By David Krieger*
The future of the world and of humanity is at the mercy of a lunatic. His name is Donald Trump, and he alone has access to the U.S. nuclear codes. Before he does something rash and irreversible with those codes, it is imperative to decode Donald, taking the necessary steps to remove this power from him.
Trump tweeted on December 16, 2016: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
What good would a greatly strengthened and expanded nuclear capability do for the U.S.? We can already end civilization and most life on the planet with the use of our nuclear arsenal. The U.S. has nearly 7,000 nuclear weapons, with more than 1,500 of them deployed and ready for use.
By comparison, North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un, the subject of much of Trump’s venom, have only 10 to 15 nuclear weapons. But those have Trump worried enough to go to the United Nations and threaten to totally destroy North Korea should that country threaten the U.S.
How many more nuclear weapons does Trump think are needed to keep Kim Jong-un at bay? The truth is that the U.S. already has more than enough nuclear weapons to deter North Korea, assuming they need to be deterred at all. What North Korea actually appears to want is a small nuclear arsenal capable of deterring the U.S. from invading its country, overthrowing its regime, and killing its leaders. Since North Korean leaders believe they face an existential threat from the U.S., a greatly expanded U.S. nuclear arsenal won’t change the current equation.
Nor will more and strengthened nuclear weapons change the equation between the U.S. and Russia, China, or any other nuclear-armed country. It will just start a new nuclear arms race, which will benefit only the arms merchants while making the world far more dangerous. Trump doesn’t seem to understand this. His ignorance about foreign and nuclear policy is appalling and frightening.
Further, the world won’t come to its senses about nuclear weapons on its own and without leadership. Earlier this year, in July,122 non-nuclear weapons countries adopted a new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It was a great step forward. But, unfortunately, none of the nine nuclear-armed countries participated, and the U.S., UK and France issued a joint statement saying they would never sign, ratify or ever become parties to the treaty. Such is Trump’s leadership, moving the world toward doomsday. These countries, led by the U.S., appear to love their nuclear weapons and treat them as a security blanket, despite the fact that these weapons provide no security to their possessors. In fact, nuclear weapons paint a bull’s eye target on the citizens of countries possessing nuclear weapons.
Trump is exactly the type of person who should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes. He is not calm, thoughtful, deliberate, cautious, or well-informed. Rather, he is erratic, thin-skinned, narcissistic and self-absorbed. He takes slights personally and likes to punch back hard. He could be insulted and backed into a corner, and decide that nuclear weapons are the solution to what he takes to be taunting behavior. He could be awakened at 3:00 a.m., and make a hasty decision to launch the U.S. nuclear arsenal instead of a tweet.
The world’s best hope is that the military men surrounding Trump, particularly Secretary of Defense James Mattis, would recognize any order from Trump to launch nuclear weapons as an illegal order and refuse to carry it out. In addition, it should be recognized by Congress that Trump is mentally unstable and unfit for office, and that they must take the necessary steps to remove him from the presidency before it is too late. Impeachment would be the best way to decode Donald.
*David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org), a partner organization in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. This article first appeared on CounterPunch on October 26, 2017. It is being reproduced by permission of the writer.