Idiots and Geniuses

Prompt: Timely

flower sun

It had been a rough day for the leader of the free world. God damn it, people just didn’t appreciate him. Though many did, lots of people did not. It got confusing sometimes.

Some people said he was incompetent, weak, unqualified. They knew nothing about him and anyway those people were contradicted by others who lauded his policies, decrees, and attempts to shake up the status quo. But the critics annoyed him. He was not incompetent, but a success. He was not weak, he was a powerful man. He was not unqualified, he was a billionaire.

Obviously he relied on staff to guide him, though they were not really as astute as he was. Sometimes they irritated him with their unreasonable expectations. How was he expected to remember everything?

He had made promises which caused people to cheer and exalt him. He had an image to uphold. He knew that ultimately he did know best. He could surround himself with idiots or geniuses, it didn’t matter. He had confidence in himself. He might not have all the facts, he might not have the experience, but he had confidence and smarts.

There happened to be a person who followed him everywhere, always. This person had a device that connected him to two people who had control of the “keys”.

There were always two highly trained people who were each armed with a key and a side arm, always awaiting instruction. If they were given the order, they would simultaneously turn their keys so that ICBMs, or nuclear missiles, would immediately be launched. The key-holders were trained to understand the implications of nuclear treaties and the politics of nuclear weapons. It was important that foreign, and possibly hostile, nations understand that when the order was given, nuclear weapons would in fact be launched. This was and is the deterrent to nuclear war.

Ok, this particular head of state might not know everything about political fine points and international treaties but he knew when a business or a country had to be tough. He was steady in his confidence, even when confused. He fought this fogginess of mind in every meeting and every speech, trying to be as aggressive and single-minded as he always liked to be perceived.

It was late one night and he was up with his television and Twitter feed, and he hadn’t slept for awhile, and had had furious and passionate and confusing meetings with other politicians, and had lost face with one or more foreign dignitaries, his popularity ratings were down, some influential people called him ineffectual— and there before him on the news and trending on Twitter, was an uncompromising act of disrespect by a foreign nation towards the country. More than that, there were personal attacks on him, the leader, and boasts of power and punishment. People on TV called them dangerous, a threat that could not be ignored.

He couldn’t remember exactly but there were other reasons he was angry, really angry, completely justified reasons, even if he couldn’t articulate them.

All he had to do was call on the person with the keys. This person, who would be nearby, would provide the information; the key-holders would be called and told to activate.

They would then immediately launch one or more nuclear missiles.

There were— are— no intermediaries here. The president of the United States has completely unchecked power to launch a nuclear attack, whether defensive or preemptive. No one at all has the power to intervene.

This is fact.

There are apparently bills being introduced that would dilute the dependence of America’s nuclear defence on ICBM silos and which would require congressional approval for a preemptive nuclear launch, which currently is not a prerequisite. These bills have not been supported to date.

As tensions build in Syria and their ally, nuclear power Russia; and potential nuclear power North Korea continues to strut and provoke, recent US displays of unstrategic power by a president who many think is at best inexperienced and at worst mentally unstable, continue to be variously praised and unexamined.

Hug your kids and your friends, right now.

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