NBC reports that one reason Tillerson called Trump a “moron” after a meeting earlier this year may have been his exasperation with the president’s ridiculous desire to have a much larger nuclear arsenal:
President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room [bold mine-DL].
Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve [bold mine-DL].
It would be difficult to come up with a more absurd idea for a worse reason than this. The nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and the Soviet Union/Russia have been steadily reduced over decades of painstaking negotiations and multiple treaties that have eliminated tens of thousands of destructive weapons that served no rational purpose. Trump reportedly wanted to reverse all of that:
Officials present said that Trump’s comments on a significantly increased arsenal came in response to a briefing slide that outlined America’s nuclear stockpile over the past 70 years. The president referenced the highest number on the chart — about 32,000 in the late 1960s — and told his team he wanted the U.S. to have that many now, officials said [bold mine-DL].
Increasing the arsenal to return it to its mid-Cold War size is an insane thing to want to do. The expense alone would be ruinous. It would require abrogating all of the arms reduction and limitation treaties the U.S. has ratified over the decades. In the very unlikely event that could be done, the arms race it would set off would be extremely dangerous. A huge increase isn’t going to happen, but the fact that Trump didn’t understand any of this and had to have it explained to him is alarming.
The purported reason for Trump’s desire to have a bigger arsenal is sadly typical for him: he doesn’t want to be associated with having a relatively smaller nuclear arsenal, but wants to be known for having the biggest one simply as a way to boost his ego. Since Trump is a militarist, it is not all that surprising that he would want to waste vast amounts of money to build large numbers of massively destructive weapons just for the sake of having more of them. It tells us just how terrible his judgment is that he thought anything like this would be a good idea.