[Note: The actual headline of this article—which I had to edit for brevity’s sake—was “Trump Saying Saudia Arabia Should have Nuclear Weapons Scares The Hell Out of Me.”]
It’s strange that the media has made covering Trump’s every second a national priority. [At this point Trump is the anti-Beetlejuice, you have to say his name three times to keep him from showing up.] And even though the overwhelming bulk of that coverage is of the negative variety, there’s still one huge scary thing that seemed to slip past them: Trump’s assertion that Saudia Arabia should “absolutely” have nuclear weapons.
The conversation came up when Trump was being quizzed about national security. This is not exactly his strong suit—although, to be fair, what Republican is better?—and he’s particularly embarrassed himself on questions concerning nuclear policy. [He notoriously did not seem to know what the nuclear triad was.] He suggested the key to better worldwide security was for more countries to have nuclear weapons. Obama hilariously dismissed this claim by zinging “The person who said that doesn’t know much about American nuclear policy or foreign policy or much about the world, generally.”
It’s easy to look at this as just partisan-roasting, but it’s actually not at all. Trump’s assertion that our allies should have nuclear weapons to defend themselves falls apart when you realize that even allies are very dangerous with nuclear weapons like India and Pakistan who are constantly threatening to blow each other up and end the world in the process. [The India/Pakistan border is so militarized it practically makes North and South Korea look stable.] Some might say “Yeah, but Japan and South Korea are stronger allies than Pakistan.” Yet that ignores the not-too-distant past where we were at war with Japan, and we returned Pearl Harbor with the terrifying nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, still the only nuclear weapons that have ever been used on another country.
Our past history with Japan and current, prickly relationship with Pakistan should flat-out terrify people that Trump included Saudia Arabia on that list of allies who should have nuclear weapons to defend themselves. Let’s not forget that even though our “good friends” in Pakistan decided to keep Bin Laden safely near one of their best military bases for years, Saudia Arabian diplomats were loosely tied to the 9/11 hijackers, and others have been accused of supporting ISIS. For years, there have been whispers certain Saudia Arabians are the biggest financiers of Sunni-terrorism, and it’s outright fact their hardline Wahhabist-clerics are fueling the Jihadist fires.
And all of that is just while we have a relatively great relationship with the country. What if they have a coup? What if the Arab Spring finally touches “The Kingdom” and the Saudi royal family is gone and replaced with something that would—undoubtedly—be even more religious and dangerous? There’s little doubt that the country’s religious clerics would be licking their chops to take over, and I shudder at the thought of what they might do with nuclear weapons.
All of this is to say Trump’s position is baffling not just for common-sense reasons, but even because it’s opposed to his own brand. This is a guy who keeps insisting the rest of the world is a dangerous place full of enemies, he’s directly criticized Saudia Arabia and South Korea for not doing more to protect themselves, and even more harshly Japan for their trade policies. So why in the hell would he enable future competitors or (in Saudia Arabia’s case) a potential chaos-state to have nuclear weapons? It shows Trump may not be really even thinking about the stuff he’s saying, which is not all that far off from what looked like Obama’s “joke” about him. The best comedy comes with a heavy dose of truth.