William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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A GRIM TRUMP – OVERNIGHT:  The former president may or may not run again in 2024, but he is increasingly speaking out on the issues, although rarely on foreign policy.  He has just broken that mold by speaking out very firmly, and very grimly, on world affairs.  He's not a happy man.  From the Washington Examiner: 

Former President Donald Trump said he believes the United States is now facing an unprecedented threat of nuclear war.

The explosive observation was made Monday during a phone interview with conservative radio talk show host John Fredericks during a discussion about this year's midterm primary contests, in particular those set to take place Tuesday in Georgia, the 2024 presidential election, and the state of the country under President Joe Biden.

"Our country has probably never been worse than it is right now. I think we’re in the greatest danger ever of a nuclear war," Trump said on Outside the Beltway.

The last time nuclear weapons were used in war was by the U.S. against Japan at the end of World War II. However, there have been periods of significantly heightened tensions between nuclear powers since then, such as the Cuban missile crisis between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1962.

At the moment, the U.S. and many other Western nations have rallied behind Ukraine as its forces try to fend off an invasion by Russia, leading to renewed apprehension about nuclear strikes of some variety. For instance, former Joint Chiefs Chairman and retired Adm. Mike Mullen warned over the weekend that the U.S. should prepare for the "possibility" of Russia using a nuclear weapon. There is also the Biden White House having to perform cleanup duty after the sitting president said the U.S. military would defend Taiwan if China invaded.

Fears of nuclear conflict also popped up during the Trump administration. The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who also served under Trump, Gen. Mark Milley, warned military leaders that Trump could "go rogue" and took steps to secure the nuclear launch process after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, according to the 2021 book Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post. While president, Trump also sought to rein in North Korea's nuclear weapons program (after famously warning that threats by the hermit nation would be met with "fire and fury") and pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump said Monday that he "never thought" the imminent threat of nuclear war would happen. "We're in the greatest danger of a nuclear war where it’s just a great danger," he reiterated. "We’re not a respected country anymore."

COMMENT:  Well look, it's really hard to assess how accurate Trump's concerns are, but I think he's a man whose wisdom has been underestimated, and somewhat undermined by his personality.  He seems to be speaking about an international mood.  Before Ukraine, few thought we would ever see again a major land war in Europe.  We are seeing it, and it was started by Russia, a major nuclear power.  Once that "no land war" barrier was broken, people began to realize that other horribles could also happen – including nuclear warfare.

Our greatest obligation to ourselves and the world right now is to remain calm, but also to remain strong.  It is weakness that can bring on a miscalculation that could invite the use of nuclear weapons. 

We need far better leadership in this crisis than what we're getting.  Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are part of the reason that Americans are so apprehensive.

May 23, 2022