Trump And Putin's Remarks On Nuclear Weapons Raise Alarm
Over the past 24 hours, President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have made near-identical statements about nuclear weapons.
These side-by-side tweets aptly sum up the similarities between their remarks.
The first tweet offers a quote from a speech Putin made on Wednesday, December 21 that summarized Russia's military activities over the course of the year. The Russian president stated,
We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defence 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.
Trump's tweet came around midday on Thursday, December 22.
Are we witnessing the start of a new nuclear arms race?
This definitely raises a lot of questions, and it's reminiscent of rhetoric that emanated from both the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, when the two countries were locked in a nuclear arms race.
For decades, both Russia and the US have embraced the notion of reducing their nuclear arsenals.
It now appears both countries are aiming to reverse this trend.
This is concerning.
Both the US and Russia already have a significant number of nuclear weapons.
In other words, these two countries already possess enough firepower to blow up the world several times over, and arguably don't need to expand their nuclear arsenals.
This is precisely why anti-nuclear weapons organizations, like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), are condemning Donald Trump's remarks.
People are clearly concerned if Russia and the US gain more nuclear weapons they will be more likely to use them.
Trump's tweet is also disconcerting in terms of the current state of US-Russia relations.
Both the CIA and FBI concluded Russia interfered in America's election to aid Trump's chances of winning, and there's evidence Putin was directly involved.
Meanwhile, Trump nominated Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, a close associate of Putin, to be secretary of state.
Trump is poised to make the US and Russia closer than perhaps they've ever been.
But the implications of this concern many people, particularly in relation to Putin's autocratic tendencies.
The friendly disposition between Putin and Trump also makes you question why the two would support a nuclear arms race.
It's not entirely clear what's going on here, and the Trump-Putin relationship is getting more and more confusing.
Trump's tweet also signifies a sharp break from President Obama on this issue.
In May, President Obama visited Hiroshima, Japan, where the US dropped a nuclear bomb during WWII, and delivered a speech in which he championed a vision of a nuclear-free world.
Between Trump's previous remarks on nuclear weapons, and his strange relationship with Putin, it's not unfair to feel alarmed about the fact both men seem open to the idea of a new nuclear arms race.
In some ways, it feels like we are returning to the '80s, but in the most bizarre and unsettling way possible.