DETROIT (WWJ) — President-elect Donald Trump alarmed people across the globe on Friday when he tweeted about expanding and strengthening the United States’ nuclear capabilities.
In the following twelve hours, Counselor to the future President KellyAnne Conway and other surrogates took to the airwaves to assure the public he didn’t really mean that he was going to “expand and strengthen” the nuclear arsenal.
However, Trump told the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday that there should be an “arms race.”
Journalist and author Sarah Kendzior isn’t surprised by Trump’s open dialogue about the possibility of using nuclear arms. She says it falls right in line with his history of wanting to work with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“Trump has been interested in nuclear weapons since at least 1984, where he said he learned everything he needs to know about them within an hour and a half of studying them,” Kendzior told Russ McNamara live on WWJ Newsradio 950.
“Where it gets interesting is in 1987, where Trump came up with a plan to partner with the Soviet Union on nuclear weapons, basically for the two empires to use nuclear weapons in tandem in order to intimidate other countries,” Kendzior said.
Trump’s visits to Russia in the 1980s are well-documented in archives from The Washington Post, as Kendzior points out.
However, Trump’s ultimate plan may not be to start a nuclear arms race with the Russians and return the world to the Cold War era. Kendzior says it’s more likely that Trump would prefer to align with Putin to bully other countries.
“He talked about a plan to work with them, for example: to hurt Pakistan, to threaten them with nukes until people were rioting, starving in the streets and in his words “couldn’t even get Band Aids,'” Kendzior said.
Putin released a statement similar to what Trump said on Friday just hours after.
“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces,” Putin said, “especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems.”
Both Russia and the United States have roughly 7,000 nuclear weapons, according to the non-partisan Ploughshares Fund.
“Given that Trump’s views Putin very favorably — apparently it’s reciprocal — there is a call for Congressional investigation of Russian interference into the election, it’s a little bit strange that Trump seems to have possibly fulfilled this fantasy of working with Russia as a nuclear partner against a third target, which so far has been unnamed,” Kendzior said.
“Over the course of the campaign he said he was willing to drop nukes on Europe, he was willing to use them on the Middle East,” Kendzior continued. “People who interviewed him were startled, but apparently Trump’s reaction was ‘well if we’ve made them, why aren’t we using them?’ It’s just a really terrifying thing, because no president has wanted to use nukes — that was always like an absolute, last-ditch resort. But we seem to have a president now that’s actually enthusiastic about the prospect.”