Since 2010 the Tusk has never mentioned nuclear war. I have presented thousands of pages of evidence for an equally destructive, and oddly similar, form of sudden global annihilation and ecological destruction — cosmic impact. But war and bombs are not my gig.
That said, if you asked me a year ago which threat I thought was a more likely end day villian for global society, I would have said without hesitation a nuclear war, not an impact. I am a catastrophist across the board, and pay no favor to my favorite subject’s odds.
These two subjects are lasting impressions from the 70’s and 80’s for the Tusk. I was transfixed by the work of Alvarez and Company to explain the end of the dinosaurs, and glued to my seat like everyone in 1983 watching The Day After, which remains one of the most widely viewed broadcasts of all time.
The ‘Day After’ scared me badly, like it did most people. And I was already scared in the 70’s.
The comet impact into the ancient lizards, on the other hand, wasn’t scary at all — but it was cool. And the resistance and opposition it encountered despite all the evidence made it even cooler.
But then, thank god, the Wall fell, I cheered like hell at the TV with millions, and even had the pleasure the next spring to visit Berlin. I picked up a beautiful spray painted fragment of that monstrosity which I still have.
But I always stayed fearful.
My problem today, and for many years, is that so few others seem appropriately fearful of “nukes,” relative to the old days.
Mine is not a unique take on the situation, by far, but I join the small band of people that believe that we need to treat Vladimir Putin with the appropriate respect based simply on a rational and visceral fear of nuclear war.
If that kind of ‘dictator love’ troubles you, realize the respect is ultimately being paid to the “button,” not the man.
Trump got this right. Don’t call Putin a “monster,” “war criminal,” “mad man,” or compare him to Hitler. Do not fight him ad hominem whatsoever. When some thug holds hostages in a bank, the police do not howl to him through the bullhorn how evil he is.
I’m not sure my kids, 19 and 16, have even felt that pit in your stomach when you are presented with the graphic results of an intercontinental nuclear exchange, and the freakish ease with which it can occur as a result of an escalating modern ground war in Europe. Like I’m watching now below my Tusk.
Sure, I played a role by not scaring my own kids, but why would they they not otherwise learn the fear of nuclear war from our culture? It’s never, ever discussed, much less taught, while other common threats are downright propagandized.
To make matters even worse, many of their elders, like former Secretary of State John Kerry, remind us there is a roughly equal global danger from climate change. A relatively silly subject he mentioned in the company of nuclear fucking war.
Kids much older than mine, some in their forties, run the country. The dirty little secret of Washington is the power it grants youth.
So I wonder if Congressional and White House staffers feel the proper sized pit in their stomach this week. I worked for years in a cube at 404 Dirksen Senate Office Building, immediately down the hall from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If I still could, I’d go see if my fellow 20-somethings seemed queasy in the bathroom, and feel relieved if so.
America must not be suckered into this war by punks and posers, left or right. It is not in America’s interest. No air cover, and god knows no troops or special ops. Go along with the sanctions — and pray the lights don’t go out. And if he pops off two tactical nukes on a Ukrainian battlefield this week, do not overreact, and hold him at the Polish line, et al.
But, above all, treat that man with the respect he deserves.
Respect should only be given when some degree of admirable character is in evidence too. But what you’re describing is fear.
I cannot muster respect for anyone who would hold the the very real threat of nuclear catastrophe over all of humanity. But sometimes a strong, eviseral, fear can be a healthy, survival oriented, emotional tool.
And if a leader can inspire respect, his people will happilly follow him through any troubled times. But if he should give them cause to fear him instead, they will eventually become a mob, and go after him with pitchforks.
Thank you for your thoughts, Mr. Howard. I suspect you have much more insight into the realities of how government functions than most. I hope we are not yet fully arrived at the state of, say, the Roman empire in its latter days. But it does seem lately that corruption and its toleration seem now to have crowded out the sort of people who might be capable of navigating the present challenges.
Mr. Howard, I grew up in the 50s, son of a Navy WWII vet who had served on carriers in the Pacific. This was a time when most families either had a member or a close relative who had served in uniform, or in some vital job as a civilian contributing to the war effort. Attending funerals with neighbor families whose dads were carrier aviators, I learned by 3rd grade that Carrier aircrew were killed in training accidents with appalling frequency. At very nearly the same rate — I later came to understand — as in Combat, because the training has to be as close as possible to combat conditions to be useful…
The spectre of nuclear weapons is after all no more deadly than the so-called Spanish Influenza pandemic, that took both of my grandfathers in 1917, and an estimated thirty million others around the world in a few years, while the GREAT WAR ground on. Slaughter is to my mind equally horrifying when done by bullets, bombs, swords, scalpels or salad forks… or flawed polio vaccines for the profit of some half fast entrepreneur with forty billion $$$ to buy himself opportunity and good will.
Thanks George, for a voice of sanity amongst all the armchair warriors baying for blood. I watch TDA back in the day, as a child of the Cold War. Jaw-jaw first and foremost, not war-war: the former provides far more options to reduce tensions. Russia needs the business/trade, regardless. Also, Pugin is an former Colonel in the KGB’s counter-intelligence arm. He’s no dummy. Couple that with provocation from NATO – expansions and not enough negotiating on that – we are where we are.
Amen and Amen. I lived through the Cuban Missile affair and again, we are in very dangerous times. BTW The Cosmic Tusk is great.
” Since 2010 the Tusk has never mentioned nuclear war ” …….
That may be surprising to some George ..Victor Clube and Bill Napier devoted a section to ‘ nuclear error ” – that is Tunguska class impacts and the hazards of misinterpreted nuclear attack – in chapter 17 of their 1990 book The Cosmic Winter .- “A Risk Assessment ‘ . They mention the Swiss scholar Daniel Frei who was commissioned to examine the probability of accidental unintentional nuclear conflict by the United States Institute for Disarmament Research . Clube and Napier lamented that nowhere in Frei’s 1982 treatise did ” he consider the possibility of [misinterpreted ]’ meteor impacts . This is a poignant topic for the Cosmic Tusk that should be explored in depth . President Bill Clinton was awakened in the early hours of the morning of February 1 1994 by his defense aides fearing a nuclear device after a 1000 ton bolide tracked by US spy satellites detonated 20 km over the Pacific ocean northwest of Fiji .. Try to envision the consequences of say the 2002 Eastern Mediterranean Event exploding over India or Pakistan at a time of high emotive tensions between the two subcontinent nuclear armed neighbors . It is a dangerous scenario that deserves greater public attentiveness .
Give thanks you do not live in a corrupt police state .
Vladimir Putin nostalgically believes the disintegration of the USSR that marked the end of the Cold War was an absolute catastrophe and he sees Ukraine as a renegade province of the Russian motherland ‘Richard Lamb……Anyone who has ever researched the Holodomor would understand why Ukrainians would never suffer under Russian hegemony again . Have you ever spoken to Ukrainian emigres and their descendants to hear their horror stories Mr Lamb ? Former Eastern bloc states such as Poland and the Baltic republics who prefer the protective umbrella of NATO are not the aggressors provoking Putin . After centuries of lost and tenuous sovereignty they do not want to be swallowed up again …
We got through the Cuban Missile Crisis, see 13 Days movie, only because of an intelligent US President JFK made a deal – brother RFK agreed to withdraw Turkey-stationed Jupiter missiles in exchange for a back-down.
Both brothers did not survive long. Exactly a repeat – a reverse Cuban Missile Crisis.
NATO will not back down. Sane heads in D.C.?
So, the only way out of this extremely dangerous mess is :
Convoke an International Conference to Establish A New Security and Development Architecture for All Nations
Do what JFK did then, this time around internationally.
It is a big world out there, if we can keep it – to paraphrase General Washington.
Any thoughts on age dating of the Hiawatha Crater in Greenland, the silence is deafening??
Beginning in 1978 I was a KC135 flight crew member, I served with the 42nd Air Refueling Squadron, 8th Air Force, Strategic Air Command at Loring Air Force Base Main. I spent weeks on alert rotation along with my SAC bothers and sisters waiting for the call to end humanity and the world as we know it. Alert meant you lived in a well guarded building for a week at a time with fully fueled KC135s and nuclear bombed B52s a short distance away, all with the intent to deter Russian nuclear attack. If deterrents failed our mission was to support the B52s, via multiple air-to-air refuelings, in their effort to penetrate Russian air space and turn Russia and Ukraine into nuclear wastelands. In other words, we were to ensure Russia experienced The Day After ten fold to any suffering they could impart on the United States.
Frankly speaking, being scared shitless of Vladimir Putin’s nuclear ability is not only ill informed but dangerous. Fear and misguided respect will not keep Russian nuclear missiles and bombs in silos and bunkers let alone render them economy draining paper weights. At this time, at this juncture of a contemporary European land war and TikTok, the only thing keeping Putin in nuclear checkmate is the American resolve to ensure he visits Hell shortly after the first Russian missile lights off.
The people who have volunteered to keep this land war in Europe a land war in Europe are unknown. Movies aren’t made about them, they don’t share their experiences on pod casts, and you will never see one win a CMH. Tonight they are on submarines, in command of ICBMs, and maintaining B2 bombers. Warriors all. If you have respect to give, with them is where it belongs.
“I’m not sure my kids, 19 and 16, have even felt that pit in your stomach when you are presented with the graphic results of an intercontinental nuclear exchange,”
It’s called a sucker punch. Ehrlich and Sagan commissioned the graphics that floored you in 1983 from the creative department of Porter Novelli six months before they submitted the TTAPS paper.
They too repurposed the Alvarez impact sceanario.