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Paradox of USA’s nuclear weapons policy shown by Donald Trump

Statue of Liberty GunDonald Trump, Perhaps Unwittingly, Exposes Paradox of text-relevantNuclear Arms, NYT, The Interpreter, By MAX FISHER AUG. 3, 2016 WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump’s remarks on nuclear weapons have brought him, at times, to a question: Why should he be constrained from ever using them?

 The question has, like so many of Mr. Trump’s comments, sent shock waves. But nuclear experts say it is shocking not just for the statements themselves, but for the uncomfortable truths they expose, perhaps unwittingly, about nuclear weapons…..

The controversy has highlighted a paradox that presidents have grappled with throughout the nuclear age: Nuclear weapons are deployed in great numbers, and at tremendous risk, for the purpose of never being used.

 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, though at first a proponent of using nuclear weapons, eventually deemed them too destructive to consider. “You just can’t have this kind of war,” he said in 1957. “There aren’t enough bulldozers to scrape the bodies off the streets.”

Yet the United States and other nuclear powers have maintained and expanded their arsenals, enhancing their ability to launch nuclear strikes even as they have concluded that the logic of such a conflict makes using the weapons unthinkable.

 This idea became known as mutually assured destruction, in which countries wield nuclear weapons primarily to deter other nuclear powers. But this deterrent works only if it is credible.

This leads to an odd dynamic: The more willing leaders are to use nuclear weapons, the less likely they will need to do so. Leaders heighten the risk — making the weapons faster, more powerful and harder to stop — so as to minimize it. They make the weapons more usable precisely because they are not.

There is little in Mr. Trump’s comments to suggest that he intended to highlight this contradiction, but that is what he did in asking why the United States bothers to develop extravagantly expensive weapons it never intends to set off………

In every case since 1945, at least so far, the terrible risks of nuclear conflict have helped avert its initiation. But, paradoxically, this has only deepened nuclear powers’ belief in the necessity of possessing such warheads, and in developing detailed plans for using them.

Tellingly, though Mr. Trump drew outrage when he said in the March interview that he would not rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe, his comments reflected current nuclear doctrine. The United States reserves the right to use nuclear weapons under certain conditions, such as retaliation for a nuclear attack, anywhere it deems necessary……..http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/world/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons.html?smid=li-share&_r=0

August 5, 2016 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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