What is the ‘Fisher protocol' and why is it getting attention after Trump's nuclear comments?

A quote from academic Roger Fisher is being widely shared on social media following the US president's warnings to North Korea.

Donald Trump and North Korea appear to be in the middle of a nuclear stand-off, with the US president threatening “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.

For those who didn’t live through the Cold War, it’s the first time the threat of nuclear attacks has seemed possible, with North Korea announcing a detailed plan to launch ballistic missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam.

With a number of Trump’s warnings to Kim Jong-un sent over Twitter, it makes sense that a lot of the reaction to it is taking place on the same platform.

In particular, a quote from academic Roger Fisher, written in the Bulletin of Academic Sciences in 1981, is being shared widely on a number of accounts.

Fisher, who specialised in negotiation and conflict management, had a pretty grotesque idea about what the procedure for launching a nuclear attack should look like – but one that’s chiming with people online.

The now deceased lawyer, who advised both the US and Iranian governments during the 1981 hostage crisis, wrote of the nuclear codes: “My suggestion was quite simple: Put that needed code number in a little capsule, and then implant that capsule right next to the heart of a volunteer.

“The volunteer would carry a big, heavy butcher knife as he accompanied the President. If ever the President wanted to fire nuclear weapons, the only way he could do so would be for him first, with his own hands, to kill one human being.

“He has to look at someone and realise what death is – what an innocent death is”.

Fisher’s idea was immortalised in HBO series the Leftovers as “the Fisher protocol”, where it was enacted fully – and has some supporters.

Although obviously not everybody sees it that way.

One thing is pretty much certain: nuclear war would be far harder to start if the Fisher protocol was a thing.

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