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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
Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.
The troops were part of a convoy in Kandahar province that came under attack by a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support said on Monday.
Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.
Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.
The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty
Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.
Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:
Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.
In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.
On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.
Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.
After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.
- 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
- Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
- Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
- Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
- Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.
The top leaders of a Japan-based Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet squadron were fired after an investigation into a deadly mid-air collision last December found that poor training and an "unprofessional command climate" contributed to the crash that left six Marines dead, officials announced on Monday.
Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Super Hercules and one Marine onboard an F/A-18D Hornet were killed in the Dec. 6, 2018 collision that took place about 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Another Marine aviator who was in the Hornet survived.
The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.
Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.