In a tweet that seemed designed to answer a similar message from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump called for the United States to update its nuclear arsenal.
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he wrote.
The tweet came hours after Putin told reporters that Russia must focus on similar priorities.
“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems,” Putin said.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller released a statement later in the day claiming that the president-elect had “emphasized the need to improve and modernize our deterrent capability as a vital way to pursue peace through strength.” He denied that Trump’s tweet signified a policy change of any sort.
In an interview with Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski, however, Trump apparently declined to back off the most potent interpretation of his tweet. On the show, host Joe Scarborough said, “Mika asked the president-elect to clarify the tweet yesterday regarding the nuclear arsenal. And the president-elect told you what?”
“‘Let it be an arms race’,” Brzezinski said. “‘We will outmatch them at every pass.’”
“‘And outlast them all’,” Scarborough said.
“And outlast them all,” Brzezinski confirmed.
Any aggressive comments about nuclear weaponry is naturally going to be met with concern, but there is sound logic to Trump’s remarks that defies the hysteria we’ve seen in the mainstream media. It’s being missed because there is still this myth that nuclear arms reduction makes the world a safer place. Unless that reduction is all-encompassing, global, and total – meaning there is not one nuclear bomb left on the planet – then we’re talking about an illusion of safety and nothing more.
If we’re going to live in a world with nuclear weaponry – and that’s the world President Trump inherited – then isn’t it in our best interests to have the biggest, best arsenal on the planet? Or should we let Russia and other nuclear-armed countries catapult past us?
The U.S. became the world’s strongest superpower in the wake of World War II – a war that was largely brought to its conclusion through the first and only uses of the atomic bomb. That’s not to advocate the deployment of further nuclear strikes, by any means, because we do not live in the same world today. Today, a nuclear strike heralds mutual annihilation – one of the main reasons why the Cold War never turned into a true military confrontation.
But it’s worth remembering that our place in the world is not just due to our ideals or our Constitution or our extraordinary economy. It’s also because we have the most fearsome military that has ever graced the planet. And behind all of the expertly-trained troops, the high-tech jets, and the incomparable strategic defense are the nukes. The missiles that say: You strike us, you are finished.
You could elect pacifist Democrats for the next fifty years and those weapons would still be there. It doesn’t matter if we have 50 or 50,000 of them. They aren’t going anywhere. It’s better to have a president who understands that.