‘Button’ it, Mr. President

Staff Columnist

“JFK and Reagan had the good sense not to  speak flippantly about nuclear weapons.” In (DECLARATIONS by Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, January 6 – 7, 2018)

“From the oval office address by President John F. Kennedy informing Americans of the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, Oct. 22, 1962:  ‘Our policy  has been one of patience and restraint, as befits a peaceful and powerful nation which leads a world-wide  alliance.  We have been determined  not to be diverted from our central concerns by mere irritants  and fanatics.  But now further action is required, and it is underway; and these  actions may only be the beginning.  We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of world-wide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in your mouth; but neither will we shrink from the risk at any time it must be faced.’

From his commencement address at American University, june 10,1963: ‘What kind of peace do we seek?  Not a Pax Americana enforced by American weapons of war.  Not a peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, of the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables  men and nations  to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children.  Not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women; not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.’

‘I speak of peace because of the new face of war.  Total war  makes no sense in an age  when great powers  can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces.  It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains  almost 10 times  the explosive force  delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War.  It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed  to the globe and to generations yet unborn.”

“From the address by President Ronald Reagan after the summit in Reykjavik, Iceland , with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Oct. 13, 1986:  ‘I told him I had pledged to the American people that I would not trade away SDI’ – the Strategic Defense Initiative. ‘There was no way I could tell our people that their government would not protect them against  nuclear destruction.  I went to Reykjavik determined that everything  was negotiable except two things: our freedom and our future.  I am still optimistic that a way will be found.  The door is open, and the opportunity to begin  eliminating the nuclear threat is within reach.’

This is how American Presidents have always talked about nuclear weapons and the nuclear age – blunt, direct, factual and clear.  We never want these weapons used again.

Until now, President  Donald Trump’s tweet, 7:49 pm, Jan 2,2018:  ‘north Korean leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the  ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times’, Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my button works!’

“We’re not going in the right direction , are we? Here are the reasons Mr. Trump’s tweet is destructive and dangerous.

Because it is cavalier about a subject that could not be graver. Because the languagee  and venue reflect an immature mind, and the grammar and usage a cluttered and undisciplined one.  By raising the possibility of nuclear exchange on social media, the president diminishes the taboo against nuclear use.  Anything you can joke about on Twitter has lost its negative mystique.  Destigmatizing the idea of nuclear use makes it more acceptable, more possible – more likely.  Bragging about your arsenal makes it sound as if nuclear weapons are like other weapons, when they’re not. Using a taunting public tone toward an adversary such as Mr. Kim, who may be mad, heightens the chance of nuclear miscalculation.  The president’s tweet is an attempt to get under the skin of a sociopath.  Is it a good idea to get under the skin of a sociopath who enjoys shooting missiles?

Blithe carelessness on an issue with such high stakes lowers the world respect for American leadership.  It undermines our standing as a serious and moral player, which is the only kind of player you would trust and follow in a crisis.

“The sober and respected Sam Nunn represented Georgia as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate from 1972 to 1997, and is co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Iniative, a nonprofit trying to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.  ‘The danger  of nuclear use is greater now than during the Cold War.’ He said.  ‘The impact of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric?  ‘It increases the risk of blunder.’

Ms. Noonan concludes:  “By the way, Reagan’s INF Treaty, that turning point in the history of arms control, remains in force but could unravel due to charges of violations  and bad faith.  Keeping it up and operating will require work but be heartening for the world.

Focus there.  And don’t tweet about it.”



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3 Responses for “‘Button’ it, Mr. President”

  1. ghostrider says:

    China imports greater than 60% of South Korea’s exports. When S.Korea grew closer to the U.S.A., China stopped importing their goods, thus, creating an instant Recession for S.Korea. It took less than a month for S.Korea to understand the larger picture….its economic well-being.
    Some journalists do have disdain for Trump, but, please consider that the very first act of an authoritarian leader is to actively dismiss and discredit the press.

  2. Ross P. Alander says:

    A good leader and negotiator surrounds themselves with people better then they are. Sadly Mr. Trump is neither (leader and negotiator) and it will never happen with Mr. Trump’s ego. All of his ramblings and tweets are causing major credibility problems both here and abroad. I fear at some point someone will be hurt. So yes BUTTON IT Mr. Trump.
    Ross P. Alander, Independent

  3. CJ says:

    Mr. O’Connor your thoughts on President Trump’s bluster are interesting. You vaguely concealed your dislike for our President, why not come out and say it? You and all the other “never Trumpers” and elite Republican establishment will never accept this man no matter what he does or says. Trump is the new breath of fresh air and strength that has been lacking in this country for a long long time. You obviously left out and missed the fact that South and North Korea are now talking and marching together in the Olympics. Is this by way of Trump’s bluster and no-nonsense approach he takes to the sociopath Kim Jong, you bet it is, ostensibly you rather continued the “PC” drabble and appeasement that has been applied to North Korea for past 4 decades causing all this havoc? Leadership is showing Strenght, not Appeasement. Please!

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