Here is what not to do when addressing your student population at a time when tensions with a nuclear-armed adversary are running at fever pitch: send an email to the student population with the subject title "in the event of a nuclear attack." Unfortunately for hundreds of students at the Aloha State school, that is precisely what they got in the inboxes on Monday, and as the NY Daily News notes, the message sent Cold War-style shivers down the spines of those not accustomed to the "duck and cover" drills of the 1950s, which in this day and age of pervasive snowflakyness, would be pretty much everyone.
"In light of concerns about North Korea missile tests, state and federal agencies are providing information about nuclear threats and what to do in the unlikely event of a nuclear attack and radiation emergency," says the email obtained by Hawaii News Now.
The email also told students and faculty to be aware of emergency sirens and to follow instructions on "sheltering in place."
For Hawaii, which is far closer to North Korea than the US West Coast, the threat of a nuclear attack by Pyongyang is far more tangible. Furthermore, the American military has recently practiced missile defense tests off of Hawaii, because despite international efforts for a peaceful solution, Kim and President Trump have continued to fire insults at each other, with the commander-in-chief's jabs suggesting that words could soon be replaced by "fire and fury."
The ominous email also came as the president indicated that diplomatic efforts have stalled.
Adding fuel to the fire, the Army Times reports that on Monday Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that America’s relationship with North Korea remains a diplomatic one, but he urged members of the military to be ready for war in case the situation breaks down. Mattis also used his keynote speech at the annual AUSA conference in Washington, D.C., to thank allies who have stood with the U.S. through the ages.
“It is right now a diplomatically, economic-sanctions-buttressed effort to try and turn North Korea off of this path,” Mattis told the audience. “What does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say.”
In contrast to some of the president’s tweets, Mattis’ comments represent a fairly regular baseline of the North Korea situation — that diplomacy has the lead, with the military ready to back it up.
“There is one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is you have to be ready to ensure we have military options that our president can deploy if needed,” Mattis said. “The international community has spoken, but that means the U.S. Army must stand ready.“
“So if you’re ready, that’s your duty at this point and time, and I know the Army will always do its duty.”
Readiness for a major conflict was a theme throughout the secretary’s speech, which burrowed into the Army’s history and came with a series of book recommendations. The big takeaway, Mattis emphasized, was that the Army needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice because if diplomacy fails, the military must be deployable right away.
“What we want to do is be so ready and be very much aware that we fight the way we come, that everybody in the world wants to deal with Secretary Tillerson and the Department of State, not the Department of Defense and the United States Army,” Mattis told the audience to applause.
Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon, when Trump met in the White House's Situation Room with his top defense officials, including Mattis, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Dunfort for a briefing and discussion on options to respond to any North Korean aggression or if necessary to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons, the White House said in a statement.
It is not yet known what was discussed during today's meeting, but comes after Trump warned the world is in the "calm before the storm". Spokeswoman for the US State Department Heather Nauert confirmed the Situation Room meeting in a press briefing this afternoon. She confirmed North Korea was one of the topics along with "Turkey and Iran".
Some have speculated the meeting could have been to discuss responses to any looming North Korean missile tests – with fears of a launch on October 18. The US President has also cryptically said only "one thing" will work against North Korea and has criticised the past 25-years of US policy on the Kims.
The Situation Room – officially named the John F. Kennedy Conference Room – is used to deal with disasters and conflicts at home and abroad. It is equipped with secure communications equipment, and allows the US President to command the nation’s military across the globe.