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Trump’s unorthodox and erratic comments on nuclear policy bring real danger

Republican hawk (Trump)Trump’s Madman Gambit History shows his nuclear threats will fail. US By Jeffrey P. Kimball | Dec. 30, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump’s recent Tweet that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear arsenal” and comments to MSNBC welcoming an “arms race” could signal a radical shift away from decades of bipartisan U.S. policy to reduce nuclear tensions and stockpiles. His spokesperson Sean Spicer tried to explain the comments to NBC’s Matt Lauer as a “warning” to other countries “that this president’s going to take action.”

Some pundits have suggested Trump’s unorthodox and erratic comments on nuclear policy are part of a deliberate, Nixonian “madman” strategy designed to strike fear of irrational U.S. behavior into adversaries in order to secure better terms for the United States. But if Trump, his advisers or the neoconservative commentariat believe nuclear threats can be leveraged to the United States’ advantage in the 21st century, they should think again. A look at the historical record reveals that when this strategy was pursued during the Eisenhower and Nixon years, it failed to achieve the desired results………..

Why did Eisenhower’s and Nixon’s nuclear gambits fail to work as intended? Such threats are unlikely to succeed when the side threatened possesses its own nuclear weapons and delivery capabilities, or when a non-nuclear state or a guerrilla or terror group is presumably under the protection of a nuclear state, or when the nuclear threat is disproportionate and therefore not credible because it is aimed at a small country or non-state actor.

For these and other reasons, Trump’s implied or actual nuclear “warnings” are not likely to succeed in their goal of intimidating others, whether it is nuclear-armed Russia, China, North Korea or the undeterrable Islamic State group, to comply with his foreign and military policy goals.

The real danger for the United States and the world, however, is that if Trump tries to operationalize his threat to expand the lethality or size of America’s already costly, formidable and oversized nuclear arsenal, and continues his erratic bluster, he may trigger a new arms race and possibly produce a chain reaction of great-power threats and mobilizations that could potentially escalate into nuclear conflict.


December 30, 2016 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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