Priceless: A Reminder of Past Mistakes

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Just before heading off to bed last night I saw a news flash about an earthquake somewhere in the south Pacific. I decided to wait until morning to read the article. After the bombardment of headlines that greeted my late Sunday morning coffee and news, it seems pretty clear what caused the 6.3 earthquake not far from Guam.

According to Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, the bomb detonated by North Korea that caused the earthquake could have been up to 70 kilotons in strength, more than twice as powerful as any of North Korea’s previous bomb tests in the 10-30 kiloton range. This latest testing also seems to confirm that North Korea does indeed possess hydrogen nuclear war missiles large enough to take out a few U.S. cities, should they launch them our way. Certainly, a 70-kiloton hydrogen bomb would decimate the B-1B Bomber headquarters located on Guam which launched an F-35 Stealth Fighter fly-over of South Korea last thursday. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un wasn’t pleased by that, I’d say.

Our response to these tests and threats against the United States and allied territories has been typical of what we’ve seen and heard recently. No talks of diplomacy, or nuclear response as the last resort. Instead, our presidential address tweets inform us it’s likely our one-or-the-other approach of more sanctions or nuclear attack leaves us no option now but the latter. Efforts made by South Korea to calm the waters, we’re told, are a waste of time as well.

” South Korea is finding as I have told them that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work. They only understand one thing!”, tweeted the president earlier this morning, referring to North Korea, a sentiment U.S. Secretary Jim Mattis followed up with at his subsequent press conference in front of the white house,.

“Any attack to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.”         -S.O.D. Jim Mattis

I wonder how many of us have an idea what “massive” could me? I certainly didn’t. The extent of my knowledge about nuclear, or any other blast was limited to images from the made-for-television nuclear war movies that terrified me as a kid in the 1980’s, and the images of the naked Vietnamese children running from the 1972 Napalm blast on the cover of TIME magazine. I’m not sure as a kid I understood the difference between that U.S.-led napalm attack and the nuclear holocaust images I’d seen on television. I just knew it all sounded pretty scary. The account from one of the Enola Gay pilots, Paul Tibbets who’d dropped the bombs on Hiroshima in 1945 also had a profound effect. His reflections about the ominous flight home in the wake of the sheer magnitude of damage caused by the bomb stayed with me. Researching his words now, all these years later brought home another powerful foreshadowing of what was to come.

“”I saw the end of a long war, I saw the thousands of airplane formations, all that implied certain things to me. I said ‘this is the end of it’. We’ll never see it again. One man is going to go out with a crew and a weapon and do what thousands of airplanes used to do.”

~ Paul Tibbets interview, July 3, 1987

Of course, he couldn’t have anticipated that even an airplane may not be necessary today, that some attacks are launched from a computer at a remote location, detonated by pilotless drones that are not much more than a blip on someone’s computer screen. The devastation left behind is about as real as any detonation carried out in a video game, though likely with less exciting visuals or sound effects. The limited exposure to what these devastating bombs do, whether drone attacks, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs or nuclear warheads, terrifies me almost as much as the bombs themselves do. What does it do to our humanity when the aftermath is diminished? When we don’t see the results left behind, or our part in it?

We need to reflect long and hard, I feel, about what this means. This is a dangerous road we are heading down, one I don’t want to see the conclusion to.

~ Not sure what we can do about it, but the least we can do is face the consequences and take responsibility for our country’s actions.

~A loud resounding push-back on nuclear war engagement couldn’t hurt, either…

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