‘Duck and Cover’ Drills Exacerbate Fears of N. Korea War

A recent false alarm in Hawaii had citizens in a state of panic over an impending nuclear attack, which, as Ann Wright speculates, may have been the point.

A “duck and cover” school drill from the 1950s.

By Ann Wright

Are you ready for nuclear attack warning sirens in your community?  I live in the State of Hawaii, which decided in December 2017 to begin monthly nuclear attack warning siren drills, similar to the monthly tsunami warning sirens that are tested each month.

You know what happened – an employee of the State of Hawaii Emergency Management Department pushed the wrong button, setting off the siren, and no one alerted the public for nearly 49 minutes that it was a drill. Cell phone alerts to everyone in the 808 area code flashed “Nuclear attack warning-take cover,” with residents and tourists alike going into crisis mode.

Three days prior to the false alarm, 20 of us attempted to call to the attention of the state government that the sirens are being used for political advancement of a hysteria for war with North Korea, or DPRK – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We do not believe the North Korean government is going to attack the United States and suspect that the nuclear sirens and “duck and cover” drills are purposeful and dangerous fear-mongering.

The sirens heighten the anxiety and stress of impending conflict and devastation, making citizens afraid – and in their fear, more likely to accept whatever line the government feeds them on threats and counter-measures.

Successive administrations have lied our country into wars – from Vietnam to Iraq. We do not agree for the need for war with North Korea and refuse to accept the attempted U.S. intimidation of the DPRK, which could lead to war. The sirens, much like the steady barrage of “orange alert” terror warnings in 2002-2003 that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq, normalize the potential for war.

Certainly, if the U.S. initiates military action against North Korea, militarized Hawaii with its four major military bases on Oahu – the headquarters of the U.S. military Pacific Command that covers half the world, the Army’s 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Marine Expeditionary Force at Kaneohe, Hickam Air Force Base and Pearl Harbor Navy Base, the huge NSA underground listening station near Wahaiwa, the massive practice bombing area called Pohakuloa, on the Big Island and the Pacific Missile Range on Kauai – would be a likely retaliatory target for North Korea or any other nation threatened by the United States.

Therefore, it is in Hawaii’s survival interest that we demand that the U.S. government resolve issues with North Korea in a nonviolent manner.

The national government in Washington, DC, does not feel the need to have nuclear warning sirens, so why should Hawaii? One would think the politicians who make the decisions for war and the Pentagon would be bigger targets than Hawaii.

We held our protest outside the State Capitol and got media coverage, but the siren program continued – until the false alert siren went off. However, after the mistaken alert fiasco, the governor has suspended the siren warnings.

Women’s delegation to Civil Society Round Table in Canada. (Photo: Patricia Talbot)

As this was going on in Hawaii, I joined a 16-woman delegation from five countries who participated in a Civil Society Round Table held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada sponsored by the government of Canada and in a public forum on security and stability on the Korean peninsula in conjunction with the meeting of the foreign ministers of twenty countries of the U.S.- led Korean command.

Some of our delegates had long collective experience engaging with North Koreans through citizen diplomacy and humanitarian initiatives and others had expertise on militarism, nuclear disarmament, economic sanctions and the human cost of the unresolved Korean War.

Instead of approving of the warmongering of the Trump administration, our delegation’s recommendations to the meeting of foreign ministers appealed for sanity in dealing with the North Korean government:

  • Immediately engage all relevant parties in dialogue, without preconditions, to work toward achieving a nuclear-free Korean peninsula;
  • Abandon the strategy of maximum pressure, lift sanctions which have deleterious effects on the North Korean people, work toward the normalization of diplomatic relations, remove barriers to citizen –to-citizen engagement and strengthen humanitarian cooperation;
  • Extend the spirit of the Olympic truce and affirm the resumption for inter-Korean dialogue by supporting:

1) Negotiations for the continued suspension of joint U.S.-Republic of Korea (South Korea) military exercises in the south, and the continued suspension of nuclear and missile tests in the north,

2) A pledge not to conduct a first strike, nuclear or conventional, and

3) A process to replace the Armistice Agreement with a Korea Peace Agreement;

  • Adhere to all the Security Council recommendations on Women, Peace and Security.  In particular urge the foreign ministers to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which acknowledges that the meaningful participation of women in all stages of conflict resolution and peacebuilding strengthens peace and security for all.

Anti-North Korean war demonstration. (Photo: Ann Wright)

Despite our best efforts at the Civil Society Round Table and individual meeting with the U.S. and Canadian delegations, the foreign ministers chose to continue the “maximum pressure” strategy on the DPRK through rigorous enforcement of UN sanctions and a underscoring that a nuclear-armed North Korea would never be accepted.

Our delegation responded that the foreign ministers had chosen to further isolate and threaten Pyongyang, a strategy that had utterly failed to halt North Korea’s nuclear and missile program and had only furthered the DPRK’s resolve to develop its nuclear arsenal.  We know that the sanctions that have been imposed have cruel and punishing effects on ordinary North Koreans and are considered by North Korea as warfare-economic warfare, just as military war preparations (games) are considered as pre-invasion and regime overthrow warfare.

We are profoundly disappointed by the foreign ministers who represent countries with a commitment to peaceful diplomacy and feminist foreign policies.  At a time of great global instability, we looked to them for leadership for true global peace and security, but found instead continuation of threats, isolation and economic and military warfare.

At the state level, we hope that the government of Hawaii will discontinue its monthly (and accidental?) siren and cell phone fear-mongering and requiring schools to show “duck and cover” videos that are conditioning the public for war and increased military spending, instead of the less expensive and more successful strategy – dialogue!

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army-Army Reserve and retired as an Army Reserve Colonel. She served 16 years as a U.S. diplomat in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She was on the first team to reopen the US Embassy in Afghanistan in December 2001.  She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She lives in Honolulu.

17 comments for “‘Duck and Cover’ Drills Exacerbate Fears of N. Korea War

  1. evelync
    February 4, 2018 at 00:46

    Thanks Ann for all you and your fellow activists do speaking out loud and clear for sanity.
    Sorry nobody’s listening. How very arrogant of them.

    I don’t doubt that Americans are intentionally terrorized by our own color coded government’s tricks to keep us in line while behind the scenes TPTB continue on their blundering way with their dead end moves.

    I don’t have any foreign policy creds but I feel so strongly that you are absolutely correct in what you say.
    Sanctions to me have always seemed ludicrous and harmful. The goal? To stoke conflict, throw our weight around; make indigenous people miserable and maybe pretend to the home folks that we’re doing SOMETHING.
    But it’s really nothing that works or solves anything. Solutions seem to be the last thing people who grab the reins of foreign policy are interested in.
    Eisenhower’s MIC lurks in the background.

    There should have been sanctions against Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice/Halliburton et al for their horrific shock and awe. And for the endless dangerous antics without a public debate on how the trillions are spent.

    Beautiful Hawaii….
    Thank goodness the terrorizing alerts have been stopped for now.
    Aloha to all.

  2. Steve Abbott
    February 4, 2018 at 00:18

    Ancient history matters, and what has not been mentioned is that most folk aligned with the west have an entirely distorted view of Korea’s and our mutual history. What is ironic, is that most westerners accept as standard practice, the lies and distortions that are used to justify every war, and yet we also accept those war propaganda lies being written unchanged, into our history books. It is a fact, not made very obvious in our popular history, that the justifications for the UN declaration of war on North Korea, back in 1950, were presented by the US, with corroboration by selected representatives of South Korea, but that North Korea itself was denied representation in that body. It is a fact somewhat obscured in our history, that many in South Korea at the time, would not have agreed with those justifications, and also, that many of those dissenting folk were murdered by the South Korean regime for their rejection of its benevolent democratic rule. It is a fact, conveniently neglected, that there were dissenting historical views of the US claim that South Korea had been attacked by the North.

    When we talk of applying sanctions, we conveniently neglect to mention that sanctions have been applied for nearly 70 years now, in violation of the terms of the armistice. When we speak of disallowing North Korea to have nuclear weapons, we conveniently forget that it has not been North Korea that has used such weapons in the past, nor was it the North that first brought nuclear weapons to the peninsula, in violation of the terms of the armistice, nor has it been North Korea that has threatened their first use.

    US politicians speak glibly of North Korea not meeting its international obligations, and western listeners neglect to check the details. The DPRK met all of their obligations under the 1994 framework agreement, and the US met only one of its own in the first 8 years. That single obligation met, was the provision of oil to replace the energy of two mothballed nuclear plants, until they could be replace by light water reactors. 8 years later, rather than correct the neglect of its further obligations, the US found it convenient to make accusations as justification for cutting off the oil supply at the start of a bitter winter, thus negating the only obligation that they had partially met to that point, and to threaten war when one of the other unmet obligations had been to pursue a non-aggression treaty.

    How many of the participants in the recent sessions in Vancouver, all of whom incidentally were aligned against North Korea in 1950, took the trouble to read the real history of what happened then? How many of us did the same? No, our recent aggressions are not the beginning, but the continuation of 70 years of oppression.

  3. Curious
    February 3, 2018 at 20:25

    Ann, I was also over in Hawaii as a tourist, but in Kauai and there was a lot of speculation about what happened and what went wrong. To say people freaked out is an understatement. But I wonder about something else….
    Call it coincidence or plannning, but why did the military test the Raytheon SM-3 interceptor, that failed to intercept by the way, just last Wednesday? For some of those I spoke to on Kauai it didn’t seem accidental that these two events- the sirens, and then the interceptor- were somehow linked. I was up at the Pacific Missle Range area on Monday and there was no extra security or roads blocked. All seemed like a normal day, until Wednesday.
    Dispite the cost of another failed Raytheon test, do you have an opinion on the firing of the interceptor and the sirens only weeks before? Just more games?

  4. February 3, 2018 at 16:38

    The death merchants are pushing for a major war,
    That is obvious to enyone with half a brain.The
    Lunatics are running the US asylum.

  5. February 3, 2018 at 16:17

    My oldest & best friend lives on Windward Side, works with damaged pre-K kids with an MS in ECE for the last 30 years, and I heard stories about this from him in a number of phone calls & emails. He’s…the most optimistic person I know and even he was wondering just how somebody could ‘accidentally’ push a button on a screen that set it off.

    Then I started sending him some of the readings I was doing, some from people over there (from other websites) that worked in the same field. Those first-hand accounts were all saying there was NO POSSIBLE WAY to set off an alert like this because of the redundancy of the drop-down screens that REPEATEDLY asked if that ‘is what you want to do.’

    He said it was insanity even on that side of the island where far fewer people live. And that he couldn’t imagine what it must have been like on South Shore where the majority of people and tourists are located (along with the giant military bases).

    He is 14 miles from…Kahuku(?) airbase and told me he was surprised that in all the government propaganda coming out there wasn’t a single mention of the firestorm that would happen after I sent him the link to nucleardarkness.org website that lets one read & see reality… UGLY reality.

    Anybody, and I mean anyone, with even the slightest smidgen of knowledge about COINTELPRO or Iran/Contra or MKULTRA or the non-existent WMDs of Iraq before that horror show was started (and all the other conspiracies this ‘freedom-loving’ government of ours has committed over the decades and has been caught lying about) can’t have too many doubts about what really went on here.

    There are so many ‘conspiracies’ that were proven true and shoved under the rug (let’s move on sayeth Obama the Progressive) that I can’t list them all here or my brain would explode.

    Nothing is beneath the owners of our world. The bottom feeders rule and it is really scary.


  6. February 3, 2018 at 14:42

    Thank you Ann Wright. Your articles are always a welcome bit of much needed sanity. Much respect.

  7. Zachary Smith
    February 3, 2018 at 13:49

    Conspiracy sites strongly hint that the Hawaii “accident” was a dry run by the Deep State to see how masses of Americans would react to their impending death. I’ll admit that seems to be an extraordinary ‘stretch’, but there were enough strange things going on so as to make dismissal impossible.

    During the investigation, Oliveira said the employee, who had worked at the agency for more than 10 years, had a history of confusing drills and real-world events. In fact, the worker had made similar mistakes twice before, officials said.

    Why on earth did they keep this idiot around? Unless he was the son of Some Important Person, it’s hard to think of a reason other than the anticipation his klutzy behavior might be useful someday.

    I’m going to say the whole thing is likely a reflection of beyond-belief incompetence, but there remains the nagging possibility it was a cold-blooded test.


    • irina
      February 3, 2018 at 16:01

      There is still a lot missing from the ‘what really happened’ narrative.
      Yesterday the worker spoke out, while remaining anonymous due to death threats, etc.

      He stated that “A co-worker took a phone call over the US Pacific Command SECURE LINE.
      He (the co-worker) picked up the receiver instead of hitting ‘speakerphone’ . . .”, the result
      being that the worker who sent out the alert did not hear the beginning of the message which
      stated that this was ‘a drill’ :


      It’s really difficult to try to piece together. If this worker was ‘incompetent’ (which he, naturally, denies)
      then there should be a paper trail of his performance reviews, etc. Was he ‘set up’ by other workers ?
      Was there really a ‘real’ alert which proved erroneous but which he took the fall for ? Or did he just
      screw up ?

      Regardless, this was a good wake up call for people living in nuclear denial. The idiocy of racing through
      red lights at 80 miles an hour while texting ‘i love you !’ to family members just shows how habituated we
      have become to living in the Shadow of the Bomb. One more time (for those who have not read this
      suggestion before), I would like to strongly recommend the book “By the Bomb’s Early Light”, written
      by eminent historian Paul Boyer. In the Prologue, he compellingly describes how he felt during the
      ‘countdown to deadline’ in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The cost of the book (affordably
      available through used book services) is worth it for simply reading those few pages.

    • Skeptigal
      February 3, 2018 at 16:32

      In an article I read a while ago, the author suggested the reason for the false alarms in both Hawaii and Japan was to see how Russia and China would react.

  8. Mary
    February 3, 2018 at 13:27

    We are Hawaiians. Thank you Ann Wright for your very knowledgeable, studied and clear explanation of the social, political and military reality there and and how it relates to the rest of our country and the very dangerous, ongoing, belligerent stances from those who should know better, and can do better, and who profess to care about the security of the world. Enough with war mongering and war games and war. Diplomacy is the answer. Peaceful solutions are possible. Why in the world wouldn’t we try? Whose lives are being risked? Again, thank you and thank you for your participation in this delegation.

    • geeyp
      February 4, 2018 at 07:53

      Ann Wright: I have read many articles that you have written over the years, agree with all of them, and admire the fact that you are a person of peace. I consider myself one; just can’t afford to go everywhere and do what you do. The proposals of the Civil Society sound excellent except I do question just one of them, if I may. “nuclear-free Korean peninsula” sounds great just as requiring all nations to rid themselves of all nukes (even nuclear power?). In a sense, Korea has every right to own these awful nukes as any country such as US, Israel, UK, etc. Do you not agree? I don’t expect a response necessarily, it is just a rhetorical question. When it comes to the “spirit of the Olympic truce”, isn’t it just awful the coup against the Russian Olympic team so they cannot participate in the Olympics? Take care. Aloha!

      • Mary
        February 5, 2018 at 13:41

        Good point-so-nuclear weapons free world now!

  9. Joe Tedesky
    February 3, 2018 at 11:52

    If it were up to me, I would allow Moon Jae in and Kim Jung un to progress their talks to their natural order for peace, and eventual unity. This corporate supported military surrounding of China, and Russia, has to be dealt with first before the Korean Peninsula settles into any era of peace.

    • Dave P.
      February 3, 2018 at 23:07

      Excellent suggestion, Joe. I bet it will solve the problem in a short time.

  10. john wilson
    February 3, 2018 at 11:23

    I think Ann Wright should change her name to ‘Alice from wonderland’ because the notion the warmongers in the American administration would be even the slightest bit interested in what Ann Wright and her colleagues have to say is like hoping to win the lottery three times in a row. One is wasting one’s time and money betting on the lottery, but betting that the American war mongers will attack North Korea is a dead cert, as they say. Ask any book maker what odds you can get on the US attacking North Korea and you will be lucky if the bookmaker would even entertain your bet!! The American government doesn’t care what their own people think, what the United Nations think, or what any other country in the world thinks. They do what ever they want.

    • Annie
      February 3, 2018 at 13:39

      I couldn’t disagree more, and your negative position that a war with North Korea is a dead certainty is the kind of thinking that makes war more liklely to happen, and it shuts down political activism which Ann Wright has been deeply involved in. You’re supporting sitting on your ass and doing nothing.

      • Kalen
        February 4, 2018 at 14:58

        Doing nothing is that what exactly US should do, but author with her narrow vision deformed the issues and hence became misguided as far as solution is concerned.

        Sure want to be against war be against this abhorrent US imperial regime at home and act to dismantle it overthrow it in a spirit of American Revolution not to beg it to change its evil ways.

        Here is what author concealed calling for peace under US boot.

        Nobody asks in MSM what Boy Un wants, which is the same as his father namely PEACE TREATY, with SK and Japan and that includes massive war reparations of over $trillion for 35 years of occupation, US military get out and then reunification first under two systems like China and HK under common international representation, later democratic rule via common elections.

        Every time even when proposed by SK US vetoes it, US does not want equitable settlement and Japan to pay for war crimes against Koreans who are united in that matter spun the and north.

        Who is a provocateur here, he who from 7000 miles away meddles in affairs of the region or he who wants to end horrible chapter of war and establish equitable peace missing on Korean Peninsula for over 107 years now.

        For ignorant moral choices are always easy and wrong.

        False dichotomy of peace or war is nobly peddled while true solution is to get rid of the imperial oligarchic BULLY regime here in the US.

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