There are so many terrifying things about Trump’s candidacy that it hasn’t generally been noticed that his pledge to make America’s allies take on a larger defense burden would lead to many more nations having nuclear weapons. Anderson Cooper deserves kudos for bringing up this point in last night’s town hall meeting. With his typical brazenness, Trump agreed that nuclear proliferation is a major problem, while also advocating policies that would make it worse. At one point he even seemed open to Saudi Arabia becoming a nuclear power, although he back-tracked:
COOPER: So you have no problem with Japan and South Korea having…
TRUMP: I thought…
COOPER: … nuclear weapons.
TRUMP: At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself, we have…
COOPER: Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?
TRUMP: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.
COOPER: You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?
TRUMP: No, not nuclear weapons, but they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us.
Even more than his openness to nuclear weapons, this remarkable exchange shows the true hallmark of Trump’s foreign policy approach: a complete unwillingness to think about the implications of his ideas until they are pointed out to him by someone else.