Tag Archives: North Korea

So, what about nuclear preparedness?

Hawaii residents were shaken to their core over the weekend when they thought for what seemed like forever that they were going to be blown to bits in a nuclear attack.

Their cell phones sounded an alarm and it took 38 minutes for them to learn the truth: It was a false alarm.

But, this incident begs many questions. Why did it take so long to call off the statewide panic? How did an employee “push the wrong button”?

And then there’s this: What kind of preparation are other communities throughout the United States making in case of a real nuclear attack?

I’ve been thinking about that for the past day or so. What would happen if some enemy nation launched missiles aimed at a Department of Energy facility just northeast of Amarillo, Texas? You know about which I am mentioning here: Pantex, the sprawling compound in Carson County where this nation stores nuclear warheads. Many of us here refer to it light-heartedly as “The Bomb Factory.”

But it’s no joke. They do serious work out there.

What has Amarillo done to prepare for such an event?

I have lived in the Texas Panhandle for 23 years. So help me, I never have heard about a community emergency response system. Whatever it is, I don’t know where to go.

I grew up, of course, in the duck-and-cover era when the United States faced off against the Soviet Union, the other nuclear superpower. It was just Uncle Sam vs. the Big Ol’ Bear. Us vs. Them. Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys.

Today’s world is different. The USSR morphed back into Russia, but they’ve still got plenty of nukes. So do several other nations: India, Pakistan, South Africa, China, the UK, France … maybe Israel.

Oh, and North Korea!

The SNAFU in Hawaii has alerted all of us — or at least it should alert us — that the nuclear threat remains dire, perhaps even more so than it was during the Cold War.

Are we prepared? If someone out there has a plan, let’s hear it.

I’m all ears.

Here’s a thought: Stress diplomacy over nukes

Donald Trump has offered a word of praise to Hawaii officials.

The president lauds them for taking “full responsibility” for the near-panic caused when someone “pushed the wrong button” and sent out an false alarm that declared there was an incoming missile from … possibly North Korea.

As The Hill reports:

“That was a state thing but we are going to now get involved with them. I love that they took responsibility. They took total responsibility,” Trump told reporters Sunday.

“But we are going to get involved. Their attitude and their — I think it is terrific. They took responsibility. They made a mistake,” he continued.

When asked what he will do to prevent a similar false alert from taking place, Trump didn’t answer directly but said, “we hope it won’t happen again.

He added, again according to The Hill:

“Part of it is people are on edge, but maybe eventually we will solve the problem so they won’t have to be so on edge,” Trump said.

Yes, they are “on edge,” Mr. President. Indeed, Trump’s bellicosity along with the unpredictability of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has put millions of Americans — not just those in Hawaii — on edge.

With that, I’ll offer a modest suggestion for the president: How about stressing diplomacy and setting aside the threats of “fire and fury,” “total annihilation” and using a “big nuclear button”?

The military option we keep hearing about ought to be the option of last resort — not the first, second or third resort. Military confrontation with North Korea is, shall we say, fraught with grievous consequences.

I, too, am glad that Hawaii officials have owned their mistake. Hawaii Gov. David Ige has apologized to his constituents and, by extension, to the rest of the nation.

Yes, the federal government can get involved. The commander in chief can set aside the tough talk and start sending signals to North Korea that it’s time to settle our differences through diplomacy.

This is what can produce panic

You’re sitting at home in Honolulu, or Hilo, or Lihue, Hawaii.

Your smart phone starts buzzing. You look at it. Then you see a message that declares “Ballistic missile inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

Have you ever feared such a thing might occur?

It took 38 minutes for Hawaii’s residents to react to what turned out to be a false alarm.

I don’t know about you, but I might decide to panic at that moment.

It turns out that “human error” caused these minutes of grave concern.

Details remain sketchy. Someone reported today on CNN that a shift change at Hawaii’s emergency response center resulted in someone “pushing the wrong button.” Huh? What the … ?

We live in terribly tense times. The United States and North Korea are engaging in a war of wills. Our nation’s president keeps using his Twitter account to needle North Korean dictator/fruit cake Kim Jong Un about the size the two men’s nuclear “button.”

Hawaii residents hear all this right along with the rest of the country. Then they get a text message on every smart phone in the state that says missiles are incoming?

Hawaii wasn’t hit by a missile. For that the rest of the nation is grateful. But, oh brother, some of our fellow countrymen and women in Hawaii have some serious questions to answer.

Starting with: How in the name of nuclear holocaust does this happen … and how are we going to prevent this type of “human error” from recurring?

Donald Trump: master of the obvious

I probably shouldn’t concern myself with yet another presidential Twitter tirade from Donald John Trump Sr.

But … here goes anyway.

The president of the United States just had to tell North Korean dictator/goofball Kim Jong Un that the United States has a bigger bomb than the North Koreans have and that his “button works.”

Why in the world does the commander in chief of the world’s greatest military machine have to goad, chide, needle someone who just might do something terribly and tragically foolish? That would be to start a nuclear exchange with the U.S. of A.

The world has known for a long time that Kim was battling to become the world’s nuttiest head of state. I am having trouble grasping that the Donald Trump is now rivaling the North Korean nut job for that dubious distinction.

However, he is doing the seemingly impossible.

Social media, of course, went crazy overnight regarding the president’s goofy tweet. Imagine my non-surprise at that!

I suppose it’s fair to remind everyone who reads this blog that Donald Trump said he’d likely set his Twitter habit aside once he became president.

To think that many of us actually had hope he would deliver on that pledge. Silly us.

So “unpresidented.”

Clock is ticking on Rex T at State

I guess the die was cast when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the president of the United States a “f****** moron” and then pointedly refused to deny he said it.

The word is out that the White House is working on an ouster strategy that would send Tillerson packing and would install CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the next top diplomat.

Change is on its way … allegedly

It’s probably good that Tillerson will be replaced. He hasn’t been a particularly effective secretary of state. I mean, the guy seeks to open direct talks with North Korean leaders in connection with their foolish plans to develop a nuclear arsenal and then is told — via Twitter — that the president believes he is “wasting his time.”

The head of the State Department cannot function when he is being undermined so publicly by the president who appointed him to this highly important and sensitive job.

The word, too, has been Trump and Tillerson are not close. They never had met before Trump asked Tillerson to become secretary of state. That’s no surprise, though, given that Trump had virtually zero contact with anyone outside his own circle of business associates.

Would a Secretary Pompeo — a former congressman from Kansas — fare better than Secretary Tillerson? Well, the way I see it, the bar has been set so low with the Trump-Tillerson non-relationship that it cannot possibly be much worse.

Trump seeks to tighten screws on N. Korea

Donald J. Trump has acted appropriately with regard to North Korea. Instead of blustering about delivering “fire and fury” to the Marxist regime, he has returned North Korea to the list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

The president has made the correct call.

He is seeking to isolate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in his effort to build a nuclear weapons arsenal. The aim, according to Trump, is to impose the strictest economic sanctions possible on the rogue nation. It’s also meant to pressure China, North Korea’s chief trading partner, into following suit.

I don’t know about you, but I believe this approach holds far greater potential than threats of military strikes.

The designation — which reverses a decision made by President George W. Bush in 2008 — puts North Korea on a short list of state-sponsored-terrorist nations; the others are Sudan, Iran and Syria.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson doubts the designation will have much practical effect, given that the United States already has imposed heavy sanctions on North Korea. But he is talking openly about his “hope for diplomacy” in the effort to persuade North Korea to stand down in its effort to build a nuclear arsenal.

The great Winston Churchill once told us it was better to “jaw, jaw, jaw than to war, war, war.”

The late British prime minister’s wisdom ought to apply to the present-day crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

This shouldn’t be funny, but it is

I shouldn’t be giggling when a head of state declares a death sentence on another head of state.

Except that the guy who’s issuing the death sentence is Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator/strongman/fruitcake. The object of his death sentence? None other than Donald John Trump Sr., the current president of the United States of America.

My goodness. I’ll be brief with this one.

Kim didn’t like being called “short and fat” in a tweet flashed around the world by Trump. Except that the president said he “wouldn’t” call Kim “short and fat.” Not ever. Oh, but wait. He did anyway!

Rodong Sinmun, the North Korea government-run newspaper, wrote in an editorial: “The worst crime for which he can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership.”

As if Kim had any “dignity” that could possibly be “malignantly hurt.”

I don’t know, though, what could be worse. That Kim would issue this bogus “death sentence,” or that the president will be prompted to fire back an idiotic response.

Senators concerned about POTUS and the nukes

More than 40 years ago, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked some tough questions about the president of the United States’ fitness to be in command of the nuclear launch codes.

President Richard Nixon was being swallowed up by the Watergate crisis. Questions arose about whether the president would do something foolish in a moment of intense political anguish.

Concerns arise once again

Flash forward. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee of today is now concerned, apparently, with the current president’s ability to handle this awesome responsibility. Senators didn’t come to any conclusions or seek any substantial change in the policy, but they got to air their concerns on the record about Donald John Trump.

As Politico reports: “We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing that yielded few clear answers about checks on the commander in chief’s power. “Let’s just recognize the exceptional nature of this moment.”

Though Republicans were not as vocal about their concern, some did express worry that one person alone can make the decision to launch a nuclear war.

The president hasn’t yet demonstrated the complete understanding of command and control. He keeps popping off via Twitter, threatening North Korea with destruction.

And oh yes, the president has virtually sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. The policy was designed during the Cold War when the United States need a quick response in case the Soviet Union decided to launch missiles against us.

The Cold War is over, although the peril of a nuclear strike remains acute, given the enormous number of nuclear-armed nations around the world.

Which requires a U.S. president to be of sound temperament and judgment. The Senate panel today sought to explore those issues today as it relates to the current commander in chief.

Given the president’s behavior and the goofiness of his public pronouncements, senators have ample reason to wonder out loud about the commander in chief’s ability to keep us safe.

Trump tweet is ‘almost funny’

I now am going to admit something.

I giggled a bit when I read something about what Donald Trump tweeted about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Kim supposedly said something about Trump being “old.” The president took offense. He said he’d never call Kim “short and fat.”

Oops! Didn’t he just do exactly that? Sure he did.

Actually I found the president’s tweet kinda/sorta clever. But I don’t want to encourage him to keep doing it.

You see, the worldwide stakes are pretty damn high. Kim wants to build a nuclear weapon delivery system that reaches the United States of America. He’s said so publicly. Trump keeps yammering about “the military option” being on the table.

It’s a dangerous world out there, Mr. President. Going to war in Korea isn’t an option — and I don’t give a damn what the president threatens to do if Kim keeps “threatening” the United States and South Korea.

He’s dealing with someone no one outside of North Korea seems to know. No one can determine with any certainty how he will respond to these kinds of personal insults.

I just wish the president would stop saying out loud what he’s entitled to think in private.

Now POTUS welcomes talks with North Korea

Donald J. Trump is all over the pea patch regarding North Korea.

The president a few weeks ago tweeted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was wasting his time seeking a direct meeting with North Koreans regarding that country’s threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States and South Korea.

Oh, but while visiting South Korea this week, the president has let it be known that he would be willing to talk to North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un.

Which is it, Mr. President?

Frankly, I welcome the second overture far more than the first one.

Trump did offer some tough rhetoric during a speech this week to the South Korean parliament, warning the North about “underestimating” the United States. He told Kim that his efforts to bolster his nuclear arsenal put his regime in “grave danger.”

That all might be so much bluster and bravado if negotiation remains somewhere on the large table of options.

I continue to believe, as many others have said publicly, that there is no “good” military option in seeking to “de-nuclearize” the Korean Peninsula. A diplomatic solution is the only sensible path.

My strongest hope is that the president is going to lead the nation down that path, rather than the one that is fraught with grave danger for the entire planet.