Sunday, July 24, 2016

To my American friends..

Clinton at Planned Parenthood (cropped) By Lorie Shaull (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
photo Lorie Shaull (Wikimedia)
From social media, I get a strong sense that some of you feel a deep and abiding disappointment about Democrat primary voters going for the "establishment" candidate, Hillary Clinton.

I don't normally like to tell voters in another country whom they should elect, but one thing makes the United States a special case: the largest thermonuclear arsenal on the planet. All voters, everywhere, vote for the people they think will do the best job for themselves, their children, and the unborn generations to come. When Americans vote to decide whom they will hand the keys of a 6,000+ megaton nuclear arsenal, they also vote on behalf of the 95% of people on Earth who do not get a vote in American elections, but can still die in a nuclear war.

By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
photo Michael Vadon (Wikimedia )
In 2008, John McCain and Barack Obama vied for the job of President of the United States. Two serious men with experience competed for a job that carries the gravest responsibility for the most destructive arsenal of weapons. In 2012, Mitt Romney ran against President Obama: again, two men with a sense of responsibility. In 2016, we have Hillary Clinton versus... Donald Trump.

Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear he does not have the sense of responsibility or the grasp of history that virtually every serious American presidential contender has shown, at least in my lifetime. Challenged in a debate, he could neither define nor explain the most basic element of American nuclear strategy, the division of strategic forces among land-based missiles, aircraft, and submarine launched missiles. Faced with a Russian government expanding their territory and influence using "salami" (a slice at a time) tactics, Donald Trump muses about not defending NATO allies.

One of my friends recently forwarded me a post from a writer asking people to defend Hillary Clinton without mentioning Donald Trump. On thinking about it, I conclude that ignoring Donald Trump and how he might behave in office doesn't rise to the responsibility that comes with the kind of power the United Stated has built up.

When Donald Trump first began to make significant inroads in the American primaries, I remember thinking I had always wondered what Rob Ford would have done with thermonuclear weapons. As Donald Trump gets closer to the presidency and shows, again and again, a lack of the self restraint and wisdom American presidents, even the worst, have always had, that musing no longer feels funny. A lot of people feel very frightened of what you and your compatriots might choose this November.

I understand many of you feel impatient with the idea of choosing the candidate you see as (barely) the lesser evil. I understand that. I, and I think many many people like myself who have no vote in your elections, truly wish your decisions carried less responsibility for the fate of people outside your country. I need, I think we need you to understand that however little you want the responsibility of choosing who will take charge of the American nuclear arsenal, you have it. I understand that many of you do not want it. I stood with some of you when you protested against past governments that built more and more destructive, cunning, subtle and insidious weapons. I worked and wept with you at the corruption and the waste these means of destruction entailed. That does not change the reality: still, as of year 2016 in the common era, you as voters of the United States bear this particular burden. I ask you to understand that means, by your own choice, that entrusting the Oval office to a person with the record of Donald Trump has much more serious implications that selecting such a person as Prime Minister of Canada or Australia. Even an irresponsible head of government of Britain or India or Pakistan can do much less harm than an unrestrained, impulsive and ill informed President of the United States can do.

Barring some completely unexpected turn of events, the Democratic Party of the United States will nominate Hillary Clinton as your presidential candidate. Some of you tell me you will welcome her as a historic candidate, a trail blazer, and as one of the best prepared and most experienced candidates in recent history. I ask those of who do not share this enthusiasm to consider your options realistically. On behalf of many many people who cannot vote for the person who will, metaphorically, have their finger on the button, please remember the stakes if rejecting Hillary Clinton brings Donald Trump into office.

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