Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Stop the fearmongering!

North Korea allegedly has a missile capable of delivering one of its nuclear warheads to Hawaii.
Some people on the East Coast may be unsure about Hawaii’s status, e.g., Attorney General Sessions’ reference to a federal judge on some island in the Pacific and a New York Times’ headline that worries North Korean missiles will soon be able to reach targets in the US – only in the text of the article is there a clarification that the headline connotes the continental US.
Nevertheless, both the federal and state governments claim that they are taking steps to protect the people of Hawaii. The federal government is accelerating its plans to deploy a missile defense system to shoot down incoming North Korean missiles, or, presumably incoming missiles from other nations. Of course, this missile defense system is unproven and has failed to pass many of the Defense Department’s tests intended to ensure the system’s accuracy and reliability. The missile system, developed and deployed at a cost of billions, is part of the “Star Wars” defense began during the Reagan administration. Hawaii and its people would have benefitted more from better healthcare availability, improved schools, and more affordable housing than from this iffy boondoggle brought to us by the military-industrial complex.
The state government will resume monthly testing of its civil defense warning siren, designed to give citizens a five to fifteen minute warning that a nuclear attack will occur. The siren is a cold war legacy. Civil preparedness officials advise residents of high rises to seek shelter on the building’s ground floor or in a sturdy building. This advice is reminiscent of the civil defense drills in which I participated as an elementary school child: When the siren sounded, students were directed to shelter under their desk. Both then and now, the preparedness plan would achieve little or nothing in the event of an actual nuclear attack.
Arguably, both the federal and state responses are more fearmongering than of any actual benefit to the people of Hawaii. China and Russia have both had the capability of launching a nuclear attack against Hawaii for decades. Yet in neither case has the federal or state government deemed it important to prepare for that possibility by publicly locating a missile defense system in the islands or resuming testing of the civil defense alert siren.
Saber rattling in which the US implies the possibility of waging preemptive war against North Korea is an even more dangerous form of fearmongering. North Korea has too many potential sites with nuclear armed missiles to afford the US a high degree of confidence that any type of first strike would eliminate all of North Korea’s nuclear weapon capability. A first strike’s failure to eliminate all of that capability would almost certainly result in a North Korean nuclear attack on South Korea, Japan, or the US, a devastating blow that although not decisive in the war’s outcome would kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of people.
Instead of fearmongering and financially wasteful, futile defensive efforts, the US and state governments should work to build bridges of peace with North Korea. Illustratively, the US could strive to draw the isolated nation into the global community and take diplomatic steps to assure the North Korean regime that the US will not seek to implement regime change. North Korea’s leader’s need for security and ego stroking is something that President Trump should understand especially well. Failing to respond constructively to those needs only exacerbates international tensions.

Stop the fearmongering now!

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