Weapons of Teeny Boo-boos

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called today for swift congressional approval of the president's $396 billion defense budget. "We need every last dollar to replenish our stock of Weapons of Teeny Boo-boos and begin research on a generation of even gentler arms," Rumsfeld told a crowd of admirers at his weekly Pentagon news conference.

"No later than 2005," the secretary pledged, "America will be prepared to fire laser-guided Weapons of Eensy Teensy Boo-boos. Potential adversaries will be awed into submission by the combined high-tech wizardry and high-minded humanitarianism that is the essence of the WETB."

Earlier today, Jack Welch, CEO of munitions maker General Electric, told NBC's Katie Couric, "This next generation of weaponry will strike with such gentility that a 120-pound woman receiving a direct hit would suspect -- but not know for certain -- that she had just been goosed."

Welch attributed the astronomical cost of WETBs to the sophisticated technology required to take the sting out of weapons. "We hate like the dickens to charge so much," he said. "But I hate to pay Lipton a small fortune every morning for tea bags with the caffeine removed. It all evens out in the end."

The hunky Rumsfeld aroused the assembled Pentagon reporters with a tongue-lashing of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. "While civilized nations develop ever more gentle arms for deployment and export," he said, "the irrational leaders of the Axis of Evil persist in producing Weapons of Mass Destruction."

The U.S., of course, last fired conventional and atomic WMDs during World War II, a bloody affair provoked by aggression from the original Axis -- Germany, Italy and Japan. By the end of that war there were but two superpowers, and wise leaders in Washington and Moscow agreed the time had come to abolish all WMDs.

The 1946 Potsdam Pact ushered in the short-lived era of Weapons of Modest Destruction. U.S. and communist forces restricted themselves to those in the Korean Conflict, and instead of tens of millions deaths, as in World War II, only 7,853 civilians and soldiers perished.

That was still too many, so in 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed that future conflicts would be fought with Weapons of Scant Destruction. Nevertheless, a crisis erupted in 1962 when the U.S. detected WSDs in Cuba pointed directly at JFK's indoor swimming pool. Fortunately, cool heads prevailed, war was averted, and a new agreement led to the era of Weapons of Nasty Scratches.

WNSs were deployed in overwhelming numbers by the U.S. in Vietnam, and in modest numbers by the Vietcong and North Vietnamese. (In 1967, John McCain dropped a WNS load on Hanoi moments before his plane was shot down.) In the course of that long, bitter war, two million Vietnamese civilians received nasty scratches; 924 developed infections from scratches and had to be treated with antibiotics.

Humane leaders in Washington and Moscow, vowing "Never again," converted their stockpiled WNSs to Weapons of Bumps and Bruises. From 1979 to 1989 the U.S.S.R. used WBBs in Afghanistan, leaving 1.3 million Afghans rubbing a sore knee or elbow and shaking a fist in Moscow's direction. The U.S., meanwhile, exported WBBs to our good neighbors in Central America, and the incessant sound of 200,000 peasants shouting "Ouch!" could be heard as far away as Texas.

In 1989, fearing that lingering bitterness from WBB strikes could lead to future conflict, the U.S. and the crumbling Soviet Union decided the time had come for Weapons of Teeny Boo-boos. WTBs cause a struck individual to cry and run to Mommy, who can make it all better with a hug.

The first President Bush unleashed WTBs to end Panamanian participation in the drug trade and return Kuwait to its rightful ruling family. Russia's Vladimir Putin continues to use WTBs to win Chechen hearts and minds. Most spectacularly, President George W. Bush rained WTBs on Taliban targets to topple a tyrannical regime and free Afghani females -- prompting acclaimed African-American novelist Toni Morrison, who earlier had dubbed Bill Clinton "our first black president," to hail Bush as "our first woman president."

The president joined Rumsfeld near the end of today's Pentagon briefing and struck a surprisingly conciliatory note. "We need to convince these evil fellas that Weapons of Teeny Boo-boos work," he said. "If Mister Hussein, Mister Kim and Mister Hockamamie will dump them dang Weapons of Mass Destruction, Mister Putin and I will welcome them back to the civilized world -- except for maybe Mister Hussein."

Dennis Hans is a freelance satirist and writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, TomPaine.com, Slate and The Black World Today, among other outlets.

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