If Donald J. Trump were to take a Political Science class from Associate Professor Jane Cramer at the University of Oregon, he could ask his now infamous question, “Why have nuclear weapons if we aren’t going to use them?” This might be how that conversation would go.
Trump: Little Rocket Man keeps threatening us with his rocket launches and nuclear tests. He’d better stop the threats or we will destroy his arsenal.
Cramer: North Korea is a mountainous country. Its arsenal would be hard to destroy because it is hidden under a mountain.
Trump: He claims to have missiles that can reach our mainland, but they can’t carry a payload as heavy as a bomb.
Cramer: Actually, they don’t need to launch a missile to attack our mainland. North Korea is very skilled at smuggling illegal weapons. That is one of the ways they make money. They could smuggle one into the country and set it off.
Trump: They know we have more bombs than they have. They wouldn’t dare risk the total destruction that I have threatened.
Cramer: You underestimate their determination. Just as Castro was ready for total annihilation in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the North Koreans are running drills for that scenario. When you have nothing left to lose, you may choose to die for the cause.
Trump: The people are starving and sick. Soldiers defect. If he gave up his nuclear program, we could have talks and lift sanctions.
Cramer: He sees what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Assad in Syria. He also sees what you have said about the Iran Deal. He has no reason to trust us.
Trump: If he launches an attack on South Korea, Japan or Guam, our missile defense system would take out all incoming.
Cramer: Actually, the success rate is questionable. All of the tests are predicated on knowing when an attack is launched. Furthermore, sending out decoys or firing multiple weapons at once would overwhelm the system. It is more accurate to label this system as offensive rather than defensive. It allows us to launch a first strike attack because we would be prepared for the retaliation response.
And if I were in the class, I would ask Mr. Trump if he had learned anything. During the Cuban Missile crisis, we know that both Khrushchev and Kennedy recognized how perilous the situation was and that they were appropriately frightened. I see no evidence that Trump recognizes the horrific consequences of the macho competition he is engaged in with Kim Jong-un.
I don’t mean to frighten you, but . . .
I suspect it is rare that a Political Science Professor begins her talk, as Cramer did at her January 25 presentation at UO, with the words: “I don’t mean to frighten you, but I am terrified.” I understand why she says this and why the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently moved the hands of the Doomsday clock thirty seconds closer to midnight.
We need the steady and persistent hands of diplomats like Wendy Sherman, who led the talks with Iran leading to the Iran Nuclear Deal. We need women, who have led the nuclear disarmament movement since 1961 with Women Strike for Peace. We need the continued and massive response of the women’s marches worldwide to restore sanity.
It comes as no surprise that it is the women of North and South Korea’s Olympic teams that will come together as one force for athletic accomplishment and may just set an example of how to step away from the precipice.
Go Team Korea!