President-elect Donald Trump has just made 2017 a dangerous year before it even arrives. Yesterday, Trump tweeted that the United States should start expanding its nuclear arsenal and then doubled down by literally calling for an arms race.
Trump tweeted about nuclear weapons out of the blue and with seemingly no provocation, saying America “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
Exactly what Trump meant by ‘comes to its senses’ meant is unclear. Media commentators and leading supporters of nuclear disarmament accused Trump of endangering the world and behaving like a ‘madman’. Today, Trump made matters worse.
Speaking on Morning Joe, Trump didn’t pull any punches. “”Let it be an arms race, he said. “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” His comments are reminiscent of Nikita Krushchev’s claim that the USSR would ‘bury’ America.
When it comes to nuclear weapons, words are important. The US has spent decades trying to de-escalate the nuclear threat. Several presidents signed arms limitations treaties with the former Soviet Union and America has sought to enforce the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, tried to claim that other countries would not engage in an arms race because Trump would stand up to them.
“He’s going to ensure that other countries get the message that he’s not going to sit back and allow that,” Spicer said. “And what’s going to happen is they will come to their senses, and we will all be just fine.”
Major nuclear powers like Russia and China are unlikely to feel intimidated by Trump. Trump’s plan to bully countries into non-proliferation will make nuclear conflict more likely, not less.