My Daily Advertiser Op Ed column for Tuesday 26 September 2017: The Doomsday Clock inches closer to midnight every time Trump speaks or Tweets about North Korea
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un should take Washington’s threats of possible military action seriously because the world will not accept his state becoming a full nuclear power, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne chirped recently.
And after Donald Trump’s threat to totally destroy North Korea in last week’s United Nation’s address, which was unprecedented in the diplomacy of the modern world, so should the rest of us, though with different reasoning to Mr Pyne.
President Trump, in his first UN speech, warns US will ‘totally destroy’ North Korea if threatened, bringing “his bullying, populist presidential campaign to the global stage in UN debut” as ABC online news accurately put it.
His comments rattled the world leaders gathered before him in the green-marbled hall, where just minutes earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had appealed for statesmanship and diplomacy.
As loud, startled murmurs filled the hall, Mr Trump added insult to injury by referring to Mr Kim as “rocket man”, despite the international forum and gravity of the situation.
Since then many world leaders have rightly condemned Mr Trump for his undiplomatic and provocative statements, though, much to our shame, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop managed to ignore Mr Trump’s statements, and Malcolm Turnbull went so far as to claim Mr Trump was merely “stating the reality.”
Shortly before Mr Trump’s speech, Mr Guterres appealed from the General Assembly lectern for statesmanship to avoid war with North Korea. “We must not sleepwalk our way into war,” he said. Mr. Trump isn’t sleepwalking into it, he’s wide awake and charging full tilt with eyes (and mouth) wide open.
Trump and his war-mongering mates should take heed of the number of times since he was let loose in the White House that atomic scientists have reset their symbolic “Doomsday Clock” closer to midnight, each time pointing out that the world is moving closer to catastrophe due to threats such as nuclear weapons, climate change and Donald Trump’s election as US president.
The timepiece, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists immediately after WWII is widely viewed as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to disaster.
Recently its hands were moved to two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight, from three minutes.
“The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than it’s ever been in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room,” Lawrence Krauss, the bulletin’s chair, recently told a news conference in Washington.
Even during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 at the height of the Cold War the clock was only set at three minutes to nuclear catastrophe, meaning that now we are closer than ever to Armageddon.
But unlike Jack Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, who had the smarts to handle the crisis without obliterating most of the world, Donald Trump and Kim Jung-un are impulsive neophytes likely to blow us all to bits in order to satisfy their deluded egos.
However, the problem isn’t so much that a Kim Jong-un rocket launch/bomb test, or a Trump reactive fit of pique will result in immediate nuclear war, though it’s certainly possible, but rather that both sides will miscalculate and that a spiral of escalation will lead to a catastrophe that no one really wants, not even those two vainglorious fools.