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.