Monday, December 22, 2008

Highest Priority

Dear Mr President (elect)

My policy on this public conduit to you will be to deal with a single issue in each of my messages, and to make my comment brief and succinct. And to the extent that I am able, never to engage in partisan rhetoric. You certainly get more of that than you require.

Unlike my two other blogs and my posts elsewhere on the net, in which my articles are sometimes whimsical or even contentious, here I will focus on those things I believe might be easy to lose sight of, amid the trappings and apparent power of your office.

One of the most difficult tasks you will face is to resist the illusion that, because of the immense resources that can be brought to bear by the various agencies at your disposal, the information and advice you are provided is more complete, accurate, straightforward and unambiguous than it actually is.

The clearest historic exammple was the Cuban Missile Crisis, not only the closest the world ever came to total destruction by the hand of man, but where blind luck played as big a part as that of tactics or strategy by two implacable opponents, seriously at ideological odds with one another.

If there is any point in history that would be most advantageous for you to dwell on in detail, this is the one. The evidence is so absolute and overwhelming that sheer luck was decisive in the outcome.

True, we can look at many other points in history in which mistakes, calculated carefully and sometimes with perhaps the best of intentions, brought us to the brink of monumental disaster.

But never before in recorded time has there been such a clear and public example of cataclysmic disaster being very nearly brought about, not only by the two world leaders and their retinue of trusted advisors, but by potential errors of field commanders not in a position to see anything but a fragment of the larger picture. A single commander of a submerged nuclear submarine, unable to surface to see what was happening or get clarification of his course of action, could easily have interpreted the explosions of depth charges around him as nuclear war already having commenced. The very idea of dropping depth charges around an enemy nuclear submarine, particularly one also armed with nuclear missiles, is ill conceived.

The commander of that submarine, or a dozen other anonymous men in other distant points, could very easily have jumped to this world's final conclusion. And it wasn't the skills of the two world leaders alone that averted the disaster. It was sheer dumb luck.
Thank you Mr. President.


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