In recent weeks we have reported on Donald Trump’s incompetencies when it comes to foreign policy. The Republican nominee has virtually no definable positions on everything from Cuba to North Korea, with the exception of supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and failing to recognize the geopolitical importance of actually supporting our NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression. Now information has come out that when Trump met with a foreign policy expert a couple months ago for advice, Trump asked thrice in the course of an hour, “If we have [nuclear weapons] why can’t we use them?”
Throughout the Cold War and ever since, deterrence theory has been the prevailing understanding of nuclear weapons. The weapons are so destructive that no state will begin to detonate their nukes, because it would invite other states to nuke them in return. Having nuclear weapons deters other states from detonating bombs on you, but you are also deterred from bombing them. With the current state of nuclear proliferation and broad international security alliances, even nuking a state that does not possess nuclear weapons creates a real risk of another nuclear power responding.
It should not be necessary to explain why nuclear detonation is such a terrifying prospect. A single bomb can cause catastrophic damage to an area, leaving in its wake a host deadly cancers among the survivors. A nuclear tit-for-tat would quickly render large sections of Earth unfit for human inhabitation, and cost countless civilian lives.
If Trump does not understand why nuclear weapons are so bad and why we can’t use them, he is woefully unprepared for the presidency. Donald Trump possessing the nuclear codes is about as unsettling as Kim Jong Un having long-range nuclear missile capacities. If nothing else can convince you that Trump is the wrong choice for leader of the free world, entertain the prospect of giving a man with a volatile temper, aversion to books, and the attention span of a goldfish the power to destroy the world as we know it.
Doomsday rhetoric is not amiss here. There is no way to overstate the very real threat of total destruction that the world is facing as this year’s election approaches. This truly is a once in a lifetime election.
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Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.