Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-01-19 04:35pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-01-19 04:29pm
That is my fear, yes.

We need to view Trump not as an isolated phenomenon, but as the most high-profile expression of a global neo-fascist movement which, if allowed to grow unchecked, will become a global existential threat.
I'd change the accents a bit, like so.

We need to view Trump not as an isolated phenomenon, but as the most high-profile expression of a global neo-fascist movement which has become a global threat.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-01-19 04:36pm

Yeah, that's probably right.

Hell, the fact that Trump has his fingers on the nuclear button alone is a global threat.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-01-20 11:25am

K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-01-19 04:18pm
I think the problem is, what if neofascists in other nations actually succeed and come to power? Then if Trump as a person goes, the ideology stays.
I don't think the ideology is going to be able to stay in any single developed nation for very long. The custom of free and flexible speech is too strong, and the custom of political bickering is likewise strong.

I don't think it's a coincidence that right-wing authoritarian movements tend to do best in countries where old men feel challenged by change and new ideologies, AND where democracy is new enough that those same old men can clearly remember a time in their youth when "should democratic institutions be a thing for our country" was a matter of serious debate. It incentivizes them to decide "you know, all this democracy is the problem with kids these days!" as opposed to just sort of harumphing and milling about.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-01-20 01:09pm

K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-01-19 04:18pm
I think the problem is, what if neofascists in other nations actually succeed and come to power? Then if Trump as a person goes, the ideology stays.
I can't speak for other countries as I've been looking for some hard numbers here in the U.S. It's actually hard to find because "voted for Trump" is not synonymous with "fascist." There's more then a few factors at work here, but I'm going to focus on what seems to be the guiding hand of fascism in the U.S. right now: angry white guys, much of the face of the movement being young(er).

They're mad. The idea is no one is fighting for them. They don't believe in privilege only that gays and minorities are who matter to Democrats. Or that even immigrants matter more to the government than they do. The GOP failed them, Trump offered an out as a non-establishment guy. NOTE: enough of these people in the same demographic actually voted for Obama (citing his lack of ties to the establishment and corruption as the reason) to make a big difference. Enough also voted to lead to major Democratic gains in Congress in the mid-2000s.

Their economic future is pretty unstable. Middle America is just kind of getting screwed here and they're lashing out. And I don't want to even get into the drug problems/deaths going on. I work environmental, but I'm still involved in the oil industry. They were just talking about another huge round of layoffs from multiple clients (and these are "big boy" oil companies) until crude held at ~$60 (IIRC) a barrel. Now how many thousand of workers in the midstream (which are usually who get the cut first) are just waiting for the sword to fall on them if that price drops?

It's not fun, then you get on the internet and read articles about how we don't need white people anymore and how they're dieing out. Most of these are bullshit puff pieces, fake news made to look like they came out of liberal media, or just angry bloggers venting. But they get passed around social media sites that are easy to get spoon fed to the audience they want to rile up.

All you need for these guys to go full moron is some kind of national polarizing event. And it would have to be big++ and completely come out of nowhere. Other than that, give these people a more stable economic future and they WILL die out. Or at least maybe just rant about X group on their new smartphone while watching Fox News on their new wide-screen.

Fat and happy people tend to let a lot of shit slide.

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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-01-20 01:22pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-01-20 11:25am
K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-01-19 04:18pm
I think the problem is, what if neofascists in other nations actually succeed and come to power? Then if Trump as a person goes, the ideology stays.
I don't think the ideology is going to be able to stay in any single developed nation for very long. The custom of free and flexible speech is too strong, and the custom of political bickering is likewise strong.
Wow, you are optimistic.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-01-20 02:04pm

Fascism, as distinct from generic autocracy, needs a population that is accustomed to being governed with a minimum of bickering, fussing, and internal conflicts within the power hierarchy. Otherwise it crumbles.

My fear isn't of stable fascist autocracies governing what are now Western democracies, or rather I agree that those are fearsome but don't anticipate them being a problem. My fear is of fascist parties who, despite failing miserably whenever they get enough power to play a significant role in governance, maintain solid cores of followers. A 15-20% share of moronic or propagandized or hate-maddened (or all of the above) supporters, even if they don't establish fascist autocracy, is enough to be so disruptive that it could make an otherwise functional-ish democracy effectively ungovernable.

This is pretty much what's already happened in the US; the Tea Party has slipped over to the point where they are one Fuhrer away from being fascists, and Trump is limited from stepping into those shoes mainly by his own bungling, stupidity and narcissism. And yet, the Republicans somehow prove unable to achieve anything of consequence without going to the most absurd and self-destructive of sacrificial extremes.

When Democrats are in power, the Tea Party has enough influence to stop them from governing. When Republicans are in power, the Tea Party is too fanatical to make governing possible for either Tea or 'moderate' Republicans. The net effect isn't the US becoming fascist, it's the US becoming ungovernable.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-01-20 02:10pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-01-20 02:04pm
Fascism, as distinct from generic autocracy, needs a population that is accustomed to being governed with a minimum of bickering, fussing, and internal conflicts within the power hierarchy. Otherwise it crumbles.
Only if you look at classical fascism (1920s, 1930s) and only in Germany and Italy, otherwise the picture is not full. If you consider the progress in neo-fascist movements since then, you'd have to acknowledge that Greece, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Indonesia and many other nations were or have become fascist. Not all of them had a population governed with a "minimum of bickering" and in fact sometimes the bickering preceded the rise of fascism.
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-01-20 02:04pm
The net effect isn't the US becoming fascist, it's the US becoming ungovernable.
Well, I did mention that I'm primarily concerned about other nations than the US. And, to add to this, being ungovernable is often preceding a reactionary fall to fascism. Republics weakened by infighting and unstable governments usually go down that road after the instability becomes so obvious that people start becoming more and more accepting of the idea we need someone "sorting out the mess", and the finance & industry circles then move right-wing authoritarians to the foreground, enabling the rise.

It's not a coincidence that Trump rose under the "Drain the swamp" slogan.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-01-20 09:20pm

As to the former- I trimmed down a longer argument to avoid being ridiculously windy (believe it or not), and I honestly don't think bringing up all of it to have it out would be worthwhile. I think I have a partial point, but you're not wrong to say what you do. Will debate the matter in more depth if you like.

As to the latter, now that is a good point.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Thanas » 2018-01-26 08:29pm

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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-01-26 08:43pm

But remember, its all a fake news witch hunt by Democrats out to get Trump.

Or, as our Russian apologists on this board like to claim, Russo-phobic McCarthyism.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-01-27 04:20am

I'd normally just say that this is the US getting a taste of its own medicine.

I know that Russia knows, it can't leverage influence with cash alone because it is poorer than the US, so it uses other means.

Not that it helps much, because Trump keeps piling on new Russian sanctions.

I kind of like the US "personal" sanctions, actually - they're in a way delightful because they target a handful rich parasites inside Russia and complicate foreign travel and investment for these people. Too bad that the US doesn't sanction all Russian oligarchs, just the Putin-loyal "chaebols", it would be great to see national bourgeoisie humiliated and put back in their place. Maybe it would even make them more conscious of what they're doing to the country.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-01-27 04:32am

K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-01-27 04:20am
I'd normally just say that this is the US getting a taste of its own medicine.

I know that Russia knows, it can't leverage influence with cash alone because it is poorer than the US, so it uses other means.

Not that it helps much, because Trump keeps piling on new Russian sanctions.

I kind of like the US "personal" sanctions, actually - they're in a way delightful because they target a handful rich parasites inside Russia and complicate foreign travel and investment for these people. Too bad that the US doesn't sanction all Russian oligarchs, just the Putin-loyal "chaebols", it would be great to see national bourgeoisie humiliated and put back in their place. Maybe it would even make them more conscious of what they're doing to the country.

Well, presumably, if you leave the possible reformers alone, they will actually reform, rather than go, "Fuck it, I'm getting sanctioned no matter what I do, I might as well join Putin."
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2018-01-27 04:18pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-01-27 04:32am
K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-01-27 04:20am
I'd normally just say that this is the US getting a taste of its own medicine.

I know that Russia knows, it can't leverage influence with cash alone because it is poorer than the US, so it uses other means.

Not that it helps much, because Trump keeps piling on new Russian sanctions.

I kind of like the US "personal" sanctions, actually - they're in a way delightful because they target a handful rich parasites inside Russia and complicate foreign travel and investment for these people. Too bad that the US doesn't sanction all Russian oligarchs, just the Putin-loyal "chaebols", it would be great to see national bourgeoisie humiliated and put back in their place. Maybe it would even make them more conscious of what they're doing to the country.

Well, presumably, if you leave the possible reformers alone, they will actually reform, rather than go, "Fuck it, I'm getting sanctioned no matter what I do, I might as well join Putin."
Sadly it'll take more than mere sanctions if the end goal is to get them to turn on one another like HYDRA did.

Piers Morgan managed to get a face-to-face interview with Trump which airs tomorrow- while I don't particularly like either man I'm sure this is going to be fascinating nonetheless.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-01-27 05:34pm

K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-01-27 04:20am
I'd normally just say that this is the US getting a taste of its own medicine.

I know that Russia knows, it can't leverage influence with cash alone because it is poorer than the US, so it uses other means.

Not that it helps much, because Trump keeps piling on new Russian sanctions.

I kind of like the US "personal" sanctions, actually - they're in a way delightful because they target a handful rich parasites inside Russia and complicate foreign travel and investment for these people. Too bad that the US doesn't sanction all Russian oligarchs, just the Putin-loyal "chaebols", it would be great to see national bourgeoisie humiliated and put back in their place. Maybe it would even make them more conscious of what they're doing to the country.
I have a question.

When you talk about a bourgeoisie, what percentage of the population are you envisioning?
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-01-28 06:54am

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-01-27 05:34pm
I have a question.

When you talk about a bourgeoisie, what percentage of the population are you envisioning?
Large businessmen. No idea what percentage they make, in a resource oligarchic cleptocracy like Russia it should be fairly small. Less than 0,1% of population seems like it.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-01-28 02:02pm

Okay. Because I've heard the term used to cover everything from "relatively tiny minority of rich capitalists" through "everyone in the upper middle class and above."

It's sort of like how in a lot of medieval European countries, depending on how you defined the term, the 'aristocracy' could be anything from 0.1% to 10% of the population...
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Thanas » 2018-01-29 10:24am

Trump is threatening a trade war with Europe.

Just try it Donnie. W couldn't win a trade war back when the EU had not surpassed the USA in economy yet, what makes you think you can win one now?
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-01-29 04:08pm

Heh. One of the reasons I have been such a fan of the EU is that it has the potential to be something of a check on American power, without creating such a dangerous rivalry as exists between, say, Russia and America.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Broomstick » 2018-01-29 07:19pm

Thanas wrote:
2018-01-29 10:24am
Trump is threatening a trade war with Europe.

Just try it Donnie. W couldn't win a trade war back when the EU had not surpassed the USA in economy yet, what makes you think you can win one now?
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-01-30 12:05pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-01-29 04:08pm
Heh. One of the reasons I have been such a fan of the EU is that it has the potential to be something of a check on American power, without creating such a dangerous rivalry as exists between, say, Russia and America.
If the US really forces a trade war, the EU's likely fate will be self-destruction. I mean it's almost self-destructing already with the Spanish, Greek, Portuguese and Eastern European crisis only subdued but not resolved, with Brexit and with the rise of the neofascists. If you add a lot of economic damage to this, well... Trump may not make America great again, but he sure can make the EU experience pain on a greater magnitude than in 2010-11, which isn't going to end well.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Thanas » 2018-01-30 04:01pm

K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-01-30 12:05pm
If the US really forces a trade war, the EU's likely fate will be self-destruction. I mean it's almost self-destructing already with the Spanish, Greek, Portuguese and Eastern European crisis only subdued but not resolved, with Brexit and with the rise of the neofascists. If you add a lot of economic damage to this, well... Trump may not make America great again, but he sure can make the EU experience pain on a greater magnitude than in 2010-11, which isn't going to end well.
That's really doubtful because the EU just needs to repeat what they did do W.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Gerald Tarrant » 2018-01-30 07:14pm

Thanas wrote:
2018-01-30 04:01pm
K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-01-30 12:05pm
If the US really forces a trade war, the EU's likely fate will be self-destruction. I mean it's almost self-destructing already with the Spanish, Greek, Portuguese and Eastern European crisis only subdued but not resolved, with Brexit and with the rise of the neofascists. If you add a lot of economic damage to this, well... Trump may not make America great again, but he sure can make the EU experience pain on a greater magnitude than in 2010-11, which isn't going to end well.
That's really doubtful because the EU just needs to repeat what they did do W.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by Thanas » 2018-01-31 12:36am

Yep. Midterms are right around the corner....
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by mr friendly guy » 2018-01-31 05:16am

Thanas wrote:
2018-01-29 10:24am
Trump is threatening a trade war with Europe.

Just try it Donnie. W couldn't win a trade war back when the EU had not surpassed the USA in economy yet, what makes you think you can win one now?
Trump flip flops so many times on trying to get trade concessions that I doubt he would follow through. Just look at the noise he made about trade with China and then backtracks.

1. Says China rapes US businesses while on the campaign trail.

In China then praised the Chinese for taking advantage of such good deals and blamed US administrations in the past for signing such bad deals for the US.

2. Says he will continue to not recognise the ROC in exchange for trade concessions.

Then backtrack after China said I don't think so.

Now to be fair, the current administration did put tariffs on solar panels, but so far it doesn't seem more than what was done in previous administrations, where each side will retaliate a little and but no full blown trade war blows out.

My money is Trump backtracks. Fuck, Trumpeteers have been known to say they will continue to vote for him even when asked "what happens if he doesn't fulfill the promises you expect him to do," so its not like he has to do something of substance when he can just pander.
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Re: Trump Dump: Foreign Policy (Thread I)

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-02-03 11:03am

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February 2nd, 2018
W.J. Hennigan covers the Pentagon and national security issues in Washington, D.C.. He has reported on war, counter-terrorism, and the lives of American service members from more than two dozen countries.

At a vast tract of uninhabited desert in southern Nevada, hundreds of moonlike craters dimple the wasteland, remnants of Cold War nuclear explosions that melted the bedrock and fused the sand to ensure that America could take part in the unthinkable: global thermonuclear war. The crowds of scientists and generals are long gone–the U.S. hasn’t tested a nuke since 1992, when then President George H.W. Bush declared a self-imposed testing moratorium. But the Nevada National Security test site is not completely abandoned. A skeleton crew of custodians oversees the long dormant facility, less than 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, standing by to turn the lights back on if the day ever comes.


It may come sooner than many thought.

Since 1993, the Department of Energy has had to be ready to conduct a nuclear test within two to three years if ordered by the President. Late last year, the Trump Administration ordered the department to be ready, for the first time, to conduct a short-notice nuclear test in as little as six months.


That is not enough time to install the warhead in shafts as deep as 4,000 ft. and affix all the proper technical instrumentation and diagnostics equipment. But the purpose of such a detonation, which the Administration labels “a simple test, with waivers and simplified processes,” would not be to ensure that the nation’s most powerful weapons were in operational order, or to check whether a new type of warhead worked, a TIME review of nuclear-policy documents has found. Rather, a National Nuclear Security Administration official tells TIME, such a test would be “conducted for political purposes.”


The point, this and other sources say, would be to show Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Iran’s Ayatullah Ali Khamenei and other adversaries what they are up against.

President Trump has not ordered such a test, but even the consideration of a show of force–by the nation that announced the atomic age by dropping nuclear weapons on Japanese cities in August 1945–marks a provocative shift from the sober, almost mournful restraint that has characterized the U.S. posture toward the weapons for decades. To prevent nuclear war and the spread of weapons to non-nuclear states, the strategy of Republican and Democratic Commanders in Chief alike has been to reduce nuclear arsenals and forge new arms-control agreements.

The Trump Administration, by contrast, is convinced that the best way to limit the spreading nuclear danger is to expand and advertise its ability to annihilate its enemies. In addition to putting the Nevada testing ground on notice, he has signed off on a $1.2 trillion plan to overhaul the entire nuclear-weapons complex. Trump has authorized a new nuclear warhead, the first in 34 years. He is funding research and development on a mobile medium-range missile. The new weapon, if tested or deployed, would be prohibited by a 30-year-old Cold War nuclear-forces agreement with Russia (which has already violated the agreement). And for the first time, the U.S. is expanding the scenarios under which the President would consider going nuclear to “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” including major cyberattacks.

Making America Nuclear Again Time Magazine Cover
A 1952 nuclear detonation at the Nevada Proving Grounds, which Trump has ordered to prepare for resuming tests.
Photograph by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
“We must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression,” Trump said on Jan. 30 during his State of the Union address. “Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.”

The rapid strategic changes have been matched by Trump’s norm-breaking rhetoric. Previously, every U.S. Administration since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s had avoided referring to the prospect of launching nuclear war and explicitly maintained, advanced or defended treaties designed to limit the spread of nuclear arms. Trump has openly threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” and has been hostile toward international agreements. He reportedly called for more, not fewer, nuclear weapons in a July 20 Pentagon briefing, where military advisers were upbraided for presenting global reductions in nuclear stockpiles as progress.

Trump has criticized New START, which reduces and limits nuclear arms in the U.S. and Russia, as a bad deal. He has repeatedly questioned the multilateral deal under which Iran suspended its nuclear program, and promised to decertify it in May if changes aren’t made. He has publicly undermined Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s diplomatic talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, instead warning North Korea about his “much bigger & more powerful” nuclear button. “The long-standing strategic policy of the United States has been to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons,” says Andrew Weber, who spent 30 years on nuclear-weapons issues in the State and Defense departments before retiring in 2015. “That idea seems to have been balled up and thrown out the window.”

The Trump team says it is responding to bad policy by past Administrations that left the U.S. vulnerable as other countries broke their word, and non-nuclear countries decided to pursue the weapons. “The President hates bad deals,” one senior Administration official tells TIME. “There’s a view of arms control as an intrinsic good, per se. Any agreement is a good agreement. That’s not where we are.” Aggressively responding to violations of treaties, launching new nuclear-weapons programs and reminding the world about the power of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, officials say, is the best way to deter others from expanding, or seeking, arsenals.

Foreign nations have issued dire warnings in response. China’s Ministry of National Defense in January urged the Trump government to abandon a “Cold War” mind-set, and view matters more “rationally and objectively.” Russian President Vladimir Putin in December accused the U.S. of violating a landmark Cold War–era nuclear arms deal and carrying out an aggressive military policy that “seriously affects security in Europe and in the whole world.” Both China and Russia are upgrading their nuclear weapons. Other nuclear powers, such as North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel, continue to build new systems.

Rather than dissuading such efforts, arms-control experts from both political parties say, Trump’s moves will accelerate them. A new nuclear-arms race would not be limited to two superpowers seeking strategic balance in a Cold War but would include many nations, including foes in regions where hot wars are a regular occurrence.

“The new arms race has already begun,” says former Defense Secretary William Perry. “It’s different in nature than the one during the Cold War, which focused on quantity and two superpowers producing absurd numbers of weapons. Today it is focused on quality and involves several nations instead of just two. The risk for nuclear conflict today is higher than it was during the Cold War.”

The Trump administration is planning to take a step toward developing a new generation of nuclear weapons this month in its Nuclear Posture Review, a strategy document for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has not designed any new nuclear weapons as it and Russia have worked to scale back their strategic arsenals. A draft proposal of the 64-page document, published in January by the Huffington Post, included two new sea-launched weapons, one outfitted with a small atomic warhead for battlefield use.

The new warhead, known as a tactical nuclear weapon, would be delivered by a submarine-launched missile against an advancing army. It differs from a strategic weapon, which is designed to destroy cities and hardened military targets. America needs battlefield nukes, the Trump team says, to match and deter adversaries’ tactical arsenals. In an escalating fight with Russia or China, the U.S. military could engage in a “limited nuclear war” rather than leveling whole cities with strategic weapons. Air Force General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells TIME the President needs options. Trump and his successors should not face a choice between killing millions of civilians or backing down, he says. “It makes people uncomfortable to hear about nuclear war–fighting and presenting options to the President, whomever that person might be,” Selva says. “Strategic stability in the world between our nuclear competitors and our nuclear peers has been assumed. It is not a birthright.”

Trump’s new plan also expands the President’s “first use” of nuclear weapons to circumstances that include “non-nuclear strategic attacks” against the U.S. or its allies. That could mean cyberattacks on nuclear command and control systems or civilian infrastructure, like the electricity grid or air-traffic-control system, arms-control experts have concluded. Previous Administrations limited the threat of a nuclear response to mass-casualty events, like chemical- and biological-weapon attacks. Stephen Schwartz, a nuclear weapons policy expert, said the key concern is the expansion of the nuclear umbrella to “include these new and not extreme possibilities, thus dramatically lowering the threshold for nuclear use.”

The Trump plan also takes a new, skeptical approach to nuclear arms-control agreements. In the 2018 Pentagon budget, Trump included funding for the development of a new missile. If tested or deployed, the missile would violate a 30-year-old arms-control pact with Russia, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Unlike his predecessors, Trump is directly confronting Russia’s prior violation of the treaty, says David Trachtenberg, Defense Undersecretary for Policy, who helped oversee the new plan. “The world is not as benign as some hoped it would be,” he says.

Trump’s nuclear moves, rolled out in policy papers and secret briefings over the past year, have garnered responses abroad ranging from quiet concern to outrage.

On Nov. 8, nearly five weeks before Trump approved research on the new missile, Secretary of Defense James Mattis assembled the defense ministers of the member-countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 29-nation alliance that contained and defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Convened inside a secure conference room under NATO’s highest security classification, known ominously as “Cosmic Top Secret,” the Mattis briefing laid out the American intelligence case indicating Russia’s violation of the INF treaty.

U.S. intelligence agencies had captured overhead imagery and additional information that Moscow had for years been testing a treaty-violating cruise missile at the Kapustin Yar rocket-launch test site in western Russia, Pentagon sources tell TIME. Now the missile had been deployed with two different Russian military units, putting European capitals at risk. The weapon was derisively nicknamed the SSC-8 “Screwdriver” by NATO analysts because “Russia used it to screw us,” say former U.S. officials.

A Cold War test in March 1953 in Nevada showed the impact of a 16-kiloton, tower-detonated nuclear warhead
Corbis/Getty Images
The Russian cruise missile that violated the treaty could be launched without giving allies much advance time to determine what was coming their way. Leaders would have to quickly discern the blip on their radar screens and decide whether to respond in kind. The INF agreement, signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987, was the only nuclear arms-control agreement to eliminate a class of nuclear weapons. It forced the superpowers to scrap more than 2,600 missiles with ranges of about 310 to 3,420 miles–weapons considered destabilizing to Europe because they could deliver a nuclear strike in less than 10 minutes.

But if Europeans were concerned about Russia’s violation of the accord, they feared that the Trump Administration’s response would distract from it, said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association. The last thing Europeans want is Moscow and Washington launching a new arms race in Europe. “There is no indication that NATO supports a new [missile], and attempting to force it upon the alliance would be incredibly divisive,” Reif says. “It is thus a weapon to nowhere.” Three days after Trump signed the defense bill, NATO issued a statement touting the INF treaty as “crucial to Euro-Atlantic security” and reiterated that “full compliance” was essential. NATO also called on Russia “to address these concerns in a substantial and transparent way.”

Arguments over U.S.-Russia nuclear deployments are not new. Strategists have long disagreed about whether to counter Moscow’s nuclear threat with escalation or restraint. It’s a high-stakes game of nuclear poker. The Trump Administration, in its aggressive approach, is betting on coercion. “We have to have this strong stance in order to get Russia to return to the negotiating table,” says Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon Russia expert. “But we are not throwing out the treaties that have served us so well in the past decades.”

If they can’t fix INF, officials tell TIME, the Trump Administration is not willing to engage on future arms agreements with Russia. That’s a particular problem, because New START, a linchpin arms-control agreement, will expire in three years. The 2010 deal limits each side to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. If it sunsets, it will be the first time the effort to limit the strategic stockpiles in the U.S. and Russia has lapsed since 1991.

Former U.S. Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, whose bipartisan partnership was crucial to gaining ratification of nuclear-weapons treaties in the chaotic years following the Cold War, fear an end to arms control altogether. “We have severe erosion,” Nunn says. “We are going into a period of much greater risk in the nuclear arena.” Says Lugar: “The trend has been moving away from these sorts of international agreements, which is deeply troubling–and frankly dangerous.”

At the same time, the U.S. and Russia are accelerating their spending on nuclear forces. The current U.S. plan would require spending $1.2 trillion to modernize the aging U.S. “nuclear triad” of bombers, submarines and land-based missiles over the next three decades. The U.S. is reinvesting in the labs and factories that produce warheads. While the U.S. nuclear stockpile has been slashed over the past 30 years, the U.S. military has said the remaining arsenal is unmatched.

Russia is in the midst of overhauling its nuclear forces, including new ICBMs, ballistic-missile submarines and modernized heavy bombers. It’s developing a massive RS-28 Sarmat ICBM that boasts countermeasures designed to elude U.S. antimissile systems. It’s also practicing nuclear snap drills that involve missile launches from the air, land and sea.

The rest of the world is not blind to the accelerating U.S.-Russia competition. While the two nations account for nearly 93% of the world’s nuclear arsenal, there are now nine countries with stockpiles. Not only do they have no plans for disarmament, but they aren’t seeking reductions. The number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined since the Cold War, from a peak of about 70,300 in 1986 to 14,550, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). But the pace of reductions has drastically slowed.

Around the globe, the perceived value of acquiring nuclear weapons has gone up, while the repercussions of violating treaties has declined, says Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear-information project at FAS. “We’re certainly in a dynamic strategic competition where all sides are arming themselves,” he says. “If the dynamic is not stopped and reversed, it will almost inevitably escalate into an arms race. That is in the nature of the beast.”

If Trump undoes the nuclear deal with Iran, analysts fear that Tehran will sprint for a weapon. Its regional rival Saudi Arabia could then develop its own atomic weapon, or import one from close ally Pakistan, which has its own fast-growing nuclear arsenal to counter arch-rival India’s. (Pakistan is building up its stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons.) China now has a nuclear-powered submarine, known as the Jin-class, that gives its military the ability to launch ICBMs from the sea.

Few threats loom larger, or more immediate, for the U.S. than North Korea. Pyongyang has launched a record 23 missiles during 16 tests since Trump took office. It has tested at least six nuclear warheads, and U.S. intelligence believes it has made progress on miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to mount on a missile. The isolated nation’s most recent launch, on Nov. 29, climbed 2,800 miles into outer space, more than 10 times higher than the International Space Station. If that flight path were flattened out, it could have hit New York City, Washington or nearly any other city in America.

Hawaii’s false ballistic missile alert on Jan. 13 was the most visceral reminder yet of what’s at stake. Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill, read the emergency-system alert pushed to people’s smartphones statewide. It took 38 minutes to issue an all clear for the mistake; a worker had mistaken a drill for the real thing.

Disarmament experts warn that this is just one of the risks in a new era of brinkmanship. “Trump has not said what the last 10 Presidents have said, which is we will lead on arms-control agreements and nonproliferation issues,” says Thomas M. Countryman, a 35-year career diplomat who retired last year after leading the State Department’s nonproliferation efforts. “I think that is an indication that the importance of appearing masculine is more important than actually reducing the threat of nuclear warfare.”

Philip Coyle, a former test director at the Nevada Test Site, also warned about the chance of miscalculation. “This is a time where we need more thought about where we’ve been and where we’re headed,” he said. “There is little room for error.”

Americans of a certain age will remember the Doomsday Clock maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It expresses the risk of nuclear annihilation as time remaining until midnight. On Jan. 26, citing Trump’s moves, it pushed the second hand 30 seconds forward, the closest Doomsday has loomed since 1953, when the U.S. and Russia first tested hydrogen bombs within months of each other.

I really hope that this is for foreign policy and not domestic.
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