Did Trump Just Threaten to Attack Iran With Nukes?

He said he could destroy Afghanistan but was signaling elsewhere. The scary part is there's already a plan.

By Scott Ritter

July 25, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - On Monday during a press conference between Donald Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Trump spoke rather casually of having reviewed plans to annihilate Afghanistan.

“I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said. “I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth, it would be gone. It would be over in, literally, in 10 days. And I don’t want to go that route.”

Trump’s seemingly blasé reference to a hypothetical mass murder on a scope and scale never seen in the history of mankind (it took Nazi Germany more than four years to kill six million Jews) was stunning. We know, given the state of play in Afghanistan, that it will never happen. But it wasn’t offhand. Such a policy of total destruction could also be seen as applying to Iran, and the potential for the use of nuclear weapons in the event of a U.S.-Iranian conflict is far from hypothetical. He knew exactly what he was doing.

There is a tendency among observers of the Trump White House to be dismissive of the daily barrage of outlandish statements and tweets. Reporters who cover him have grown so inured to this endless stream of hyperbole that they forget that this man is the commander in chief of the greatest military force in history, possessive of enough nuclear firepower to destroy the world a hundred times over. In an era where tweets have become a forum for the expression of policy, it is also easy to forget that the traditional forms of policy expression, such as the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), continue to exist, and hold actual meaning.

According to the 2018 NPR, the United States “would only consider the employment of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners.” This is a heartening statement, but its value lies in the ability of the U.S. nuclear enterprise to deter nations from using nuclear weapons themselves. As the NPR noted, “if deterrence fails, the United States will strive to end any conflict at the lowest level of damage possible and on the best achievable terms for the United States, allies, and partners.” 


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