Trump’s tweets on nuclear build-up: A response to Putin’s implicit threat?

Developing

See

Mchael D. Shear and James Glanz, “Trump Says the U.S. Should Expand Its Nuclear Capacity,” New York Times, December 22, 2016.

Shear and Glanz report:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Thursday that the United States should greatly “expand its nuclear capability,” appearing to suggest an end to decades of efforts by presidents of both parties to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in American defenses and strategy.

Mr. Trump’s statement, in a midafternoon Twitter post, may have been a response to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who in a speech to his military’s leadership in Moscow earlier on Thursday vowed to strengthen Russia’s nuclear missiles.

Mr. Putin said nuclear forces needed to be bolstered so they could “reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems,” apparently a reference to the Pentagon’s efforts to develop systems capable of shooting down nuclear-armed rockets.

Shortly after Mr. Putin’s comments were reported by the news media, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the United States must “strengthen and expand” its nuclear forces “until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” He did not elaborate.

See also

Karen DeYoung, “In a day of tweets, Trump suggests major change on national security issues,” Wasington Post, December 22, 2016 (8:42 P.m. EST).

The press continues to misread Donald Trump’s tweets as if they they were considered policy decisions. They aren’t.

It’s normal to take the words presidents speak earnestly. However, with Donald Trump we appear to be in new territory.

Without defending Trump’s coziness with the Russians, we should at least entertain an intriguing possibility.

It is just conceivable that in his recent tweets on nuclear weapons Trump picked up on the element of threat in Putin’s statements about strengthening Russian nuclear capabilities.

Obama ignored Putin’s nuclear threats, which was probably not the best way to react.

It is possible, just possible, that Trump’s tweet was a reaction to Putin’s statements, and should be understood that way.

Perhaps he was signaling to Putin that if Russia wanted an arms race, they could have one.

The Trenchant Observer

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