What an awful acronym and even worse catch phrase: Weapons of Mass Destruction. The fact that these became common parlance is pretty disappointing.
It points to a different issue, however. Weapons, of any caliber are of interest, but only really big weapons are frightening. It is the worst of obsession with size.
If we remember back in the old days of the Cold War, we were obsessed with big weapons. For proof, recall the Cuban Missile Crisis. Two movements, arising simultaneously and collaboratively within the Cold War were: opposition to Communism and opposition to nuclear proliferation. Conservatives and Liberals took on these separate concerns with vigor and allowed each other a great deal of freedom because the people that were most troublesome to us were engaged in pursuing both.
After the Cold War, we became more interested in questions of arms [what a strange euphemism, since arms denote embracing—perhaps referring to weapons as fists might be more appropriate] due to the Iran/Contra scandal and the collapse of the Soviet Union and questions of its Nuclear stockpiles raised what we might call terror alerts around the world.
But we forgot about weapons in the 90’s. We did promise not to escalate with nuclear weapons, but that was (and is) a no-brainer. Where did our diligence go?
Then in 2003, we heard Bush argue that
“I personally believed that Saddam was behaving in a way that he probably very well had, almost certainly had, weapons of mass destruction. I was surprised, as most, that he didn't.”But what is funny is this: why would we think he had weapons, when we are so sure about everything else?
In the late 90’s we bombed
Most pernicious about the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’ is that it removes us from responsibility and sets us above the fray. We think that Americans would never support “mass destruction”, despite our singular status with the atom bomb and the execution of a military campaign in
By separating the weapons themselves from the actors, we are able to justify to ourselves the wanton destruction of entire nations and peoples in pursuit of weapons. The administration was able to make weapons a justification for invasion: a ridiculous idea considering our intimate understanding of their weapons stores. In fact, the very basis for invading
Alan Greenspan now argues that