Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Is Donald J. Trump Prepared and Fit for Access to “The Football” – Nuclear Codes

Officer With Nuclear Code Suitcase: Nickname is “The Football”
(At all times near the President)

Trump's World View: “If you got 'em, why not use 'em…”
(View held by many people)

Introduction: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced just in 2015 that that they had decided to move its famed “Doomsday Clock” three minutes closer to midnight – effect 3-minutes closer to the “End of Humanity.”

While that Bulletin focused on the threat from climate change, a spokesperson added that:A nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”

(My Note: I wonder if Donald J. Trump read that or even knows what “Threat to the continued existence of humanity” actually means.)

Backdrop for this post: Mr. Trump said on this as reported on by Reuters on Feb 23, 2017 that he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States has fallen behind in its atomic weapons capacity. 

Wow – what a profound statement that is probably 100% incorrect and based on the following and much, much more:  

For example, nuclear weapons do not address the threat of ISIL in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere, or another Ebola (or similar) viral outbreak, or the continued insurgency in Afghanistan, or countering Russian expansion into Crimea and the Ukraine or now in Syria.

Conventional military forces, medical assistance, and diplomacy (which Mr. Trump and his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, both hate, and yes, I mean this Rex Tillerson – my assessment is based on their words and actions or lack thereof) are essential in addressing those issues and deserve to be prioritized for current and foreseeable threats to the United States and its allies. Nuclear weapons have lost much of their value since the end of the Cold War.

A 2012 study conducted by a group of experienced former national-security officials and political leaders chaired by former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Cartwright and former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, declared:

“No sensible argument has been put forward for using nuclear weapons to solve any of the major 21st century problems we face including threats posed by rogue states, failed states, proliferation, regional conflicts, terrorism, cyber warfare, organized crime, drug trafficking, conflict-driven mass migration of refugees, epidemics, or climate change. In fact, nuclear weapons have on balance arguably become more a part of the problem than any solution.”

One Myth: The threat of a nuclear weapons attack on the United States is as great as or greater today than it was during the Cold War:

Actually, that is not true, and while our current relationship with Russia is strained, it certainly does not rise to a Cold War–level of risk of a nuclear exchange. As Lt. General James Kowalski, Vice Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, stated in 2013, a Russian nuclear attack on the United States is such “a remote possibility that it is hardly worth discussing.” The biggest concern he said was not a nuclear strike, but a self-inflicted wound: “The greatest risk to my force is doing something stupid.

FLASHBACK: A recently declassified 1982 briefing given to President Ronald Reagan estimated that 80 million Americans could be killed in a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union. Seeking to prevent the nuclear weapon ranks from expanding further, the United States and other like-minded states negotiated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996, and now today we have New START on the table.

Historical Info: At the dawn of the nuclear age, the United States hoped to maintain a monopoly on its new weapon, but the secrets and the technology for making nuclear weapons soon spread, recap:

1.     The United States conducted its first nuclear test explosion in July 1945 and dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
2.     Just four years later in 1948, the former Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test explosion.
3.     Then the UK in 1952, France in 1960, and China in 1964 all followed suit.
4.     Seeking to prevent the nuclear weapon ranks from expanding further, the United States and other like-minded states negotiated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968, and then the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996.
5.     India, Israel, and Pakistan never signed the NPT and all of them possess nuclear arsenals.
6.     Iraq initiated a secret nuclear program under Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War but it basically went nowhere.
7.     North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003 and has tested nuclear devices ever since.
8.     Iran and Libya have pursued secret nuclear activities in violation of the treaty’s terms, and Syria is suspected of having done the same.
9.     Still, nuclear nonproliferation successes outnumber failures and dire forecasts decades ago that the world would be home to dozens of states armed with nuclear weapons have not come to pass. At the time the NPT was concluded, the nuclear stockpiles of both the United States and the Soviet Union numbered in the tens of thousands.

Then stating in the 1970’s, the U.S. and former Soviet Union:

1.     Negotiated a series of bilateral arms control agreements and initiatives that limited, and later helped to reduce, the size of their nuclear arsenals.
2.     Today, the United States and now-Russia, each deploy more than 1,500 strategic warheads on several hundred bombers and missiles, and both are modernizing their nuclear delivery systems.
3.     China, India, and Pakistan are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. In addition, Pakistan has lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use by developing tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to counter perceived Indian conventional military threats. North Korea continues its nuclear pursuits in violation of its earlier de-nuclearization pledges.

Even in view of all that, our last five presidents: Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan have all negotiated agreements with Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles. Now a NEW START that Trump hates:  

His past statements made in his campaign at various places and times on this subject: Speaking to a crowd in Fort Dodge, Iowa on November 15, 2015 – they roared and applauded as he addressed his plan for defeating ISIS when he said:

I would bomb the shit out of them. I’d just bomb those suckers. I’d blow up the oil pipes, I’d blow up the refineries, I’d blow up every single inch — there would be nothing left.”

Later on the same subject he said:

“I wanna be unpredictable.” 
“I love war.” 
“I know more about ISIS than the Generals do.”
“I love war, in a certain way”
“Nuclear is the power of devastation ... very important to me.”

Trump is not smart on the nuclear weapons question – he has to avoid reckless statements that tend to upend decades of successful efforts to reduce bloated nuclear arsenals and renewal of dangerous U.S. and Russian nuclear competition – another arms race.

Related: Mr. Trump and others who support his stance seem to know the history or the facts except from political sound bites, for example: The larger the arsenal, the tougher it is to protect, the more expensive it is to maintain, and the more likely it is that there will be accidents. The United States has a less-than-perfect track record of nuclear stewardship, for example: 

At least 1,200 nuclear weapons were involved in “significant” accidents between 1950 and 1968.

1.  An incident in 1980 in which a dropped wrench led to a fatal explosion of a nuclear missile in Arkansas.
2.  In 1961, and based on a declassified report, shows that the Air force dropped two nuclear bombs over NC which had a combined blast power of 260 times the bomb that devastated Hiroshima – miraculously they didn’t detonate.
3.  In 2014, when two Air Force nuclear commanders along with other officers were fired for incompetence and rampant cheating in both the Navy and Air Force nuclear programs.
4.  In 2007, we saw a very serious Bent Spear that involved an accidental flight of six nuclear-armed cruise missiles across the United States without authorization or proper security – which also highlights the inherent risks of maintaining a large nuclear arsenal.

So, I ask again in summary: Is Donald J. Trump fit to have access to the nuclear weapons? 

What would stop him from “pushing the button?” This is not a rhetorical question my friends – not one bit. There is no place where any living things to duck and hide if … yeah, if… so, ponder that.

Stay tuned.

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