Dr. Strangelove: Alive and well in White House and Pentagon
"Trump in Cinema," via YouTube

Every day since last Tuesday, when the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) issued a highly questionable report that North Korea can fit miniaturized nuclear warheads on top of missiles, the nuclear brinksmanship has gotten worse.

One day, Trump threatens nuclear attacks on North Korea, the next he says those threats were not strong enough. Then today, China announces it will defend North Korea if the U.S. launches an attack against that country. U.S. senators, among the millions around the world having trouble sleeping these nights, introduced legislation earlier this year to curb Trump’s ability to push the nuclear button.

“Thank God,” many media commentators say, that Trump is surrounded by generals who would rein him in.

But can those generals really be counted on to do so?

Over the last six months, the Pentagon has, under Trump’s watch, cranked up its deadly war machine in other places around the world. The militarists in the Pentagon are being helped by militarists in the Senate and the House. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham helps them when he says any war would be fought “over there” in Korea, and not in the U.S. He says he’s ready to go to war and boasts that Trump pledged to him, “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die over here.”

And the intelligence community helps when it does what it did with that report earlier this week.

The latest round of “crazy talk” from Trump started Tuesday immediately after the infrequently-heard-from DIA issued its report on North Korea’s supposed ability to fit a warhead atop its missiles. That report remains unconfirmed and uncorroborated. Not one of the other 16 intelligence agencies has come forward to back the findings, nor have other governments or agencies anywhere else around the world.

The last time we heard from the DIA on matters of North Korea was four years ago when Barack Obama was president. At that time, they issued the same report they issued this week: North Korea is capable of fitting nuclear warheads on top of its missiles. Four years ago, like this week, no other agency in the U.S. or around the world would come forward to corroborate DIA’s “findings.” The Obama administration, in fact, dismissed the DIA ‘s report at that time, and subsequently, it was dismissed too by other intelligence agencies.

Maybe the DIA will send out another copy of that report in four years. Who knows, even a broken clock gets it right eventually. Even if North Korea had such a warhead, however, it would likely be a long way off from being able to develop the technology necessary to make that warhead survive outer space and re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

> People’s World editorial: Trump’s Nagasaki Day threat of nuclear war must be rejected

> The need for a new U.S. policy toward North Korea

There is no need to construct conspiracy theories here. It is perfectly reasonable to ask why this new “finding” surfaces at this time, and to ask what is the relationship between the “finding” and Trump’s incredible war threats this week.

More important though is that this issue distracts not just from Trump’s Russia-gate woes; it also conceals a new and unprecedented cranking up of the Pentagon’s killing machine around the globe.

A report by the British monitoring group Airwars, which counts deaths resulting from air raids in Iraq and Syria, found that more civilians were killed during the first three months of 2017, a total of 2,826, than in all of 2016. The casualty jump actually began in the fall of 2016, when the Iraqi army and its American advisers began their attack on Mosul.

Airwars found that the death toll from U.S. air strikes nearly quadrupled in the month of March as compared to the last full month before Donald Trump took over in the White House. Reported civilian deaths jumped from 465 in December to 1,754 in March—a stunning 277 percent leap.

An Iraqi soldier walks by the gutted remains of the al-Salam hospital in Mosul, Iraq. | Khalid Mohammed / AP

A single 500-lb. U.S. bomb dropped on an occupied apartment building in Mosul in March resulted in over a hundred civilian deaths on the spot. It was reported on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show on August 11 that U.S. bombing and killing of civilians has grown tenfold over the last year. It has apparently even surpassed anything the Russians or other foreign actors were doing at the height of their bombings during the last three years of the civil war in Syria.

So the most militaristic president perhaps in U.S. history appears to be part of a broader militaristic push around the world by Pentagon generals. The so-called alt-right and the extreme right generally are believed to be well-represented in the White House, where they are having an effect on domestic policy.

The scary thing is that they are probably hard at work in the military, too. Hopefully the peace forces in the U.S. and around the world will mobilize in time to stop them.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.