Reuters Just Ran A Trump/Nuclear Treaty Story That Will Utterly Terrify You


President Donald Trump literally does not know what he’s doing. Like, that’s not an exaggeration, and that’s not a conjecture. Reuters is reporting information given them by three inside sources at the White House that reveals that Trump literally does not know what he is doing.

He held an hour long phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin some two weeks ago, on January 28, and sources close to the presidency state that Trump had to put that phone call on hold in order to ask aides what a particular treaty was to which Putin had just referred.

The treaty whose contents Trump couldn’t remember at the moment is termed the “New START” agreement and is the defining document of U.S./ Russia bilateral nuclear policy in the present day. It was signed in 2010, under the then-young Obama administration, as a successor document to the original START treaty, which was signed under the Reagan Administration and stayed effective until shortly before New START was signed under Obama.

START, in both its Reagan-era form and in its reincarnated Obama-era form, stands for “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.” The treaties have successively defined the global powers’ nuclear policy for decades. START is the on-paper reason for why either the U.S. or Russia hasn’t blown the world to smithereens with nuclear weapons.

And yet, when confronted with a reference to new START while speaking to the co-signer of the deal, Trump couldn’t remember what it was.

According to Reuters, presidents normally receive a series of briefings before placing or taking phone calls with foreign leaders such as Putin. Trump did not receive any such briefing before his January 28 call. Although he has turned down numerous security and intelligence related briefings in the past, it is not immediately clear whether he turned down the pre-Putin phone call briefings or they simply didn’t happen for another reason.

Trump has shown an indication that he at least sort of knows what new START is in the past, although he couldn’t remember when it really mattered while he was talking on the phone to the START treaty co-signers themselves. Remember folks, this isn’t high school history class that Trump is in. Trump is in the Oval Office. It’s an outlandish, life and death situation if he doesn’t know such basics as what START is.

During the Republican primary season, he expressed a measure of discontent with the treaty, claiming incorrectly, as Reuters notes, that it allows for Russia to continue to grow its nuclear arsenal while it forbids the United States from doing so.

In reality, it mandates that, by 2018, both powers shrink their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, with additional, bilateral restrictions placed on deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers.

Trump reiterated his error-based line against the treaty in his January 28 call with Putin. After asking aides what Putin was talking about after he brought START up, Trump “told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia.”

If START were to be allowed to expire by the Trump administration, it could, feasibly, spark a global nuclear arms race such as has not been seen in decades.

Featured Image via Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images