L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 886, August 21, 2016
A Game of Nuclear Chicken
by Paul Bonneau
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
(Note: Next week I plan to have some comments about the response to this article. I suppose the title will be along the lines of “Anarchy—A Religion?”)
I grew up in fear of nuclear catastrophe. I remember standing in a school yard during the Cuban Missile Crisis, looking up at the sky, wondering if I would be able to see the missile that would come down to kill me.
For many years now that fear has faded into the background. The near misses are far in the past, and the rulers had seemed to come to the conclusion that “we shouldn‘t go there”. The Soviet Union is gone. Yet, I am thinking lately that the movie Dr. Strangelove might be coming back into relevance.
Does the coming presidential election matter? For many years it has always looked like it did not; the deep state, or the empire, or whatever label you prefer to put on it, always seemed to continue rolling on toward its denouement, a crashed economy, no matter who was president. Empires expand, and then contract or collapse. Yet lately the old game of nuclear chicken seems to have returned as a factor in this election.
In past presidential races, the question faded into the background due, I think, to two factors: 1) the difficulty in determining any relative difference between the D and R candidates on the subject of nuclear chicken; and 2) the absolute (lack of) importance of the topic. That is, the first refers to the two usually-insider candidates having little difference in their likelihood of kicking off a nuclear war - or even if there is a difference, of the difficulty of detecting what that difference is, from statements the candidates make or positions they have taken in the past. The second refers to the fact that for quite a while the whole subject of nuclear chicken has seemed quite unlikely. It‘s no big deal these days for any person to take a vacation in Moscow or watch Russia Today on the TV. Recent movies are set in Moscow. The fear and anger is gone even if the rulers wish it weren‘t.
These two factors seem to be changing in significance in the upcoming election, however.
There does appear to be a significant difference between Clinton and Trump on the question of nuclear chicken; they are not Tweedledee and Tweedledum on this subject. While Hillary has taken a shot at trying to make Trump look the more dangerous of the two—when one looks into it, this is not credible. Nobody who digs into it really believes Trump was expressing admiration for Kim Jong Un for example. Trump does make a lot of off-the-cuff comments that can be readily re-worked into hit pieces against him; as a politician he is not a careful, polished and calculating speaker (which is part of his outsider appeal to many). But he has also said he is capable of walking away from NATO, or of getting along with Russia. Nobody who has compared the two candidates honestly can imagine Clinton is not seriously more dangerous than Trump, at least where nuclear chicken is concerned.
As to the overall danger, that too has increased. The empire is already pushing the Russians far too hard with their adventures in places like Ukraine and Syria; and the coming economic crash that so many of us expect, is also very likely to be followed by war, since that is the standard ploy of any member of the ruling class who has run into trouble. Rally ’round the flag, boys.
Nuclear chicken is a subject that, when it becomes possible due to the above two factors, causes all other issues to fade into the background - or at least, it should. Trump University does not matter, Trump‘s bluster and gaffes do not matter, Trump‘s business deals do not matter*, Hillary‘s emails don‘t matter, the Clinton foundation doesn‘t matter, attempts at gun control do not matter, Benghazi does not matter, immigration does not matter, Islam and terrorism do not matter, Obamacare does not matter. If everybody is dead via nuclear war, then these other issues disappear like a wisp of smoke in a hurricane.
Here is an article worth a look. (It‘s interesting to see such an article in a magazine founded by Irving Kristol. After all, what is Hillary, if not a neocon?) Here is an article that reaches a similar conclusion—but coming from the left.
The question then arises, should I vote for Trump? Should anarchists generally vote for Trump?
I sure don‘t want to, and I hope someone comments here questioning my reasoning on this. But I am coming to the conclusion that I should, for this election, abandon my long non-voting practice—not in order to support Trump, not to try to obtain the lesser of two evils, but simply to avoid obliteration.
* There have been some allegations of Trump business connections with Russians. If true, these suggest even less likelihood of Trump wanting to go to war with Russia. I wish all presidents were friendly with Russians and Chinese, where the subject of nuclear chicken is concerned.
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