It was the video trailer for the Heritage Foundation’s 33 Minutes campaign aimed at convincing “moms, dads and citizens across the country” (their words) that the United States is in dire need of a missile defense system. “33 Minutes” refers to the amount of time it would take an imaginary Iranian or North Korean nuclear-armed missile to reach the United States (‘imaginary’ because such a missile doesn’t exist yet and probably won’t exist for a decade or more).
You may remember the Heritage Foundation from such disastrous political epochs as the Reagan administration, the Bush I administration, and the Bush II administration. Well, now that they’ve got a Democratic president they get to spend the next eight years hating on, these Heritage guys are pumped.
Brace yourself and watch the clip here.
Where to begin, really? We have never seen more dramatic, ridiculous, and fear-stirring PR for a “defense” priority in our lives…er, except for that whole Iraq war thing.
I mean, how about that intro? Pure genius if you ask us.
What better way to scare the American public than to put a woman singing the Muslim call to prayer over images of New York City and the word “missile.” Stereotyping is so much fun!
In the lovely beach scene, a very serious Heritage expert strolls leisurely along with his shirt flapping in the wind and explains what a WMD attack would do to the United States. “Life in America,” the guy who in all likelihood has never been to the beach before says while motioning to a Ferris wheel, “would never be the same.”
OH NO! NOT THE FERRIS WHEELS! PLEASE GOD ANYTHING BUT THE FERRIS WHEELS! WHERE OH WHERE WILL WE MAKE OUT NOW?!?
Disclaimer: Council for a Livable World is not categorically opposed to policy wonks walking on the beach. In fact, we would support some defense policy nerds walking on a beach (near us) very soon. We will not name names.
One of the sweetest things about the video – besides Margaret Thatcher – is how it offers a solution that doesn’t solve the problem. “My number one concern today is a terrorist with a nuclear weapon,” Robert Joseph says in the clip. We whole-heartedly agree. The issue, of course, is that missile defense won’t stop nuclear terrorism. Experts agree that the most likely nuclear terrorist attack will come from a suitcase bomb or some other easily smuggled package. Missile defense will be useless against these types of threats.
Oh, and those 20 countries they mention that have ballistic missiles? Most are either allies of the United States or possess only short-range missiles that would threaten their neighbors, not the United States.
One more thing. Missile defense doesn’t work. Know how we know? Dolores Landingham told us, as did this high-powered multi-billion dollar combat simulator and some really sweet nerds at GAO.
Perhaps the greatest part of the video, however, comes at minute 6:15: the fireball-mushroom-cloud-reflection-in-the eye. How poignant. Watch below.
Now, we wouldn’t dare begrudge Heritage a little mushroom cloud action. I mean, we throw a mushroom cloud on everything that moves. There is a reason arms control is known as “the sky is falling profession.” But we’ve never done the whole “exploding eye” thing and, frankly, we love the dramatic effect.
So, Heritage, we have a fantastic idea for how you can make your campaign really hot: contact lenses with fireball-mushroom clouds on them. If you wear them, everyone will think a nuclear weapon just detonated behind you! How could they not support missile defense after they see that! (Please see picture associated with this blog post for the full visual effect.)
In all fairness, we should probably split the profits 50-50, right guys?
Anyways, it’s time to get ready for fear campaign 2009. While deterrence, containment, and diplomacy have been and will continue to be far more effective weapons against ballistic missiles than interceptors, conservatives have a theological commitment to missile defense they won’t give up anytime soon.
Remember that when hysterical conservative start screaming for more money for missile defense in 2009.
We almost forgot: Long live Ferris wheels.
If you want more info about problems with Heritage’s video, check out Lt. General Robert Gard’s new commentary on Huffington Post.