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(excerpt from an article by Tom Vanden Brook in USA TODAY of December 23-26, 2016)

WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump decried the state of the nation’s nuclear arsenal Thursday, saying in a tweet that it had to be strengthened “greatly” during uncertain times.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he tweeted.

Trump made his remarks a day after receiving a national security briefing from a group of mostly senior military officers, including Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration.

A nuclear arms reduction expert reacted with alarm to Trump’s tweet. Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, said similar statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin could trigger a destabilizing nuclear arms race.

The United States and Russia have 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons, but smaller nuclear powers, such as China, North Korea, India and Pakistan, may view their statements as a call to bolster their own arsenals, he said.

Two or three months before the American presidential elections in November, I had compared the then Republican Party presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, to the Republican Party presidential nominee in 1964, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. I wrote that I thought that the Democratic Party presidential campaign strategists would be able to do to Trump what they had done to Goldwater in the 1964 presidential campaign – brand him as dangerous and unpredictable where the nuclear arms race and international affairs were concerned. In painting Goldwater as a trigger-happy hawk, the Democrats had succeeded in returning their candidate, Lyndon Baines Johnson, to the presidency in 1964.

Johnson had been the Vice-President of the United States when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. LBJ was sworn in as President and served out the remaining year of Kennedy’s 1960 to 1964 term.
Younger Belizeans will not know that when Kennedy was elected President in November of 1960, it was an epoch-making election at the time, because no Roman Catholic had ever been elected U.S. President before. No African American had ever been elected U.S. President before Barack Obama in 2008, and that was surely more sensational then Kennedy’s election as a Catholic in 1960. Still, Kennedy’s election was very big news in 1960, though his victory was by an extremely narrow margin.

In 1960, the American labor movement and the Mafia were doing a lot of business together. American labor union leaders, such as and most prominently Jimmy Hoffa, controlled huge pension funds, in addition to reliable, bountiful cash flows, both of which they made available to the Mafia for loans and business operations. John Kennedy’s father, Joe Kennedy, had been a bootlegger during the Prohibition era (1919-1933) in the States, so he had ties to the Mob. It is generally felt that the Kennedy campaign won the union and Mafia vote in the 1960 election.

The American Mafia had lost a lot of money they had invested in Cuban hotels and casinos over the years when Fidel Castro took over Cuba in January of 1959. Castro nationalized everything. People like Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafficante, the New Orleans and Tampa, Florida Mafia dons respectively, were in cahoots with the extremist Cuban exile elements in Florida who were planning to invade Cuba with the support of the American political, military, and intelligence establishments. When John Kennedy came to office in January of 1961, he inherited the Cuban invasion plan from the President who preceded him, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The offensive against Cuba in April 1961, which is known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, was a colossal failure for the Cuban exiles and the American power structure, and critics of John Kennedy felt that by refusing to provide American air cover for the attackers, he had doomed the invasion. Powerful elements in the American military and intelligence establishments became angry with Kennedy.

At the same time, Kennedy’s younger brother, Bobby, whom JFK had appointed his Attorney General, became embroiled in a bitter feud with Jimmy Hoffa, and Bobby Kennedy’s attempts to convict and imprison Hoffa for corruption had seriously negative implications where the labor union/Mafia pro-Kennedy coalition was concerned. These powerful and violent men turned against the Kennedys, big time.

Fearing the Americans and their Cuban exile allies would attempt to invade Cuba again, Fidel Castro had invited the Russians to install nuclear missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles away from the American mainland. When the United States government discovered the presence of the missiles, it resulted in the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when the United States and the Soviet Union came close to going to war with each other and possibly destroying planet earth with thermonuclear warheads.

The traumatic, terrifying impact of this nuclear crisis on American young people, aggravated by the bloody, television-publicized escalation of the Vietnam War, led to what became a revolutionary alienation of American youth, a revolutionary alienation which spread to European countries like Germany, France, and Italy. We are talking here about highly educated youth who had become alarmed and hostile about the culture of war they had inherited from their parents. In the nuclear age, war would be different from anything man had ever known: war would be terminal.

Statements by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump such as the one we quoted above from USA TODAY (December 23-26, 2016) are intended to build a militant, nationalist spirit in America, in line with Trump’s campaign promise to “make America great again.” The point of my essay is that the last time the planet was in the kind of nuclear arms race Trump is now provoking, American youth went into major rebellion mode.

At the time of John Kennedy’s assassination, his administration was being depicted by a fawning American media as Camelot-like. There was an aura of class, enlightenment, and intellectual brilliance surrounding the Kennedy administration. But Washington, history has exposed, was not really Camelot-like under JFK.

America is a warlike state. I suppose all empires are. Donald Trump tapped into America’s machismo and won the 45th presidency in sensational fashion.
When the Americans elected Lyndon Johnson to the presidency in 1964, they were not choosing a marshmallow: they were voting for a tough Texan who was committed to escalating the war in Vietnam. (Richard Nixon, the Republican hawk who succeeded Johnson as President in 1968, almost gleefully expanded that war into Laos and Cambodia.) Goldwater had been perceived as substantially more hawkish than Johnson, hence Goldwater’s defeat. Still, Vietnam proved such a tough nut to crack that, to repeat, the young people of America went into a rebellion mode which had become absolutely revolutionary by the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As the 1970s wore along, the Vietnam War came to an end in 1975 and soon after that the United States abolished its military draft. It appears that, over time, the vast majority of rebellious American youth returned to their nation’s socio-economic mainstream.

The Americans have praised their Ronald Reagan presidencies (1980-1988) as representing a return to the glory of the stars and stripes after the shakiness of the Jimmy Carter administration (1976-1980). The Americans feel that it was Reagan who was responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Russia, and the loss of communism’s credibility in and after 1989. Today, however, Russia has rebounded dramatically, China never went away and is more powerful than it has ever been, and the world, overall, is an even more dangerous place, to speak nuclear, than it was in 1964, or 1962.

The Americans have now presented the world with Donald Trump, a man who speaks recklessly and acts without due process. All over planet earth, wherever there are enemies of America, you can be sure that those enemies are taking heed. If Trump can convert his rhetoric into an American imperial reality, the likelihood of American youth revolt is probably nil. But if Trump gets a reality check from the rest of the world, America could become unstable internally. To repeat, it was when Vietnam began becoming a quagmire that American young people rebelled.

Belize is in a tricky spot here. Our young people have become Americanized, which is to say, “consumerized.” When America’s young people became rebellious in the 1960s, Belize’s young people had been politicized by the Thirteen Proposals of 1966 and the Seventeen Proposals of 1968. So that, when Assad Shoman, Said Musa, and yours truly introduced in early 1969, one after the other, the Ad Hoc Committee, the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) and the People’s Action Committee (PAC), there was a young Belizean audience eager for information and knowledge. In 2016, going on 2017, there does not appear to be such an audience in Belize.

Power to the people.

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