For all he uses Twitter to rant against “fake news” Trump’s Twitter account is one of the leading sources of fake news. His tweets regularly involve flat out lies, senseless attacks on foreign partners, and even tweets so stupid they have increased his legal woes. The President’s insistence on using Twitter to conduct foreign policy has not produced anything positive. Still he insists on doing it. As Trump’s blustering bluffs, that were quickly called by North Korea, escalated tensions Trump Tweeted out this gem.
Having damaged his credibility with the ridiculously unsuccessful “fire and fury” bluff Trump damaged it even more with this false Tweet. The truth is simple. Trump did not order any renovation and modernization of our nuclear arsenal, still has not issued any such order, and our nuclear arsenal is in basically the status it was when he took office. A powerful arsenal to be sure, but not a different one. Modernization of our nuclear capabilities has begun with long term plans that originated in the Obama Administration and largely won’t see fruition for more than a decade. Anyone who believes that the budgeting, contracting, and executions of them, to substantially upgrade America’s nuclear weapons can be done in just a few months time is too stupid to read this article.
What Trump Did Do.
On January 27th Trump issued this Presidential Memorandum ordering a “Nuclear Posture Review.” There is nothing unique or even remotely special about this. Since 1991 every American President has ordered a “NPR” at the start of their administration.
If you read Trump’s NPR it does not order the renovation and modernization of anything, instead it orders the Secretary of Defense to study our nuclear forces and make recommendations for improvement.
b) The Secretary shall initiate a new Nuclear Posture Review to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.
c) The Secretary shall initiate a new Ballistic Missile Defense Review to identify ways of strengthening missile-defense capabilities, rebalancing homeland and theater defense priorities, and highlighting priority funding areas.
The review has started. The Department of Defense announced it began the NPR on April 17th stating it plans to finish the review by the end of the year. The review the President ordered has not even been done yet. Only then will Trump Administration efforts to renovate and modernize our nuclear forces begin, subject to the budgetary whims of Congress.
Our Nuclear Forces Are Indeed Being Modernized, Because of Obama.
As indicated, Nuclear Posture Reviews are common and Obama ordered one at the start of his administration too. Obama’s NPR was released in April 2010 and it strongly urged large investments “to rebuild America’s aging nuclear infrastructure.” Obama followed up on it, seeking upgrades to all three legs of the nuclear arsenal triad (bombers, nuclear missile launching submarines, and land based missiles). However, that follow up provides a lesson on how long these things take. Let’s examine each leg of the triad and the status of the modernization initiatives started by Obama.
— Land Based Missiles: Last July the Air Force released a Request for Proposal for a system to replace the aging Minuteman series of ICBMs. The RFP states “Deployment is projected to begin in the late 2020s.”
— Submarine Launched Missiles: In 2011 the Navy started plans to replace the Ohio Class nuclear missile submarines with Columbia Class Submarines. Construction is not scheduled to even start until 2021 with the first entering service in 2031.
Put simply, the Obama era initiatives to modernize our nuclear force will not see fruition until President Trump is out of office. That is how long it takes. Our nuclear forces today are basically where they were when Trump took office in January.
Even His Claim It Was His “First Order” Is A Lie.
With Trump no lie is too big and no lie is too small. His claims he ordered modernization of the nuclear arsenal, and that it is much stronger now than when he took office, are big lies. His claim it was his “first order” is a little lie, but a lie all the same.
The Memorandum issuing the order for a Nuclear Posture Review was January 27th, a full week after his inauguration. Trump’s first few days were full of orders aimed at demonstrating his commitment to numerous campaign promises for things he promised to do immediately as President. His first executive order issued January 20th was entitled “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal.” On that day he also issued an order freezing all regulations pending review. On January 23d he issued memorandums ordering the United States withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement and imposing a hiring freeze on Federal employees. There is actually a fairly lengthy list of such proclamations he signed well before the one this tweet falsely described as his “first order.”
Only one order can be the “first order” and this was not it.
Lying About Our Nuclear Capabilities Is No Trivial Matter.
None of this involves classified information. If I know Trump is telling such stupid lies about our nuclear forces you can be certain North Korea knows too. The most valuable weapon we have against that rogue nation is that the words of this nation are credible. Trump is squandering away all that is essential to resolve the matter peacefully. His lies and bluffs will be treated as lies and bluffs, prompting North Korea to someday cross a red line that really matters.