Doomsday is approaching: Nuclear danger posed by Trump has only grown

In Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on March 28, 2017 at 7:58 am

Jefferson Morley, Alternet, Marcy 26, 2017

As if you didn’t have other things to worry about, add “think about the threat of nuclear war” to your to-do list.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says we are, metaphorically speaking, only two and half minutes away from nuclear doomsday — the Bulletin’s closest Armageddon estimate since the early 1980s. Former Defense Secretary William Perry says he is “terrified.” Novelist Philip Roth says what is most frightening about President Donald Trump “is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”

And the hell of our predicament, experts say, is that Trump’s emotional instability is only part of the problem. The 45th president sits atop a command and control system that is already aging, prone to accidents and vulnerable to hacking, according to Eric Schlosser, author of “Command and Control,” a gripping history of the U.S. nuclear complex.

And the American political economy offers vast incentives to those who want to expand and modernize America’s nuclear arsenal, instead of reducing and restraining it, as policymakers across the political spectrum recommend.

Before the 2016 election, Schlosser said the notion of Trump “with the launch codes, capable of devastating cities and countries, is extraordinary. It’s like the plot out of a science-fiction film.”

Now that film is reality, and the opening scenes are already scary.

Cold War to Gold War

The early hopes that Trump’s admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin might translate into a new nuclear arms agreement went a-glimmering on Feb. 24 when Trump told Reuters that he thought the existing U.S. Russia accord, known as New START, was “one-sided.”

In fact, the New START treaty limits both countries to the same number of deployed nuclear warheads — 1,550 — by Feb. 2018. And, in any case, Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that the United States could reduce its nuclear arsenal by a third without harm to U.S. security.

“Mr. Trump’s comments suggest, once again, that he is ill-informed about nuclear weapons and has a poor understanding of the unique dangers of nuclear weapons,” said Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association in Washington.

“Discarding New START would irresponsibly free Russia of any limits on its strategic nuclear arsenal and would terminate the inspections that provide the United States with significant additional transparency about Russian strategic nuclear forces,” Kimball wrote.

The United States is going from “Cold War to Gold War,” said Tom Collina, director of policy at Ploughshares Fund, a global security group in Washington, D.C. He noted that when Trump recently announced plans to seek an additional $54 billion in defense spending, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that a key priority would be “restoring our nuclear capabilities,” meaning more money for nuclear weapons.


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