Knowledge Is Power

The opinions stated in this piece are the opinions of the author and the author alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or anybody else in the United States government. 

There are a lot of things to be worried about in the world. Betsy DeVos’s confirmation continuing the political right’s continued attack on public education is one. The confirmation of Jeff Sessions, a man who was considered too racist to be a federal judge 30 years ago – and Senator Elizabeth Warren was told to sit down and shut up for reading a letter stating as much – was confirmed as Attorney General. Looming is the approval of an EPA chair that has a history of suing the EPA, so I’m sure that our environment will be fine in the future. Just a lot of doom, gloom, and general negatively if you sit down and think about it, which is why it is sometimes easier to not think about these things.

But all those things may not ultimately matter when you have a president that doesn’t understand the basics of nuclear non-proliferation and all the work that goes into preventing the nuclear holocaust from occurring. This was reconfirmed yesterday with the report of President Trump’s knowledge of one of the most important treaties that our country has signed in the past decade – New START – that requires the two largest holders of nuclear weapons to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.

I was hesitant to write this, which is why there wasn’t a post on February 9th (I’ll probably write something later to make up for it, so my five readers [high estimate] have something to look forward to). My day-to-day job is in support of one of the pieces of the nuclear triad, and while I don’t think anyone of importance will see this, you just never know in this day and age. Nevertheless, I decided that I was going to keep this at a very 50,000 foot level, using my knowledge not really learned in my job, but instead focusing on all those readily available sources that even President Trump has access to.

It’s disheartening when the President says things that don’t make any sense, but even more disheartening when it is about nuclear weapons. Some people have qualms about nuclear weapons in general; the destruction caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II is not something that should be forgotten. That destruction is a big reason why nuclear weapons have been used as a deterrent over the last 70 years instead of an offensive weapon.

During his campaign for president, the president seemed to not have even general knowledge about the premise of nuclear deterrence, despite stating at one time that it would take “about an hour and a half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles.” (Spoiler Alert: Not even close. Also, the fact that that interview is from 1984 and he didn’t find 90 minutes over 30 years to learn something…). Talk of just simply nuking the Middle East to destroy ISIL should not be something that is even considered as viable by anyone, especially for the person that may someday be carrying the “nuclear football” and could technically launch a nuclear attack at a moment’s notice.

When he was Candidate Trump, maybe those statements aren’t nearly as scary, especially at a time when it looked like he was a pretty big long shot to  actually win the election. But not knowing what New START was – he literally had to pause a conversation with Putin to ask an aid what Putin was talking about – three weeks into a presidency should cause concern. I learned about this treaty within my first week in my current job, and I’m one of the lowest men on the totem pole in my office.

It doesn’t take much to learn about the United States’ history with nuclear weapons. There is a whole, unclassified story about it on Wikipedia, let alone all the classified sources that the President would have at his disposal. His lack of knowledge – or lack of desire to even seek knowledge – about some pretty big important aspects of his job is shocking. Luckily, we don’t (yet) live in a dictatorship, so there are still people in his administration that seem to know what is happening and could stop him from launching nukes for no real reason.

I’m not saying that we should all start gathering supplies for the inevitable nuclear winter. We’re not even close to that point yet despite the Doomsday Clock moving precariously closer to midnight. But it is because of things like this that we must continue to resist and push on, and, more importantly, vote against people that seem to be enabling his agenda in upcoming elections.

Until next time…

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