Would Trump Need Approval to Launch a Nuclear Strike Against North Korea?

UMass Students Stunned by Right Answer

December 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


A couple of us took the quiz on the Korean War to the University of Massachusetts, Boston campus. UMass Boston is principally a commuter school, with a very diverse student population, including international students, as well as a higher percentage of vets, older students, and students who work while attending classes. We went on the last day of class. Over the course of two hours, 45 students took the quiz at our table and turned their results in.* Several dozen more took the quiz back to their classes or to the library as they prepared for finals.

Of the 45, only two answered all ten questions correctly with one other getting nine right.  Including questions not answered as incorrect, half of the students scored 50% or worse.

Interestingly, the most difficult question was not on the history of the Korean War, but #10—what approval Trump would need to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea today?  Only seven of the 45 got this question correct. Most students either did not answer this question or answered “d”—“all of the above”, assuming the President would need the approval of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, authorization of Congress, and a review by the Defense Intelligence Agency before being able to launch a nuclear strike.

While many students were upset by their ignorance of the Korean War (with a couple admitting they were not even aware that the war had taken place) and by reading of the reality of what the U.S. had done to the Korean people, the fact that, today, Trump has the freedom to launch a nuclear strike with no constraints was the most disturbing result. Most students had simply assumed that, given the profound implications of unleashing nuclear devastation upon another people, this responsibility would be the most carefully monitored. It hadn’t really been part of their thinking that they could go to bed and wake up with a war being unleashed while they slept.

At one point, some young women selling T-Shirts that read “Build Bridges, Not Walls,” a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., invited us to share their table. They were raising money towards a class project of visiting a town in Mexico, to work with the community and wanted to talk more about the Trump/Pence regime. The women, of different nationalities, had all taken the quiz, with one woman from the Middle East doing the best. They talked about how much they enjoyed going to school but how ignorant they were of the entirety of the history of the United States and how little they learned in school. Even their best professors could only cover so much.  

While everyone was somewhat familiar with the Vietnam War, which was covered in some classes, there was virtually no discussion of Korea—and even with Vietnam, most students had no clue as to the degree of devastation the U.S. had inflicted—the millions of Vietnamese killed in the war, the massacres, and widespread slaughter of civilians. What was on the table was the GTF (Great Tautological Fallacy) that the United States is basically a force for good in the world. While none of these women would have supported that position, they hadn’t really confronted the sheer scope of the horrors the U.S. has and is inflicting on the people of the world.

We were not prepared to show any of the new talk by BA, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, A Talk by Bob Avakian, which was a shortcoming because some of these women would have been prepared to watch at least part of it on the spot. (LESSON HARD LEARNED—NEVER GO ANYWHERE NOT PREPARED TO SHOW THIS TALK!!!)

Since this was the last day of classes, they were all taking off for the holidays so at the end of the day, we agreed that we would come back the beginning of the next semester and not only take the quiz out in the public areas but bring it into classrooms. We are also planning to screen the film of the BA Talk.  

* The actual results are below:

Question 1: 14 chose a, 4-b, 11-c, 7-d, and 9 got it right
Question 2: 12 chose false and 33 got it right
Question 3: 13 chose a, 9 chose b, 13-c, and 10 got it right
Question 4: 10 chose b, 19 -c, 7-d, and 9 got it right
Question 5: 2 chose a, 4-b, 3-d, 5-e, and 31 got it right
Question 6: 2 chose a, 7-b, 8-c, 9-d, and 19 got it right
Question 7: 18 chose false, and 27 got it right
Question 8: 1 chose a, 8-b, 9-d, and 27 got it right
Question 9: 20 chose true and 25 got it right
Question 10: 5 chose a, 1-b, 3-c, 17-d, and 7 got it right


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