Hanging by a Thread

The last two days have just moved us closer to a nuclear war than at any time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

At least Russia’s Khrushchev and the United States’s Kennedy not only had hope but reason working in their favor. At this moment, those two necessary ingredients of sanity are lacking in two leaders who – based on their recent war of words – are pushing the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust.

January 2, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un said in a New Year’s Day speech:

“The entire mainland of the US is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office. They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality.”

January 3, President Trump responds:

“North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center responded:

“Mr. Trump’s recent twitter storm/interviews are more evidence we’re watching an American president psychologically, emotionally and cognitively decompose. It’s rather alarming to watch, and the president is not well.”

North Korea’s Kim has, for years, consistently demonstrated a need to bluster and bully others into accepting North Korea as a nuclear power. Trump, on the other hand, is supposed to demonstrate the kind of thoughtful reason we expect of a U.S. President, Republican or Democrat. Not this time. Both have effectively abandoned reason and hope, and, if this continues unchecked by Congress, the cost will be millions of lives on both sides.

No one wins in a nuclear exchange, NO ONE!

At such a delicate and dangerous moment in history, I am reprinting a statement by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s David Krieger, long an activist for the abolition of nuclear weapons:

“The future of the world and of humanity is at the mercy of a lunatic. His name is Donald Trump, and he alone has access to the U.S. nuclear codes. Before he does something rash and irreversible with those codes, it is imperative to decode Donald, taking the necessary steps to remove this power from him.

“Trump tweeted on December 16, 2016: ‘The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.’

“What good would a greatly strengthened and expanded nuclear capability do for the U.S.?  We can already end civilization and most life on the planet with the use of our nuclear arsenal. The U.S. has nearly 7,000 nuclear weapons, with more than 1,500 of them deployed and ready for use. By comparison, North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-Un, the subject of much of Trump’s venom, have only 10 to 15 nuclear weapons. But those have Trump worried enough to go to the United Nations and threaten to totally destroy North Korea should that country threaten the U.S.

“How many more nuclear weapons does Trump think are needed to keep Kim Jong-un at bay? The truth is that the U.S. already has more than enough nuclear weapons to deter North Korea, assuming they need to be deterred at all. What North Korea actually appears to want is a small nuclear arsenal capable of deterring the U.S. from invading its country, overthrowing its regime, and killing its leaders. Since North Korean leaders believe they face an existential threat from the U.S., a greatly expanded U.S. nuclear arsenal won’t change the current equation.

“Nor will more and strengthened nuclear weapons change the equation between the U.S. and Russia, China, or any other nuclear-armed country. It will just start a new nuclear arms race, which will benefit only the arms merchants while making the world far more dangerous. Trump doesn’t seem to understand this. His ignorance about foreign and nuclear policy is appalling and frightening.

“Further, the world won’t come to its senses about nuclear weapons on its own and without leadership. Earlier this year, in July, 122 non-nuclear weapons countries adopted a new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It was a great step forward. But, unfortunately, none of the nine nuclear-armed countries participated, and the U.S., UK and France issued a joint statement saying they would never sign, ratify or ever become parties to the treaty. Such is Trump’s leadership, moving the world toward doomsday. These countries, led by the U.S., appear to love their nuclear weapons and treat them as a security blanket, despite the fact that these weapons provide no security to their possessors. In fact, nuclear weapons paint a bull’s eye target on the citizens of countries possessing nuclear weapons.

“Trump is exactly the type of person who should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes. He is not calm, thoughtful, deliberate, cautious, or well-informed. Rather, he is erratic, thin-skinned, narcissistic and self-absorbed. He takes slights personally and likes to punch back hard. He could be insulted and backed into a corner, and decide that nuclear weapons are the solution to what he takes to be taunting behavior. He could be awakened at 3:00 a.m., and make a hasty decision to launch the U.S. nuclear arsenal instead of a tweet.

“The world’s best hope is that the military men surrounding Trump, particularly Secretary of Defense Mattis, would recognize any order from Trump to launch nuclear weapons as an illegal order and refuse to carry it out. In addition, it should be recognized by Congress that Trump is mentally unstable and unfit for office, and that they must take the necessary steps to remove him from the presidency before it is too late. Impeachment would be the best way to decode Donald.”

In his 2003 book, Hope in a Dark Time – Reflections on Humanity’s Future, Krieger writes that “Hope must be a conscious choice. There are always reasons for giving up and retreating into selfishness, ignorance and apathy. If you want to change, you must choose hope. It will not necessarily choose you. The way to choose hope is by your actions to achieve a better world.”

All citizens must reach out to their U.S. senators and representatives to pass immediate legislation that requires bipartisan leadership in Congress to approve any actions, considered by the president, toward nuclear war.

Coming Monday: Michael Wolff and Me.

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