Did we do our very best?

President Donald Trump threatened (taunted?) North Korea’s dictator with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.

Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, responded by threatening to launch four nuclear missiles at our military bases in Guam.

Our defense secretary said that Kim’s threats would lead to the end of his regime and “destruction of his people.”

OPINION

So I found myself wondering, if a nuclear war erupted, could we say that we had done our very best as a nation? Could we tell our children and the rest of the world that we understood our responsibility to them and took it seriously?

China, one of the most powerful nations in the world, shares a border with North Korea and is its only real ally.

It is possible that in threatening North Korea, President Trump was trying to get the Chinese to finally intervene and put a stop to Kim’s nuclear weapons program. It is also quite likely that the President was just boasting, without contemplating the impact of his words, when he made the threat.

And it is possible that Kim, feeling cornered, hearing that his regime will come to an end, could launch an attack starting a war that nobody really wants. It is possible that China will not sit idly by as nuclear missiles are launched.

Did we do our very best?

I realize many people disliked, even hated, Hillary Clinton.

And while Barack Obama was extremely popular when he was first elected, the country was badly split by the time his second term ended. There are some who blame him for allowing North Korea to advance its nuclear weapons program. Many of them are the same people who objected to the deal Obama made to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Maybe all our elected leaders for the past decade are to blame. Maybe this situation was inevitable.

But the future of the human race is at stake here and it seems fair to reflect and wonder, “Have we done our very best as stewards of this planet?”

We, the people, choose our leaders. We are responsible for what they do, although more often than not we protest ignorance when things go wrong.

I think we often ignore the awesome responsibility we have as the most powerful nation in the history of the world and our unique position as the people charged with selecting its leader.

Maybe we live in denial because the obligation is simply too great for ordinary folks to contemplate.

Would it have mattered back in November, during the last presidential election, if we could have seen this confrontation with North Korea coming?

Actually, it’s not much of a surprise. Many foreign policy experts said North Korea was the greatest threat to national security during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Candidate Trump said President Obama had been too soft on the North Koreans.

If this is indeed the prelude to “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen,” this was not Pearl Harbor. We saw it coming. Maybe we’re even responsible for it.

Did we do our very best?

Could you tell the millions of people in Seoul, South Korea we did all that we could? Could you tell your own children that the wisest, most experienced, most thoughtful, person was in the White House when the crisis arrived?

In the future, if there is a future, it seems to me we owe to the world and to our children, to say, “Yes, we did our very best.”

Email: philkadner@gmail.com
Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com