High over the Mediterranean Sea, two bombs were hanging side by side from the wing hardpoints of a NATO fighter jet, on its way to bomb Tripoli.
Because the flight was long and they had nothing better to do, the two bombs were chatting.
One of the bombs was a Smart Bomb, and justifiably proud of the fact. The other, a mere dumb bomb, humbly listened to its colleague, and only once in a while ventured a comment.
“I,” boasted the Smart Bomb, “am the result of years of research and effort. I’m one of the most advanced pieces of weaponry the world has ever seen. Scientists in laboratories have worked their fingers to the bone to produce me. As for you-“
“I’m a mere dumb bomb,” the dumb bomb replied. “There is nothing new about me.”
“See that you do not forget it,” sniffed the Smart Bomb. “I don’t even know why they bother with you. You’re just a waste of payload, a source of drag. The pilot should just dump you into the sea.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” the dumb bomb said. “But-“
“Don’t interrupt!” the Smart Bomb snapped. “I was saying that I am a work of art. I have laser, inertial and GPS guidance. I can glide to a target from fifty kilometres away. Quite as much money has gone into my making as would equip and run three schools and two hospitals in some Third World hellhole of a country.”
“Mightn’t the money have been better used in building schools and hospitals?” the dumb bomb wondered.
“You do not understand finances or What Is Good For The Economy. My making has enriched great corporations led by men in elegant business suits, who sit in offices in skyscrapers and own millions of shares in all the most important companies in the world. My creation created Wealth. What Wealth would a school or hospital in a Third World hellhole create? Nothing.”
“True. You understand all these things. You are a marvel.”
“I am. I never, ever, fail; I’m incapable of failure. Whereas you just fall at a target and sometimes hit it, sometimes not. And if you do hit it, you sometimes explode, sometimes not.”
“I can’t help it,” the dumb bomb apologised. “My design is old, you see.”
“I don’t see why they brought you along at all,” the Smart Bomb said condescendingly, “unless it’s to see how the job should be done properly. Maybe after you watch a master like me in action, you’ll properly appreciate how primitive you are, and how unworthy of hanging under the same wing as the likes of me. You are only fit to be used on carping peaceniks who protest against the Mission we are on.”
“What exactly is the mission we are on?” the dumb bomb wondered. “Are we at war?”
“Not at all,” the Smart Bomb said loftily. “The President of the Universe has declared that these are not hostilities and that we are on a humanitarian mission.”
“A humanitarian mission? How are we to fulfil that?” the dumb bomb wondered.
“Why, by bombing the hell out of the Tyrant, of course!” the Smart Bomb snorted. “After all, he is a Legitimate Military Target, even though the Mission Objective authorised by the United Nations is not for his removal.”
“So, he is a Tyrant? How is that so?”
“He is…tyrannising his people. They all want freedom from him. That’s why a few thousand of them have taken up arms against him and are fighting in the desert. They are glorious freedom fighters and need to be helped and supported to win.”
“If they all want freedom from him,” the dumb bomb said, “why are only a few thousand fighting? What about the rest? Are they swimming in the sea?”
“You do not understand these things,” the Smart Bomb said. “These people are heroic freedom fighters, even though they have fought against the President of the Universe earlier in our other Glorious Humanitarian Missions. They deserve support here because they are fighting a Tyrant.”
“And if they can overthrow the Tyrant, what will they do? Bring in freedom? What if they fail, or, if they don’t fail, they don’t bring in freedom? What happens then?”
“That is for the President of the Universe to decide. After all, He is a Man of Peace, and knows what the right thing is to do, anywhere and at any time. All I have to do is blow the Tyrant away, or some of his tanks.”
“I’m, of course, only a dumb bomb,” the dumb bomb said humbly, “but I heard someone saying the Tyrant had ordered his troops to use light weapons and trucks, not tanks. Only the rebels have tanks, I heard.”
“That’s as may be,” said the Smart Bomb. “I trust to my magical sensors and capabilities to do exactly what I have to. Nobody will fool me.”
"And once the Tyrant has been overthrown and freedom won," the dumb bomb said, "what Wealth will be created?"
"Why, from Oil and Reconstruction. Humanitarian Missions are all about creating Wealth. Tyranny stops us from creating Wealth. Therefore Tyranny has to go."
"I see," the dumb bomb said. "Thanks for explaining."
The coast of Libya came up underneath. “Here I go,” said the Smart Bomb. “Watch and weep, dimbrain.” It fell away from the wing, coasting easily through the night air, and crashed into an orphanage, killing fifteen children.
The dumb bomb? It went back home, still under the jet’s wing, having watched and wept, as advised.
NATO denied, of course, that any children had been killed at all.