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With North Korea threatening to give Trump a Christmas surprise, and the global nuclear landscape looking as dangerous as in our lifetimes, it is sadly important to review how the last year has gone - a thread. 1/
Four major events, dynamics and regions remain dangerously unaddressed and heading in the wrong direction under this Administration. The first and by far the most serious is that of the almost unbridled US-Russian nuclear arms race. 2/
America's withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this spring has produced zero benefit to the United States and Russia's production and deployment of previously banned systems has gone unaddressed. 3/
Yes the US has tested a ground launched cruise missile and recently a longer-range ballistic "concept" missile. It remains unclear where such weapons will be deployed. No allies have volunteered and NATO as a whole is opposed. 4/
Even if such weapons are deployed, they will not reduce the threat posed by Russia's systems (you don't hit their missiles with other such missiles) and the danger of reduced reaction time goes up. The end result is not increased security but increased instability. 5/
Russian experts and former officials are telling Americans that the Russian response may be increased reliance on nuclear pre-emption. Yup, even earlier use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. Not a step in the right direction. 6/
On top of this, the New START agreement - that caps US and Russia to 1550 strategic offensive weapons each expires in 14 months. Russia has offered to extend - no conditions. Trump has said - no no, any new agreement has to include all Russian weapons and China. 7/
Covering all Russian weapons and including China are worthy goals, but are not going to happen in 14 months. Trump does not want to extend an Obama agreement, and will do everything he can to avoid doing so. 8/
Loss of the agreement would leave US with reduced access into Russian weapons and less confidence about how Russia has and where they are. Russia would lose the same about us. In the midst of a cycle of instability over INF, this is - how do they say - less than ideal. 9/
There is no way to expand nuclear controls over Russian tactical nuclear weapons or to China without first extending New START. Being the most dangerous path, count on Trump to do everything he can to avoid extension. 10/
Add to this the fact that US/NATO and Russian military forces are coming into closer contact and registering an increasing number of interaction and incidents, and the risk of things going sideways continues to grow. 11/
Our military leaders don't engage regularly, American officials rightly have no trust in Russian actions, and our ability to navigate a crisis in real time under less than ideal circumstances is shrinking fast. Disaster can happen at any time. 12/
So, moving on to the garden spot of South Asia - India and Pakistan almost went to war in February over Balakot and the world failed to take notice. The fact that things did not escalate was seen by some as a sign of restraint. 13/
We pulled together articles by some of the world's leading experts on nuclear risk and South Asia and they all agreed we were all damn lucky. globalzero.org/wp-content/upl… 14/
Since then, Kashmir has been put on lockdown, and India has passed a law blocking new citizenship for Muslims. All the while, both states continue to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can more accurately and efficiently target the other. 15/
Poor crisis management and communication links, poor early warning capabilities and an increasing number of military incidents suggest it is only a matter of time before out luck is tested again. Anyone want to place a bet on how it turns out next time? 16/
The United States is largely absent from this process. We are not engaged, providing ways to reduce conflict, or pushing the leadership of both countries to exercise restraint. Trump is more of a "let them work it out" sort of guy. I am not sure that is the best way to go. 17/
And then we turn to DPRK. I was quick to give Trump credit for engaging Kim Jong Un directly. It may be the only way to get decisions in North Korea. And then he absolutely blew it. Like fumble on the goal line blew it. 18/
We have not had almost 2 years of flawed, conflicted and disjointed diplomacy. This after a year of playground threats backed by real world nuclear weapons. Trump wanted credit for defusing a crisis he created. Now he owns a collapsed negotiation he could not handle. 19/
North Korea now finds itself with sanctions enforcement by China and ROK ebbing, and the US increasingly desperate for a deal or even a returned phone call. I respect Steve Beigun's efforts, but KJU does not respect Trump and only wants to milk him at this point. 20/
Most likely, KJU has decided to ratchet up the pressure on US, either for a future Trump collapse or to put pressure on the new US President come post 2021, all the while increasing his odds of being fully accepted into the nuclear club. 21/
Meanwhile, South of the DMZ, Trump is doing everything he can to destroy the second most successful military alliance in US history (after NATO) - that with South Korea. He has asked for a 5 fold increase in what ROK contributes to host US troops - from 1 to $5 billion. 22/
He is asking @moonriver365 to basically kow tow to a US President making unreasonable demands. Like asking Mexico to pay for a border wall. Ain't going to happen, and ROK mood is turning against US fast. Where will they go? I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with Jina! 23/
That helps US how? It also makes the low buzz about ROK getting their own nukes even more likely and more popular. That does not benefit US, makes a Japanese bomb that much more likely and reduces our influence in the region. Good times. 24/
Lastly, we have Iran. The US withdraw from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and has steadily reimposed sanctions on Iran. They are feeling the pressure, and their response has been to abandon their nuclear program entirely and beg the US for forgiveness. 25/
Oh wait, check that. Iran has stepped up its dangerous attacks on US interests in the region and begun to advance their nuclear program in ways that may be hard to reverse. Iran may not be any closer to producing a bomb but has improved their base for progress. 26/
Iran is undoing major constraints put on them in 2015 and are effectively playing the victim with America's allies in Europe. The US now stands almost completely alone (save Israel) in pushing Iran close to a bomb. Nice work gents. You are making a nuclear Iran more likely. 27/
So - US and Russia in an arms race, South Asia could explode at any minute, North Korea literally laughing at Trump from atop a white horse and Iran moving closer to being a nuclear Iran. Trump may not have created all of these dynamics, but he has made them all worse. 28/
And the GOP in the US is along for the ride. They just gave Trump $$ for new, smaller nukes, and have backed his ctrproductive policies on Iran. Instead, we need a new vision of leadership and restraint that uses all of the powers at America's disposal, including our allies. 29/
We know how to make America safe - we kept it safe for over a half century - with global engagement and leadership, with professional and empowered national security experts and officials, with binding, effective arms control, and by working with our allies to deter enemies. 30/
That is what we need more of, not less of. We are moving in the wrong direction and Trump shows no signs of personal growth or awareness. If and when we have a new President, he/she/we will have a lot of work to do. The first step to recovery is admitting we have a problem. end
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