Nuclear fears, false alarms and the size of Trump’s ‘button’

Nuclear fears, false alarms, and the size of Trump’s ‘button’

If some fool could accidentally activate a nuclear threat false alarm by ‘pressing the wrong button’ – what about pressing the real ‘wrong button’ either accidentally or intentionally? Also, why are new nuclear fears perhaps as much a scam as a self-fulfilling prophecy of much concern (as they were in the past)? How is this epitomized by Trump’s comment that his ‘button’ is bigger than that of Kim Jong Un?

The false alarm earlier today about a ballistic missile attack on Hawaii (1) has not just scared the pants off locals. In light of Trump’s posturing about his access to a bigger nuclear ‘button’ than that of Kim Jong Un (2) – whose own threats are obviously attempts of attention-grabbing which could easily become the real thing – this represents a critical new stage (3) in the growing concerns about the real threats of those countries who have or want to get nuclear weapons (not just the usual suspects USA, Russia and China, but also by or about Israel, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and others). An example of criticisms exemplified by the recent book ‘Fire and Fury’ (4), Trump’s America has encouraged tensions in the Middle East as well as annoyed many around the world with the kind of readiness for confrontation previously associated more with Putin’s Russia and Netanyahu’s Israel. And so coincidentally it was just a week ago that media reports announced “The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident missiles’ (5) (Cf also 6).

On the other hand, China’s failure to even really try to rein in their neighbor has also given rise to new security fears in the Asia Pacific currently centred on North Korea (7) but also reinforced by the changing geopolitical picture (e.g. China advancing its plans in the region as the USA loses interest and influence) (8). In fact, this has given rise to a new policy proposal in recent months that Australia should give serious thought (also like other countries past and present) to playing the game of nuclear stand-off as part of its future security strategy in an increasingly uncertain world (9). Ironically this a world in which past reliance on the USA for protection also can no longer be taken for granted. This is especially so at the very time that the USA appears to have revamped a cold war approach to its own security in a somewhat isolationist vein. Part of this emerging policy perspective is also toying with the retro view that: (a) as a producer of Uranium going way back, Australia should not only have selectively sold this, but also itself should have long ago taken the opportunity to also develop native nuclear capacity – in short that Australia not only missed a convergent opportunity to make money and advance security at the same time, but was mistaken not to do so (e.g. 10).

For those who like me can still remember back to the bomb drills (even at a primary school in rural Qld) of cold war days, the ability of a possible nuclear threat to excite gross fears in recent weeks should not be underestimated. But it also should be fearlessly called out for the juvenile as well as corrupt politics associated. Impotent leaders and/or fools in charge are always open to war-mongering and quick to make provocative threats in similar fashion. This is because they know that fear paralyses peoples’ ‘common sense’. When you have reckless world leaders ready to make threats with at least the tacit if not direct support of so-called responsible nations and governments, then the fear and uncertainty levels will certainly be cranked up . And of course, to paraphrase Roosevelt from his first inaugural speech in the 1930s [reinforcing Winston Churchill’s related quote ‘fear is reaction, courage is a decision’ at the time of events currently the focus of the movie The Darkest Hour] , the main ‘thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance’ (e.g. 11).

– CKR, 14/1/2018

1 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/13/hawaii-ballistic-missile-threat-alert-false-alarm

2 https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/anti-radiation-drug-sales-skyrocket-after-nuclear-button-tweet-n836921

3 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/13/nuclear-policy-review-war-risk

4 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/08/books/review/michael-wolff-fire-and-fury-trump-white-house.html

5 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/09/us-to-loosen-nuclear-weapons-policy-and-develop-more-usable-warheads

6 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/13/nuclear-policy-review-war-risk

  1. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/living-in-the-shadow-of-north-koreas-nuclear-arsenal-20170810-gxt4qb.html

8 https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/897824/North-Korea-news-update-Kim-Jong-un-World-War-3-China-South-Korea

9 http://www.smh.com.au/comment/why-australia-might-be-forced-to-consider-nuclear-weapons-20180111-h0gojv.html (Cf also

Going nuclear?

10 https://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/hugh-white/2017/04/2017/1512357833/without-america-australia-new-asia

11 http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057

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