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Trump Nukes Himself

Did you see Gen. Michael Hayden’s interview on Morning Joe this a.m.?  In it, the former director of the CIA and the NSA talks in general about nuclear command and the presidency, emphasizing that the system is built for speed, not for deliberation. Message: you had better be able to trust the judgment of the Commander in Chief. 

Here’s the interview:

Go to the 6:00 mark in it. Harold Ford asks Gen. Hayden which of the national security experts he knows and trusts is advising Trump. Hayden’s simple answer: “No one.”

Think about it: the retired four-star general who ran the CIA and the NSA, and who surely knows everybody worth knowing in the national security field, can’t think of a single person he respects who is advising Trump.

At that, Joe Scarborough looked taken aback. Then he said, “A foreign policy expert on the international level went to advise Donald Trump.” He chose his words very, very carefully, plainly trying to protect the expert’s privacy. Scarborough said that three times in this one-hour briefing, Trump asked about nuclear weapons. Trump reportedly asked, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”

If that is true, then that is reason right there not only to withhold one’s vote from Trump, but to vote against him this fall. Everything else fades in the face of the possibility of a man like that gaining control of nuclear weaponry.

Earlier in the interview, before that exchange, Hayden spoke gingerly about the constitutional crisis that would result if the military refused orders from President Trump. If what Scarborough said is true, I think it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that the military might act to prevent Trump from taking office. You know what that means.

I don’t know if what Scarborough says is true, but based on Trump’s behavior, I find it very easy to believe that Trump said this.

Here it is only early August, and Trump has us talking like this.

You have to read John Noonan’s tweetstorm [1] about this. He once served in a nuclear missile silo, and has been through the drills. The Scarborough thing unnerved him. Excerpts:

 

And amid the total panic in senior GOP circles at Trump’s meltdown, Newt Gingrich basically unendorsed Trump.  [5]

Did I mention that it’s only August 3?

Is there anything the Republican Party can do to un-nominate Trump? Asking for a friend.

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183 Comments To "Trump Nukes Himself"

#1 Comment By grumpy realist On August 4, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

By the way, anyone who thinks that we would have an economy left after a nuclear war (or be able to easily recover) is about as self-deluded as Trump.

(I suggest you read “A Canticle for Liebowitz”.)

#2 Comment By Joys-R-Us On August 4, 2016 @ 7:41 pm

So we can use a nuke only if we get nuked ourselves? What if our being nuked wipes out our capacity to nuke? This gets really illogical and philosophically incoherent to slam the door entirely on offensive nuclear strikes.

Our military has thought and re-thought this issue a thousand times. So did the Soviets, and Putin I’m sure also. The danger of a first strike is always a possibility, and that’s why we have a nuclear triad of bombers, land-based missiles, and nuclear subs. That is to ensure that enough of our nukes can survive any surprise attack to ensure massive retaliation. And that’s what prevents anyone from launching a first strike. It’s suicidal. So there’s no upside to launching a first strike, unless you can be absolutely ensure that no retaliation is possible. Which isn’t possible. And then there’s the moral dimension of launching a first strike that kills tens or hundreds of millions of people in the space of an hour. Who wants to do that? Only a crazy person. And that’s why we have to be careful who we elect President. We don’t someone in that office who thinks the first use of nuclear weapons might be a good idea.

#3 Comment By Captain P On August 4, 2016 @ 7:56 pm

In real news – not unattributed, vague claims of something said “months ago” – a poll shows active members of the military prefer Trump by a greater than two-to-one margin.

[6]

#4 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 4, 2016 @ 9:07 pm

Seriously, has either party actually done anything to advance the interests of its voting base? Then why are they the only options you consider?

Because Gary Johnson doesn’t really inspire either, and nobody else is closing to posing a real alternative. In retrospect, perhaps Bernie Sanders should have run as an independent, the way he got to congress and the senate.

#5 Comment By M_Young On August 4, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

“In other news, turns out Melania was almost certainly working illegally in the US for several years …”

Oh please…

#6 Comment By William Springer On August 4, 2016 @ 11:10 pm

@ VikingLS – You seem to be saying you refuse to listen to voices that disagree with you, assuming “Trump Derangement Syndrome” from someone who disagrees with you. Isn’t that attitude precisely the issue for the radical wings of both parties? Ideally I search for those who have beliefs that conflict with mine, to either better understand the counterpoint (and perhaps change my view) or strengthen the foundation of my beliefs by understanding the counterpoint and believing my side is better.

I am truly concerned any reader would feel they need to leave someone they read regularly because they do not always agree with you on every issue. What good is the echo chamber?

#7 Comment By Dr. Talon On August 4, 2016 @ 11:24 pm

Rod, I too was quite alarmed when I heard this, however, today someone who happens to be strongly against Trump showed me a video which was supposed to lend support to the thesis that Trump would be dangerous with the nuclear codes, but I actually found it comforting. It seems to me, and I admit I’m no expert, that there’s nothing Trump says in the video which is not in conformity with current nuclear doctrine.

[7]

In the video, an somewhat heated interview with Chris Matthews, Trump says that he would be quite reluctant to use nuclear weapons, that they should only be a means of last resort. However, he isn’t willing to “take them off the table” entirely.

He makes a statement at 1:04 which is very similar to his alleged “if we have them, why can’t we use them?” line. However, given the context of his surrounding statements, it sounds far less threatening.

Trump seems unwilling to explicitly forgo nuclear weapons, and rightfully so, because the entire doctrine of nuclear deterrence depends on each side being convinced the other will use it.

However, he doesn’t seem to believe that nuclear weapons are a normal means. “I’d be the last one to use the nuclear weapons, that’s sort of like the end of the ballgame,” he says at one point.

I was in somewhat of a panic last night, upon hearing of the alleged Trump quote. However, this has calmed my fears. I’m curious, Rod, what you think of this. Does this change your opinion or calm your fears?

#8 Comment By KevinS On August 5, 2016 @ 12:09 am

And now his own campaign is admitting that Trump has never seen a video he spent two days describing in great and vivid detail. It was a complete and utter fabrication. This man is clinical.

[NFR: He is, yes. — RD]

#9 Comment By Andrew E. On August 5, 2016 @ 12:16 am

He’s rich because his father is rich, and once you have that much money it takes a lot of effort to destroy it.

Lie. He turned a $1 million loan into a multi-billion corporation. All the while living an extremely wealthy lifestyle (meaning you can’t compare his success to some kind of equity portfolio that compounds since extracting the wealth to live on ruins the return calculations) and building real tangible things. Not just shuffling paper on Wall Street or growing his company using easy, fake IPO capital.

#10 Comment By Patricia Morgan On August 5, 2016 @ 12:58 am

“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?”
Ronald Reagan, 1984 State of the Union

#11 Comment By Andrew E. On August 5, 2016 @ 10:04 am

Anyone who says “but Trump has great kids!” as proof of how fantastic he is ignores the following fact: He. Did. Not. Raise. Them.

To everyone repeating this lie: we know it’s a lie by the words of the children themselves who say they spent countless hours during childhood with their father at his work and never let work and work meetings deprive his children of the attention they craved.

Trump may not have changed diapers or packed the school lunches, I’ll presume, but we should know by now that Trump always thinks big. So Trump doesn’t merely take his daughter ice skating, he takes over the reconstruction of an ice rink (Wollman Rink Central Park) because his daughter keeps asking him when they will be able to go skating together.

#12 Comment By Chela429 On August 5, 2016 @ 10:11 am

@CaptainP @RodDreher

Here is John McCain essentially saying vote your conscious,

#13 Comment By Andrew E. On August 5, 2016 @ 10:30 am

And now his own campaign is admitting that Trump has never seen a video he spent two days describing in great and vivid detail. It was a complete and utter fabrication. This man is clinical.

Here it is right here:

[8]

#14 Comment By Jim the First On August 5, 2016 @ 10:45 am

I think the best hope we right of center voters have for maintaining some semblance of credibility with the broader electorate is to lead a wholesale revolt against Trump by throwing our support behind Johnson/Weld. That would probably throw the election to Clinton, but it has the virtue of setting the stage for a more reasonable candidate in 2020. Maybe Senator Sasse will be ready for the big stage by then?

Um, no.

Trump is essentially a REAL third party candidate that has destroyed the Republican establishment. And if he wins in November, he’ll destroy the Democrat establishment, too. If he loses, the most likely outcome is that the Republican establishment will be able to pin the 2016 election loss on Trump, and reinstall itself in its position of power. All of the good things that Trump has done (i.e. break through the p.c. shutdown on legitimate debates about BLM, immigration, politicians on the take, etc.) will be rolled back and for naught.

I chuckle a bit, and almost weep, at everyone who wants to vote for Gary Johnson to help bring down the two party system. You have a real chance to deal a haymaker to the corrupt political establishment, and you wuss out and vote for two liberal Republican governors who like to smoke pot? Please. And the media/establishment cabal on which you love to blame our current malaise holds up a picture of The Donald and a mushroom cloud and says “Boo” and you run for the hills, clutching your pearls and your Kindle loaded with Ron Paul’s collected works? As The Donald would tweet: Sad!

#15 Comment By Andrew E. On August 5, 2016 @ 11:03 am

And now his own campaign is admitting that Trump has never seen a video he spent two days describing in great and vivid detail. It was a complete and utter fabrication. This man is clinical.

First thing to remember when following the election: the mainstream media lies. The mainstream media is evil.

Trump is operating in this election like a prosecutor. Regarding the Iranian cash ransom, what do we know? We know there’s video of an unmarked plane carrying the American hostages waiting on a tarmac. We know from the testimony of one of the hostages that they were forced to wait on their plane until another plane had arrived before they could leave. We know the US sent $400 million dollars of hard currency to Iran right around this time. We have the video of the cash on pallets filmed by the Iranian government and released by them to the public for anti-US propaganda purposes. Trump is assembling all these facts into a coherent whole so that it makes sense. Cash for hostages because our leadership is weak and ineffective.

This is what licensed prosecutors do, on behalf of the state, every day, a thousand times a day, all across the country. And now Trump is doing it for us in this election, increasing the transparency of our politics.

#16 Comment By KevinS On August 5, 2016 @ 11:22 am

Andrew E writes,
And now his own campaign is admitting that Trump has never seen a video he spent two days describing in great and vivid detail. It was a complete and utter fabrication. This man is clinical.

Here it is right here:

[8]

Several points:

1. Then why did Trump himself in a tweet this morning concede that had not seen the video he had been describing?

2. That video in unconvincing. It is not clear at all the pallets of cash (we prompted to look at the 11:00 mark) are cash at all.

3. Do you know accept the Iranian media as a credible source to be taken at face value?

4. Maybe you speak farsi, but since I do not I have no idea what is going in most of that video.

#17 Comment By KevinS On August 5, 2016 @ 11:28 am

Andrew E writes, “First thing to remember when following the election: the mainstream media lies. The mainstream media is evil.” Well, now I understand why you find it so easy to dismiss anything you do not like. But I am sure the “conservative tree house” always tells the truth.

Then please explain why Trump’s campaign and now Trump himself say he did not see the video he was describing fr two days. Maybe they are lying? Or maybe the evil media is lying about what they said?

Ugh

#18 Comment By M_Young On August 5, 2016 @ 11:42 am

Gee, [9] describing how nukes are central to NATO doctrine. Notice there is nothing about ‘no first use’, and the strong implication that NATO will in fact use nukes first as a (hopefully last, in dire straights) option.

So, seems to me that the Donald’s alleged question is actually pretty apropos.

#19 Comment By M_Young On August 5, 2016 @ 11:46 am

Re: Warren Buffet’s critique of the Donald’s wealth creating abilities.

Warrent Buffet operates a public company with shareholders. His job is to maximize shareholder value. Donald Trump owns his own company. His job is to maximize whatever he wants to. Which for a long time seemed to be the number of buildings and golf courses with ‘Trump’ on them. No doubt he had investors along the way, they they knew (or should have known) what they were getting into.

#20 Comment By Andrew E. On August 5, 2016 @ 11:59 am

KevinS, the Iranian Foreign Minister in the video of course claims that the $400 million in cash arriving as the prisoners were released is just a coincidence, honestly it is. He’s the defense attorney, if you will, so it’s no surprise he would say that. Trump is the prosecutor and naturally puts a different spin on it.

This is standard issue hardball politics.

[10]

#21 Comment By M_Young On August 5, 2016 @ 12:04 pm

“Putin is threatening/warning of impending nuclear war due to America surrounding Russia with missiles ala Cuban Crisis, but no one is reporting it.”

And Obama is deploying 1000 US troops to Poland.

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 5, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

This seems as good a place as any to mention that I was talking to a friend this morning, a man of undoubted African descent, a member of a nondenominational Bible church, one could call what his pastor preaches fundamentalist, who tells me he absolutely cannot vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and not for Gary Johnson either. I jokingly suggested his perfect candidate would be a mix of just the right strands from Al Sharpton and Rick Santorum. He responded in all seriousness, no, his perfect candidate would be a mix of Bernie Sanders and John Kasich.

#23 Comment By Andrew E. On August 5, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

KevinS,

I can’t explain every detail of Trump’s thought process. For example, I kinda wish he’d stop saying that the wall will have a big beautiful door in it so that lots and lots of people can come into the country, but do it legally. I want a full immigration moratorium like we had for 40 years beginning in the 1920’s. But Trump has judged that this rhetoric helps his cause so I accommodate myself to it. The point is I don’t lose my mind every time I disagree with or can’t explain something that Trump does or says.

#24 Comment By Tom S On August 5, 2016 @ 12:30 pm

The US and NATO have never ruled out first use of nuclear weapons. This dates back to the bad old days, when the USSR’s massive military could conceivably overwhelm NATO forces before US reinforcements could arrive by sea and air. As such, it was instrumental in giving pause to any thoughts of adventurism. Since the Soviet threat has now receded, to be replaced by a much weaker yet assertive Russia, ambiguity over first use does no harm.

There is nothing in US doctrine that would call for first use of nuclear weapons outside of the NATO milieu. That Trump is not aware of any of this does not encourage positive thoughts about him becoming President.

#25 Comment By Joys-R-Us On August 5, 2016 @ 1:41 pm

>INotice there is nothing about ‘no first use’, and the strong implication that NATO will in fact use nukes first as a (hopefully last, in dire straights) option.

I already pointed out that any nuclear power would resort to nukes if their conventional forces were overrun. In the Cold War, this applied on both sides to any conventional war in Europe. And that’s why any hot war between nuclear powers is also taboo. And that’s why there’s been no all-out hot war between nuclear powers.

Nukes are simply not an option in any conventional sense of the word. Every sane military and civilian leader knows this. When someone repeatedly asks “if we have nukes, why can’t we use them?” I don’t get the sense they are asking for an actual explanation, they are making a rhetorical point. Anyone who becomes a serious candidate for office must already know those explanations, or they are simply unfit for office. If what Trump is doing is seriously questioning that “conventional wisdom” and thinking he knows a better way to use nukes, because he so super-smart and thinks outside the box, that’s good to know. I’d like to hear what he thinks our policy on “first use” ought to be. If all he’s looking for is an education on 70 years of nuclear policy, that’s nice, but it seems odd that after seriously considering or actually running for the President for the last 15 years or so, that he’s only now trying to grapple with the most important function of the office he wants to hold. As with most everything else, he’s way over his head in this race.

#26 Comment By Joys-R-Us On August 5, 2016 @ 1:48 pm

btw, the important point about the $400 million dollars that was part of the exchange for the captive students is that it was Iran’s own money. We were just returning it to them. It was not a ransom, since it didn’t come out of our pockets. It was their money, held in escrow and collecting interest, ever since the 1979 revolution. So all these arguments about planes and timing is irrelevant. On both sides, money and people were being returned to where they belonged.

#27 Comment By KevinS On August 5, 2016 @ 4:17 pm

Andrew E writes, “The point is I don’t lose my mind every time I disagree with or can’t explain something that Trump does or says.”

No one is asking you to “lose your mind.” Just to wonder why your favored candidate goes on for two days in great and vivid detail about a “top secret” video he claims to have seen only to confess after he has been caught that he has seen no such thing. There is something not right with him.

[NFR: That’s the thing that strikes me: that he lives in a weird headspace that never gets challenged, because he’s the boss, but now he can’t behave like he’s always behaved. He can’t get away with it. He got away with it in the GOP primaries, but now this is really the big time — the Biggest Time — and he can’t hack it. — RD]

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 5, 2016 @ 4:31 pm

Wow. The slly puttey set continues to march on. Making hay out of simple question. If we have them, we;ll use them if we have to.

The playground is full of nonsene and nothingso convenient as question about the use of nuclear weapons to to play ball politically. Not discussing under what ondoitions does not mean that one is either unaware or ignorant of the same.

But more tlling is to bring on reasonble men speaking in reasoable terms to make a case for vear mongering. This is like the officer who insults, eggs, pressures goads and harrasses, but dos so calmly. He doesn’t sound like he’s stoking fear. He does X credentials. He is wearing airforce blue for that dash of credibility . . .

But in the end it remains what it is . . . fear mongering. Those that have messd up the playground contending someone else might mess it up more.

[NFR: Oh, Jackie Harvey, what would we do without your items? — RD]

#29 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 5, 2016 @ 4:34 pm

” . . . and I admit I’m no expert, that there’s nothing Trump says in the video which is not in conformity with current nuclear doctrine.”

Heaven forbid that one actually read or watch what Mr. Trump actually said or does.

His opponents sound reaonble, but are venomous.

#30 Comment By M_Young On August 6, 2016 @ 1:42 am

“Nukes are simply not an option in any conventional sense of the word. Every sane military and civilian leader knows this.”

Uh, that’s not US doctrine. Has never been. Nukes are an option, even barring a first strike. Even if they really weren’t an option, you don’t advertise that. Or else they use their effectiveness even as deterrents .

When someone repeatedly asks “if we have nukes, why can’t we use them?” I don’t get the sense they are asking for an actual explanation, they are making a rhetorical point. ”

Well, since we only have a third hand, no audio, no video, no context, no named source, no one coming forward to say he/she’s the source, account of the alleged question/answer, its pretty hard to say what the point was.

#31 Comment By Joys-R-Us On August 6, 2016 @ 2:10 pm

I think Trump’s question comes from an obvious place. He notices that we have had a massive supply of nukes for the last seventy years, but since Nagasaki, we haven’t used them. To him, that seems contradictory. Shouldn’t we use them? Why can’t we? Well, the obvious answer is that no dire situation has arisen which would require us to use them. But it would appear Trump was wondering why we can’t use them in less than dire circumstances. And hopefully, he finally got the answer to that question. But it would also appear that he didn’t like that advisor’s advice, and has found people outside the circles Hayden finds respectable to advise him on such matters. God knows what sort of advice he is getting and from who. He seems like the sort of guy who hires people who will tell him what he wants to hear.

#32 Comment By Joys-R-Us On August 6, 2016 @ 2:14 pm

Heaven forbid that one actually read or watch what Mr. Trump actually said or does.

The problem here is that Trump lies even about the most commomplace things. So what he says publicly simply can’t be trusted. The whole “Trump speaks his mind” meme is only a positive thing if Trump’s primary impulse is to tell the truth. But that appears not to be the case. He’s a congential, pathological liar. So when he’s “speaking his mind”, he’s usually lying. He’s just lying in a way that his followers want to hear.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 6, 2016 @ 8:08 pm

So Trump doesn’t merely take his daughter ice skating, he takes over the reconstruction of an ice rink (Wollman Rink Central Park) because his daughter keeps asking him when they will be able to go skating together.

An anyone who can’t or won’t do the same for their own daughter is clearly a BAD PARENT.

I see nobody spouting off on nukes has taken up grumpy realist’s invitation to read A Canticle for Liebowitz. Its an excellent novel, and I second the recommendation. Note that there is a distinct pro-life theme to the book, especially at the end. And THAT has a twist that might give pause to those advocating that nukes are just another weapon.