Donald Trump filled Twitter world with his inflammatory tweets about the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un. The U.S. president insulted the other country’s leader by calling him “short and fat” and promised to rain down “fire and fury” upon the far smaller nation. Americans responded with alarm, then they fall back into an uneasiness, normalizing the abnormal.
Trump’s National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster recently urged the president to consider the “bloody nose” attack against North Korea, according to Vanity Fair. It is a limited military strike in response to a missile or nuclear test designed to humiliate Kim Jong Un.
McMaster could not have been more wrong. In a country where saving face is everything, Kim Jong Un could well hit back in response to Trump’s “bloody nose” attack with a military body blow.
He could fire missiles into Seoul, which is only 35 miles away and home to 28,500 U.S. military troops plus their families. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who served in the Air Force for 33 years, said on Face the Nation last month, according to Bloomberg News:
‘It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea. South Korea should be an unaccompanied tour. So, I want them to stop sending dependents, and I think it’s now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea.’
Kim Jong Un’s missiles could also reach Hawaii and Taiwan. Truth be told, the North Korean leader does not need a nuclear missile to deliver a nuclear bomb, only a submarine.
Cambridge University lecturer, Dr. John Nilsson-Wright, warned that North Korea may be taking the tweets far more seriously than American voters, according to Britain’s The Sun:
‘North Korea may be taking his inflammatory statements very seriously. There is anxiety in U.S. capitals about the risk of attack from North Korea and Americans are getting more serious about a military response. Military action would have devastating consequences because it would involve major powers.’
Seventeen former nuclear launch officers have written and signed a letter to Congress expressing their deep concern about Trump’s fitness to serve as president. They wrote:
‘In the final weeks of the presidential election, we sounded our alarm over Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as commander-in-chief, with absolute authority over the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Joining hundreds of leaders across the political spectrum in questioning Trump’s temperament, judgement and indifference to expert advice, we warned that Trump should not be allowed to have his finger on the proverbial “Red Button.”’
The former officers have only become more intensely alarmed:
‘One year into the Trump presidency, our alarm has only intensified and we must raise our voices again. The president has had ample opportunity to educate and humble himself to the grave responsibilities of his office. Instead, he consistently shows himself to be easily baited, stubborn in his ignorance of world politics and diplomacy, and quick to brandish nuclear threats. The reality of this presidency is worse than we feared.’
They fear a “catastrophic miscalculation:”
‘Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has put the United States on a collision course with North Korea. The most recent back-and-forth with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over the size of their “nuclear buttons” is dangerous and risks catastrophic miscalculation. Threats of “fire and fury” and total destruction of the Kim dictatorship undercut diplomatic efforts and increase the likelihood of stumbling into conflict. Worse, it appears the president is operating under the belief that these threats of nuclear war are working; we can only expect this behavior will continue.’
The officers see a “clear and present danger to the country:”
‘Every one of these episodes points to a flaw in the nuclear launch process that poses a clear and present danger to the country and the world: Every American president has absolute authority to order the first use of nuclear weapons. No one – not the secretary of defense, not the attorney general, not Congress – can veto that order. There are no reliable safeguards in place to contain this power. ‘
They pointed out “missiles leaving their silos in several minutes. They cannot be recalled:”
‘As former nuclear launch control officers, it was our job to fire nuclear missiles if the president so directed. Once the president orders a launch, we could have missiles leaving their silos in several minutes. They cannot be recalled. The missiles would reach their destination – whether Russia, China or North Korea – within 30 minutes. There is no act of greater consequence, and it should not rest in the hands of any one person.’
The former nuclear launch officers offered several proposals:
‘There are a number of good proposals before Congress right now that would rein in the president’s power to order the first use of nuclear weapons. Whether it’s assigning the defense secretary and attorney general a role in certifying a launch order, requiring a Congressional Declaration of War before the first use of nuclear weapons, or ending the policy of nuclear first use entirely, any of these common-sense measures would reduce the risk we now face. All are backed by top experts and worthy of consideration. Whichever path we take, it is essential officials on both sides of the aisle come together to reform the system.’
Finally, the former nuclear launch officers said what Congress members say behind closed doors, that Trump is “petulant and foolish:”
‘We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish commander-in-chief. No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction.
Nilsson-Wright agreed with the former nuclear launch officers in The Sun:
‘North (Korea) is concerned about tighter economic sanctions from the U.S. and he has reason to be worried about military action.’
Featured Image via Getty Images.