Donald Trump and nukes. Nukes and Donald Trump. They don’t really go together, unless you are having a nightmare. Over the past few weeks a fair number of people have been understandably freaking out over the idea that if Donald Trump wins in November, he will have virtually unfettered power to fire off nuclear weapons. In June, Politico ran a frankly horrifying piece outlining exactly how presidents go about facing the nuclear question. (If the military ever detected—accurately or inaccurately—a nuclear attack against the United States, the president could have as little as 30 seconds to decide how to respond.)
Esquire has a Q&A today with John Noonan, a retired Air Force officer and former adviser to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. Noonan doesn’t mince words about Trump being unprepared. You should read the whole thing because (1) it’s fascinating, (2) it’s terrifying, and (3) this issue really can’t be talked about enough. It’s too important.
Here’s one bit that really caught my eye:
Think of the world as a playground. Does the bully—the five-foot-tall third grader with a pituitary disorder—pick on the star athlete or the 60-pound weakling? They’re not going to punch the athlete in the nose because they’ll get socked right back, so they go for the weakling every time. In America’s case, we don’t just stand up to the nuclear-armed bullies—we also stick up for the weaker kids. Russia, to wit, could impose its will on the small Baltic democracies because Russia is big and they are small. It’s American resolve, backed by nuclear weapons, that keeps Russia in check. That’s what you call deterrence.
This is what I hear from Trump: that he wants to flip that equation and make the United States the bully. That is, We’re big and we have nukes and we can use them to kill terrorists in Raqqa and Mosul. Stop us if you dare. It’s how he’s run his businesses for decades: I can do whatever I want. In the business world, it was shady and unethical. In the national-security world, it’s downright dangerous.
I don’t think it’s empty talk either. His spokesperson said a few months ago, “what good is a nuclear triad if you can’t use it?” That could the [sic] stupidest thing ever said in the history of presidential campaigns, which puts it in the running for stupid thing ever said in the history of humanity. (Emphasis mine) Nuclear weapons are like an understanding between the athlete and the bully: You don’t screw with me and I won’t screw with you. It’s a way for the two biggest kids on the block to communicate with each other in no uncertain terms. That Trump allegedly believes that nukes are solutions to low-intensity problems like ISIS and Al-Qaeda is raw, unfiltered insanity.
Go read the whole thing.