Donald Trump gave an interview to Reuters today and said something that has needed to be said for about thirty years and no American president has been willing to say it:
President Donald Trump said on Thursday he wants to ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States has fallen behind in its weapons capacity.
In his first comments about the U.S. nuclear arsenal since taking office on Jan. 20, Trump was asked about a December tweet in which he said the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity “until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
Trump said in the interview he would like to see a world with no nuclear weapons but expressed concern that the United States has “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity.”
Analysts have questioned whether Trump wants to abrogate New START or would begin deploying other warheads.
In the interview, Trump called New START “a one-sided deal.”
“Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal … We’re going to start making good deals,” he said.
Trump also complained that the Russian deployment of a ground-based cruise missile is in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans land-based American and Russian intermediate-range missiles.
“To me it’s a big deal,” Trump said.
Treaties are great if both sides gets something from them. That is no longer the case in regards to our treaties with Russia. The Soviet nuclear threat was backed up by a massive conventional force that could, in theory, overrun Western Europe. None of that applies today. The fact is that there is no need for us to have a nuclear treaty with Russia. Russia’s GDP is smaller than Canada’s and its ability to modernize or expand its arsenal is marginal. The current treaties locks in Russia as a peer-competitor when, without the treaty regime that props up Russian military capability, it would be in a much worse position. The “New START” treaty that Trump has already told Putin he’s not interested in signing, is just another in series of unequal treaties we’ve signed to make the Russians feel good about themselves and to appease the Arms Control mafia. In fact, the Russians are cheating on that treaty even as I write this.
Trump is alos 100% correct about the Russians being in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty. They have deployed ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM) which are expressly forbidden.
A friend of mine tells a story of growing up in Pittsburgh and while in high school getting a job busing tables in a restaurant run by an older Italian guy. When he’s hired the guy tells him, “I know you’re going to steal from me, just don’t make me look ridiculous.”
That is the position we are in. We know Russia is going to cheat on any treaty they sign. That’s who they are. That’s how they roll. The fact that they are violating a 1987 treaty really doesn’t have much of an impact on our security unless Putin wakes up one morning, throws his Olympic gymnast mistress (the picture is real, I’m not making this up) out of bed, and decides to go full metal Götterdämmerung and nuke the world. But Putin has gone beyond mere stealing from us, he has set out to make us look ridiculous. What is important is that the world sees him cheating us, openly and notoriously, and it tells the rest of the world what we are and what they can get away with.