To place grandiosity and the battle of superlatives in perspective, it was Saddam Hussein who first used this catchy turn of phrase. The others merely followed with their own inventions to catch attention, and denote the biggest, most extreme or ultimate examples within their fields.
Mother of all battles
Hussein uttered the line about “The mother of all battles” shortly before the First Gulf War in 1991.
In August 1990, Saddam had ordered Iraqi troops to invade Kuwait.
For the next five months, the United States and United Nations tried using sanctions and threats to get Saddam to withdraw, ultimately giving him a mid-January deadline.
Saddam was not impressed.
On January 6, 1991, in a speech marking the 70th anniversary of the modern Iraqi Army, he boasted that Kuwait was eternally part of Iraq and predicted a long struggle in the Persian Gulf against the “tyranny represented by the United States.”
Saddam told the people of Iraq: “The battle in which you are locked today is the mother of all battles…Our rendezvous with victory is very near, God willing.”
News reports about this speech immediately made “the mother of all battles” a famous quote and soon gave rise to many variations.
Mother of all bombs
On Thursday, April 13, US forces in Afghanistan struck an Islamic State (IS) tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the US military.
The bomb, known officially as a GBU-43B, or massive ordnance air blast weapon, unleashes 11 tons of explosives. When it was developed in the early 2000s, the Pentagon did a formal review of legal justification for its combat use.
The Pentagon said it had no early estimate of deaths or damage caused by its attack in Afghanistan. President Donald Trump called the bombing a “very, very successful mission.”
The US military headquarters in Kabul said in a news statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time on Thursday on a tunnel complex in Achin district of Nangarhar province, where the Afghan affiliate of the IS group has been operating. The target was close to the Pakistani border.
The US estimates that 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The US has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban. Just last week a US Army Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, was killed in action in Nangarhar.
The MOAB is a custom-made Air Force weapon that has been in the arsenal for more than a decade but never used on the battlefield, although it was available throughout the Iraq war. It is designed to hit softer targets such as surface facilities, tunnel entrances and troop concentrations. It is pushed out the rear of the launching aircraft, guided to its target by GPS and slowed by a parachute.
Although the MOAB leaves a large footprint, it is discriminate and requires a deliberate launching toward the target,” the Pentagon has said: “It is expected that the weapon will have a substantial psychological effect on those who witness its use.”
A separate non-nuclear weapon known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, which is larger in its physical dimensions but carries a smaller load of conventional explosives, is designed to take out deeply buried targets like reinforced bunkers. The MOP has not been used.
If used, the MOP will officially become the mother of all bombs, until the US or another country comes up with a bigger bomb and uses it.
But the talk here is only about non-nuclear bombs. Take out the “non”, and we enter another kind of warfare and another world of superlatives.
Queen of all media
Since former President Benigno S. Aquino III left office on June 30, 2016, his sister, entertainer Kris Aquino has seen a massive fall in her popularity and demand as an actress and entertainer.
Without asking any of us in the media whether we would agree, Kris and her publicist got the bright idea of presenting her as the “queen of all media.”
They dropped the word “mother” from the idiom, although in truth and in fact she is already a mother twice over. They thought it would be more superlative and dignified, if she is billed as a queen instead. “mother” would make her older than she is prepared to say.
To Kris Aquino’s credit, she has a fresh and interesting story to set and tell alongside her alleged queenship of the media. Via her Instagram account, she disclosed that she is set to land a big movie role in a Hollywood production.
After a year of rejections in which she lost two shows, which she attributes to the fact that “hiring an Aquino for TV is a political risk today”, she has been asked to film and submit audition scenes and a video bio for the Hollywood project.
All the effort has paid off because Kris has been offered a part and she is set to fly to Los Angeles any time now to sign the contract.
Aquino’s account of this turn of events fittingly deserves to be quoted: “I passed 5 levels of intense scrutiny and was offered a role. It is surreal to be reading the script from a major Hollywood studio watermarked on every page with my name.”
Alas, she has signed a non-disclosure agreement and cannot yet reveal other details about the project.
Her fans as well as her critics must settle for now with just this bit of news.
For the moment, she is just reminding the nation and her countrymen not to count her out. She is still in the publicity game. She is still very much a star; if things turn out well in Hollywood, she could be bigger than battles and bombs.
People who live by publicity and popularity are forever at the mercy of events and the fickleness of the public. Fame, warned Andy Warhol, may last for only 15 minutes.
Oddly, “mother of all battles” is well remembered long after Saddam Hussein departed from the scene.
“Mother of all bombs” will abide until a bigger monstrosity is used in battle.
Will “queen of all media” outlive Kris Aquino?