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Dugger writes: "Let's identify and name the hidden question in the historic crisis facing the human species, the possible sudden nuclear war between the United States and North Korea. Will Kim Jong-un's oncoming nuclear weapons that will be able to reach the entire United States?"

A mushroom cloud. (photo: Medium)
A mushroom cloud. (photo: Medium)


The Mass Murder Question

By Ronnie Dugger, Reader Supported News

02 December 17

 

et’s identify and name the hidden question in the historic crisis facing the human species, the possible sudden nuclear war between the United States and North Korea. Will Kim Jong-un’s oncoming nuclear weapons that will be able to reach the entire United States, just as the other seven nuclear-weapons states’ bombs can, deter President Trump from attacking his nation? Will Trump and his generals strike North Korea first in a “preventive war?” Might North Korea or South Korea suddenly bomb the other?

These headlines are just nationalistic variations on the concealed, euphemized meaning of “nuclear deterrence,” which is the mass murder question: Whether we, the American people and the United States, will “totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend ourselves and our allies, as Trump warned the United Nations, which in turn depends on what he means by “forced to defend.” Whether a U.S. first strike will as expected activate North Korea’s instant retaliation with its artillery that can blast the ten million people of Seoul, its armed forces of a million men, and possibly its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Careful analysts estimate 30,000 dead almost at once. There are about 28,500 American GIs in South Korea and 54,000 in Japan. Trump himself has forecast that such a war could cause ten million dead.

The Cold War “deterrence theory” credited with preventing World War III, which still rules, has always concealed from vivid public knowledge what will happen if it fails, as Trump has said that it very well may these days. Under still prevailing “launch on warning” practices, if, say, “we” see a swarm of nuclear weapons zipping toward us, we vow to immediately launch our nuclear weapons against the attacking nation just before hit. Deterrence failing means mutual suicidal mass murder and whatever consequences come after that. President Johnson told the country that if a mutual exchange happened between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S., 40 million Americans would die in the first half hour. Likewise, more or less, would Russians. This now is the worst such crisis since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, with its deciding heads of state not John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, but Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. And for all the talks between Trump and de-facto dictator Xi Jinping of China, the fact also remains that still-Communist China threw its army into the first Korean War against the United States.

Despite Dictator Kim’s hit-back blustering against Trump and the U.S., Kim had made it specific several times that his goal is a nuclear arsenal that can hit the U.S. mainland in order to deter the U.S. from attacking North Korea. Only a moron would not assume that if Kim attacked us first, his regime and much of his country would be gone, and Kim is not a moron. Trump’s goal, which has often been restated by his generals, is to prevent North Korea from having a nuclear arsenal at all. That appears to be his precondition for negotiating with Kim, which almost no well-informed experts expect Kim even to consider. Trump’s tweets and rhetoric in sum certainly imply that if Kim continues on his course, Trump intends an attack on North Korea with the military forces of the United States: War. As for Trump’s exclusive and solitary personal power to order the use of “our” nuclear weapons, Congress has done nothing at all that requires a collective decision or an act of Congress beforehand for such use, and neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have done anything that might stop him by impeaching him.

Trump’s two bloodthirstiest and most terrifying threats, he being the president of the United States and the commander in chief of the most powerful and the most destructive military forces in the history of humanity, occurred this summer and at the beginning of the fall. Then, as seen August 8th on NBC News, his arms folded across his chest, his mouth turned down, seated during a meeting among many others at a long conference table and referring to no notes at any time, Trump said, “Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly with power the likes of which this world has never seen.” He put a slight emphasis on the word “this.”

Bluffing? This is not a poker game. In Trump’s mind then and there the fire and fury he described is obviously much worse than Hamburg, Dresden, Doolittle over Tokyo, or Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Then, on September 19th, standing before and speaking to the United Nations and the entire world, Trump said, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Surely he had premeditated and understood what, saying that, he said. Some hoped he was just bullying and bluffing Kim, but he was speaking for the United States not just to the official representatives of 193 nations, but to all of us around the world. It is reasonable that he was probably telling us within what he meant by his words what he will seek to do and/or do on his own with the American people’s vast arsenal to “totally destroy North Korea.” As of now, his words “we will have no choice” but to destroy North Korea suggest that we have no choices now, which is false. We have many choices and some huge alternatives: negotiations with Kim without preconditions; sending Jimmy Carter to go talk with Kim for us; Trump going to talk to Kim himself (as he said earlier he was willing to do); having President Moon of South Korea go; or, as we have with other problematical nuclear-weapons nations, accepting North Korea as one of the nine mutually-deterred nuclear-weapons states. Trump could even call upon Congress to join the 122 nations of the UN who passed a proposed treaty to ban nuclear weapons from the world and who are now participating in seeking its ratification.

It is possible that Trump used those four deadly words “totally destroy North Korea” just for emphasis, but the human race cannot risk ten million of us dead or a world nuclear war on that possibility. The American president announced his threat and the whole world heard it.

Merriam Webster’s tenth edition gives these definitions of “total”: “comprising or contributing a whole: ENTIRE”; “absolute. utter”; “involving a complete and unified effort, esp. to achieve a desired effort,” as one example, total war. My 1999 Encarta World English Dictionary says “totally” means “1. Completely, in a complete or utter way. 2. used for our basis how good bad or complete something is.” My Oxford Reference Dictionary says “total” means “including everything comprising the whole” and the example “total war” is defined as “war in which all available weapons and resources are employed.”

The population of North Korea is about 25,000,000. Donald Trump may be prepared to make the American people complicit with him in mass murder, inviting every one of us to consider, as a citizen, now, our own benevolent ethics or mass-murdering nature.



Ronnie Dugger is author of biographies of Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and the crack U.S. pilot over Hiroshima who called in Paul Tibbetts to atomic-bomb that city. Dugger won the 2011 George Polk career journalism award. Founding editor of the Texas Observer, he has written also a book about universities and numerous articles in The New Yorker, The Nation, Harper’s, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other periodicals. He has been writing about Trump and nuclear weapons on Reader Supported News since July 2016.


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+41 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-02 17:08
"the possible sudden nuclear war between the United States and North Korea."


Writers have got to stop phrasing the crisis in the way Dugger does. It will not be a war between the US and N. Korea because that implies some measure of equality in force. N. Korea will never attack the US or any other nation. It is armed purely for defensive purposes, the "deterrance" Dugger belittles. Deterrance is keeping the US from totally destroying N. Korea. When deterrance is removed as in the cases of Iraq or Libya, the US attacks with reckless abandon.

What we should be talking about is the joint Russia China plan for a stand down on both sides. N. Korea will stop weapons development and testing and the US will stop it war games and weapons build up in S. Korea and the seas surrounding N. Korea. North Korea has accepted this plan; the US will not even mention it. We need to mention it.

US war gaming right up to the border of N. Korea is now permanent and on-going. It never stops. The build up of weapons systems is unceasing. We are reminded of the 1991 and 2002 build ups before the invasion of Iraq. Very few people in the US talk about this. And they almost never mention it as the context for N. Korea's weapons tests.

The US needs to fucking back off. The US is the aggressor here. Koreans just want to survive and live. The US is a predator state. It searches over the earth for nations to destroy and populations to kill. Strike for peace.
 
 
+10 # Jim Rocket 2017-12-02 20:33
Good post. Our media rarely, if ever, mention the the major war games going on on North Korea's borders. It makes North Korea's missile launches seem one-sided and makes Kim look even more unhinged than he is. Apparently, the North Koreans are willing to come to the table if they stop the war games but that's not something Trump or his base are willing to try.
 
 
+10 # jimallyn 2017-12-03 03:24
Quoting Rodion Raskolnikov:
The US needs to fucking back off. The US is the aggressor here. Koreans just want to survive and live. The US is a predator state. It searches over the earth for nations to destroy and populations to kill. Strike for peace.

+1
 
 
+7 # Dale 2017-12-03 09:29
right on Rodiib
 
 
+9 # Dale 2017-12-03 09:35
Since 1953 the U.S. has armed South Korea with the latest in weaponry, massed tens of thousands of Korean and U.S. troops on the border, engage in frequent threatening war maneuvers to intimidate the North, worked for 64 years to totally isolate the North from world commerce, a blockade that exceeds that imposed on Cuba. The U.S. has engaged in constant war like acts all these years. The Koreans logically seek to defend themselves. So the answer is a real peace treaty that ends the ongoing war forever and protects the world from nuclear war.
 
 
0 # Brice 2017-12-06 02:32
> The Koreans logically seek to defend themselves

So, all that time have the North Koreans respected human rights as the South Koreans do?

You are super-imposing your own arbitrary grid on this issue and accepting only that, and refusing to think about anyone else's perceptions.

But I would agree with in that the US has engaged in constant warlike acts all these years ... well mostly.

And it is logical for North Koreans, or more specifically the government and ruling family of North Korea. Does that not make any difference to you. Once we talk about governments every government should have the right to do with their people whatever they want?

A treaty is a piece of paper ... we break them, and North Korea breaks them, so what use do you think a treaty with North Korea will make? To keep the treaty the US would have to inspect North Korea to make sure they are not building nukes.

What happens if they kick out inspectors. Per the treaty, are you agreeing to war under that circumstance? What is your idea to ensure there is no war or attack from North Korea.

You know, there are governments that hold priorities higher than their own country and their own survival. Hamas and Hezbollah are two examples of that, and they recently reiterated that in the news before the whole world.

Why do you give so much credence to North Korea?
 
 
-2 # Brice 2017-12-04 01:36
>> N. Korea will never attack the US or any other nation. It is armed purely for defensive purposes, the "deterrance"

I see how you might think it is reasonable to believe that, but I don't know how you can know it, or bet the world on it, or your country, or your life?

But let's assume for the sake of argument that it is true. So, we just say, ho-hum, I guess we have to leave 25 million people to live in what seems to me to be a state of misery, slavery and repression. The two Koreas were fairly similar before the war, and South Korea had a military government for a long time before they developed their economy and opened up to become another Asian industrial powerhouse and democracy.

How do you feel about that? Are you racist against Asians and think that there are enough Asians in the world, who cares about those 25 million. What if it was your relatives there?
 
 
+43 # tedrey 2017-12-02 19:29
I used to think that only insane people could accept the thought of actually using nuclear weapons. Now I believe I may have had it backward. Accepting the thought of actually using nuclear weapons leads to insanity.

There is nothing, *nothing*, between us and the greatest mass slaughter humanity has ever experienced, but the brain of one volatile and unbalanced man. This is a fact.

It could happen any moment. It could happen now!

Only madmen would allow such a loaded weapon in the hand of an idiot.
 
 
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-02 21:42
"but the brain of one volatile and unbalanced man. This is a fact."


This is not quite a fact. Really there is quite an elaborate process and it takes a lot of time. This would even be true if the US were responding to an attack. The Pentagon is asked by a president to develop a plan to attack N. Korea. Probably Trump has already done this. The plan will include the option to use nuclear weapons and the circumstances will be specified. Trump's job would be to approve or disapprove the plan. He would get advice from most of the cabinet and others.

Trump's violent and insane histrionics are his style and his role. He has accepted Obama's fucked up "pivot to Asia" and his role is to prepare the American people and the world for real wars in Asia. This is how an inexperienced showman does it. Bush and his crew did much the same things before the invasion of Iraq. They talked about "the smoking gun that would be a nuclear bomb in New York City." And they also promised to totally destroy Iraq. Remember the leaked "Shock and Awe" dossier? That was Bush's equivalent to Trump's histrionics.

But all of this is bad. Threats like this are crimes under international law. Trump is just an artless buffoon. But he does not make decisions. The CIA and Pentagon or really the Deep State make these decisions. I don't know what they will choose to do. They are the truly insane ones.
 
 
+5 # tedrey 2017-12-03 13:22
Scott Swift, the admiral in charge of the US Pacific Fleet, a few months ago said publicly that he would immediately use nuclear weapons against China if Trump ordered him to do so. Period. This is not an elaborate process and would not take a lot of time.
 
 
-1 # Brice 2017-12-04 01:27
Why all the talk about using nuclear weapons?

You use that dullard nuclear straw man as an argument against any military action against North Korea, even against thinking about it. I don't think your brain would even allow you to go there it so well trained in pseudo-Liberal claptrap.

Liberalism is supposed to stand for having an open mind ... and not an open mind just about the things you already accept, but a mind open enough to sometimes question things you take for granted.

Sometimes you have to open up your mind, even if it is only for a exercise to see if you can still do it.

We have to at least think about it and consider it. Do you imagine in your wildest dreams there a North Korean RSN where someone gets to question the government about ... why are we trying to create nuclear weapons. That person would be executed or spend their life in a labor camp.

This situation is far more complicated than you think, or fail to think, and we all should be listening more than we do for real things to criticize, not for reasons to shut out minds up tight.
 
 
+4 # economagic 2017-12-02 20:40
"Only madmen would allow such a loaded weapon in the hand of an idiot."

The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos.

"Anything Goes," Cole Porter, 1934.

The nuclear weaponry enterprise has been mad since its beginnings, as many people recognized even then. It was made "necessary" by the coincidence of developments in physics in the early 20th century and the Second Great War in Europe. That war in turn was made "inevitable" by the insistence of the Allies at the end of the FIRST Great War on impossible retribution, er, "reparations" from Germany, which some people including John Maynard Keynes also recognized at that time. Both wars were continuations of a long history of warfare worldwide that became a lot more destructive with the Industrial Revolution.

AFTER WW II, the nuclear buildup was made "necessary" when the ruling class in the "classless" Soviet Union understood all too well the "hint" that was the intent of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the surrender of Japan was already imminent, and stole the plans to make their own bomb. That accelerated by a couple of years the program they were already working on.

So, madness? You bet. It's been with us for a long time, accelerated by science and industry, so demanding the first fruits of both.

"What fools these mortals be!" --Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's. . . ."
 
 
+3 # vicnada 2017-12-02 21:53
Wouldn't our world be safer if Kim Jong-un were our President? Can it not be reasonably argued that he behaves in a more level-headed, sober and statesman-like manner than the whack-job we have installed? Tragic how low the bar has fallen! and just when when we need the very best to lead.
 
 
+7 # elkingo 2017-12-03 02:20
Can't anybody see it? Kim Il Sung, as crazy a dictator as he is, want's equal respect. In the US has nukes, why can't he? It ain't fair. And it ain't! News Flash: nobody should have them. You don't give loaded guns to enraged disturbed kindergartners.
 
 
-7 # Brice 2017-12-03 04:06
What about North Korea? The Korean war that the US lost, but in fighting committed heinous war crimes in the name our national and humanitarian interests. We saved South Korea & it is a thriving democracy now though..

We hear that life in NK is misery, but the US has claimed same in Cuba, Venezuela, Iraq, & elsewhere. Do we believe the stories about NK? If so, what do we do?

In the absence of a world policing body, is it valid for the US to step up & take on that role? We were told we were doing that in Viet Nam, but that was a lie. We were told the same about Cuba but it seemed like we were more operating in favor of the Mafia there. In Iraq and Venezuela oil played a big role.

For me it comes down to this - what is the end result of allowing a country like North Korea to crystalize into what we think is a horrible tyranny that keeps their people away from contact with the rest of the world, & when people do leave they have terrible stories to tell. Do human rights in NK mean nothing?

Is there no good, or positive that can come from examining how or what an overthrow of the NK government might bring? Once they gets nukes the NK government is even worse - not only can they hold their own people, and South Korea as hostages, but they kill me here in CA or you anywhere in the world if they want.

NK is a country that would be better off overthrown in my opinion, the problem is only the very imperfect US can do it. This is a global failure of humanity.
 
 
+7 # Jim Rocket 2017-12-03 13:57
Nobody can overthrow North Korea. If it was doable it would have happened already. Like Syria, we can't magically save every place in the world. You need to do some reading. Obviously a nuclear strike would be horrible for the whole region and it is estimated that a conventional attack would cost 250,000 American casualties. We could go back to diplomacy but that doesn't play well to Trump's idiot audience.
 
 
-1 # Brice 2017-12-04 01:18
>> Like Syria, we can't magically save every place in the world.

How does my complicated question viz. North Korea turn into "we can't save every place in the world" ... and with MAGIC no less.

Turn this foolish argument around & it is the same argument that the richest billionaires make when they justify their failure to pay their share of taxes - "why should I support through my taxes a system that tries to save everyone when it has never worked?".

Congratulations, on your oligarch brown-nosing & illogic.

You then further go on to say how:
1) A nuclear strike would be horrible.
2) A conventional attack would cost in American casualties.

These are more BS straw arguments, absurd because no one is intentionally going to back a strategy that would not work.

Why don't you stick to the point? Must you pander to the dogmatic extreme Left-wing audience to change the subject with cliche distractions?

A charge against North Korea on horseback with armor & lances would be a disaster to - that's why if a decisions is made that something is possible, the strategy comes after.

You sound giddy that North Koreas and its dictator of misery for millions will get to remain. You seem to think change is not even worth thinking about, and you don't think.

Your comment is one of the problems that foments thoughtless regimentation in the Left, & breeds the contempt we see against us the Left from the Right. The hallmark of Liberalism is an open-mind.
 
 
0 # librarian1984 2017-12-04 14:25
Do you really not understand how civil debate works? You can make your point without insulting people.
 
 
0 # Brice 2017-12-06 02:22
There was not an insult in that entire post. Note the difference between isolating characteristics in someone's writing and criticizing it compared to just insulting someone. Demolishing an argument is not demolishing or disrespecting a person.

I would cop to a twinge of disrespect here, When someone turns around the sense of my post, which you completely ignored as well. to attack me personally as a mean person who insults instead of makes arguments. that borders on an unfair personal attack, but I would not have said anything normally.

Everything I said was tied to an argument or re-stating or my own opinion falsely, and how the arguments were specious.

Making it seem like I was advocating not just for military action, but for using nuclear weapons, and not advocating to have a complete discussion about both sides, but delusional enough to believe in magic - what do you call that?

Just to mention the possibility that North Korea if allowed to progress to a nuclear power might have severe drawbacks that the anti-war side are ignoring, that is unthinkable and worthy of any kind of attack. I guess I keep thinking too highly of my fellow Liberals in terms of their claims to protecting free speech and actually engaging in it.

> oligarch brown-nosing & illogic

Comments on the content of that post, not an insult, backed by facts.

> BS straw arguments

Statement on the quality and validity of the argument, also backed by fact.
 
 
+2 # ericlipps 2017-12-03 10:22
Quote:
Trump’s two bloodthirstiest and most terrifying threats, he being the president of the United States and the commander in chief of the most powerful and the most destructive military forces in the history of humanity, occurred this summer and at the beginning of the fall. Then, as seen August 8th on NBC News, his arms folded across his chest, his mouth turned down, seated during a meeting among many others at a long conference table and referring to no notes at any time, Trump said, “Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly with power the likes of which this world has never seen.” He put a slight emphasis on the word “this.”
What other world do you suppose he might have had in mind?

All kidding aside, Trump's rant suggests that either he's just blowing radioactive smoke or he's crazy, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. And the same can be said of Kim.

Don't you just feel safe as safe can be?

Oh, and Rodion: surely you can't be serious about North Korea having "accepted" a Russo-Chinese plan for a "stand-down." Any verbal approval Kim might have given to such a plan isn't worth the paper it isn't written on, and everyone knows it.
 
 
+2 # draypoker 2017-12-03 17:56
>he brain of one volatile and unbalanced man. <

Two such brains.
 
 
0 # librarian1984 2017-12-03 21:53
I'd say the fast progress Un is making all of a sudden is suspicous, suggesting someone is helping -- maybe China? Perhaps they consider this a good time, with a chaos maker like Trump in office, to make a move. Lord knows, if this tax plan goes through and they begin to call back our debt OR interest rates climb, they will have us by the throat.

'Freeze for freeze' is the way to go.
 
 
0 # Brice 2017-12-06 05:37
Here is a quote from George Orwell that I like:

> Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary
> common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one
> side you automatically help that of the other.
> - George Orwell

In this case it might better be expressed as [unthinking] pacifism is pro-fascist.
 

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