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A New Arms Race? Not Beyond What Was Already Intended

Donald Trump fired the tweet that set the media on fire; it’s been heralded as “the new arms race”.  It’s sexy, and perfect for an info-tainment mediasphere that thrives off spinning up fear and shooing away any context. To be fair to them, context takes more time to explain, and fear puts asses in seats. Here’s a question. Whatever happened to the last arms race? Have those missiles vanished off the face of the earth? The hysteria over this is purely media driven hype.

Right now, at this very moment, there are an estimated 15,375 nuclear weapons in the world, with the U.S. and Russia owning 93% of the lion share. There are enough nuclear weapons to annihilate our species 5 times over. Is it truly the media’s proposition that we should be more terrified about possessing the startling capacity to extinguish the entirety of the human race 8 times over as opposed to the slightly less startling capacity to extinguish it 5 times? Certainly that’s absurd.

As early as 2014, before Trump ever worried his tiny fingers to send his belligerent tweet, there were moves and counter moves between U.S., Russia, and China. The New York Times reported that Obama was set to spend a trillion dollars to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal.  Several months later, news broke of Russia shifting it’s nuclear arsenal closer to the European border. Within the same span of time, NATO engaged in the largest troop movement to the Russian border since the end of the Cold War. Even China got in on the show of force, loudly demoing technology to knock satellites out of the sky and recently deploying nuclear submarines into the Pacific to head off what it considers provocation by America. In 2015 the official doomsday clock was moved from 5 minutes to midnight to 3 minutes to midnight; midnight representing nuclear catastrophe from rank stupidity.  I grant you, no one tweeted this information, but certainly news agencies resources go beyond tweet mining. We’ve drifted into an area as dangerous as the world had ever known while Obama was in office and at no point did the threat of global war among superpowers register even half the hysteria Trump’s tweets and follow up rhetoric has elicited.

Even more astounding, the candidate expected to win the election by nearly every media organization, advocated for a “no fly zone” in Syria without anyone ever asking the obvious and straightforward question; to shoot down who, Russian or Syrian jets? ISIS doesn’t have war planes. Clinton’s major foreign policy agenda would have inexorably lead to a conflict with the next nuclear super power; any sane objective person should be forgiven for falling into terror, at the very least significant concern; yet not a hint of reasonable media hysteria. Again, perhaps the media needed it encoded into the 140 characters of a tweet to give them appropriate alarm.

Truth is, nothing fundamentally has changed between what Trump is saying and what Obama has been doing with regards to our nuclear capacity. For that matter, Clinton would’ve likely followed suit on upgrading our nuclear apparatus, with the added stain of a more belligerent stance towards Russia, particularly after seeing Putin as being responsible for the Podesta leaks. A credible argument can be made that Trump’s alliance with Putin, as disconcerting and implicitly corrupt as it is, has a better chance of keeping us out of a nuclear exchange than a Clinton administration. Often when this argument is made, democrats fall into, she’d never do that. You can’t have a standard where you hoist Trump on his lies and foibles, but you dismiss Hillary’s policy positions as merely campaign talk. No, that threat was real.

This is the media doing what it does best; fear porn without a shred of earnestness regarding context. It’s infotainment passed off as news, in the same way that imitation “Bacon Bits” are passed off as bacon. With Bacon Bits however, the consumer has the benefit of knowing it’s not bacon. If the media is terrified now, they should’ve been terrified all along. Trump is a bull in a china shop, and he will do a number of terrible and utterly ridiculous things, but a deescalation with Russia is not one of them.  There are many number of immensely disconcerting elements of Trump’s stated positions and the implicit assumption of positions based on the cabinet he’s chosen, but the all the chatter about a “New Nuclear Arms Race” is trumped up hysteria.