Within the space of a few hours on Thursday, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both indicated a desire to expand their respective countries’ nuclear capabilities. Considering Trump’s unwavering devotion to Russia and his own attitude towards nukes, this turn of events is really … something.
Trump’s a negotiator and believes his deals shall fix the globe’s problems, but he still thinks it’s a great idea to have nukes. Lots of them. In this spirit, he tweeted the following sentiment on Thursday: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
Parsing this statement is a futile effort, especially since “the world comes to its senses regarding nukes” could mean a lot of things coming from Trump. Perhaps he still believes that all countries (including Japan and South Korea) should build nukes to protect themselves and save the U.S. some military dollars. If that’s his hope, then he probably won’t mind if Russia further fortifies its own nuclear arsenal.
As noted above, Putin took some time today to express a similar sentiment about nukes. Journalist Sara Kendzior tweeted a side-by-side comparison.
Putin’s words arrived a few hours before Trump’s tweet. Here’s more of the Russian president’s full statement:
“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems. We must carefully monitor any changes in the balance of power and in the political-military situation in the world, especially along Russian borders, and quickly adapt plans for neutralizing threats to our country.”
The 1980s are truly back in style, but maybe they never really left.
Back in August (seems like such a long, strange ride, doesn’t it?), Trump frightened the hell out of people with his grilling of a foreign-policy expert about nukes. The legend goes that Trump repeatedly asked why the U.S. can’t use nukes if we have them. In addition to the terrifying thought of his fingers on the red button, it’s difficult to reconcile how no one has stuffed an introductory international relations course book into his hands.