Is the false message worse than the actual threat?

One Man's Opinion
By Doug Collins
January 17, 2018 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — It has been pretty scary to watch Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea trade insults and threats over the past few months. The question of which one of them has the biggest ego and wants to be first to push the button of no return has been, I’m sure, the subject of much betting in the bookies’ lairs throughout the continent. We have two leaders, both of whom are capable of taking a chance on a third World War. But these past few days, an even scarier situation has arisen. How is it possible that, not one, but two false alerts have been triggered, indicating that a bomb had been launched by North Korea, first to Hawaii and secondly to Japan? It is hard to believe that these kinds of things can happen. If someone had hacked into the system and fired the alert button, maybe people could understand that. But for people to actually press the wrong button and send people into panic? Whoa! That has all sorts of implications.

What if Donald Trump had gotten that message, got all fired up and pulled out his little satchel with the codes to fire missiles back? You only have a certain small window to retaliate when the enemy strikes. I could see Trump getting agitated, saying “we’ll show that little so and so” and away we go. It is not beyond the realm of possibility. Fortunately, nothing happened. But this is a really serious breach of protocol, and needs to be tightened up immediately.

On top of the panic everyone was put in, it was apparently obvious to emergency officials in Hawaii that residents of the Island really had no idea what to do in the face of the alert. First instinct seemed to be to flee in panic, blocking roadways, creating gridlock and running around like Chicken Little, wondering how to stop the sky from falling. They were justifiably panicked, but they didn’t know what to do. During the Cold War, we always had drills about what to do in case of an attack. Everyone knew, or seemed to know, the correct procedure to follow. I’m convinced virtually none of those procedures would have helped save us from the fallout from a nuclear blast, but we at least had some guidelines to follow. Nowadays, when the threat of a strike is still there, we seem to have put our fears on the backburner, waiting for an alert like the two recent ones, to wonder what we should do in case of an incoming warhead.

The upshot of it was both good and bad. No missile was launched. Donald Trump didn’t panic and fire back. But it’s clear that protocols for triggering the alerts need to be tightened up, and people need to go back to some emergency planning in case something really does happen. If we can prepare a proper plan if we’re hit by a wildfire, we should have a bit of an idea what to do if the “big one”, whether it be earthquake or nuke, hits.