Last week the Trump administration released its Nuclear Posture Review. Separately, going nuclear and posturing are things that Donald Trump is quite expert at, but together nuclear posturing is much more complicated and dangerous. The idea of Trump at the helm of any nuclear deterrence strategy should make your lower intestine rumble with the force of a 40-megaton detonation.
I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of the posture review itself, which expresses an apparent need for “low-yield options” to deter “regional aggression.” The Washington Post called Trump’s request “flawed overkill” while Matt Taibbi concluded alarmingly that the posture review “shows that the president and the people around him believe in the usability of nuclear weapons.”
The nation’s nuclear arsenal is the responsibility of the Secretary of Energy, the previous three of which have been men of impeccable scientific credentials. Under Trump the secretary is Rick Perry, who once referred to evolution as “a theory that’s out there,” and also wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy so badly he forgot the name of the department in front of millions of people. So that’s cool.
At any rate, Trump made some remarks about the nuclear arsenal on Monday ahead of a meeting with state and local officials to discuss his infrastructure plan. It was classic Trump:
“[H]opefully we’ll never have to use it, and hopefully we can reduce it in the years ahead. And that depends, really, on what other people are going to be doing. But we will always be number one in that category. Certainly, as long as I’m President, we’re going to be far, far in excess of anybody else.”
As of last year, the United States had 4,018 nuclear warheads, plus another 2,800 retired warheads waiting to be dismantled.
Let’s just state the obvious, and that is that 4,000 nukes might as well be 1,000 nukes or 10,000 nukes. When you have that many nuclear weapons, it doesn’t matter how many nuclear weapons you have. The U.S. nuclear arsenal is enough to deter whoever needs to be deterred, and it has been that way for more than a half century. Neither Russia nor anyone else is keeping a running tally of U.S. nukes to determine at which point it would be able to launch a nuclear strike on us without being destroyed in retaliation. We’re well past that point on both sides. It’s Mutual Assured Destruction 101.
In other words, the U.S. nuclear arsenal is enough.
The problem is that the word enough does not occur in the Trump lexicon. For him there is simply no such state of being. Not only that, for Trump the only state worth experiencing is excess. And even then, excess is never enough.
It’s not enough to live in a $100 million penthouse. Trump must adorn it with gold.
It’s not enough to defeat Hillary Clinton in the election. Trump must humiliate her.
It’s not enough to fire James Comey. Trump must disparage him.
It’s not enough to condemn football players for not standing. Trump must call them sons of bitches and say they should be fired.
It’s not enough to take Democrats’ refusal to applaud at certain lines during the State of the Union. Trump must deem them un-American and treasonous.
It’s not enough to be married. Trump must fuck other women.
It’s not enough to eat one Big Mac. Trump must eat two Big Macs, two Filet-of-Fish, and a milkshake.
Trump doesn’t know this word – enough. Only excess. He has never met a temptation he hasn’t indulged. He’s a glutton in every way imaginable, a one-man bacchanalia fueled by an unstable preternatural hedonism compounded by unrelenting narcissism, a highly unstable knave of the first order.
And he’s got the nuclear codes.