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Trump Blamed For False Alarm Hawaiian Missile Attack?—Not so Fast!

January 16, 2018 395 39 1 Comment


Trump Blamed For False Alarm Hawaiian Missile Attack?—Not so Fast!

M.J. Moye
Saturday, January 20, 2018

  • On Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8:07 a.m. local time, residents of Hawaii received messages on their mobile devices, social media platforms, televisions and radio alerting them about an inbound ballistic missile and advising them to find shelter.

  • The alert generated widespread panic on the Hawaiian Islands due to recent threats by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to attack the island and mainland America with nuclear missiles.

  • The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (EMA) posted a tweet on Twitter social media platform announcing that the alert was a false alarm at 8:20 a.m. local time, but only made the retraction on other mediums at 8:45 a.m.

  • Within minutes of the issuance of the initial message, people on various social media sites started blaming President Donald Trump, first for being the purported cause of an attack; and then, once the alert was established as a false alarm, for putting Hawaii in a situation in which such false alarms could arise.

  • While the mainstream media was relatively restrained in attributing any blame to Trump, a few celebrities and politicians were adamant that President Trump deserved blame.

  • The cause of the false alarm was attributed to an error by a Hawaiian EMA employee who “pushed the wrong button.”

  • The false alarm was transmitted by a state agency and had no direct connections to any federal government activity.


  • 2006, October 9—Despite years of negotiations, sanctions and various non-proliferation agreements signed during the Clinton and Bush Administrations, North Korea conducts its first nuclear weapons test. The action results in the imposition of additional sanctions.

  • 2007, January 16—After years of high level talks involving six countries, both the U.S. and North Korea announce that certain areas of agreement have been met.

  • 2008, October 11—Following numerous other rounds of six-party talks and moves by North Korea to dismantle its nuclear capabilities, The US removes North Korea from its State Spon-sors of Terrorism list.

  • 2009, April 14—After the UN passes a resolution denouncing North Korea’s test of a an inter-continental missile, North Korea announces its withdrawal from further six-party talks and says it will not be bound by agreements already reached by the talks.

  • 2009, May 25—North Korea tests its second nuclear device.

  • 2016, October 26—After North Korea conducts its fifth nuclear test, and with ongoing missile testing since the suspension of the six-party talks, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says that persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear​​ weapons program “is probably a lost cause.”

  • 2017, August 8—In response to an ongoing series of escalating provocations and verbal threats from North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un, President Trump warned North Korea that it could face “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” words that basically emulate the North Korean leader’s style and tone of ongoing threat making.

  • 2017, November 29—North Korea tests the Hwasong-15 intercontinental missile, a missile believed to be able to hit all of mainland America.

  • 2018, January 13, 8:07 a.m. (HST)—Hawaii EMA transmits message to mobile devices across the Hawaiian Islands: “Emergency Alert BALLISTIC MISSLE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” A similar message is broadcast on local television and radio stations and posted on government billboards and message boards.


  • 2018, January 13, 8:20 a.m. (HST)— Hawaii EMA posts tweet on Twitter: “NO missile threat to Hawaii.”

  • 2018, January 13, 8:35 a.m. (HST)—U.S. Pacific Command Issues statement clarifying that there was “no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii.

  • 2018, January 13, 8:45 a.m. (HST)—Hawaii EMA transmits messages over television, radio and mobile devices that its initial warning was a false alarm.

  • 2018, January 13, 11:54 a.m. (HST)—Hollywood actress Jamie Lee Curtis tweets: “This Hawaii missile (sic) scare is on YOU Mr. Trump. The real FEAR that mothers & fathers & children felt is on YOU. It is on YOUR ARROGANCE. HUBRIS. NARCISSISM. RAGE. EGO. IMMATURITY and your UNSTABLE IDIOCY. Shame on your hate filled self. YOU DID THIS!” (1)

  • 2018, January 13, 12:51 a.m. (HST)—House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii begins series of tweets questioning President Trump’s North Korea policies, and alluding that they were part of the reason behind the false alarm. She accuses Trump of “playing politics” and of not “taking this threat seriously,” and suggested that Hawaiians would continue to receive such alerts if Trump keeps up his verbal sparring with Kim Jong-un. (2) ​​ 

  • 2018, January 14, 9:04 a.m. (EST)—During a CNN “State of the Union” broadcast Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper says it was a good thing the president wasn’t watching “Fox & Friends” during the incident, alluding that Trump may have reacted to the false alarm by ordering a nuclear strike on North Korea. (3)

Liberals and “Never-Trumper” conservatives tend to take any opportunity to attribute blame for negative events on President Trump in an incessant effort to impinge his leadership. Social me-dia erupted with “blame Trump” type messages within minutes of the first alert. And even when the alert had been outed as an obvious false alarm and a mistake made by “state” officials rather than federal, Trump remained a target for blame and/or “what if” supposition.

While some in the mainstream have been maligning Trump because he was on the golf course during this time of crisis, and failed to comment on the incident for hours; CNN’s Jake Tapper went further buy saying it was a good thing the president wasn’t watching “Fox & Friends” during the incident, with the suggestion that Trump may have reacted to the false alarm by ordering a​​ nuclear strike on North Korea.

While anti-Trumpers could not pin the false alarm on the president because it was a state error, they are still trying to argue that the false alarm would not have happened if not for Trump’s war of words with Kim Jong-un. However, they fail to acknowledge that the situation would never have arisen without the failure of previous administrations to curtail North Korea’s nuclear weapon​​ and ballistic missile programs.

Ms. Curtis, and many others, lay the blame fully at Trump’s feet, without any recognition that a real missile would be delivered by a narcissistic, immature, unstable, arrogant dictator in North Korea. We wonder how so many people can lose sight of who the​​ aggressor is in this cold war.​​ 

As for Trump’s failure to react in a timely manner, let us repeat that this was completely a state issue, and a state emergency management mistake, from start to finish. Perhaps the president could have offered words of condolences for the state’s boneheaded mistake, and, in hindsight, should have provided assurances that this false alarm would​​ not have led to nuclear war.  ​​​​ 

Any supposition—such as Jake Tapper’s—that this false alarm at the state level could have led to a nuclear missile exchange is patently ludicrous. The president would not react to a state emergency broadcast, but instead would only react to information provided by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).


Helping educate our members understand the bigger picture.

“The buck stops here” is a slogan meant to acknowledge that the ultimate responsibility for most government action ends at the president’s desk. In this case, though, the proverbial buck was never in the hands of the federal government to begin with. Thus blaming the president for the false alarm and resultant panic caused to the Hawaiian citizenry is wrong. The argument that Trump is ultimately to blame for the incident due to the escalation of tensions between the U.S. and North Korea is equally fallacious. Proponents of this argument ignore Kim Jong-un’s culpability, and the failure of previous U.S. administrations to curb North Korea’s military capabilities before they became a threat to Hawaii and the rest of the world.

  • North Korea has been engaged in the equivalent of a cold war with South Korea and America since the 1950s era Korean War ended with an armistice in 1953.​​ 

  • North Korea has been continuously threatening to invade South Korea and reunify the country since the signing of that armistice. These threats include ongoing provocations of various sorts including more than 100 small-scale armed attacks, many which have resulted in deaths.

  • In an effort to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, President Bill Clinton signed an agreement with the country that gave it more than $4 billion worth of energy aid in return for the disbandment of its nuclear arms program. (5)

  • President George W. Bush dubbed North Korea as part of the “axis of evil,” along with the countries of Iran and Iraq. However, he removed the country from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror in 2008, in an effort to coerce the country to resume talks on halting its nuclear weapons program. (5)

  • President Barak Obama repeatedly warned North Korea that America stood ready to respond to any attacks. He primarily focused on encouraging UN sanctions on the regime and on encouraging the Chinese government to help alleviate the country’s aggressive moves. (5)

  • North Korea significantly enhanced its nuclear weapons and related missile technologies in recent years, (6) without significant U.S. push back until President Trump re-designated the country as a state sponsor of terrorism in November of 2017.

  • Many analysts believe that Trump is engaging in a “madman” approach to North Korea, an approach highlighted in his book “Art of the Deal,” (7) and similar to a strategy President Ronald Reagan used to push Russia and President Richard Nixon utilized against North Vietnam.

  • “It is not Trump’s fault that North Korea has crossed ominous nuclear thresholds this year.” (8)

  • “Three previous Administrations have tried and failed to alter [N. Korea’s] calculus.” (8)

  • The federal government played no role in the issuance of the missile alert. (4)

  • “There was no military response around the president during the incident—as would be expected during an actual missile attack—because there was no actual threat detected by the military.” (9)

  • Any threat warning to the president about incoming missile attack on the U.S. would come from NORAD.

  • There is no reason to believe that an errant missile alert by a state EMA would cause a military response by the president.

1.Tweet by Jamie Lee Curtis, @jamieleecurtis, 4:54 pm (EST), Jan. 13, 2018. Twitter at:​​

2.Tweets by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, @TulsiGabbard, starting at 5:51 pm (EST), Jan. 13, 2018. Twitter at:​​

3.Jake Tapper Interview with Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, State of the Union, CNN, 9:04 a.m, at: EST, 01/14/2018 ​​

4.Petras, George, USA Today, “Hawaii’s false missile alert: A minute-by-minute look at how it happened” Jan. 15, 2018. Retrieved at:​​

5.Schallhorn, Kaitlyn, Fox News, “From Trump to Clinton, how US presidents have dealt with North Korea” Nov. 20, 2017. Retrieved at: ​​

6.Al Jazeera News, “North Korea’s nuclear weapons: Here is what we know” Jan. 1, 2018.​​ 

7.Berke, Jeremy. Business Insider, “Petraeus says Trump’s ‘madman’ approach to North Ko-rea could be effective—until it becomes disastrous” Sept. 16, 2017. Retrieved at:​​

8.Coll Steve. The New Yorker, “Madman Theories.” Oct. 2, 2017.

9.Johnson, Eliana. Politico, “White House scrambles after false missile warning in Hawaii.” Jan.​​ 13, 2018. Retrieved from:​​

10.Max Fisher. The New York Times, “Hawaii False Alarm Hints at Thin Line Between Mishap and Nuclear War” Jan. 14, 2018. Retrieved from​​

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Story inspired by:

The early hours response on social media which tried to lay the blame on President Trump, and perceived bias from MSM insinuating that Trump’s strategy with North Korea is ultimately to blame for the false alert. Also by how the MSM seems to be suggesting that the accidental transmitting of a state EMA’s alert could lead the president to launch a nuclear attack in​​ response, despite the fact that any missile warning to the president would have to come to NORAD.

10. Max Fisher. The New York Times, “Hawaii False Alarm Hints at Thin Line Between Mishap and Nuclear War” Jan. 14, 2018. Retrieved from​​


Despite decades of provocation and significant verbal threats from North Korea, along with a significant enhancement of the country’s nuclear and missile war making capability, many in the mainstream media have been trying to blame President Trump for the recent escalation of tensions between America and North Korea. This line of thinking has been adopted by many politicians and celebrities, and appears to have traction among many Americans, given social media response to the false alarm.

1.​​ Tweet by Jamie Lee Curtis, @jamieleecurtis, 4:54 pm (EST), Jan. 13, 2018. Twitter at:​​

2.​​ Jake Tapper Interview with Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, State of the Union, CNN, 9:04 a.m, at: EST, 01/14/2018 ​​​​

CounterPoint :

Given that the President’s rhetoric in responding to North Korea sounds much like the bombastic threat-making of North Korea’s leader, Kim “Rocket Man” Jong-un, the American public, politicians and celebrities might have just cause to question whether an accidental alert could cause President Trump to launch a military strike in return.

7. Berke, Jeremy. Business Insider, “Petraeus says Trump’s ‘madman’ approach to North Korea could be effective—until it becomes disastrous” Sept. 16, 2017. Retrieved at:​​

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