by vegan animal-rights protesters. It tends to put people off their feed. We are told that bombers and bombs are necessary. I don’t know. They exist. Many without them wish they had them. Because they exist they get used. If they didn’t exist someone would invent them. Last I checked B-2s were priced, including spares and development costs, at around 2.1 billion dollars each. Seems expensive for something we don’t want. Something we won’t use. Something we would be better off without.

    The reflexive response is to denounce weapons, warriors, the military, war itself. It all seems too simple. Too prone to begging for more war by pushing too hard for less of it. Like waking up with a hangover, denouncing drinking forever, and then falling off the wagon a couple of day later. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Classic approach/avoidance issues. Like a child with a loose tooth. It hurts like hell when they play with it but they just can’t leave it alone.

    The people who made the video revel in their agency, power. The need to square the circle between that and the consequences of violated empathy, PTSD, depression, guilt is much harder to express. I’m all out of easy answers.

  2. Mano Singham says


    I saw that tweet too and also thought that it was a ‘gaffe’, a moment when someone speaks a truth that had been suppressed.

  3. DonDueed says

    It’s worth mentioning that the USAF, more so than the other armed services, is full of fundamentalist Christians. I think this tweet is very indicative of a certain mindset that infests that crowd.

  4. says

    Mano Singham@#5:
    I saw that tweet too and also thought that it was a ‘gaffe’, a moment when someone speaks a truth that had been suppressed.

    I did not realize that was what a “gaffe” meant. (checks) Ah, yes, it’s the same as the French – it’s an error. Not necessarily a revealing error or a “Freudian slip”; i.e.: a mistake that a psychologist reads too much into.

  5. says

    Tone deaf, but still better than a military parade.

    Maybe they did a couple of stealthy F-35 flyovers and nobody noticed them.

    Joking aside, if this were a normal civilization I’d think that the dictator cancelled the parade because a bunch of people with guns, in the capital, could be a coup. After all, look what they did to Anwar Sadat. Trump would have to be on an armored reviewing stand. Except the military sort of still love him.

  6. says

    It’s worth mentioning that the USAF, more so than the other armed services, is full of fundamentalist Christians

    Horrifyingly so.

    You know which branch is most full of christians? The Strategic Air Command and Missile Command. You know those death cultists are just waiting for an excuse to get it on.

  7. EigenSprocketUK says

    I understand that the bomber command revel in their equipment, their training, their sheer terrible power to deliver arbitrary amounts of death. “This is a grim job, and we are the absolute best at it.”
    At the same time it’s fascinating to see their massive blind spot writ large: they can’t see —they won’t see— that all their ultra-disciplined machinery is under the remote control of a gibbon with a ball he doesn’t understand.

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