War! What Is It Good For?

by Lance Simmens, ContributorAuthor, Political Activist, Commentator, Website: www.lsimmens.com War! What Is It Good For? The current dysfunction existent in our representative democratic governmental system is a direct result of the failure to put public interest above special interest. • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3k3uihqvZA • state” and a propaganda campaign by the administration that would make George Orwell blush continue to exacerbate deep fissures in the American electorate. The bullying, bombastic and borderline fanatical pronouncements emanating from the White House represent a marked departure from the measured, diplomatic and careful words usually reserved for international crises. The benchmark for handling dangerously heightened rhetoric and actions remains the Cuban missile crisis. I know President Trump is not hard wired for either studying or briefings, but it might be helpful if he would at least maybe entertain watching a documentary ― you know, something visual to occupy his time while on his “working vacation” ― to get an appreciation for how a real leader is capable of defusing a potential crisis while still saving face on all sides. That is the key to successful negotiation ― the art of the deal, as it were. The current crisis is seemingly escalating on an hourly basis, increasing the potential for miscalculation and mistakes. This may be a successful tactic or strategy in negotiating labor contracts or real estate deals, but the consequences of excessive saber rattling, threats, and intimidation, particularly when dealing with an unstable and irrational actor such as Kim Jung Un, are simply not worth the risk. Mr. President, tone it down, take a deep breath, listen to more seasoned experts, and learn from history. “Speak softly and carry a big stick” is far more applicable in this situation than “make my day.” Fire and fury is the type of rhetoric more befitting the volatile dictator in Pyongyang, not the man-child leader of the free world. Of course, the cruelest irony is that today we commemorate a date in history in which two significant events occurred. First, it is the 72nd anniversary of the unleashing of an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, which killed between 39,000-80,000 people. Second, it is the 43rd anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Both of these events have had a profound impact upon history. Since Nagasaki, we have never used nuclear weapons upon an adversary, and Nixon remains the only U.S. president ever to be forced from office. There are lessons to be learned from both. This evening, there will be a gathering in Santa Monica, California to acknowledge this day in history. Appropriately enough, it will be held at the site of the Chain Reaction sculpture, a monument dedicated to nuclear disarmament and peace that sits prominently between the Civic Center and City Hall. Hopefully the event will be a testament to the idea that those who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat its mistakes. The president would be well advised to seriously consider the lessons learned from both of these experiences. While current investigation into potential criminal actions by either Trump or his administration gather steam, both in Congress and in the special prosecutor’s office, the president’s petulant and childish reactions via Twitter cast him in a dubious light vis a vis public confidence and have made him susceptible to overreaction and questionable judgment when confronted with a serious issue. And let there be no doubt that the North Korea provocations represent serious issues, indeed. But bluster is neither an appropriate nor acceptable substitute for projection of strength based upon thoughtful analysis of potential options. Escalation of a war on words can lead to disastrous consequences that are easily avoidable. This is a time for careful consideration of long-term consequences and yes strategic victory can be a two-sided affair. The president was elected largely upon his self assurance to the American people that he was a master negotiator. Well, negotiating skills are at a premium right now, so you will certainly be put to the ultimate test, sir. Since the end of World War II, we have lived in the shadow of creeping nuclear proliferation. There have been numerous successful attempts to mitigate against unchecked and uncontrollable expansion of nuclear arsenals during this time period but the most successful deterrent has been an unwillingness to engage in an exchange that will render unacceptable costs to all sides. The strategic concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) has rendered a nuclear exchange simply unacceptable. Now is not the time, nor is there ever a time for that matter, to question the propriety and value of this concept. The alternative, Strategically Assured Destruction (SAD), is suicidal. The Morning Email Bottom of Form Reckless bravado on either side is deadly and unacceptable. While no one can predict the outcome of either an escalation of confrontation that may lead to a nuclear exchange or a forcible removal of the 45th president of the United States, the confluence of events on this date in history offer a somber note of caution as we muddle through what promises to be tense days in the weeks and months that will follow. The current dysfunction existent in our representative democratic governmental system is a direct result of the failure to put public interest above special interest. The accompanying levels of frustration and anger amongst the populace helped lead to the emergence of mindless and deceitful populism that is rapidly giving way to authoritarianism. While the checks and balances put in place by the Founding Fathers appear to be working to curb the excesses of a nationalistic fervor, collateral damage resulting from “deconstructing the administrative state” and a propaganda campaign by the administration that would make George Orwell blush continue to exacerbate deep fissures in the American electorate. We are operating in an environment where uncertainty rules the day and it is this very uncertainty that fuels potential miscalculations on both sides of the relevant issue. So far the only certainty being exhibited is that of two sides unwilling to bow to the seriousness of the consequences their actions will likely precipitate. If ever there were a need for negotiation and diplomacy it is now and that will entail complexity and patience. But there really is no acceptable alternative.

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