In a series of tweets earlier this morning, the president congratulated himself for updating America’s nuclear weapons system:
The sheer number of lies packed into these two tweets is almost impressive. Trump’s first order as president was, in fact, about health care, not nuclear weapons. Furthermore it was Barack Obama—not Trump—who instituted a huge overhaul of the nation’s nuclear weapons. And then there’s the fact that renovating America’s nuclear stockpile is a process far from complete.
Over the years there have been numerous reports about America’s dangerously outdated nuclear arsenal—a system that relies on 1970s-era technology, demoralized personnel, and a command-and-control infrastructure that is inherently flawed. While the Pentagon has recognized the myriad pitfalls plaguing a system composed of thousands of nukes ready to lay waste to our planet, the danger remains omnipresent. In a detailed New Yorker article aptly titled, “World War Three, by Mistake,” Eric Schlosser concluded with the following:
My greatest concern is the lack of public awareness about this existential threat, the absence of a vigorous public debate about the nuclear-war plans of Russia and the United States, the silent consent to the roughly fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world. These machines have been carefully and ingeniously designed to kill us. Complacency increases the odds that, some day, they will. The “Titanic Effect” is a term used by software designers to explain how things can quietly go wrong in a complex technological system: the safer you assume the system to be, the more dangerous it is becoming.
And yet, an Associated Press report in July revealed that the results of routine nuclear weapons inspections are now officially being kept secret. Previously, the government released to the public a compilation of broad results, like a “pass-fail” grade, regarding the safety and security of the military’s nuclear sites. In making those results off-limits, the Defense Department has cited national security concerns, but the government could be hiding “negligence or misconduct in handling nuclear weapons,” according to an expert interviewed by the AP. Add to this Trump’s free-wheeling approach toward the nuclear arsenal, and you have a recipe for disaster.