At almost 22,000 pounds and a blast radius of nearly 20 miles, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) clearly deserves its moniker: the mother of all bombs. Conventional bombs explode upon impact, this doozy explodes while in descent creating an air blast that literally vaporizes targets.

Deemed operational in 2003, neither “W” nor “O” chose to use the highly destructive weapon. President Trump chose to deploy the bomb in Afghanistan. While reports indicate that this target — a maze of tunnels and caves hiding Isis fighters — was destroyed, many believe that a second successful mission was also accomplished. As Lindsey Graham tweeted to the world, “There’s a new sheriff in town!”

As if speaking directly to Assad and Kim Jong Un; Trump played the “mine is bigger than yours card.”

Assad’s reaction took the form of words. Not wanting to be outdone, in this very high-stakes power play, Un put on a show of his own. He fired off yet another weapon’s test. The missile fizzled, but he sent a message of defiance to the world.

While Assad is truly despicable, his type of dictatorship is certainly not unique. We have seen his bent before. But Kim Jung Un is an altogether different animal.

There is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Adam Johnson titled, “The Orphan Master’s Son.” It is a truly masterful work which was meticulously researched and artfully written. It gives a spine-tingling, goose bump raising look at the North Korean people and then leader Kim Jong Il. While the time period is during the reign of his father, I think it reveals truths about this all but hidden culture and the power that Il and now his son Un have over the people. Un was raised as the son of a God and was elevated to deity upon the father’s death. Everyone and everything around him supports this belief.

“The Orphan Master’s Son” is not an easy book to read on several levels. Structurally, it can get confusing. It depicts the depths to which power-seeking people will sink to achieve their goals. Also, it exposes a country of brain-washed citizens, cutoff from the world and struggling to survive.

Not unlike this dangerous spitting contest that we seem to be in with Kim Jung Un, the situations in the book and in reality are immensely complex.

I think that our president saw the deployment of this particular bomb as “a two-fer.” Drop this massive bomb and dramatically illustrate that his campaign promise of hitting ISIS hard was not just talk and send a message to the “bad guys” that they better not “pull any funny stuff” on his watch.

Assad probably heard it loud and clear, but Un is a whole different creature. He is not only equally ruthless: he is, for all intents and purposes, an egocentric unknown.

We might have the Mother of all Bombs, but will what we don’t know still hurt us?

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to Visit Wendy’s website at

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