Tag Archives: nuclear weapons

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.

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.

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 4

The United States of America has followed a nuclear policy that, so far, has worked pretty well.

Call it a policy of “containment and deterrence.”

Thus, is it possible for the United States to get North Korea to toss its budding nuclear stockpile into the crapper? Hardly.

Which brings me to one of Kim Jong Un’s demands: He wants to keep his nuclear arsenal. USA Today’s list of five demands contains this one, which might be central to the current tensions that have escalated between the United States and North Korea.

Check it out here.

You’ve heard of “mutually assured destruction,” aka MAD. It kept the United States and the Soviet Union from nuking each other during the Cold War. The world is full of trouble spots occupied by nuclear-powered nations: India and Pakistan; Israel has them, too; South Africa has been thought to possess nuclear weapons.

Yes, we negotiated an agreement designed to rid Iran of its nuclear weapon capability and the jury is still out on whether that will work ultimately.

North Korea presents a tremendously different situation for us. Donald Trump is blustering, bellowing and bloviating about what he intends to do if Kim’s regime keeps making “overt threats” against the United States and our allies. A “threat” doesn’t constitute military action, so the president is treading on some highly dangerous ground if he intends to hit the North Korean’s first.

My advice to the president — which he won’t ever see, let alone heed — would be to dial back the fiery and furious rhetoric and possibly accept the notion that North Koreans are going to do what they intend to do, no matter how many threats we level against them.

However, the commander in chief can make it known — through back channels — what Kim knows already: Don’t even think about using those nukes.

‘Threats’ produce possible war?

Donald J. Trump is now threatening to wipe North Korea off the face of the planet because of “threats” the rogue nation is making toward the United States.

Have the North Koreans made any demonstrable moves against the world’s only super-duper power? Have they proved they are even capable of inflicting damage on this country? No.

They are threatening to do bad things. So that prompts the president of the United States to say he’ll bring unprecedented “fire and fury” to bear on North Korea, which has the ability now to deliver a nuclear weapon on board a missile.

As usual, the president isn’t thinking about what he is saying. He isn’t pondering how North Korea is going to respond to threats of maximum force. Oh, no. He’s simply popping off once again.

His statement delivered while on vacation has drawn some rebuke from military experts and from leading Republicans in Congress.

One of the critics is Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a man who knows combat and the consequence of war. “I don’t know what he’s saying and I’ve long ago given up trying to interpret what he says,” McCain said during an interview with a local Arizona radio station. “That kind of rhetoric, I’m not sure how it helps.”

It doesn’t.

McCain added: “In other words, the old walk softly but carry a big stick, Teddy Roosevelt’s saying, which I think is something that should’ve applied because all it’s going to do is bring us closer to a serious confrontation. I think this is very, very, very serious.”

A first-strike response against North Korea is going to prompt a major ground war on the Korean Peninsula. Is that what the president wants to occur? Of course not, but that is going to be the inevitable consequence.

Trump must be able to deliver on his tough talk. McCain and others are unsure he can and are mortified that he would say out loud that he would issue such a careless threat.

But … the president “tells it like it is.”

More nukes for U.S.? Sure thing, Mr. President-elect

Let’s go back a few decades.

Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had many differences of opinion on a whole range of issues.

They all agreed, though, on one key matter: They all wanted to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world.

Then along comes Donald J. Trump to announce to the world — via Twitter, of course — that he wants more nukes, not fewer of them.

The response from his pal, Russian President Vladimir, was equally disconcerting. Hey, no prob, said the Russian strongman.


Putin takes no great concern over Trump’s assertion that we need to boost our nuclear arsenal, apparently disregarding the notion that we already can destroy the world with what we have.

Trump already has let it be known that a new nuclear arms race with the Russians is no big deal, that the United States can outlast ’em in Moscow.

Trump’s new press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the president-elect’s tweet was meant to warn the world against nuclear proliferation.

Oh, boy. Conducting foreign policy discussions via Twitter is truly for the birds.

Nuclear knowledge becomes an issue

by Snoron.com

Seventy-one years ago the United States of America set a terrible — but necessary in my view — precedent in the conduct of warfare.

A B-29 bomber crew on Aug. 6, 1945 dropped a bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The device killed tens of thousands of Japanese civilians in instant. Another crew took off three days later and did even greater damage to the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

World War II would come to an end just a few days later.

I raise the issue today because of some remarkable things that the Republican Party nominee for president — Donald J. Trump — has said about the use of nuclear weapons.

Trump has said several astonishing things along the way to his nomination.

* He said Japan and South Korea should be allowed to develop nuclear arsenals to defend themselves against North Korea.

* Trump has said he wouldn’t object if other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, developed nukes.

* He was unable to answer a question about the so-called “nuclear triad.”

* Trump told a TV interviewer that he wouldn’t take the use of nukes “off the table” in the Middle East or even in Europe.

The United States built its nuclear arsenal during the 1950s and 1960s to deter the other great nuclear power — the Soviet Union — from using the weapons against us or our allies. We didn’t build the weapons to use for offensive purposes. We built them to scare the daylights out of the Soviets.

Donald Trump is campaigning for the presidency with no apparent knowledge of our nuclear weapon policy or even any knowledge of why we have the weapons in the first place.

I’m old enough to remember the famous “Daisy” ad that President Lyndon Johnson’s campaign ran a single time on TV in 1964 against Barry Goldwater. It was meant to send the message that Sen. Goldwater could not be trusted with the nation’s vast nuclear arsenal.

I don’t expect another such ad to appear this time around.

However, Trump’s astonishing lack of understanding of nuclear weapons policy should give every American serious pause as they ponder who should become the next commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military machine.

Note to Kim Jong Un: Study up on ‘MAD’ doctrine


I have used this blog on occasion to question North Korea’s fruitcake/dictator’s sanity on judgment, but not — necessarily — his intelligence.

Still, someone in Pyongyang needs to take the young man aside and explain the MAD doctrine to him.

The letters “MAD” comprise an acronym, meaning “mutually assured destruction.”

The United States and the Soviet Union understood its implications.

If one country were to launch a nuclear strike against the other — or its allies — then all hell would break loose. Both sides would be destroyed. Gone! Obliterated.

Now, though, Kim Jong Un says he won’t use nukes unless his country’s sovereignty is threatened.


Even that caveat makes any thought using nukes, well, rather MAD … don’t you think?

It’s important to note that he is the lone leader of a nuclear state that keeps referencing the potential use of nukes. Does the People’s Republic of China say anything about it? How about the United States? Or Russia?

Oh, wait! I almost forgot! Presumed GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has said he wouldn’t oppose Japan or South Korea developing nuclear arsenals as a hedge against North Korea.

That, too, is MAD.

It’s simply in Kim Jong Un’s best interest — really and truly — to consider the implications of what MAD means.


POTUS shows command of the obvious


Barack Obama demonstrated today a compelling command of the obvious when he said the Republicans’ leading candidate for president “doesn’t know much about foreign policy.”

The president was responding to comments from Donald J. Trump about allowing South Korea and Japan develop nuclear weapons programs.

Yep, Trump said he would be open to that possibility as a deterrent to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

According to Politico: “The person who made the statements doesn’t know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the Korean peninsula or the world generally,” Obama told reporters as he finished the last of a series of high-level meetings on nuclear security in Washington.

“The person” to whom Obama was referring also said the United States shouldn’t even rule out using nuclear weapons to fight the Islamic State in the Middle East and, oh yes, in Europe.

Oh … my.

That’s the obvious criticism: that Trump doesn’t know diddly about U.S. foreign policy, its aims, how it protects U.S. interests and how it intends to maintain peace.

What is not so obvious is the question that the president didn’t ask. Perhaps he didn’t want to stick the proverbial hot branding iron in the eye of the Trumpsters who keep cheering their man on.

I’ll ask it here: How is it that the individuals who keep voting for this guy give him a pass on such obvious ignorance?

I am acquainted with some Trumpsters here in Amarillo. They keep answering with the same refrain: Trump “tells it like it is”; political correctness be damned!

As Ricky Ricardo might say: Ayy, caramba!

Trump’s ignorance keeps revealing itself in breathtaking fashion.

Just this week alone, he said women should be “punished” if they obtain an illegal abortion; he then reversed himself … twice! Then came the remarkable assertion about the use of nukes to fight radical Islamic terrorists. To be fair, he didn’t pledge to drop A-bombs on them, only that we shouldn’t take their use “off the table.”

Still, this individual does not grasp the meaning and the gravitas of what he says. As the president noted today in his remarks, the world pays careful attention to what major political leaders in this country say. Obama said: “I’ve said before that, you know, people pay attention to American elections. What we do is really important to the rest of the world, and even in those countries that are used to a carnival atmosphere in their own politics want sobriety and clarity when it comes to U.S. elections because they understand the president of the United States needs to know what’s going on around the world.”

Trump may say he’s not a politician, but that’s now patently untrue. He is a politician seeking the highest office in the land. He seeks to become chief executive, the head of state and the commander in chief of the United States of America.

Yet he keeps shooting off his mouth about matters of which he knows not a single thing.

How in the name of all that is holy does this clown keep getting away with it?


GOP wall beginning to crack


Republican resistance to President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland is beginning to show signs of weakening.

Two GOP U.S. senators, Susan Collins of Maine and John Boozman of Arkansas, say they’re going to meet with Judge Garland. Jerry Moran of Kansas, a reliably conservative lawmaker, has said the same thing. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, too. Same with Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Is a mere meeting with two Senate Republicans enough to bring this nomination to the confirmation process? Hardly. The meetings, though, do seem to suggest that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s effort to block the nomination is being seen for what it is: a political game of obstruction.

Is it beginning to sink in to some GOP senators that Garland is the best nominee they’re going to get? He’s supremely qualified. He’s a judicial moderate, a studious and thoughtful jurist.

Consider what’s happening out there on the political campaign trail.

GOP frontrunner Donald J. Trump is beginning to implode. He said women should be “punished” for obtaining an abortion, then took it back; he said he wouldn’t “rule out” the use of nuclear weapons against the Islamic State, even saying the same thing about deploying nukes in Europe; his campaign manager is accused of battery against a female reporter.

However, Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican Party presidential nomination.

Do members of the Senate GOP caucus understand that Trump’s chances of being elected president are vaporizing?

McConnell said Obama shouldn’t get to fill the vacancy created by the death of conservative judicial icon Antonin Scalia. That task should belong to the next president, McConnell said.

And who is that likely to be? I believe it’s going to be Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The GOP-led Senate is now facing the prospect of simultaneous earthquakes. The Democratic presidential nominee could win the White House in a landslide and the Senate could flip back to Democratic control once the votes are counted in November.

Against that backdrop, we’re beginning to hear from an increasing number of Republican senators that, yep, Merrick Garland is as good as we’re going to get.

Cheney wrong on Iraq, but right on Iran?


Let me stipulate up front that I can be a bit slow on the uptake.

Having made that admission, I now must wonder aloud why the immediate past vice president of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, should be taken seriously when he criticizes the Iran nuclear deal.

Why question it? Because Vice President Cheney and the rest of the Bush administration national security team were woefully wrong about Iraq and the conditions that lured us into the Iraq War.

Yet, there he is, out there blasting the Iran nuclear deal while actually defending the decision to go to war in Iraq. Remember the weapons of mass destruction? Or that Saddam Hussein was working to develop a nuclear arsenal of his own? Or that we’d be greeted as “liberators” by the Iraqis?

Cheney and the rest of the Bush gang said all of that.

Now we are supposed to believe him when he assesses the Iran nuclear deal as presenting a far greater risk to the United States than the terrorists who hit us on 9/11.

Cheney was wrong in 2003. He’s wrong now.

But he stands firm on the rationale he, the president, the national security team and the secretary of state all presented to the world that, by golly, Saddam was going to present a threat to the entire world. We had to take him out, Cheney said.

We weren’t greeted as liberators. The WMD? Not a sign of it anywhere. Ditto for the Iraqi nuke program.

Mr. Vice President, your miscalculation — or perhaps it was a deception — on Iraq disqualifies you from speaking out against an agreement that has far greater chances for success than the misadventure you helped create in Iraq.