A renewed nuclear arms race under President Trump?
In a bizarre double whammy, the week before Christmas ends, Donald Trump offered great praise for Vladimir Putin’s warm holiday greeting card, while also threatening to restart the nuclear arms race. This dangerous and disturbing posturing comes after the noteworthy progress of the last three decades, when the size of the nuclear arsenals of both countries declined from cold war peaks. Sadly Putin has also expressed an interest in refurbishing Russia’s nuclear capability. It seems the stage is set for a massive arms race between the two nations, fueled by the egos of their charismatic leaders.
If this comes to pass it would be, of course, a giant step backwards. We must remember that the super powers have come to the brink of nuclear war before, most memorably during the cold war’s Cuban Missile Crisis. During that frightening ordeal the Kennedy Administration blocked an attempt by the Soviet Union to install Nuclear ICBMs on the tropical island, making for a tense October stand-off that had Americans literally heading for their backyard bomb shelters.
This sort of brinksmanship is dangerous, totally unnecessary, and should remain a thing of the past. And the more it happens the more tensions will escalate between the U.S. and Russia, as if the ordinary ebb and flow of world politics doesn’t provide enough fodder for conflicts to arise. And the greater the tension, and larger the number of thermonuclear weapons available for both sides, then the greater the chances of a catastrophic event. And a catastrophic event of a thermonuclear nature would spell the end of mankind. Mistakes do happen, after all, and thermonuclear mistakes are the mother of all mistakes.
Political leaders in Congress, as well as state and local governments, must rise to this challenge, and put their collective feet down in opposition to this policy. The American People must write to their congressional representatives, and organize to prevent a new nuclear arms race from starting. We have little to gain, and literally everything to lose, by pursuing this policy.
Perhaps Trump is using this as a negotiating tactic. Perhaps he has no intention of rekindling the madness of the cold war era, and that ever present, looming threat of global thermonuclear war. In that case, the nuclear arsenal is just another chip in a grand negotiation. It’s a big game between these two nations, that’s been playing out in one form or another over many generations. If so, the President Elect is playing a most dangerous game. Let’s visualize a scale, with concrete, pragmatic, useful diplomatic gains on one side, and the total destruction of life on earth on the other side. It’s hard to imagine any diplomatic gains worth a risk of that magnitude.
Learn more about Trump’s call for a new nuclear arms race (New York Times)