He’s still got the whole world in his tiny hands
I just finished reading the book “Hiroshima” by John Hersey. Hersey follows a half dozen people who survived the atomic bombing of that city on August 6, 1945. They all describe going about their daily business when a bright flash of the whitest light they’d ever seen occurs. Though none of them recall hearing any explosion, one woman describes being picked up and thrown from one room of her house to another. One man dove behind some rocks and felt a pressure wave. A doctor sat on the porch of a hospital built along the Kyo River. When he saw the flash, he stood and the entire building collapsed into the river.
When they got up, if they could get up, their city was leveled. Houses were in splinters. Trees were stripped of leaves. Fires raged throughout the rubble that was once a vibrant city. Walking through the city they saw many people with horrible red burns and pieces of skin hanging from their bodies. Some who had been wearing kimonos with flowers on them at the time of the blast had the kimono’s burnt off and the flower patterns seared into their skin. Some peoples’ eyes had boiled and popped. Others’ eyes dangled onto their cheeks. One survivor came across a badly burned woman lying on the ground who was trying to get to her feet. When the survivor took her hands in his to help her up, the skin of her hands, like fleshy gloves slipped off in his.
Thousands of people streamed out of the city, the walking dead, begging for water and vomiting as they walked. One woman held her dead infant in her arms for four days.
Weeks later their wounds still had not healed and many people’s hair began to fall out. A month later, diarrhea and fever as well as a precipitous drop in the white blood cell count left victims vulnerable to opportunistic infections. Some men became sterile while women had their menstruation stop completely. There were many miscarriages. Locals spread rumors of the bomb releasing a poison that would plague them for seven years. Few knew it was intense gamma radiation that was attacking their cells.
The uranium-235 Little Boy atomic bomb detonated 1900 feet above the city of Hiroshima in the morning hours. The bomb leveled everything in a one mile radius and between those killed immediately and those who died over the next few months, between 90,000 and 160,000 people lost their lives. Fires fueled by high winds caused by the bombing destroyed an additional 4.4 miles around the blast site. Glass shattered up to 12 miles away. It increased survivors’ chance of leukemia by nearly 50%. However, most of the feared long term effects have not materialized.
One could not read this harrowing book without thinking about North Korea and the game of nuclear chicken being played by Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. While their tit for tat threats seem silly, the threat of miscalculation and nuclear tragedy is very real.
The Monterey-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies report that computer models of the Hwasong-14 missile North Korea tested this summer could strike New York City. And according to U.S. Intelligence the hydrogen bomb North Korea recently tested was ten times as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
If it’s true that North Korea has miniaturized a warhead to fit on that missile and that warhead detonated over New York City according to Alex Wellerstein’s Nukemap program it would create a quarter mile fireball and kill nearly 730,000 people and injure another 1.5 million. Everyone in a 3 mile radius who wasn’t killed instantly would receive third degree burns. An explosion over New York City would shatter glass in Secaucus, Jersey City and North Bergen, New Jersey.
That prospect is even scarier when you read that Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) recently told the New York Times that Donald Trump concerns him and said he’s putting the nation “on the path to World War III.” And Corker said that most of his Republican colleagues agree with him but are afraid of speaking out.
Numerous journalists have indicated that Republican congress members, White House advisers, foreign diplomats and even foreign leaders privately have questioned Donald Trump’s temperament and mental state.
In August, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on-air that Donald Trump’s access to the nuclear codes was “pretty damn scary.”
And in a Vanity Fair article, White House aides say they fear Trump is “unstable” and “unraveling.”
Unstable with access to the nuclear codes.
What’s clear is a growing number of our leaders are coming to realize what most of us knew last year: Donald Trump is woefully inadequate, unfit, ill-tempered and represents a clear and present danger to the United States of America. Donald Trump is a greater threat to this nation than ISIS, or Al-Qaeda.
Which brings me back to nuclear war. Trump’s bellicose rhetoric on North Korea shouldn’t be seen as just a bluff. While Trump is a serial liar he also has a lengthy track record of irresponsible talk regarding nuclear weapons. Last year MSNBC host Joe Scarborough related a story of a foreign policy expert who had a one hour conversation with then-candidate Trump in which Trump asked three times why he couldn’t use nuclear weapons. In an interview with Chris Matthews last year Trump refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe and advocated Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia developing nukes. And we can’t forget his “fire and fury” remarks and his pledge to “totally destroy North Korea” at the United Nations. And this week Trump said his response to North Korea is different than his advisers’ saying he was “tougher” and that all that matters is what he wants.
For his part, North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un has said that Trump “lit the wick of war” in the U.N. Speech. Having two unstable men in a pissing contest is horrible given the stakes are human lives.
Now chances are North Korea has not yet mastered the reentry of a nuclear warhead into the earth’s atmosphere and thus probably can’t reach the continental United States with a hydrogen bomb yet. But it can definitely strike South Korea, Japan and Guam and Hawaii with missiles.
If Trump were to use nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula the genie would be out of the bottle. There’s no controlling events after that. Nuclear weapons have never been used in a world where multiple states possess them. The fear is such a destabilizing move could trigger global conflict and the mother of all nightmares, a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia or China, with hundreds of nuclear missiles raining on cities in a global catastrophe.
Most likely you and everyone you love are dead. Or they’d want to be.
If the reports are true that Trump is roaming around the White House in dark moods, venting and unraveling; and if top American intelligence officials and senators in his own party are sounding the alarm, we need an intervention. We need action. Because the president has the sole authority to launch nuclear missiles. There’s no veto. There’s no fail-safe.
It’s terrifying to think the only thing standing between us and a global murder-suicide is the restraint of Donald John Trump.