Where We Are: A Post About Nukes

Long post, so here’s the TL/DR version: (1) don’t be comforted by the thought that “the generals” will prevent nuclear war – and (2) we must decry as madness a doctrine of “trying to prevent North Korea from using nuclear weapons by starting a conflict that would likely cause North Korea to use its nuclear weapons.”
 
Read more to see my reasoning and links.
 
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Though everyone basically acknowledges that a POTUS has full power to launch nuclear weapons – and that little, if anything, can stop Trump from doing so (see THIS LINK.)
 
…many people still hold out hope in the fact that (a) launching a first-strike nuclear war seems unlikely, even for Trump, and moreover: (b) the grownups – “the generals” (Mattis / Kelly / McMaster) – might well refuse to follow an order that could bring about nuclear war, the death of millions, and even the end of civilization as we know it. (During the darkest days of Watergate, after all, the President’s staff had plans in place in case an in increasingly unhinged, distracted Nixon called for the launch of a nuclear attack.)
 
This thought should give us little comfort.
 
I tend to agree that Trump is unlikely to launch a first *nuclear* strike – but that’s probably not how war with N. Korea would unfold, anyway.
 
It’s possible that Trump does indeed strike first – but with conventional weapons in an attempt to destroy N. Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
 
This might seem rational – why wouldn’t we want to take out their nukes? – but as is well-documented in THIS ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC, among others, there’s no good military strategy that eliminates NK’s nuclear weaponry entirely. 
 
And without a doubt, North Korea would surely respond to *any* attack as a provocation and the situation could escalate very, very quickly into nuclear war.
 
I’ve seen some on the right cavalierly advocate first-strike force, but if there’s no good way to take out their weaponry, this would be absolute madness: in effect, “trying to prevent NK from using nuclear weapons by starting a conflict that would likely cause North NK to use its nuclear weapons.”
 
Another scenario: a first strike not by us, but by North Korea, leaving us no choice but to respond. This, also, would get out of hand very quickly and enter the nuclear arena.
 
With his bellicose tweets, Trump appears to be goading Kim Jung-Un into doing just that: striking *first* and taking military action on the U.S. or our allies – at which case, we’d respond and quickly, and there’s no way the generals would stand in the way of a military response to an attack – either with conventional weapons or the nuclear weapons Trump seems all too eager to use
 
As the Atlantic article linked above states – as many articles have stated – now that North Korea has nuclear weapons, there are no good options, only less bad ones. Trump, an ego-driven, poorly-informed, easily-triggered reality show TV host and failed businessman with no military or public service experience, is marching full-steam ahead into one of the worst ones: backing someone with nuclear weapons into a corner, and denigrating diplomacy as useless while threatening that “only one thing” will work on NK.
 
What is there to do? I’m open to suggestion. I fear there’s not much most of us can do – but we CAN speak out. We need to start by calling out the situation for what it is: dangerous madness – a pissing contest between two unstable men with nuclear weaponry.
 
Beyond that, we need to increase public pressure on the Republican Congress. If a majority feels the way Bob Corker says they do – that they as a body feel that Trump is unstable and dangerous – we need to encourage all of them (demand?) to stand up and say so, for the good of the country.
 
It’s starting to happen: Corker has uncorked a flurry of articles assessing Trump’s decision-making, instability and fitness for office.
 
We also need to get less distracted by the daily outrages and tweets. I don’t mean *at all* that we should stop paying attention to the other controversies and fires that Trump stokes, or the very real crises, from hurricanes to wildfires to gun rampages; to racial inequality and injustice; to assaults on the Constitution and on healthcare, civil rights, reproductive rights, and LGBT rights.
 
But we also need to focus even more attention on the matters of gravest concern: the danger and costs of nuclear war, and its impact on the survival of humankind.
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