Who Remembers When We Were In A Nuclear Arms Race?
Merry Christmas, the crackpot who somehow slipped into the presidency, wants to reverse the trend away from the nuclear arms race. How do we know? He tweeted about it: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” And no spelling errors… so someone must have been helping him. He and Putin appear to see eye to eye on junking decades of slow but steady reducing nuclear arsenals. Just before the Trump tweet, Putin had publicly told his war chiefs that “We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems,” a little anti-NATO saber-rattling.
Trump and Putin are both primitive characters who embrace the idea of “peace through strength”— an arms race. Right wing think tanks tied too big bucks from the Military-Industrial Complex are urging Trump to scrap nuclear nonproliferation treaties, resume nuclear tests and spend more money on nuclear weapons. Domestically, this conveniently signals a race to the bottom, the trillion dollars it would cost to “modernize” the nuclear triad would not come from higher taxes on the rich, yiouncan be sure of that. Instead it will come from massive reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits, as well as from other programs that uplift people, including the idiots who voted for Trump.
Thursday evening, writing for The Atlantic, Vann Newkirk postulated that “concerns that a president or president-elect of the United States might spark an arms race or worse with Russia via Twitter are novel at least, and have real basis in his lack of an online filter. And his statements do go against the traditional public positions of recent American presidents on nuclear weapons that tend to display an eagerness to not use nukes, regardless of the policies actually being championed.” He interviewed James Martin, a professor at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, who feels Trump, though boastful and inflammatory, is basically just cheerleading and his twittery babbling doesn’t materially affect the outcome of the game, primarily because of financial considerations.
[T]here's good news and bad news. The bad news is the Russians seem to be investing very heavily in a range of new capabilities and I worry that their numbers will stop coming down and start going up, and the president-elect seems to be very enthusiastic about running that arms race with the Russians. The idea that numbers could start to increase is worrisome. The good news is— and I admit it's not all that great of news— listening to Trump and Putin talk about their nuclear arsenals is less ideological rivalry from the Cold War and more like two guys at a Camaro meet-up. They're both in love with their toys, and they love showing them off, and I think they get some kind of charge out of them. But it isn't clear to me that it's linked to any kind of geopolitical worldview. It's just an adolescent enthusiasm for bigger and better toys.
And this morning: "Let it be an arms race because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."