Thursday, January 17, 2019

‘What kind of maniacs are running this country?:’ Pentagon rings in New Year with joke about dropping massive bombs on people

"Maybe a little more 'Happy New Year!' and a little less 'Watch... our powerful bombs of mass destruction.'"

Image Credit: Evert Meulie

While people across the world celebrated the dawning of the New Year overnight, the U.S. military thought it would be funny to celebrate and make light of one of the things they do best: dropping massive bombs on people and places.

In a since-deleted, U.S. Strategic Command (StratCom), which controls the nation’s strategic missile systems and coordinates offensive nuclear capabilities worldwide, joked that while people in New York City enjoyed the dropping of “the big ball” during the countdown to midnight, “we are ready to drop something much, much bigger.”

Beneath the message was a video (see below), as the New York Times describes it, of “a B-2 stealth bomber soaring across the sky before releasing two GPS-guided bombs that exploded into a giant ball of fire after hitting the ground below.”

While Stratcom deleted the tweet after about three hours – issuing an apology that the message “was in poor taste & does not reflect our values” – plenty of people had already taken screenshots of the message:

Among the reactions of outrage on social media, Walter Schaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics, simply asked: “What kind of maniacs are running this country?”

He was far from alone.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Derek Johnson, executive director of the anti-nuclear weapons group Global Zero, “I present to you @US_Stratcom, the stoic guardians of several thousand nuclear missiles who definitely don’t think raining death and destruction from above is some kind of joke.” Johnson then added:

Here’s a tweet that contains a full version of the video Stratcom deleted:

But as writer Dani Bostick advised the Pentagon in her reaction to the post: “Maybe a little more ‘Happy New Year!’ and a little less ‘Watch… our powerful bombs of mass destruction.'”

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