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issue 1.1


Defense Department: Pipe Down with your brand name weaponry

By Jim Peterson

I felt mixed emotions after reading about how the CIA used a pilot-less drone to fire a missile at a car carrying alleged terrorists, killing 6 people. A small voice in my head says, seems like an effective way to get rid of an Al Qaeda leader, if the guy they disintegrated really was one. What if he was plotting to blow up an embassy, or museum, or a nightclub? But a more rational voice says, who really wants the CIA making those kinds of decisions, and maybe it would be better to arrest those people and actually charge them with a crime.

Beyond those more significant considerations, the thing that really bugged me was, why do we need brand names for this kind of product? A Predator drone? Hellfire missiles? To me, the idea of an unmanned drone flying around obliterating people is scary enough, without the Hollywood-style name. Is the enemy going to be more afraid of being blown to bits by a missile called Hellfire?

Remember the days before the Defense Department marketers launched their naming campaigns? When planes were called B-52 or P-51, and the famous gun was an M-16? Were these weapons somehow less effective because they lacked a scary name? I guess the '70s brought us the "cruise" missile, modeled after the German V-1, but the name described a flying capability that distinguished it from other such bombs. While the cruise missile did cruise, the Hellfire missile does not actually deliver hellfire.

I'm afraid this is just the beginning with these brands, although I don't know where you go from Hellfire. Given Bush's daily reading material, maybe we'll keep with the biblical themes. Lake of Fire, The Horseman of the Apocalypse, Pillar of Salt, Pestilence, Plague of Locusts…maybe they should have started with one of those, and worked up towards Hellfire. Then again, they've still got Eternal Damnation to look forward to.


Jim Peterson is the former manager of Garage D'or Records in Minneapolis, and is now a librarian living in Oak Park, IL.

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