How Much Longer Will America’s Presidential Luck Hold Up?

In 1861 when America’s ship of state hit the rocks with Southern conservatives bolting the Union because they saw their cherished slave society threatened by Northern abolitionists, Abraham Lincoln had just been elected president.

By the standards of the times Lincoln was a moderate, slightly left leaning, little regarded Republican politician. Luckily for the future of America, Lincoln was both a determined and patient man. And though from a certain perspective he made mistakes that significantly prolong a bloody civil war, the most destructive war of American lives ever, his resolve in the end did save the world’s beacon of democracy.

A bit less than a decade later when the Axis powers were embarking on world domination, another president of clever resolve, Franklin Roosevelt, moved skillfully behind the scene to put a nation dominated by isolationist thinking into position to win a great war if it became necessary. And of course when Japan struck the US Navy a crushing blow at Pearl Harbor, “a day of infamy,” Roosevelt called it, he had already laid the foundation for American industry and manpower to become the “arsenal for democracy.” The nation again prevailed.

Within two decades of WWII, when the world stood on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, a youngish John F. Kennedy occupied the White House. While in his private life Jack Kennedy was a covertly reckless man, when it came to life and death matter of nation survival he was relentlessly prudent. With Russian atomic tipped missiles being installed in Cuba and more coming across the sea, his military advisors were pushing for him to launch an all out nuclear war against the Soviets. In fact Curtis Lemay, the ever-belligerent Air Force commander of the American strategic air command, SAC, was itching to let the bombs fly.

But fortunately for millions of Americans in New York City, Washington DC and many other metropolitan areas, not to mention ten of millions of innocents in Russia, Kennedy raced behind the scene against the doomsday clock to find a way out of a mega game of chicken. He would remove missiles from Turkey if Secretary Nikita Khrushchev would rid Cuba of Russian missiles. The deal worked and the world let out a collective sigh of relief; American and Russian cities were not incinerated.

Now let us fast forward back to the future and try to image what may have transpired had Trump, Cruz or Rubio been president during those dark 13 days of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. What would remained of the United States and the world if crazy Trump; or the poster boy for the neocon warmongers, Rubio; or the, I never back off from principle, Cruz, had been under pressure from their military advisors to launch WWIII.

It is scary to think that in such a future national crisis there may come a time when the wrong president has his finger on the nuclear trigger.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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