President-elect Donald Trump's latest statement about nuclear weapons has got a lot of people on edge.
Throughout Trump's bid for the United States presidency, his opponents and the media warned of the dangers of him having access to nuclear codes.
Back in August, during his campaign, Trump caused great concern when he asked a foreign policy adviser three times in an hour why the U.S. can't use nukes.
Trump later denied that he asked why nukes can't be used, but his latest tweet showed an interest in nuclear proliferation.
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Trump followed up this frightening statement in an MSNBC interview by saying, "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."
Twitter did not respond well to the president-elect's statements.
This isn't a game, @realDonaldTrump. We don't need more nukes! The world doesn't need more! Have you literally never opened a history book?!— Danielle Muscato (@DanielleMuscato) December 22, 2016
.@realDonaldTrump Yikes, sweetie. You're clearly having a lot of big Presidenty thoughts all at once but you need to do your 5 deep breaths.— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) December 22, 2016
Today Trump tweeted we should expand our nuclear capability. Who would’ve thought the apocalypse would come in a tweet.— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) December 22, 2016
"Stop paying attention to Trump's tweets!"— Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) December 22, 2016
[Trump tweets that he wants to reescalate the nuclear arms race]
"OK well maybe that one."
Trump's ill-conceived statements threaten international agreements against nuclear proliferation, life-saving, peace-keeping treaties which have protected all of humankind for years.
The fact that these agreements are being questioned by the soon-to-be-president is rather alarming.
Even more concerning is the fact that Trump may be flexing his muscles in an immature and egotistical show of power after Vladimir Putin announced he'd like to expand Russia's nuclear weaponry.
So what control will Trump actually have over nuclear weapons as president? The fact-checking site Politico took on this question and offered a sobering picture.
Nuclear launch expert Bruce Blair wrote for the site, "In the atomic age, when decisions must be made very quickly, the presidency has evolved into something akin to a nuclear monarchy. With a single phone call, the commander in chief has virtually unlimited power to rain down nuclear weapons on any adversarial regime and country at any time. You might imagine this awesome executive power would be hamstrung with checks and balances, but by law, custom and congressional deference there may be no responsibility where the president has more absolute control. There is no advice and consent by the Senate. There is no second-guessing by the Supreme Court."
Trump's team is already scrambling to clean up his mess. Jason Miller, spokesperson for Trump denied Trump's outright invitation to an arms race, saying, "President-elect Trump was referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it — particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes."
Sean Spicer, a Trump aide, attempted a somewhat sycophantic cover-up, explaining how Trump is just trying to impress other nations as a "man of action." Spicer told Matt Lauer of NBC's TODAY, "There is not going to be [an arms race]...because he is going to ensure other countries get the message he is not going to sit back and allow that. What’s going to happen is they will all come to their senses and we will all be just fine."
Blair explains that when Nixon was president, officials near him expressed their lack of confidence in his abilities to make a nuclear launch decision because of his alcohol consumption and the Watergate scandal.
Knowing Trump's short temper, ego, and blasé attitude toward using nuclear weapons — weapons which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and haunted generations — it seems highly plausible that Trump doesn't have quite the right temperament to keep the apocalypse at his fingertips.
We can only hope those closest to Trump will stop making excuses for him and will take similar actions to keep America — and the rest of the world — safe.