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Trump Nuclear Doctrine - ''Escalate to De-escalate''

February 3, 2018

 

The sweeping review of U.S. nuclear policy does not call for any net increase in strategic nuclear weapons; a position that stands in contrast to President Donald Trump's statement, in a tweet shortly before he took office, that the U.S. "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." In his State of the Union address, he made no mention of expansion, though he said the arsenal must deter acts of aggression.

 

A 74-page report summarizing the review's findings calls North Korea a "clear and grave threat" to the U.S. and its allies. It asserts that any North Korean nuclear attack against the U.S. or its allies will result in ''the end of that regime,'' and very likely the beginning of the end for the western world, thinks this writer!

 

It also cast China as a potential nuclear adversary, saying the U.S. arsenal is tailored to "prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding" that it could gain advantage by using its nuclear weapons in Asia, or that "any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable."

 

The Pentagon-led review of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the policies that govern it was ordered by Trump a year ago. In a written statement, Trump said U.S. strategy is designed to make use of nuclear weapons less likely. In an apparent reference to the threat of catastrophic cyberattack, he said the U.S. aims to strengthen deterrence of major attacks against the U.S. and its allies, including those that "may not come in the form of nuclear weapons."

 

Known officially as a nuclear posture review, and customarily done at the outset of a new administration, the report drew blistering criticism from arms control groups. "President Trump is embarking on a reckless path; one that will reduce U.S. security both now and in the longer term," said Lisbeth Gronlund, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She said the administration is blurring the line between nuclear and conventional war-fighting.

 

Gentlemen please, let us see your posturing. Let us gaze upon your arsenal!

 

The Trump administration concluded that the U.S. should largely follow its predecessor's blueprint for modernizing the nuclear arsenal, including new bomber aircraft, submarines and land-based missiles. It also endorsed adhering to existing arms control agreements, including the New START treaty that limits the United States and Russia each to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads on a maximum of 700 deployed launchers.

 

The treaty, negotiated under President Barack Obama, entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011, and its weapons limits must be met by Monday. The U.S. says it has been in compliance with the limits since August and it expects the Russians to comply by Monday's deadline. As of Sept. 1, the last date for which official figures are available, Russia was below the launcher limit but slightly above the warhead limit, at 1,561.

 

"Moscow has repeatedly stated its intention to meet those limits on time, and we have no reason to believe that that won't be the case," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday. The Pentagon's nuclear review concluded that while arms control can advance American interests, "further progress is difficult to envision," in light of what the U.S. considers Russia's aggression in Ukraine and violations of existing arms deals. Administration officials briefed Russian and Chinese officials Friday prior to the review's public release.

 

 

The Trump nuclear doctrine breaks with Obama's in ending his push to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense policy. Like Obama, Trump would consider using nuclear weapons only in "extreme circumstances," while maintaining a degree of ambiguity about what that means. But Trump sees a fuller deterrent role for these weapons, as reflected in the plan to develop new capabilities to counter Russia in Europe. Obviously none of which involve a round of golf with Putin, or dinner at the Savoy guzzling expensive caviar. I've a suspicion with Trump it may well be Big Mac & Fries, and who know's, Vladimir may prefer!

 

The administration's view is that Russian policies and actions are fraught with potential for miscalculation leading to an uncontrolled escalation of conflict in Europe. It specifically points to a Russian doctrine known as "escalate to de-escalate," in which Moscow would use or threaten to use smaller-yield nuclear weapons in a limited, conventional conflict in Europe in the belief that doing so would compel the U.S. and NATO to back down.

 

"Recent Russian statements on this evolving nuclear weapons doctrine appear to lower the threshold for Moscow's first-use of nuclear weapons," the review said. The administration proposes a two-step solution. None of either involve sitting around a table and actually trying to resolve any issues through democratic means!

 

Gandhi said, ''Be the change you want to see in the world,'' And possibly Trump replied, ''Dont look at me.'' No doubt Theresa May was being her usual strong and stable to even notice or care. But as long as her reflection in the mirror keeps looking back, we shouldn't be too concerned.

 

 

First, it would modify "a small number" of existing long-range ballistic missiles carried by Trident strategic submarines to fit them with smaller-yield nuclear warheads. John Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy, declined to provide an estimate of the cost, saying it would be partially included in the 2019 budget that will be submitted to Congress later this month. He said the missile would be fielded "in the near term," but he refused to be more specific. One day soon we hope, it may actually occurr to Americans that instead of spending tax dollars on arms, they spend it on the very people who earned it. Imagine what a great country it could, and would be?

 

Second, "in the longer term," the administration would develop a nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile; re-establishing a weapon that existed during the Cold War but was retired in 2011 by the Obama administration. The question is, would his dear friend and gracious ally, Theresa May not consider lending President Trump our Trident nuclear programme? Or perhaps it would make more sense for her to sell shares in our wonderfully expensive deterrent? After all, the Tories have sold everything else that we, as British people once owned. And please, let us not forget, the UK PLC is always open for business. 

 

If ever we needed a word that describes how the Tories do our business for us; we might call that word,''Trousering.'' However, should Trump not wish to 'trouser' with Theresa, there's sure to be a central American drug trafficker in a westminster corridor with a suitcase full of money, just waiting to get their hands on a share option. One thing's for sure though, either way we'll never see the profit!

 

 

 

Cordelia Houseman for Political Provocateur

 

 Edited by Simon O'Donnell for Political Provocateur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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