From an editorial Friday on Bloomberg View:
There’s no good place to start a nuclear arms race – and Twitter is an especially bad venue. So it’s unfortunate that President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted his desire for the U.S. to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,” then followed up on Friday by saying, “Let it be an arms race.”
It’s hard to know exactly what Trump means, but it’s possible he is simply referring to the need to continue the U.S.’s nuclear modernization program. In the 2016 federal budget, President Barack Obama laid the groundwork for a $1 trillion overhaul of the nation’s nuclear arsenal: warheads, missiles, bombers, submarines, targeting systems and the Department of Energy’s huge research and development system.
The plan has some flaws. For the most part, however, it is well conceived and necessary, to deter both major powers such as Russia and China and hostile smaller nations intent on joining the nuclear club such as Iran.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to Trump by saying that, if the U.S. started an arms race, Russia would respond. Yet he, too, is already embarking on a rebuilding of what were the Soviet Union’s nuclear forces.
One tweet does not official U.S. policy make. When Trump does begin to translate his statements about nuclear weapons into actual plans, he could do worse than staying the course Obama has set.