With tensions running hot between the US, China and Russia, Trump’s disclosure of a new, nuclear weapons system is either a blundering flub or a nefarious calculation — both of which are getting harder to distinguish from one another with each passing day.
By Roland T. Flackfizer
Bob Woodward’s yet to be released book ’Rage’ describes a President Trump who knew Covid-19 would be highly lethal to the U.S. populace yet shrugged it off. However, another revelation could potentially be far more deadly.
At this point, we do not know if Donald Trump’s eerie revelation of an “incredible new weapons system” to Bob Woodward was more of his trademark incompetence or bluster intended to warn China and Russia. Either way, it has analysts scratching their heads. Veteran Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward described how the embattled President disclosed the existence of a nuclear weapons system.
According to Woodward’s book ‘Rage’, President Trump said: “I have built a nuclear – a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. “We have stuff that you haven’t event seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody – what we have is incredible.”
James Acton, co-director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear policy program, tweeted yesterday that Trump was likely referring to the submarine-launched low-yield nuclear warhead, the existence of which was confirmed last February by the Pentagon.
A 2018 Pentagon report called for the U.S. to expand its low-yield nuclear capability. This was met with consternation not only by adversaries Russia and China but also lawmakers in the U.S.
“The administration’s decision to deploy the W76-2 warhead remains a misguided and dangerous one. The deployment of this warhead does nothing to make Americans safer,” said Democratic Representative Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Arms-control advocates have warned that such low-yield weapons lower protective benchmarks for the potential use of nuclear weapons hence make a nuclear conflict more likely. Low-yield nuclear weapons are intended for insulated combat theaters yet many military analysts, rightly, fear that the introduction of smaller nukes into conventional warfare will quickly qualify the use of larger weapons outside of combat theater.
“President Trump now has a more usable nuclear weapon that is a dangerous solution in search of a problem,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association advocacy group.
However, some policy makers in the US military see low-yield nukes as a way to counter Russian and Chinese battlefield threats. According to Popular Mechanics, “The Pentagon reaffirmed its determination to field a new nuclear weapon designed to allow the U.S. to match Russian and Chinese nukes on the battlefield. In an interview with Seapower magazine, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood stated that the nukes are necessary to counter Russian plans to use low-yield nuclear weapons early in a conflict, frightening its enemies into a ceasefire.
“Rood said the need for the new low-yield weapons came from intelligence reports of Russian emphasis on the use of nuclear weapons earlier in a conflict, “and the mistaken belief that they have the ability to use a low-yield nuclear weapon earlier in the conflict in a way to deter response.” He cited Russian President Vladimir Putin’s public statements advocating the early use of low-yield nuclear weapons “as a way of deterring an adversary.”
Trump’s decision to signal a U.S. willingness to deploy such weapons could all be typical bluster and peacockerry. This is not his first time to bump gums about classified, new weapons systems before their unveiling. Trump has repeatedly touted the “super duper missile” which turned out to be a hypersonic glide body which the Pentagon successfully tested last March. Nonetheless, the US, China, and Russia have lobbed a dangerous series of signals to one another and engaged in war games with a dramatic new frequency. Hotspots around the globe such as the South China Sea, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Belarus, and Syria are growing increasingly tense. The cumulative danger of these aforementioned locales of conflict has put all major military powers on a war footing unseen since the most precarious days of the Cold War. An embattled President in an election year revealing a new-fangled weapons system during strained international relations with nuclear armed nations can not be dismissed.
Also in Woodward’s new book, Trump admitted he was aware the coronavirus pandemic was far more lethal than he had been publicly articulating to the American people.
On a February phone call, Trump said “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff.”
To date, 193,652 U.S. deaths have occurred as a result of Covid-19.