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President Donald Trump isn't the first person to suggest using nuclear weapon for reasons beyond warfare, and he won't be the last.
On Sunday, Axios reported that Trump had suggested "suggested multiple times" to national security officials that they "explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States."
Trump promptly rebutted the report on Monday as "fake news" (Axios is sticking by the story), all but ensuring that every bored journalist in Washington, D.C. will spend the news abyss that is the last week of August making bad hurricane nuke jokes on Twitter.
Which is fine! As plenty of people (Axios included) have pointed out, the hit-a-hurricane-with-a-nuke concept dates back to the Eisenhower era and has been thoroughly examined, and debunked, as an effective means of weather manipulation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. National Geographic even explored the idea three weeks after Trump's electoral victory in November 2016.
But Trump isn't channelling some antiquated logic from early years of the Atomic Age, but a reflection of how the general public thinks about nuclear weapons. Call it the Nelson Muntz Doctrine of American nuclear power: Gotta nuke something!
Simpsons - Nuke the whales www.youtube.com
As the only country to ever use nuclear weapons against another population (and would gladly again, according to recent polling), the United States holds a unique perspective: namely, they're a means to a strategic end. Indeed, Army reservist Luke O'Brien recently pointed out at the Modern War Institute, that the Pentagon's 2018 Nuclear Posture Review "embraces what amounts to defense orthodoxy by arguing that nuclear weapons '[explain] the historically unprecedented absence of major land invasions between great powers since 1945.'"
As O'Brien writes, this logic is flawed — plenty of nations have gone to war despite the threat of nuclear annihilation since 1945 — but the myth of nuclear technology as a silver bullet persists. And this principle isn't just "defense orthodoxy," but a part of American culture. Nukes, the fiery source of the post-World War II Pax Americana, get the job done. If the principle applies in war, why not in peace, right?
Consider, for example, the gaggle of "armchair experts," as the New York Times put it, who in 2010 floated the idea of using an underwater nuke to seal the oil well that was spilling gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The idea was based on the Soviet Union's use of a nuke to extinguish a three-year-old fire at a natural gas field in the early 1970s as part of a program to explore "peaceful" nuclear explosions — and rained radiation down on thousands of unsuspecting Russians for years.
But unlike Trump's hurricane nuke query, those armchair experts weren't in the Oval Office. "Drill a hole, drop a nuke in and seal up the well," as CNN reporter (and now chief Fox News White House correspondent) John Roberts put it at the time. The New York Times even considered the idea that "seafloor nuclear detonation is starting to sound surprisingly feasible and appropriate."
According to O'Brien, nuclear weapons exist on "a graduated scale that extends all the way down to the tactical level," and a low-yield nuclear devices certainly have a place in battlefield calculus. But both the hurricane and Gulf oil spill nuke meditations capture a casual treatment of nuclear tech that preceded Trump and, frankly, will live on far beyond him.
Anyway, all of the media coverage of Trump's hurricane nuke request will seem like an absurd nothingburger, but now feels like as good a time as any to remind us that, to borrow a line from O'Brien (and Task & Purpose contributor Kelsey Atherton): nukes aren't fucking magic, people.And now, cue the music:
Scorpins - Rock You Like A Hurricane www.youtube.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As many as 380 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan – which has nearly 300 passengers who have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, now known as COVID-19 – will be extracted Sunday from Yokohama and flown to Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield and a Texas base for further quarantine.
The Army wants more soldiers, and it's using esports to put a 'finger on the pulse' of potential recruits
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
After whiffing on its recruiting goal in 2018, the Army has been trying new approaches to bring in the soldiers it needs to reach its goal of 500,000 in active-duty service by the end of the 2020s.
The 6,500-soldier shortfall the service reported in September 2018 was its first recruiting miss since 2005 and came despite it putting $200 million into bonuses and issuing extra waivers for health issues or bad conduct.
Within a few months of that disappointment, the Army announced it was seeking soldiers for an esports team that would, it said, "build awareness of skills that can be used as professional soldiers and use [its] gaming knowledge to be more relatable to youth."
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico Army National Guard soldier from Mountainair, who served as a police officer and volunteer firefighter in the town, died Thursday from a non-combat related incident while deployed in Africa, according to the Department of Defense.
A news release states Pfc. Walter Lewark, 26, died at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti where he was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the Horn of Africa.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is requesting about as much money for overseas operations in the coming fiscal year as in this one, but there is at least one noteworthy new twist: the first-ever Space Force request for war funds.
Officials say the $77 million request is needed by Oct. 1 not for space warfare but to enable military personnel to keep operating and protecting key satellites.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and helping Iran track protesters in its latest indictment against the Chinese company, escalating the U.S. battle with the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker.
In the indictment, which supersedes one unsealed last year in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Huawei Technologies Co was charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from six U.S. technology companies and to violate a racketeering law typically used to combat organized crime.