Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about America's nuclear arsenal.

Shortly before heading out for a round of golf (though he still insists he is not on vacation, even a "working vacation"), Trump made the following claim on Twitter: that as his "first order as president" was to "renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal," making it "stronger and more powerful than ever before."

None of this is true. Overhauls of the United States' nuclear weapons are done on a regular and legally mandated basis. The most recent review, which is still ongoing, began under President Obama in 2016. Trump signed an executive order related to that ongoing review on Jan. 27th. The Defense Department began the report Trump requested in late April and it is not expected to be finished until the end of this year. No changes to the arsenal itself could have happened in this time that had not been planned for years in advance.

This tweet may have been intended to let Trump save face the day after he gave an unplanned, improvised, and un-vetted speech in which he promised that further threats from North Korea would be "met with fire and fury the likes of which the world have never seen." North Korea, whose current nuclear arsenal would be outclassed by the United States' in 1949, immediately responded by threatening an attack on the US territory of Guam, which is within range of its more proven missiles.

Why is this a problem?

  • This is not the first time Trump has been deeply ignorant of how nuclear weapons work in the real world.
  • It's dangerous and stupid for presidents to make off-the-cuff military threats without consulting the actual military.
  • It's wrong to take credit for things other people did.