President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Trump tweets ambiguous vow to ‘expand’ U.S. nuclear capability

Updated
During the presidential campaign, some of Donald Trump’s highest profile Republican supporters conceded that Trump is so erratic and irresponsible, he probably can’t be trusted with the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

What we didn’t know during the campaign is that the president-elect intends to “expand” that arsenal. Trump tweeted this afternoon:
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”
It’s unclear what prompted Trump to make this online comment. Maybe he saw something on television that caught his attention. Perhaps he heard something in the Presidential Daily Brief, which the president-elect actually made time for this morning, that worried him. Maybe it was just a random thought that popped into Trunp’s head, which he felt the need to share with the world.

Whatever the motivation, no one seems able to say with confidence what Trump’s tweet means,  exactly. For example, how would the United States expand its nuclear “capability”? Does it mean more weapons, more modernizing, or both?

And in Trump’s mind, what would the world “coming to its senses” look like?

The fact that the president-elect makes random policy pronouncements via a medium that limits communications to 140 characters is itself unsettling, but if there’s one area in which superpower leaders need to speak with great clarity, it’s nuclear weapons. The fact that Donald Trump isn’t capable of this is a little terrifying.

Worse, it’s part of a pattern. In one of the primary debates, Trump seemed baffled by a simple question about the nuclear triad. In one of the general election debates, Trump was asked about nuclear first-use policy, and delivered two completely contradictory answers over the course of a few seconds.

This is the same Republican who, over the course of his campaign, suggested more countries – specifically South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia – should develop nuclear-weapons programs for their own national security interests.

Around the same time, Trump seemed genuinely confused by the meaning of the word “proliferation.”

The president-elect is on record saying he believes nuclear weapons may be “the biggest issue of our time.” If Trump were willing to perhaps familiarize himself with the basics of the issue, and communicate about nuclear weapons without mind-numbing ambiguities, many of us could sleep a little easier over the next four years.


Donald Trump, Nuclear and Nuclear Policy

Trump tweets ambiguous vow to 'expand' U.S. nuclear capability

Updated