Imagine what countless numbers of ordinary folk went through on January 13 when they received an official SMS alert reading: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."
The false alarm was a result of a mistake made by a worker at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency who pressed a wrong button.
It took 38 minutes for the false alarm to be officially corrected (while US President Donald Trump continued enjoying a game of golf). People in Hawaii have been warned that a ballistic missile launched from North Korea would only take 20 minutes to reach them, so people were in a total panic, ringing their loved ones to say goodbye or desperately trying to find non-existent public nuclear shelters.
Yes, this was just a mistake but over the past few decades, many other mistakes have taken the world to the brink of nuclear war.
And now we have Trump, who just two days into the New Year tweeted his latest nuclear taunt against newly nuclear-armed and ballistic missile-capable North Korea: "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!"
Shortly after, Trump tweeted that he was a "genius ... and a very stable genius at that!".
That tweet failed to reassure most people and the release of Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff's tell-all book about Trump and his administration, has horrified the world. WikiLeaks leaked the book on January 7 but Google has since removed the link.
A group of 17 former US nuclear launch officers wrote a letter to US Congress asking it to "rein in the president’s power to order the first use of nuclear weapons". They warned that Trump should not be allowed to have his finger on the proverbial “Red Button”.
"Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has put the United States on a collision course with North Korea,” the letter said. “The most recent back-and-forth with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over the size of their 'nuclear buttons' is dangerous and risks catastrophic miscalculation.
“Threats of ‘fire and fury’ and total destruction of the Kim dictatorship undercut diplomatic efforts and increase the likelihood of stumbling into conflict. Worse, it appears the president is operating under the belief that these threats of nuclear war are working; we can only expect this behavior will continue."
A New York Times editorial made a similar warning, noting that apart from Trump's nuclear threats against North Korea and Iran, Trump wants to increase the massive US nuclear arsenal and develop more "low-yield" nuclear weapons that could be more "useable" in smaller conflicts.
The Hawaii false alert should seriously alarm us all. We are living in very dangerous times. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines or remain silent. Australia is deeply complicit in the US nuclear war machine and our political elite gets more racist and war-hungry by the day.
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