By Dr. Jane M. Orient
Concepts & Thoughts
Tuscon, Arizona–As candidates face “gotcha” questions from the press and trade barbs, the world may be on the verge of a global military conflict, complete with nuclear warheads used against the United States. U.S. and Russian aircraft could literally be on a collision course in Syria, as both are conducting air raids, without an agreement on flight safety.
Dr. Ben Carson is asking the right questions, the same ones a physician routinely should ask: What’s the best thing—and the worst thing–that could happens if I do it? And what’s the best thing—and the worst thing–that could happen if I don’t do it? The worst thing is World War III, he states. Dr. Carson also emphasizes the importance of understanding the geopolitical situation.
JEB (John Elias Bush) told MSNBC that we’re the strongest country in the world and need to start acting like it. He insists that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has to go. Russia thinks otherwise and is sending in bombers, naval missiles, and ground troops to attack ISIS and protect Assad, both from ISIS and U.S.-backed “moderate” insurgents.
Carly Fiorina has expressed willingness to shoot down Russian jets to protect U.S.-backed enemies of Assad. “We must make it crystal clear to Russia that they do not get to move into the Middle East and become the dominant outside power,” she said. Senator Marco Rubio, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was willing to accept the consequences of armed conflict with Russia in order to enforce a no-fly zone.
Dr. Rand Paul said that a no-fly zone over Syria—a proposal floated by Fiorina, Rubio, and JEB, as well as by Hillary Clinton—was a “terrible idea” that could “lead to World War III.” Ted Cruz blasts what he calls “Obama’s weak foreign policy” and calls Assad a “puppet of Iran.” He also called for the nation to stop “engaging in the fiction” of trying to find moderate rebels and of supporting them.
And Donald Trump suggested that we wait and see the results of Russian air strikes. He also expressed concern about the rebels in Syria. “Assad’s a bad guy, but they’re all bad guys…. you know they talk about the Syria Free Rebels. We’re supporting rebels. We don’t even know who they are.”
Here are four key geopolitical facts that the press, Congress, and candidates need to bring to the American people:
- Both Syria and Iraq invited Russia to enter the fray.
- During the Cold War, nuclear-armed states avoided provocation of other nuclear-armed states, and recognized the dangers of accidental war. The conceit that the U.S. is “the world’s only superpower” does not protect us against a large and growing nuclear arsenals in the world. Putin has announced that Russia will deploy 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2015. China has deployed its aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean.
- Russia is nervous because NATO troops and heavy equipment are being moved near its western border.
- The U.S. homeland has zero defenses against incoming missiles, and our rudimentary civil defense was destroyed during the Clinton years. Only expedient, self-help measures are available to prevent millions of unnecessary casualties in the event of a nuclear war.
Americans need leaders who will prepare an objective assessment of our vulnerabilities, avoid poking a stick in the eye of a nuclear-armed bear, recognize our limitations in an era of centuries-old conflict, and educate Americans in what we must do—economically, morally, and militarily—to restore our greatness. Assad as president of Syria is not a clear and present danger. A Russian attack against an undefended homeland could be catastrophic.
Candidates need to learn about the effects of nuclear weapons and protective measures against them. All Americans need to know to drop and cover if they see a bright flash; how to recognize radioactive fallout; and how to improvise shelter. If candidates aren’t knowledgeable and concerned about such things, while they push for asserting American pride in a situation of extreme danger, they should not be carrying the nuclear “football.”
Dr. Jane M. Orient is president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Since 1988, she has been chairman of the Public Health Committee of the Pima County Medical Society in Arizona. She has published on such topics as risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and nonhazards, and medical economics and ethics. Dr. Orient is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.