I’m not scared of nuclear war with North Korea. I just don’t trust anyone in power to prevent one.


I don’t trust anybody anywhere in charge of anything right now, especially when it comes to nuclear war. I don’t trust our president, I don’t trust the military, I don’t trust the intelligence community, I don’t trust Republicans and I don’t trust the media.

I also don’t trust North Korea — but at least I get North Korea. 

I get that you would be pretty mad at America after they spent three years bombing “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another,” further crippling a nation that just lost a generation to World War II, in a conflict that claimed a million and a half civilian lives.

I get that you would be madder still when America then propped up the repressive regimes of Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-hee, stuffed with former collaborators with imperial Japan — a daily reminder of what American calls for freedom actually amount to in the real world. And I get the fury at how America managed the “peace” by slowly tightening the noose, invoking civil rights to justify sanctions against a resource-poor country while resource-rich repressive autocracies get presidential visits.

I get that you would notice how the same America that fitted your southern border with as many military toys as possible also had a pretty exclusive club of regimes it didn’t seriously hassle, all of which had nuclear weapons.

Who I understand even more than North Korea and trust much less is every single other player in what MSNBC’s Chris Hayes dubbed “The Stupid Missile Crisis.”

I get that the bulk of the U.S. military is filled with honorable people who swore an oath to the Constitution above party, who would — if in position to — soberly stay the hand of the president. At the same time, I also know that somehow, the structure of the Defense Department has always brought us that weird spectrum of McNamara-LeMay-style wunderkinder from both parties who always manages to say, “Yes, this is a war crime, buuuut ...” 

I don’t trust some of the men over whom they preside, who went to war colleges and gesture at you after three beers and ask, “On the other hand, what’s the point of a deterrent weapon if you don’t occasionally use it?” I don’t trust those men, even though they seem like such mannerly, urbane counterparts to some of the other guys who took a job in the military to exercise vast power, because deep down, the job is about killing people.

And I don’t trust the media — CNN and MSNBC and the nightly news broadcasts beamed into every household for free over the air — not to “both sides” the march to war to literal death. Time to cut the shit, fellas. When the blowdried vampire from the Institute for Juicing Muslim Blood calls, you’re going to have to let it go to voicemail this time, even if he’s been given a position on the National Security Council. 

I don’t trust some mythic centrist think-berg of The Deep State and intelligence community to stop the machine or even to understand it. The people who “whoops”-ed! 9/11 and “aw-shucks”-ed the lead-up to Iraq, who watched “Why the Kremlin Hates Bananas” but didn’t understand how big Cuba is, who traded Mohammad Mosaddegh for the Shah’s secret police and made Latin America the global success it is today, and who are so busy fomenting revolutions on behalf of colonial countries’ worst human beings that they’re blindsided by every other revolution that happens without their input. Why not completely whiff on one in your own country for once? 

And I sure as hell don’t trust the Republican Party, who at this point differ from the people in the Milgram experiment only in the sense that before they push the button that makes the screaming start, they ruefully explain how poisonous the pre-screaming rhetoric has been. These are people with the full faith and credit of lenders and defense contractors (pick a name), who can always fall into minimum six-figure lobbying gigs if too many of their base voters turn to ash and all of whom probably have a house somewhere with a steel hatch door.

But these are the people in charge.

I always knew that if my country killed me, it would be an asshole who did it. I just assumed it would be a cop or a crooked executive for a water management company. On the outside, I thought, it might be a normal, conventional apocalyptic Christian theocrat with a Harvard pedigree and a great stump speech, who liked to have his prep-school tie taped into his mouth like a ball-gag while a rent boy whipped his testicles. I didn’t think it could be just a thundering, cheap idiot.

This president is a man who doesn’t know what’s in his own health care bill, doesn’t seem to have any functional understanding of Medicare or Medicaid, appears to think Frederick Douglass is alive, demonstrates a failure to understand how the Senate works and who could only halve the intellectual distance between him and the second-dumbest president in modern history if George W. Bush nodded off for 12 hours with his head in the Shine-O Ball-O.

I don’t trust the current president to walk backstage at a Miss Universe pageant, much less walk past a Coke-label-red nuclear button. 

Here’s what I do trust: Millions of people calling every representative they have and explaining, in calm but unbending tones, that if they’re issued a death sentence due to nuclear fallout and have nothing left to lose, the first place they’re going to stop on their farewell tour is your house, senator, just to stand at the gate and wave in case any children peer out the window and want to see what dying looks like.