(ANTIMEDIA) Trump critics have long cautioned that the president-elect’s impending administration will be a disaster, often referencing the potential for nuclear war. Trump can’t be trusted with his hand on the nuclear button, many warn.
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On Friday, President-elect Donald Trump confirmed these fears when he tweeted in favor of expanding America’s nuclear arsenal.
His statement drew widespread criticism, with Twitter users sounding the end of the world as we know it. Few people outside Trump’s loyal fan base would deny the severe risks Trump poses by vowing to expand America’s nuclear arsenal. But as the media launches a barrage of condescending condemnations of Trump’s nuclear fantasies, many outlets are ignoring vital context.
Trump appears to represent chaos and danger and would undoubtedly hamper U.S. and global interests by bloating the country’s nuclear weapons systems. His recklessness contrasts starkly with Obama’s seemingly reasoned approach.
Earlier this year, Obama asserted that “Of all the threats to global security and peace, the most dangerous is the proliferation and potential use of nuclear weapons.”
But when Obama made those comments, he had already directly contradicted his own rhetoric against the destructive weaponry. During his presidency, he ensured the country’s nuclear triad would be modernized, a massive project that includes “sweeping nuclear modernizations that include improved weapons, bombers, missiles and submarines.” This endeavor is slated to cost over one trillion dollars over the next three decades — an indicator the U.S. government, under the guidance of Obama, seeks to establish a long-term commitment to nuclear arms.
This is hardly evidence of a president committed to reducing the influence and dangers of nuclear weapons, even as he preaches to other nations about the need to dispose of them. Though he deserves a modicum of credit for committing $5 billion to efforts to better secure nuclear weapons, this accounts for less than one percent of the United States’ total military budget. He ultimately scaled back his original goals on this endeavor.
Further, according to figures from the Pentagon, “the current administration has reduced the nuclear stockpile less than any other post-Cold War presidency,” the New York Times reported in May. President Obama “reduced the size of the nation’s nuclear stockpile at a far slower rate than did any of his three immediate predecessors, including George Bush and George W. Bush.”
According to Hans M. Kristensen of the anti-armament Nuclear Information Project, though Obama’s progress has been disappointing on some fronts, he deserves credit for dismantling some nuclear warheads over the years. Kristensen also cited Russia as a justification for Obama’s less-than-impressive record on disarmament.
“His vision of significant reductions and putting an end to Cold War thinking has been undercut by opposition ranging from Congress to the Kremlin,” Mr. Kristensen wrote in a blog. “An entrenched and almost ideologically-opposed Congress has fought his arms reduction vision every step of the way.”
Though Kristensen lays some of the blame on tensions with Russia, the president’s own policies have exacerbated this very rift with a country that has more nuclear weapons than the United States, which comes in second place. Amid Obama’s resistance to finding common ground with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the fight against the Islamic State and other radical factions in Syria, he has escalated hostilities between the two countries, offering few ill-fated efforts to cooperate.
In one such example, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Russia must be held accountable for bombing hospitals in Syria. This a noble goal — and the Russian military has inexcusably killed civilians — but the secretary failed to acknowledge that the United States military bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan in 2015 and that the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led assault on Yemen has destroyed multiple hospitals in the last year and killed thousands of civilians. He also failed to note that the United States has killed one million Iraqis.
Obama has also publicly adopted the Democratic narrative that Russia hacked the U.S. election and vowed retaliation in spite of the fact no evidence has been presented. These accusations led Putin to intimate that the U.S. needs to present proof of or, essentially, shut up (interestingly, a Clinton presidency, which, according to establishment figures was thwarted by Russia, would have increased the risk of a nuclear confrontation due to her interventionist approach to the Syrian conflict).
Before these developments, the consistent deterioration of U.S.-Russia ties inspired scientists who operate a “Doomsday Clock” to keep the time at three minutes to midnight. Midnight represents doomsday. They wrote:
“That decision is not good news, but an expression of dismay that world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world’s attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change.”
(Indeed, scientists have warned that nuclear weapons are a major threat to the environment, a reality apparently overlooked by President Obama.)
The ongoing hypocrisy on the part of the Obama administration is exactly why it’s difficult to take outrage about Donald Trump’s nuclear designs seriously.
There is no doubt Trump is advocating dangerous policies on nuclear weapons, but like many other issues currently terrifying Americans fearful of The Donald, Obama set the stage for Trump to implement his aggressive goals. Obama’s expansion of presidential powers, such as setting the precedent that presidents may kill American citizens without trial, will make it that much easier for President Trump to impose ill-advised, risky policies.
The same is to be expected once Trump takes control of a nuclear arsenal Obama dutifully expanded.
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