Dr. Strangelove has nothing on the U.S. Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.
Thirteen years ago, the lab asked the Pentagon for $7.5 million to research a scheme to create a bomb capable of turning soldiers in any opposing army gay.
According to documents recently obtained by a watchdog group that tracks bio-weapon development and spending, the defense lab proposed a non-lethal doomsday device that would overwhelm the enemy in ways never imagined by Clausewitz or Sun Tzu.
"The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistibly attractive to one another," Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project told a CBS affiliate in San Francisco.
The BBC first reported the story in 2005, including the Pentagon's decision to decline funding the research for the so-called "gay bomb." Larry Arnstein, a blogger on The Huffington Post, resurrected it last week on a whim, launching it into the mainstream.
According to the original BBC report, the other nonlethal weapons seriously considered -- but ultimately rejected -- included chemicals to make skin hypersensitive to sunlight, a bomb that causes permanent halitosis, a chemical that attracts swarms of enraged wasps and a flatulence bomb ("Project Silent, but Deadly").
Since most of these elements can be found in abundance in the average college jock's dorm room, the Pentagon decided it was best to continue funding more practical projects like $98 hammers.
Conceived when President Bill Clinton's hypocritical "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays was going into effect in the military, the idea of a gay bomb seemed ludicrous on its face. But there are precedents in military history.
According to many historians, Alexander the Great was the original gay bomb, as evidenced by his aching love for Hephaestion, his oldest and dearest friend.
A century before Alexander turned man crushes into something noble, a gay bomb exploded at the Battle of Thermopylae as lovingly depicted in the homoerotic film "300," a recreation of the heroic clash between a tiny squad of Greeks and the Persian army.
It's doubtful that a gay bomb would work against jihadists and insurgents in Iraq. Such a weapon would probably backfire.
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An Islamic insurgent would be so revolted by the sexual feelings stirred by such a bomb that he'd rather blow himself up at a military checkpoint than live a life as a gay man. Creating more martyrs defeats the purpose of a gay bomb in the first place.
Still, the Pentagon should have the courage of its convictions and fast track the gay bomb into an operational stage. For $7.5 million, it could yield a great return on the taxpayers' investment by bringing the Iraq war to a fitting close.
Instead of dropping a gay bomb on the Shiites, the Sunnis and al-Qaida, we should do the only manly thing an army that's about to lose a stupid and immoral war can do -- drop the gay bomb on our own people.
Now, consider this: The U.S. military routinely dismisses highly trained linguists under "don't ask, don't tell" despite a severe shortage of capable Arab speakers.
What if a series of gay bombs exploded in American barracks in Baghdad? Given the military's zero tolerance for gays regardless of their strategic value to the war, how long would it take before whole units are "redeployed" stateside because of excessive, um, fraternizing?
If you're gay, you're out -- even if it means sending most of the troops home. Call it the Klinger Effect after Jamie Farr's heterosexual character in "MASH" faking a compulsion to cross-dress to get out of Korea.
It's an outlandish scenario, but it could turn things around. Imagine: no more American soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins -- lavender or otherwise.
Right-wing preachers aren't going to appreciate the breakdown in heterosexual orientation the returning soldiers represent.
Having already served their country fighting in the real hell and not the mythological one dreamed up during the Middle Ages, the brave men and women of the U.S. military won't have to worry about going back to the only hell they've ever known.
Tony Norman can be reached at email@example.com
© 2007 The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette