Doomsday Countdown

In early 2021, the Doomsday Clock, maintained since 1947 by members of the Atomic Scientist’s Science and Security Board, was set at 100 seconds until midnight, or nuclear Armageddon, the closest it has ever been. The clock is a symbolic representation of the likelihood of a man-made nuclear disaster, and not that many are aware of it; however, those few seconds are the most important tick-tocks in your life – or death. 

Did you notice that when his aides were ushering Vice President Pence to safety during the recent Senate riots, an Air Force officer, carrying a black briefcase, was right behind him, sticking closer than a brother? Well, that briefcase was the “President’s Emergency Satchel,” the “Button,” the “Black Box,” the “Biscuit,” the “Atomic Football,” the “Nuclear Football,” or just the “Football.” Its contents are used by either the president or the vice president to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers. There are actually three, the other being in storage at the White House. 

The football supposedly contains four things: a list of classified site locations, a description of procedures for the Emergency Broadcast System, a list of missile launch authentication codes and a list of sites around the country where the president could be taken in an emergency. On some occasions, a small radio antenna has been seen protruding from the bag. Interestingly enough, two presidents, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, decided to carry all this paperwork around in their coat pockets. In fact, after the 1981 assassination attempt against him, when his clothing was cut off by the hospital trauma team, some of the secret documents ended up on the operating room floor and in his shoe. This led to the urban myth that Reagan carried the launch codes around in his sock.

As I see it, President Biden has inherited two nuclear-related foreign policy conundrums in which a strong Navy will inevitably play a part: North Korea and Iran. First of all, somebody needs to clue Kim Jong-Un in about the Cold War concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). He is apparently suffering from we may charitably refer to as cognitive dissonance. If one of his Hwasong 14 ICBMs should manage to chug the 5,600 miles across the globe and cause us harm, everything north of the 38th Parallel will be lit up like a Christmas tree within 20 minutes. Of course, we are glibly talking about the beginning of World War III, the death of countless millions, nuclear winter and the end of civilization as we know it. On the other hand, he may be wily as a fox. He has managed to maneuver us into an asymmetrical situation that allows him to punch far above his weight. Who knows? He might even be using President Nixon’s “Mad Man Theory” of strategic unpredictability against us. 

As far as Iran, the ayatollahs are watching all of this closely, and as soon as they get their own bomb, we will have two rogue nations to worry about, although Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently went on record as saying that Iran “would never be permitted to get a nuclear bomb.” Judging from how the Mossad recently took out Iran’s top nuclear scientist as he drove down a road on the outskirts of Tehran, I’d put my money on the Israelis. I hope Biden doesn’t give in to the pressure to lift the economic sanctions on Iran because they will keep developing their bomb no matter what we do. We don’t need John Kerry to send them another boatload of money, either. 

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