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Trump threatening more "stick" than "carrot" as nuclear tensions increase

The future of humankind hangs in the balance in these tense days.
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OKLAHOMA  CITY – From “fire and fury” to “locked and loaded.” The reckless and potentially civilization-ending rhetoric from President Donald Trump are becoming more and more alarming by, well, the hour.

It’s as if we are nearing the beginning of act three in a five-act Shakespearean tragedy where there is either resolution and/or catastrophe. And Trump is the key character in Titus Andronicus, with Titus - as the Roman Empire begins to crumble around him - seeking revenge, as usual, and everything simply going to hell, while he takes all of us down with him.

Additionally, Trump appears to be doubling-down as he reminds the world that while he could rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea, were they to continue testing nuclear missiles, with a promise to strike the U.S. territory of Guam, criticism of his comments only led the bellicose American president to suggest that his words were “maybe not tough enough.”

And while he refuses to say he would rule out a “pre-emptive strike” against North Korea, we should be reminded that President Trump has “complete, unchecked authority to use nuclear weapons,” a protocol, according to nuclear security scholar Bruce Blair at Princeton University, said was set up to streamline the process, which is “designed for speed and efficiency, not for deliberation.”

Added Blair, chillingly, “And this protocol gives the president carte blanche – complete unchecked authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.”

Back in March, in a piece I wrote headlined, “Just exactly who is being ‘bellicose’ right now?,” I reminded readers here at Red Dirt Report that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved their Doomsday Clock ahead to only two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. At the time, my focus was on tensions between Russia and the U.S.

However, five months later the very serious threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea is being addressed, leading Trump to make the reckless comments this week.

Will the Doomsday Clock be reset in light of current tensions? CBS News talked to Dr. Lawrence Krauss, who is familiar with the revisions made to the Doomsday Clock, said “We don’t make changes to the Doomsday Clock in response to individual events,” Krauss said, adding that any notable events are reviewed together as a whole and are evaluated collectively before changes are made.

Dr. Lawrence Krauss at a FreeOK event in Oklahoma City in 2013, (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

As Peter Symonds wrote at, “Even if the war were confined to the Korean Peninsula and restricted to conventional weapons, the death and destruction would run into the millions, as it did during the Korean War of 1950–53. Defence Secretary Gen. James Mattis threatened this week that if North Korea failed to bow to Washington’s dictates, Washington would bring about “the end of the regime and the destruction of its people,” i.e., the annihilation of a country of 25 million people. If other nuclear powers such as China and Russia were drawn in, the global consequences would be incalculable."

Back to that interview with Princeton’s Prof. Blair on the nuclear “chain of command”: “(The president) may well receive that kind of advice in the emergency conference, but he can ignore it and proceed and I believe that - based on my conversations with people in the military that would be involved in situations like that - they would give their best advice and then they would carry out the order that the president gives, even if it were viewed as ill-advised, misguided and a violation of the law of war. I believe the system is very strongly predisposed to accept and carry out the president's wishes.”

Think back to Stanley Kubrick's brutally funny and satirical anti-war film Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), planned for a late 1963 release, but not released until 1964 due to the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and how things rapidly spiraled out of control in that film between the U.S. and USSR as a "War Room" full of men (think about the most recent episode of Twin Peaks: The Return and how "toxic masculinity" only leads down a road of death and destruction) fought one another like schoolchildren and the nukes were detonated at the end.

Something to think about in the days ahead.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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