The past couple of days have seen some rather alarming messages being sent through various channels between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Two man-child blowhards are puffing their chests out at each other, seemingly holding the fate of millions of innocent people in the middle. Threats of “fire and fury” raining down on Pyongyang have been brushed off as nonsense from a senile old man. This tense back-and-forth has a lot of people understandably concerned.
Stark and terrifying sentiments of coming to grips with impending doom are echoed across Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. These sentiments get circulated, shared, favorited, commented on, and taken as fact. And then of course the clarion scream of media pundits repeating those same sentiments at the top of every news hour doesn’t help. This was something that was understood very well by Joseph Goebbles. “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes truth” was one of the main tactics Goebbles employed as the Third Reich’s Minister of Propaganda under Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany. It is no less true in present times.
We have seen that principle in action throughout history, and we are still seeing it today. This tactic was used to gain support for U.S. involvement in Vietnam, with the publicly stated “reason” of pushing back against those scary Communists. We saw it in the search for WMDs in Iraq, with Donald Rumsfeld’s famously backward logic of “The absence of evidence is not necessarily the evidence of absence.”
And, most recently and still currently, we are seeing it with the constant “Russian hackers!” narrative from media pundits despite no evidence to support that claim and more evidence coming out daily of a completely different reality (evidence that is being completely ignored by mainstream media as they continue with the same “Russia” narrative).
And here is where we find ourselves again. The players have changed, but the result has not. Two world leaders are squaring off with each other via “official statements,” calling each other names, insulting each other’s intelligence and resolve, and basically just being bullies to each other. And now, because of the endless reactionary “We’re all gonna die!!!” hysteria saturating our airwaves and screens, we have people that are actively supporting the mass murder of millions of innocent people in a sort of “get them before they get us” mentality.
This is bad.
No, not the “threat” of nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea. Yes, obviously that is very bad, but what is worse is the fact that despite the historical record of the U.S. lying to its citizens in order to get them to support any effort by the Military-Industrial Complex to use more bombs and tanks and guns (therefore necessitating the manufacture of more of the same, thereby increasing profit, around and around we go), the American people continue to fall for the same old worn out tricks. Rather than thinking critically about these things, mass hysteria has us running around, reacting to things that we hear, and our mainstream media sources are fueling that fire.
Here’s something to consider: since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945, the world has always been on the precipice of nuclear disaster. As the arms race heated up and intercontinental ballistic missiles were pointed towards every single other nation on the planet, weighed down with payloads of the sort of death and destruction that few people alive today could even imagine, there have been several occasions where it seemed like the end of the world was imminent. Yet here we still are. You and me both, kind reader.
Does the fact that we have not crossed that line mean that we shouldn’t be concerned that this line may indeed be crossed? Of course not, don’t be silly. It absolutely should be a concern, but it has always been a concern. One of the most objectively popular U.S. Presidents in history sat in the Oval Office during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which also helped to spur the Cold War on even more. American hysteria over the possibility of Soviet nukes dropping on Miami and other close-range targets also helped drive the weapons manufacturing sectors, but I’m sure that was just coincidental.
Here’s the thing about it: if Trump says the wrong thing about Kim’s hair, or Kim pushes just a little too hard on Trump’s tiny hands, we could all be headed for a quick and possibly painful death. And this could happen any moment. And for any reason.
But, if that happens (and though diminished somewhat, it’s still a pretty big “if”), no amount of hyperventilating into a brown paper bag while we listen to Anderson Cooper count down the last moments of civilization is going to change that. More even-headed people in charge of both countries might avoid that fate, but then again, they might not. Kennedy was, by all accounts, a fair, compassionate, and peaceful man, and even he wasn’t able to avoid diplomatic posturing against potential nuclear catastrophe. In fact, though he was heralded as a hero afterwards, it was Kennedy’s own aggressive actions in placing nuclear weapons in Italy and Turkey following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 that started the momentum which almost took us over the edge and into the abyss.
Let us not forget that posturing against North Korea is part of the job, regardless of how unfit or incapable the person holding that job is. Obama did it, making clear that the U.S. arsenal could obliterate North Korea, but that he would prefer more diplomatic solutions. And, to date, there has been no significant change in White House foreign policy regarding Pyongyang or Kim Jong Un. And every president since the Korean War until now has had to take a position on North Korea, and that position is pretty much the same today. There’s always a lot of tough talk back and forth.
Lastly, let us not ignore the fact that the mainstream media’s response to Trump’s prior military exercises may have something to do with why he’s now so keen to look strong on North Korea. When a child creates an exceptionally good finger-painting, praise heaped upon that child will encourage them to create more art. In this case, with the fawning over his unprovoked bombing of a Syrian airstrip and dropping the biggest bomb we have (aside from a nuke) in Afghanistan, it’s no wonder that Trump wants to pull out his arsenal and wave it around. You can thank various media pundits like MSNBC’s Brian Williams and the Democratic Party’s very own Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi for that.
In the end, though, this whole thing is all about power; showing who has it and who has more of it. It always has been. And, as in any power struggle, there has to be something worth having power over. Nobody wants to be supreme ruler over a desolate uninhabitable wasteland. Those in power are not likely to let a nuclear conflict come to ultimate realization. On the other hand, when it comes to more conventional warfare, we already know exactly how our Raytheon stockholder president feels about that.
[Featured Image by Ahn Young-joon/AP Images]