Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One Second to Midnight

In the past, when there has been a perceived threat of nuclear war we always has a comforting sense that the people involved in the rhetoric or the standoff were men of reason and caution.  Kennedy and Khrushchev, Reagan, Brezhnev and Gorbachev were not rash men.  Their statements were measured.  They appeared firm but also gave the other side a way out of the situation that didn't involve embarrassment or perceived weakness.

Do you feel that level of comfort in anyway this week?  "Reason", "caution" and "measured" are anything but the terms you would use to describe Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump--and that is what makes this international confrontation so much more dangerous than any other in the Nuclear Age. 

Phrases like "fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen" is the kind of stuff you expect to hear from the dictator of some third-world nation like North Korea or from one of the Militant Islamic Terror groups--not from the President of the United States.  And it is statements like that which erode international support for your position--because you come off as just as insane at the attention-desperate despot that is threatening you.

Besides, when has any adversary given their enemy the "heads up" on actual military attacks?  Did emperor Hirohito appear on state radio and say "The United States must allow us to expand our empire without opposition in the Pacific or we will bomb Pearl Harbor"?  Did Harry Truman hold a press conference to announce that unless Japan surrendered he would drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  Did Osama Bin Laden issue an internet video announcing Al Qaeda's plans to hijack planes and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?  It's only when the threat of attack is all you have, that you threaten attacks.

One of the best campaign ads that Hillary Clinton ran during her first failed campaign for President featured the "Red Phone" ringing in the middle of the night, asking voters if they wanted the "inexperienced" Barack Obama to be the one answering that call.  Unfortunately, that kind of stuff doesn't matter to Democratic primary voters who thought it would be cool to elect a "first ever" kind of President.  I was surprised she didn't bring it back last year, given the even more ill-prepared opponent she faced in that race.  Anyway, if that phone rings in real life, are you confident in the person who will answer it?

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