Trump on War and H-Bombs
08 November 16
Bannon: “the war leader of this country”
here is an important likelihood that Donald Trump is planning to “prosecute” his war or wars possibly in a new U.S. alliance with Russia, Turkey, and “a couple of other countries” if he is elected today.
Steve Bannon, the Chief Executive Officer of Trump’s presidential campaign, in a recorded strategy conference with Trump last December, said to him that he was postulating himself as “the war leader of this country.” Trump did not contest that description of himself from his chief campaign planner.
Trump told his top sidekick that his plan if elected is to form an alliance of his chosen nations to work together with the United States. “I will get the Russians,” Trump said. “I will get Turkey and a couple of other countries, and they’ll all work together, and they’ll all get along.”
At the time of their planning Turkey had shot down a Russian airplane at or just inside Turkey’s border. Bannon had just asked if Turkey is a reliable U.S. and Russian ally. To Bannon’s question – “If you plan if you’re elected President to prosecute this war,” how would he deal with Turkey? – Trump’s answer did not refer to what war Bannon was asking about.
(Turkey’s President Erdogan, Trump answered, is “a strong leader,” and “Turkey has been a good partner for the United States.” Since then a violent coup against Erdogan failed and he has imprisoned many thousands of citizens and shut down large sections of Turkey’s media.)
In another context Bannon cited to Trump “your big selling point for being President and Commander in Chief.” The questions Bannon asked seemed based on previous consultations between the two men. Evidently Bannon had become Trump’s campaign “CEO” before this, although his role was announced later.
Seven or eight times during this consultation Trump said various ongoing wars and problems were not worth starting, getting into, or fighting World War III over. Not worth that, he said specifically, were the war in Syria, the war between ISIS and the West, Turkey’s tension with Russia over the shootdown of the Russian plane, and the “Islamization” of Turkey as a questionable ally because it was then run by “people who are not part of the populist right that’s your constituency.”
“We’re dealing with people in the world that would use [nuclear weapons], OK?” Trump recently told the New York Times board. “You have many people that would use it right now in this world.” Another of his frighteningly material convictions about H-bombs is that deterrence theory, the belief in “mutual assured destruction” that works keeping the U.S. and Russia from nuclear war, does not work any more between such nations as Pakistan and India.
Trump’s stated war-related plans if elected have similarities and some matches with his startling plan that he revealed in the 1980s when he was in his thirties. As reported last Saturday, Trump wanted to be himself the chief U.S. negotiator in a U.S.-Soviet Union negotiation for the two as partners to force a lesser nuclear-armed nation to abandon its nuclear weapons. “The Big Two,” the U.S. leading, would viciously crush the smaller nation with trade practices to cause food and medical supplies desperation and rioting among its people while the Soviet Union for its part was also engaging in undescribed “retaliation” against it. This will be explained further later.
Trump and Bannon’s recorded strategy conference, which apparently had been put online by mistake and left there unreported for eleven months, was the subject of my story on Reader Supported News last Saturday, “Trump and His CEO Steve Bannon Make Plans.”
Trump could have North Korea in mind as a reason for or a focus of the aggregated power of the new alliance he has in mind between the U.S., Russia, Turkey, and “a couple of other countries that want to get themselves some real power.” He has alluded during his campaign to the president of North Korea as “like a maniac” and “a madman” who “is sick enough” to use his nuclear weapons.
If he wins today, North Korea as an enemy will be somewhere in the forefront in his mind. He declared to Bannon in December that if he is elected he would have four prisoners who were then being held in North Korea back on American shores before he is sworn in next January.
In the 1980s he was saying that nuclear proliferation was the biggest and worst problem in the world. He has said this year that nuclear weapons themselves are that. North Korea was the first nation he mentioned as he discussed the danger of nuclear war in the context of President Obama’s participation, at the time of this consultation, in the Paris climate-change summit.
On that, Trump said to Bannon that Obama, instead of worrying in Paris about “global warming,” should be “worrying about nuclear weapons coming into the middle of our cities.” Turning a phrase, Trump said (as later presented in quotation by Bannon in a brief story), “we have a form of Global Warming that’s a very serious form of Global Warming. And that’s called Nuclear Global Warming. Because if we don’t get our act together and corral all the countries that want to get themselves some real power, we’re going to be in big trouble. You know, you do have North Korea, which nobody talks about.”
North Korea’s president, Kim Jong-un, often accuses the U.S. of planning to invade or attack his country and vows in cryptic threats to destroy the United States. U.S. intelligence chieftain James Clapper recently told the Council on Foreign Relations that no further U.S./Western negotiating with and sanctions against North Korea are going stop North Korea from continuing its development of its nuclear arsenal.
North Korea is known to be actively pursuing its completion of the manufacture of usably small nuclear bombs that can be carried in missiles on which they can reach the United States. American and Western leaders now expect, more or less on-the-record, that by 2020 North Korea will be able to devastate the United States with its nuclear weapons from its own country. If Trump is elected, that would be the last year of his first term during which he will have total personal power over the American nuclear arsenal.
Trump’s frequently and clearly stated conviction that others in the world want to use nuclear weapons now obviously increases the logical likelihood that as president in serious confrontation or crisis with another nuclear-armed nation, he might command his military subordinates to launch our nuclear weapons first against that nation thinking, because of his conviction just cited, that he should or has to do it because otherwise the adversary would nuclear-bomb the United States first.
Readers may well wish to compare, on the one hand, Trump’s plans told to Bannon if he is elected concerning his U.S./Trump/Turkey alliance and, on the other, his extensively-developed thoughts and plans about nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union, and the U.S. in the 1980s. To facilitate such a comparison, here is a brief excerpt from my reporting on his thinking in 1984 and 1987 on Reader Supported News last July 15th, “Trump on Nuclear Weapons: By Whatever Means Necessary”:
While “Russia” was still the dictatorial and communist USSR locked with the U.S. in the mass-overkill first H-Bomb race, we and they [in 1962] very nearly fell into a potentially life-ending nuclear war. Donald Trump, when in his late 30s, had been nurturing a notion, an idea in fond prospect, that he become the principal U.S. negotiator with the USSR and that the two countries work together to strip lesser nations of their nuclear weapons, leaving them and us astride the world. unchallengeable. He had been thinking about this for some time, and his “good friend” and adviser Roy Cohn (famous as Senator Joe McCarthy’s sidekick during McCarthy’s anti-communist crusades) told him that his forthcoming interview with reporter Lois Romano in 1984 was just the time to reveal his thoughts.
He was 38 then, already rich and famous.…
In 1987, Ron Rosenbaum … opened one of his magazine pieces, “Donald Trump with his finger on the nuclear trigger…. China yes? Moscow no? Donald Trump with the power to destroy life on earth.” In Trump Tower … Rosenbaum had learned from Trump, in his office, of his special interest in the subject. “…he confided to me he was talking to ‘people in Washington,’ ‘even the White House,’” and while they were talking Trump took a (“probably rearranged”) call from Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. “‘I won’t be nuking anyone,’” Rosenbaum quoted Trump, then adding last March, “He didn’t sound eager to pull the trigger…. There had to be a deal!” …
Rosenbaum reported: “Trump foresees a situation soon when such hair-trigger heads of state [as Quaddaffi in Libya] will have their hands on multiple nuclear triggers.” He told the reporter this was “the” great problem of the world.
As the pair approached the iron gate of Club 21, Rosenbaum asked why there was little action against such proliferation.
“People don’t believe the inevitable,” Trump replied. “You know … it’s always going to happen to the other guy …”
In his writing then, coming to Trump’s thinking of bombing suspected nuclear weapons facilities, Ron Rosenbaum now as it were took the floor:
So what’s the solution? I ask him….
“I think you have to come down on them very hard economically or whatever way,” Trump says. “I think the solution is largely economic. Because there are so many of these countries that are so fragile and we have a vast power that’s never been used. They depend on us for food, for medical supplies. And I would never even suggest using it except on this issue. But this issue supercedes all other things.”
“I guess the easy thing would be to say you go in and clean it out.”
“Like the Israelis did with the Iraqi plant?”
“I don’t necessarily want to advocate that publicly because it comes off radical.
“And you know, without a lot of discussion prior to saying that, it sounds very foolish and that’s why I get very concerned about discussing it at all.”
Trump continued that most U.S. negotiators are long-term bureaucrats who don’t get the deals done and that the masters of dealmaking are “only a roomful … in the whole country.” People from Harvard say a deal is dead. “I go in and make the deal … better than they could have.” He said it was “now or never” and the people in Washington were not getting the deal done.
Rosenbaum asked why others don’t feel his urgency. Trump then clearly declared his passionate and potentially momentous conviction, which he has expressed again during his presidential campaign, that nuclear bombs will be used again. This belief might well affect a president’s actions in a perceived or actual nuclear crisis between or among nations.
“Those people think that because we have it and the Russians have it, nobody will ever use it because they’re assuming everybody’s not necessarily mad…. They don’t see Quaddafi as the psycho he is.… I mean, what if he’s got the bomb and something happens like the time we shot down two of his planes. And he’s enraged and he can’t see straight and he’s got 20 missiles pointed at the United States. Washington, I mean, do you think there’s a chance he won’t press the button?”
So, Rosenbaum asked at the rolling top of the 20th century nuclear arms race, what is the Trump deal?
“It’s a deal with the Soviets,” Trump replied. “We approach them on this basis: We both recognize the nonproliferation treaty’s not working, that half a dozen countries are on the brink of getting a bomb. Which can only cause trouble for the two of us. The deterrence of mutual assured destruction that prevents the United States and the USSR from nuking each other won’t work on the level of an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange. Or a madman dictator with a briefcase-bomb team. The only answer is for the Big Two to make a deal now to step in and prevent the next generation of nations about to go nuclear from doing so. By whatever means necessary.”
[Trump] continued 29 years ago:
“Most of those [pre-nuclear] countries are in one form or another dominated by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Between those two nations you have the power to dominate any of those countries. So we should use our power of economic retaliation and they use their powers of retaliation and between the two of us we will prevent the problem from happening.
“Maybe we should offer them something. I’m saying you start off as nicely as possible. You apply as much pressure as necessary until you achieve the goal. You start off telling them, ‘Let’s get rid of it.’ If that doesn’t work you then start cutting off aid. And more aid and then more. You do whatever is necessary so these people will have riots in the street, so they can’t get water. So they can’t get Band-Aids, so they can’t get food. Because that’s the only thing that’s going to do it – the people, the riots.”
And, Rosenbaum asked, what about the French [and their nuclear weapons]? “I’d come down on them so hard,” Trump said. “… if they didn’t give it up— … If they didn’t give it up—and I don’t mean reduce it, and I don’t mean stop, because stopping doesn’t mean anything. I mean get it out. If they didn’t, I would bring sanctions against that country that would be so strong, so unbelievable …”
Trump today is one day away from his dream of being the chief U.S. negotiator with the Russians, which, if he is elected President, he of course in fact will be.
The author received the George Polk career journalism award in 2011. The founding editor of The Texas Observer, he has written biographies of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan and numerous articles for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The Nation, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, and other periodicals. In Austin now he is working on a book about nuclear war. firstname.lastname@example.org
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.