In a cautionary editorial published after the citizens of Hawaii were thrown into a panic over a mistaken alert announcing missiles were incoming, the New York Times said the President blithe response was a reason to not entrust him with an expanded nuclear arsenal.
Following the frightening announcement in Hawaii on Saturday morning, the president was reportedly advised about what was going on, but chose to continue to play golf instead of, at the very least, attempting to quell the panic by using his heavily followed Twitter account to dispute the warning.
In fact, long after the warning had been debunked, the only statement issued by the White House stated: “The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise. This was purely a state exercise.”
Three hours after the alert, the president finally tweeted: “So much Fake News is being reported. They don’t even try to get it right, or correct it when they are wrong. They promote the Fake Book of a mentally deranged author, who knowingly writes false information. The Mainstream Media is crazed that WE won the election!” with no mention of Hawaii.
The Times called the president out for it.
“The authorities quickly announced that the alert was a mistake. But it made tangible the growing fears that after decades of leaders trying to more safely control the world’s nuclear arsenals, President Trump has increased the possibility of those weapons being used,” the editors wrote.
“At a time when many are questioning whether Mr. Trump ought to be allowed anywhere near the nuclear ‘button,’ he is moving ahead with plans to develop new nuclear weapons and expanding the circumstances in which they’d be used,” the editorial continued. “Such actions break with years of American nuclear policy. They also make it harder to persuade other nations to curb their nuclear ambitions or forgo them entirely.”
Noting the the President is about to “make public a new policy that commits America to an increasing investment in those very weapons,” the Times said the plan to invest in “new low-yield nuclear weapons” is “insane.”
“President Barack Obama made a down payment on a saner policy by narrowing to ‘extreme circumstances’ the conditions under which nuclear weapons would be used and ruling out their use against most non-nuclear countries,” the piece continues. “Mr. Trump’s policy also talks about ‘extreme circumstances,’ but it dangerously broadens the definition to include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,’ which could mean using nuclear weapons to respond to cyber, biological and chemical weapon attacks.”
Turning to the Hawaii panic, the Times urged extreme caution based on what could have happened with a president who has stated that nukes can be answers to conflicts.
“Until Mr. Trump, no one could imagine the United States ever using a nuclear weapon again. America’s conventional military is more than strong enough to defend against most threats. But Mr. Trump has so shaken this orthodoxy that Congress has begun debating limits on his unilateral authority to launch nuclear weapons,” the editorial states, before concluding, “Expanding the instances when America might use nuclear weapons could also make it easier for other nuclear-armed countries to justify using their own arsenals against adversaries. As the residents of Hawaii can tell you, it’s a risk the world cannot afford.”
You can read the whole piece here.