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Guest MINDSETTER™ Congressman McGovern: America Cannot Afford Trump’s Nuclear Arms Race

Thursday, January 12, 2017

 

America is home to one of the world’s two most powerful nuclear arsenals. With President-elect Trump’s reckless tweet calling for the U.S. to “expand its nuclear capability,” he has put the world on edge. This came just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for Russia to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.

Donald Trump is not even in the White House and he is already threatening to upend decades of U.S. nuclear policy and plunge us back into the dangerous arms race that led to the Cold War.

Both Republican and Democratic security experts have described Donald Trump as lacking the temperament to command our nuclear arsenal. And we are already seeing why.

Once Donald Trump is President, he will have absolute authority to initiate nuclear war with no legal check on this power. We can only hope his impulsive tendencies displayed on the campaign trail, and since the election, are not an indication of how Mr. Trump will govern.

It is clear, however, that our long-term response must be a transformational change in U.S. nuclear policy.

Changing Policy

For decades, the U.S. has argued that even a few nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue nations would pose an unacceptable risk, but “responsible” states like the U.S. having these weapons is acceptable.

By transferring thousands of nuclear weapons to the control of a leader who appears temperamentally unsuited to command them, the U.S. has proven how fundamentally flawed that policy is.

Many in the medical and scientific community have long argued there are no “right hands” with nuclear weapons. A large-scale use of nuclear weapons will kill most of the human race. Recent studies have shown that even a very limited nuclear war, involving less than 0.5 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal, would cause worldwide climate disruption and precipitate a global famine that could put some two billion people at risk. No individual should ever possess such destructive power.

Opponents claim some leaders can be trusted with this terrible power, but they assumed we would always elect leaders who understand the grave responsibility that comes with it. The election of Donald Trump, in tandem with Vladimir Putin holding power in Russia, has shown how shortsighted that assumption is. With vast nuclear arsenals in the control of such leaders, we must finally acknowledge that no risk is acceptable when it comes to nuclear weapons. Our nuclear policy must be an urgent quest to eliminate these weapons.

Working together with the current nuclear states to move toward a nuclear-free world will not be easy, but it is both possible and essential to a safe and prosperous future.

Each nuclear state has their reasons for thinking these arsenals are necessary to protecting their national security and place on the world stage.

Trump claims an aggressive nuclear policy is justified until the world “comes to its senses,” but it already has. There is a growing consensus in support of nuclear arms reduction and as our next president, he must answer that call.

First, the United States must make a fundamental decision to seek the national security that can only come from a nuclear-free world. This would lay the foundation for the real progress needed. The U.S. must begin by abandoning its intention to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to enhance its nuclear arsenal.

Second, the U.S. must clearly commit to never using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nations and never use nuclear weapons first.

Third, the U.S. must work with Russia to explore mutual steps to allow our two countries to take our weapons off hair-trigger alert to lessen the danger that they are inadvertently fired in response to a false warning of attack by either side.

Finally, the U.S. must embrace the international movement for a treaty to prohibit the possession of nuclear weapons. The United Nations voted overwhelmingly in October to commence negotiations for such a treaty in 2017. The U.S. should join this process and use the resulting treaty as leverage to bring the other nuclear nations into negotiations to reduce and eliminate their arsenals, with all the necessary verification mechanisms in place.

With every day, President-elect Trump demonstrates the danger of an unthinking approach to foreign policy is. We join Republicans and Democrats in hoping this rhetoric from Trump does not signify a return to an outdated approach to nuclear weapons.

Now more than ever, the U.S. must work with world leaders to reduce the current nuclear stockpiles and pave the way to a nuclear-free world. We have the opportunity to leave our children a more secure future. We cannot afford to plunge the U.S. back into a dangerous arms race and new Cold War.

 

U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern represents the 2nd Congressional District of Massachusetts. Dr. Ira Helfand is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and the co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

 

Related Slideshow: Trump in Worcester

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans like this young supporter made signs of their own to show their support for the Donald. They could be seen dotting the line waiting to enter the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

For Trump fans that left their gear at home, there was nothing to fear. Vendors took advantage of the passionate crowd, lining up near the entrances and selling buttons, hats and t-shirts like this one.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Star-spangled gear could be seen often outside and inside of the DCU Center. This Trump supporter really worse his love for the Donald on his sleeve.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

It wasn't all good cheer for Donald Trump. Protestors lined the streets near the entrance of the DCU Center, and could be hear chanting various anti-Trump sentiments.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

This young man's pants left no doubt. He is a big fan of two things—Donald Trump, and the United States of America.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

These four Trump fans wore their support proudly on their chest, and they weren't the only ones. Many fans could be seen sporting Trump hats, shirts, buttons and more as they filed into the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

These two said they were proud to support Donald Trump in his bid for the Presidency.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

You could call this protestor a "one-issue voter." He mixed calls for the return of his favorite discontinued soft drink in with chants criticizing Trump's immigration stance.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

For these Trump fans, it was a family affair. The whole bunch turned out to support their favorite candidate.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

The cold weather didn't bother this Trump fan. He said he decided to purchase a Donald Trump-branded jacket or sweatshirt inside the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

These two Trump fans were "red"-y to see their hero in action!

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

These clever protestors turned Donald Trump's famous catchphrase around on him. 

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

There were plenty of young fans on hand for Donald Trump's speech in Worcester. These two made their feelings on Trump, and his immigration stance, very clear.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump had the chance to see him name up in lights on the DCU Center jumbo-screen. It must have been quite the thrill!

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Donald Trump made his entrance at roughly 7:30 PM to nearly deafening applause. He paused for a moment to soak it all in.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump walked confidently to the podium after being introduced as the large crowd cheer and chanted his name.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans inside were loud, and cheered the Donald often. They also made sure to snap their own photos of their favorite candidate while they had the chance.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans in Massachusetts came from near and far to get a glimpse of Donald Trump live and in person.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Standing room only—the DCU Center was nearly filled with supporters who got on their feet early and stayed there for most of Trump's hour-long speech.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Even inside the DCU Center, Trump could not escape the protestors. These unhappy attendees attracted a lot of attention, but were whisked out of the arena by security after only a few seconds.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump said time and time again to the crowd gathered in Worcester that he would "make America great again" through smart immigration and trade policies.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump said he was glad to be in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and pleased fans by talking about the greatness of hometown hero Tom Brady.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump was all smiles when one of his jokes drew big laughs from the crowd of supporters.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump supporters chanted his famous slogan, "make America great again," before, during and after his speech at the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

When Donald Trump finally finished his speech, he drew the loudest applause of the night. Fans waved signs, chanted his name and tried desperately to snap one last photo of their departing hero.

 
 

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