The fiasco of last Saturday’s mistaken missile warning will no doubt be exhaustively analyzed and the protocol for such systems improved if not perfected. But the proper dissemination of accurate information concerning a forthcoming nuclear attack requires much more than an effective “early warning” system.
Given current geopolitical wrangling, primarily between the United States and North Korea, early warning in this context is an oxymoron. Twenty minutes between launch and strike (North Korea to Hawaii) is hardly sufficient time to do anything substantial to protect oneself from the catastrophic consequences of such an attack, particularly for those who may find themselves in close proximity to a military or largely populated target.
Compared to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, today’s nuclear power is on steroids. Had last Saturday’s warning been real what could our local and visiting populations have done to either protect themselves or at least minimize the inevitable devastation?
Having lived in Kona for almost 28 years I cannot recall the dissemination of information by either local, state or federal government agencies concerning the steps we must take to prepare ourselves for an imminent nuclear attack — any such information should be disseminated on a regular, updated and widespread basis. To their credit, local Civil Defense services have been quite informative when it comes to natural disasters — e.g., hurricanes, tsunamis and flash flooding from torrential rains. But the prospect of nuclear obliteration is a different species of disaster.
Perhaps, in truth, there is little we can do to protect more than a few of ourselves from the inevitable. And therein may be the real issue our leadership refuses to publicly acknowledge.
Sunday’s (Jan. 14) WHT editorial column appears to recognize the problem and what may be the only viable preventative action — that protagonist nations avoid provocative behaviors that might precipitate such an event.
To those of you who are old enough to remember, crawling under our desks and tables and putting our heads between our legs is not an option.
Edward H. Schulman is a resident of Kailua-Kona.