How Trump Could Trigger Armageddon With a Tweet

“Twitter could get us into a war.”

That sentence, which appears in Bob Woodward’s new notebook, Fear , about the Trump Administration, has scandalized a lot of people. Not me. Because I simply wrote a fiction in which precise that same act happens. And let me say to you: It’s not far-fetched.

Of course, we knew that Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, and his precede, Reince Priebus, both have tried to get the president’s tweeting under control. Woodward only adds some wonderful colour, said Priebus took to calling Trump’s bedroom, where many of the tweets originated, “the devil’s workshop” and called the president’s favorite time for tweeting “the witching hour.”( The prediction that Twitter could get us into a fight was reportedly made by an unnamed national security official .)

About the Author

Jeffrey Lewis is a scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey and the author of The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States .

It is unsettling, the notion that the president could provoke a nuclear combat with the same carelessness that he picks campaigns with D-list luminaries. But he could. In information, Trump’s tweets are central planned devices in my story, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States .

The novel, as the claim indicates, claims to be the report of a government commission, like the 9/11 Commission, charged with asking how the United States and North koreans blundered into a nuclear campaign that killed various million people. And the answer is, at least in two critical time, Twitter.

Tweets are, after all, presidential statements. No significance how peculiar it might seem, foreign governments have little select but to read and consider what President Trump says , no matter where he says it. North koreans is no exception.

On any rendered epoch, this is hardly the end of the world. Trump’s tweets might be appalling–but they are not hazardous , not often. After all, Trump openly mused about assassinating Kim Jong Un at a campaign stop. In The 2020 Commission , Trump looses a series of spectacularly misogynistic and horrid tweets about Kim Jong Un’s sister. Those tweets don’t start a struggle, although they are part of the prelude, a few more drunken gradations off the direction that was supposed to lead to the denuclearization of North Korea.

The problem is what happens in crisis. In the romance, North koreans photograph down a South Korean aircraft by mistake and South Korea reacts with a very small, approximately symbolic, weapon affect. It is at this notes that Trump, with one spectacularly ill-timed tweet, provides into flow a chain of events that neither he nor any of his faculty can verify. And it is all done innocently enough.

Trump hasn’t even been fully briefed about the crisis. He is about to sink the narrow-minded provide of stairs that lead into the vault at Mar-a-Lago and to the secure conference room. Trump is famously afraid of stairs–one of those things that an generator can’t make up–and reachings for his telephone as a kind of ease. His tweet is a throwaway observation, a recurrence of a little bit of joke he had tried out a few minutes earlier in a telephone call with his John Kelly-like chief of staff.


Oh, but how different that tweet gapes to Kim Jong Un! In Florida, where Trump mails the tweet, it’s a pleasant springtime morning. But it &# x27; s the centre of the nighttime in North koreans and still winter. Kim is setting on an embarrassing chair, smoking in a obscurity and cold basement, trying to understand how serious this crisis is.

His cell phone is working only sporadically because the North Korean cell phone network is overwhelmed with requests, just like the US network on 9/11. Kim can’t relatively tell how large-hearted the South Korean strike is and doesn &# x27; t review Moon Jae-in would do it by himself. He starts to is hypothesized that the impres is the beginning of an American invasion. And where reference is receives Trump’s tweet, he knows.

Hard to believe? Scarcely. I educate a class on decision-making at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. And here is the truth: Rulers consider the darndest situations. Saddam Hussein, for example, did not believe the US would rally the whole way to Baghdad in 2003. His life depended on fixing the right call–and he blew it.

And it’s not just Saddam. The Soviet leadership in 1983 was unusually gripped by a wave of paranoia that Ronald Reagan was scheduling a surprise attack–President Reagan had condemned the Soviet Union as an “evil dominion, ” inducing the Soviet chairman Yuri Andropov to call Reagan insane and a liar. The so-called War Scare of 1983 — which too featured a civilian aircraft being shot down–was one of “the worlds largest” perilous times of the Cold War. And American leaders weren’t even aware of how perturbed the Soviets were until much later.

The point is that supervisors stimulate mistakes. If you search closely at past emergencies, like the War Scare or the Cuban Missile Crisis, the chairmen and other world leaders don’t ogle nearly as astute or sensible as they are later made out to be. They seem–surprise, surprise–pretty human: flawed, confused, and fright. And these people were generally pretty good at the job.

Trump, by oppose, is spectacularly bad at being chairwoman. Woodward has pointed out that Trump’s response to Syria’s scandalizing consume of chemical weapons was homicidal bloodlust. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in, ” Trump apparently told defense ministers James Mattis, “Let’s kill the fucking spate of them.” It’s nearly as insane as reports that Trump contemplated infesting Venezuela. It’s not hard to is hypothesized that Kim Jong Un might conclude that Trump wants to kill him.

Past leaders–Kennedy and Khruschev, Reagan and Andropov–had one more advantage: hour. Those dilemmas played out over periods or weeks. Captains had time to process datum, to discuss it with consultants, to think about what it means. They moved misconceptions, but those blunders were not immediately broadcast around the word. It simply wasn’t probable for the president be informed about a crisis on cable television or to transmit it revolving out of control with a careless social media affix on his method to being briefed. To throw it mildly: Experiences have changed.

One of the problems with fictionalizing Trump is that the real-life item says and does happens far more outrageous than a scribe could ever get away with. I couldn &# x27; t tell my imaginary Trump say anything remotely as batshit crazy as what Woodward paraphrases Trump saying to Mattis. Instead, I phoned Trump back a bit–making him not nearly as homicidal or maniac as the nonfiction Trump of Fear or Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury .

But since I was writing under the masquerade of the regional commissions, I tried to leave the book with the being of the opinion that Trump’s staff and my fictional fee were covering up his worst excesses–even after a nuclear disaster. I missed the book to get the creeping sense that acts were worse than the commission on human rights was willing to let on and that the so-called adults were still cleaning up after Trump. In particular, my imaginary board is loath, or ability, to accurately report Trump’s reaction to learning of Melania Trump’s death in a nuclear strike that increases Trump Tower to rubble.

It is generally true-life of all chairwomen that, up close, the picture is far worse than they are included in histories written after the facts of the case. But that’s a disquieting anticipate in the framework of the Trump administration. The consequence is that thoughts at the White House are even more awful and chaotic than Wolff and now Woodward have evoked them. It’s literally hard to imagine.

One reason for that downfall of resource is our deeply rooted human said he wished to make sense of even the most foolish place. In this method, we are all complicit in normalizing Trump. In both the real the declaration and in my fiction, everyone around Trump is focused on cleaning up after him. No one is able to look past Trump and take in the unfolding situation directly.

The effort to minimize the fallout from Trump’s tweets–as dangerous as they are–is just part of a greater, more elaborated ritual of trying to forgery normality. Those around Trump present this as heroism–good people, patriots even, doing their best in a bad statu. Woodward seems to praise Mattis for hanging up after hearing the president muse about assassinating Assad, then telling his personnel that they are able to do nothing of the species. And Woodward seems to praise Gary Cohn for stealing a enlist out of Trump’s desk–a symbol pulling out of a trade agreement with South Korea–to keep him from signing it.

But this misses the fact that each is involved with keeping this presidency, which makes the same problems recur over and over again. And what happens in a crisis? In my tale, everyone is so busy overseeing Trump , no one else the time or intensity to control the crisis that spins out of control and immerses us into a nuclear war.

I don’t visualize Kelly, Mattis, or Cohn are protagonists. I think they are enabling Trump. They aren’t helping Trump to make good decisions, they are robing his abuses and harangues in the semblance of normalcy. They are lulling us with the comforting thought that we can just wait out the next two years, even if they are hope it is six. They are hampering out the false promise that we will necessarily muddle through, somehow, and that it won’t have contributed to misfortune. They are telling us that we are all overreacting. That, after all, it’s only a tweet.

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