Everyone from Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and President Vladimir Putin to Steve Bannon and China agree: war with North Korea would be so horrific that it simply can’t happen. Up to one million people could die on the first day of such a war. At that rate, it would take two months to match the death toll of the whole of World War II.
According to Paul Edwards, an international security expert at Stanford University, the effect of a major nuclear war would be comparable to the “giant meteor believed to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.” Leading researchers Alan Robock and Owen Toon warn that even “a regional conflict has the potential to cause mass starvation worldwide.”
If it wasn’t for Donald Trump’s threatening rhetoric, his continual sabotage of diplomatic efforts, and his personal insults directed at Kim Jong-Un, the US would not be on the verge of war. No other American president has elevated tensions so dramatically, but Trump shows no signs of changing track.
Nevertheless, the U.S. still has alternatives: despite numerous reports to the contrary, North Korea has said they would be willing to negotiate about their nuclear program if the U.S. stops threatening to destroy it. In that case, what can be done to build pressure inside the U.S. to pursue a peaceful solution to the crisis, and how can ordinary people help?
It’s here that historical precedent may be useful. When we reflect on the Holocaust, for example, we tend to vilify prominent Nazi leaders like Adolf Eichmann who were “just following orders,” while extolling ordinary citizens like Oskar Schindler who used creative strategies to prevent atrocities.
Few of us believe we would have behaved like Eichmann. Many of us would like to think we would have acted like Schindler, and hundreds of others who have developed non-violent resistance when faced by the prospect of war and large-scale killing. The choice we face is the same today – and we have the strategies and tactics to make nonviolence work. But first we have to recognize the seriousness and urgency of the situation.
Several indicators suggest that Trump could be preparing to initiate a pre-emptive strike against North Korea in the second half of November.
First, according to the State Department, he has already said that he would launch a first strike if North Korea developed the capacity to deliver nuclear warheads to the continental United States. Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo announced that North Korea is “on the cusp” of achieving that goal and “it’s now a matter of thinking about how do [sic] you stop the final step.” Pompeo’s statement is consistent with earlier predictions that North Korea would develop such capabilities by early 2018.
Second, in early October Japan’s Minister of Defense, Itsunori Onodera, implied to reporters in Tokyo that Trump would initiate military action in mid-November unless North Korea complies with US demands. Third, back in August of 2017, US military officials said that they needed a few months to prepare logistically for war. Then they began preparations. This timeline suggests that they will be ready to carry out a first strike in November.
Fourth, on October 20th 2017, Trump declared a national state of emergency and legalized a limited military draft. Even GOP members are reportedly “praying Trump doesn’t do something really, really stupid,” according to a former Republican member of Congress who wants to remain anonymous. His former colleagues have said that they would support Trump’s removal if the leadership of the Republican Party gave “the signal to everyone they can bail.”
This article has been excerpted from: ‘How To Prevent Nuclear War’