Photo by Saiyna Bashir, The Capital Times

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On January 16, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will hold a briefing entitled “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation”. The CDC said: “While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. … (but) planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is critical to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation.” Jaw-dropping nonsense.

In 1956, after reviewing a Pentagon nuclear war game, GOP President Eisenhower concluded that the results would be beyond catastrophic: “65 percent of the (U.S.) population would require some kind of medical care, and in most instances, no opportunity whatsoever to get it.” A nuclear attack would wipe out government at all levels. The few survivors of a nuclear holocaust would envy the dead. However, Trump’s tweets are normalizing the unimaginable.

Trump tweeted: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times’. … I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Reckless in the extreme. Trump’s incendiary tweet comes after he earlier promised to “totally destroy” North Korea. Moreover, the New York Times (NYT) reported that Trump wants a “nearly tenfold increase in the nation’s (U.S.) nuclear weapons stockpile, stunning some members of his national security team.” Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (under Presidents Bush and Obama) said the U.S. is “closer to a nuclear war with North Korea” than ever. And, there are alarming parallels to Nixon.

During the Vietnam War “Nixon ordered a worldwide secret nuclear alert in October 1969, calling his wartime tactic a ‘madman’ strategy aimed at scaring the Soviets into forcing concessions from North Vietnam …” (Washington Post). Nixon also considered using nuclear weapons against North Vietnam. Later in 1973, after Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, the Nixon administration ordered a worldwide military alert of U.S. forces, including nuclear weapons. The press questioned whether it really was a response to possible Soviet intervention in the Middle East as Nixon claimed — or an attempt to distract from Watergate and Cox’s dismissal. Eerily suggestive of Trump, the Russian investigation and North Korea.

The White House and its supporters continue to try to smear Special Counsel Robert Mueller, despite multiple indictments and plea agreements. Moreover, there is more evidence of a White House cover-up (see NYT reporter Michael Schmidt, January 4, 2018). Conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin opined: “The walls are closing in on Trump, at least with respect to an obstruction-of-justice claim”. Once again House Speaker Paul Ryan refuses to put country before party, tolerating White House attacks on Mueller and provocative saber-rattling against North Korea. Rubin earlier said: “He (Ryan) has been an enabler when the country needs political courage and moral leadership”. Ryan must go in 2018.

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

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