Monday, March 12, 2018

Trump and Kim and Nuclear Brinksmanship: Too Close for Comfort

"For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Bay Area
residents are being forced to confront the unthinkable:
the possibility of a nuclear attack on our own soil."
(The Mercury News, August 10, 2017)
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A number of things will need to be said to clarify the context of the Trump-Kim Summit.

I think the most important is: US people have woken up to the fact that "business as usual" (i.e. US nuclear deterrence doctrine) means that they are targets . . . and they've also woken up to the fact that a nuclear strike is not something anyone "survives."

Donald Trump cannot come back from Korea and say, "Too bad, we couldn't agree, we're going to pursue other alternatives."

There are no "other alternatives" to ending the risk of nuclear weapons use.

I knew something had changed when more and more members of Congress agreed to co-sponsor Ted Lieu's HR.669 "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017" - including 19 from California alone!

I knew something had changed when I saw the picture above on the front page of our Bay Area paper last summer.

I knew something had changed when Hawaii had a missile alert and suddenly everyone in the US knows someone who has been scared to death by nuclear weapons.

I knew something had changed when thousands of people started to watch this video from the International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC):

"From the 1st second, to 70 years on: here’s what could happen
to you and your city if a nuclear bomb is dropped. #nuclearban"
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For years, experts in the medical field, such as International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), have been urging us to face the facts: a nuclear strike is not something you "survive."

For instance, here's a video from the 1980s ("The Last Epidemic"), with specifics about the impossibility of providing medical care to all of the people harmed if San Francisco were struck by a nuclear weapon:

I guess now people in the US have begun to connect that reality to their own lives.

The degree to which things have changed struck me this morning when I happened to be reading an old Joan Didion essay about Joan Baez.

When she was at Palo Alto High School and refused to leave the building during a bomb drill, she was not motivated by theory; she did it because "it was the practical thing to do, I mean it seemed to me this drill was impractical, all these people thinking they could get into some kind of little shelter and be saved with canned water." ("Where the Kissing Never Stops," (1967), in Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Picador edition, p. 83))

People have become a lot more practical in the past year. No one is talking about shelters. People are talking about getting rid of nuclear weapons.

Related posts

What Would a Nuclear Weapon Do to Chicago? (Go ahead, guess . . . )

Obscene Geometry: The Hard Facts about Death and Injury from Nuclear Weapons

US Mayors "Get It": The Nuclear Threat Must Be Stopped

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