Friday, August 11, 2017

We hope that "The Missiles of August" is a book never to be written

For Trump’s presidency August is the most dangerous month. So far, unfortunately, August is living up to that rep. President Trump promised “fire and fury” in response to threats (threats, not actions!) from North Korea. Almost immediately his North Korean counterpart promised to shoot missiles at the water surrounding the US territory of Guam. We have two “impetuous” leaders leading us on to war.

Sarah Vowell considers The Danger of an Incurious President in the NY Times (h/t Sherry Moreau). Vowell writes, in part:

After 1945, every subsequent president [after Truman] knew what nuclear holocaust looked like and thus to avoid it. How they did so can be instructive. For example: President John F. Kennedy’s thoughtful if lucky handling of the Cuban missile crisis, warding off nuclear war by ignoring his more trigger-happy military advisers. Having just read Barbara Tuchman’s book “The Guns of August,” about the madcap rush into World War I, Kennedy said, “I am not going to follow a course which will allow anyone to write a comparable book about this time, ‘The Missiles of October.’ ”

Would a more curious mind like Kennedy have made different decisions from Truman in 1945? Probably not — once “the Gadget” worked, it was going to be used. But he might have asked more questions beforehand. What we do know is that in 1962, nuclear holocaust was averted in part because a president read a book and learned from it.

Our current president does not read books.

Japan’s NHK World reports.

The US government is to send its representative to a ceremony in Hiroshima to remember the 1945 US atomic bombing of the city for the 8th consecutive year.

The charge d’affaires ad interim at the US Embassy in Japan is among the foreign guests who will attend the annual ceremony on Sunday. …

Foreign guests are to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on Saturday and hear the accounts of atomic bombing survivors, or hibakusha, at events hosted by the municipal government.

All that’s nice but Scriber thinks our representative to the Hiroshima annual ceremonies should be our president. If he goes next year, I promise to lend him my copy of “The Guns of August.”

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial should be required travel for anyone contemplating a nuclear war. Here is a link to one of the more moving features at the Museum from our recent trip to Japan.

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