Lessons from Jan. 13
On Saturday, Jan. 13, the state of Hawaii and, consequently, the entire United States got a reality check about bombs. Yes, it was a false alarm, and, yes, as a resident of Hawaii Island I’m grateful that it was. However, it gave us all a rare opportunity to get a tiny glimpse of how the rest of the world feels.
We drop bombs daily from our military drones on countries we are not at war with, countries that have not attacked us or even threatened us, and we do it because we can. We do this even though we keep electing presidents that promise to get us out of endless war.
We want the oil, precious minerals, forests or cheap labor these countries have, without having to pay for them, and we have the might to take it from them without negotiating. It’s called regime change, a unilateral U.S. policy involving extreme measures that destroys lives and infrastructure of countries we perceive to not be cooperating.
We’ll just bomb them. This is important.
Those of you who thought your lives were ending can now imagine how countries in the Middle East and elsewhere live every minute of every day in fear of their families and their friends’ total destruction. I live on the West Hawaii coast and every few days we witness the gods of war in action as their cargo planes make deafening circles called “touch and gos” around our tiny airport. These machines are huge, loud and polluting, yet we can’t give them up. Instead, we use our country as a preparatory ground for foisting our will upon the rest of the world. This is lesson one.
Lesson two is clearer. Those of us who received the alert were told to take shelter. Now, assuming the missiles were carrying nuclear weapons, then taking shelter is a ridiculous instruction. I was in grade school in the ’50s when our government told us to get under a table and pull our sweaters over our head in case of a nuclear attack (Russia was supposedly the threat then). … It was ridiculous then, and it’s ridiculous now. That was when I learned, firsthand, that the government was willing to lie to its citizens in order to protect the military/industrial/corporate complex.
We have a president who has just recommended an increase in nuclear arms. For what purpose, it’s unclear. We already have more than anybody — plenty to destroy the entire planet. President Barack Obama, for all his feel-good speeches about nuclear disarmament, quietly was constructing a smaller more “useable” fleet of nuclear bombs so that we could annihilate a portion of the world, supposedly without affecting ourselves.
The final lesson is about human error. Human error is what all of these catastrophes are about. Human error in the inception of the problem, and human error in the correction. Both of these occurred in Hawaii on Jan. 13, and they will occur again as long as there are humans.
It becomes important to realize this because even with the increasing usage of artificial intelligence, humans will have the final say, and they are going to make mistakes, have emotional issues, forget things, be physically unable to act and sometimes just be lazy.
Whoever’s finger is on the button can make a mistake. For instance, what if a military officer in one of our remote launch sites (underground and in the dark) saw the alert and assumed our country was being attacked and launched a counterattack (we’ve come close to those scenarios before). Then it’s, “That’s all, folks.”
I view the false alarm as a wake-up call for us all. It’s a grand illustration of the fact that we cannot fight our way to peace. Time for a real change in the way we choose to use our power.