Every dictator throughout history has ruled through the use of fear. The constant threat of violence is not always overt, and the best strongmen have used the prospect of physical force sparingly. But it is always present, and everyone around them understands that if they step too far out of line, they will be dealt with brutally.
Today, Donald Trump announced (on twitter) his plans to “greatly strengthen and expand” America’s nuclear arsenal in a clear move designed to instill fear around the globe. Trump may not (yet) have the ability to use physical force against his own people, but he has the world’s largest military at his disposal, and the world’s largest nuclear weapons arsenal.
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
With a single tweet, we can kiss goodbye to the diplomatic years of the Obama administration where consensus and collaboration ruled and America sought to engage peaceably with the international community. While too early to call Trump a dictator, he is showing all the signs he intends to behave just like one — and his latest proclamation should have everyone quaking in their boots. Trump reportedly wanted to know why America couldn’t just nuke her enemies while running for president, and given the news today, presumably he wasn’t satisfied with the answer. Trump is and always has been a bully and he clearly intends to use the tactics that got him power in business in his dealings with other countries. Trump won’t figuratively “go nuclear” if things don’t go his way — he actually might go nuclear with real nuclear weapons.
To be clear, America is the only country on the planet that has ever used nuclear weapons as an instrument of war, and still retains the most potent arsenal on the planet. America’s nuclear capability is so extreme that it could quite easily blow the entire planet off its axis. The notion that America needs more of these weapons is not just factually inaccurate, it is completely crazy — unless that is you are aiming to frighten the living daylights out of everyone.
While we laugh at Trump and his comically inept band of liars and crooks following him into the White House, this isn’t going to be quite so amusing when a real crisis occurs and we are left with a madman with a vast stockpile of nuclear weapons at his disposal. If you weren’t alarmed before, you probably should be now.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.