Thank God it was a mistake!!
Shades of the Cold War this morning and a reminder of our perilous international moment as news broke that residents of Hawaii received an emergency alert of a ballistic missile launch. It took precious (and terrifying) minutes for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to issue a statement that it was a mistake. As one person tweeted, “That is a hell of a mistake to make. #Wow.”
There was always an umbrella of fear during the Cold War that there was a chance that a civilization-ending conflict could engulf the globe in a matter of minutes. And there was always a chance that it could be spurred by a tragic mistake amidst a cascade of hair-trigger reactions. The dangers today are not nearly as grave as then, but this umbrella of uncertainty has returned.
Let this morning’s mistake be a lesson in the dangers of talking loosely about nuclear weapons and using an undisciplined twitter finger to conduct what should be sensitive international negotiations.
This false alarm also demands a full-scale investigation. No backside covering, no cover-up; a full accounting–full transparency– about what happened and why (we need more than just employee error.) And heads should roll (and not just low-level heads; top people must be held accountable.)
Then there this: every citizen and every family should think about, “what should I do, what should we do if ever—God forbid—a real such alert is sounded?” And have a plan. A personal plan and a family plan.