According to a report from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump asked a foreign policy advisor three times during a briefing why he couldn’t just use nuclear weapons to solve the nation’s problems.That sounds pretty scary. We really wouldn't want to put the US nuclear arsenal in the hands of a crazy person willing to use it. We do, however, seek to put it in the hands of sane people willing to use it.
Scarborough shared the anecdote on Morning Joe Wednesday, speaking deliberately to avoid naming his source. “I’ll be very careful here. Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on international level went to advise Donald Trump.”
“Three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked, at one point, ‘If we have them, why can’t we use them?'”
As long as means of nuclear annihilation exist & are controlled by command hierarchy willing to answer "yes" to this pic.twitter.com/1kZHgAtf5J— Billmon (@billmon1) August 3, 2016
If you're asking whether this is a distinction without a difference, then you may already have hit upon the actual scary part of this story. It's not so much that Donald Trump is asking why we can't use nukes, it's that the Obama Administration is already asking that question itself.
Mr. Obama has long advocated a “nuclear-free world.” His lieutenants argue that modernizing existing weapons can produce a smaller and more reliable arsenal while making their use less likely because of the threat they can pose. The changes, they say, are improvements rather than wholesale redesigns, fulfilling the president’s pledge to make no new nuclear arms.But critics, including a number of former Obama administration officials, look at the same set of facts and see a very different future. The explosive innards of the revitalized weapons may not be entirely new, they argue, but the smaller yields and better targeting can make the arms more tempting to use — even to use first, rather than in retaliation.Gen. James E. Cartwright, a retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was among Mr. Obama’s most influential nuclear strategists, said he backed the upgrades because precise targeting allowed the United States to hold fewer weapons. But “what going smaller does,” he acknowledged, “is to make the weapon more thinkable.”