Trump Threatens "Whoever" with Nuclear War, and It Barely Makes the News

Yesterday, Donald Trump was on his way to Marine One when a reporter shouted a question at him about increasing the United States' nuclear arsenal. He stopped, came back, and launched into an incredible, broad threat to deploy nuclear weapons.


Female reporter off-screen yells, over the sound of the helicopter: Sir, on the arms treaty, Mr. President! Are you prepared to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal — you said you're gonna pull out of the arms deal? Treaty?

Trump shouts back: Until people come to their senses, we will build it up. [The reporter starts to ask another question; Trump holds up his hand and walks back in reporters' direction.] Until people come to their senses— Russia has not adhered to the agreement. This should have been done years ago. Until people come to their senses— We have more money than anybody else by far. We'll build it up — until they come to their senses. When they do, then we'll all be smart and we'll all stop and — by the way, not only stop; we'll reduce. Which I would love to do, but right now they have not adhered to the agreement.

Reporter: Is that a threat to Vladimir Putin?

Trump: It's a threat to whoever you want — and it includes China, and it includes Russia, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can't do that. You can't play that game on me.

Male reporter: You want more nukes, is what you're saying.

Female reporter: Are you actually going to withdraw, or— [crosstalk]

Trump: [crosstalk] —until they get smart. Until they get smart. They have not adhered to the spirit of that agreement or to the agreement itself — Russia. China's not included in the agreement; they should be included in the agreement. Until they get smart, there will be nobody that's gonna be even close to us.

Female reporter: Have you talked to our allies?

Trump: No, I have not. [crosstalk; male reporter asks inaudible question] I don't have to speak to 'em. I don't have to speak— I'm terminating the agreement, because they violated the agreement. I'm terminating the agreement.

Female reporter: When?! When?

Trump: Okay, thank you, everybody. [walks away]
So, there is a lot of news here. Trump says definitively that he is terminating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, and, although his word is garbage, it's still notable that he did say without equivocation that he's terminating a treaty which has been in effect since the Cold War.

Further, he not only vows to increase the U.S.'s nuclear capacity, but threatens to use those nukes on foreign adversaries — including China, amidst ongoing provocations of China by his administration — and broadens that threat to "whoever you want," on the basis of foreign states "being smart" and/or "coming to their senses."

All of this is extraordinary.

And yet it barely made headlines late yesterday or this morning. I have seen far more headlines about Trump's announcement that he has stopped calling Ted Cruz "Lyin' Ted" and now calls him "Beautiful Ted" than I have about Trump's announcement that he will increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal and nuke "whoever you want" unless they get "smart."

(And I certainly haven't seen any serious discussion about how this belligerent posturing about nuclear annihilation actually benefits both Russia and China, in different ways.)

The press still hasn't learned any lessons from 2016, and neither have most U.S. consumers of political media. Which, in addition to being totally depressing, is profoundly frightening. It's already too late to be learning these lessons.

And no one knows that better than Donald Trump.

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