Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Deriding President-elect Donald Trump as the 'Twitter-in-Chief,' Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said recent comments on a nuclear arms race must be challenged by members of both major parties. (Photo: BernieSanders.com)

Sanders Says Trump's "Dangerous" Nuclear Arms Race Talk Must Be Challenged

'Presidents, Republicans and Democrats, have understood that our goal must be to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, not expand them.'

Jon Queally

Sen. Bernie Sanders has made it known that Donald Trump should not go unchallenged by his congressional colleagues as troubling comments by the President-elect about nuclear weapons this week sparked alarm across the United States and the world.

Following an initial out-of-the-blue tweet Thursday saying the U.S. should "expand" its nuclear arsenal followed by "clarifying" remarks Friday to MSNBC in which Trump said, "Let it be an arms race," Sanders responded: "It's a miracle a nuclear weapon hasn't been used in war since 1945. Congress can't allow the Tweeter in Chief to start a nuclear arms race."

Subsequently, he added:

Though Trump's press team was tied in knots as they tried (but failed) to walk back or explain Trump's nuclear talk, Sanders far from alone in expressing grave concern over the seriousness of what was said.

"Can a tweet start an arms race? This one may just have done that," Joseph Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, told NBC News

On Saturday, a New York Times editorial argued that by "casually hinting at a seismic shift in fundamental policies, the president-elect is playing a risky game."

The Times continued, "For decades, American policy has been designed to stabilize relations between Russia and the United States and to deter other countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. Careless taunts risk undoing that progress."

But is everyone making too much of this?

Laicie Heeley, a nuclear expert at the non-partisan Stimson Center, doesn't think so.

Heeley told Agence France-Presse Trump's comments this week are "reckless," especially without providing details or context for what he said. "To make such a loaded statement without context or follow-up is irresponsible at best," she explained.  "We could be talking about a return to the Cold War here, when the threat of a nuclear catastrophe was very real."

And Melissa Batchelor Warnke, a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, said that for all the other controversial and troubling things Trump has said and done—both during his campaign and since being elected—these casual and "absolutely frightening" comments about nuclear weapons and proliferation should be treated with special concern.

"Because of the difficulty detecting a signal in the noise, we can lose sight of what’s at stake," Warnke wrote Friday. While not dismissing his many other troubling statements, Warnke argues Trump's positions on nuclear weapons are "exceptional" in their implications. "Donald Trump’s prime campaign promise was that Donald Trump would always win. He would win through strength, intimidation and stick-swinging. But nobody wins in nuclear war. It doesn’t happen. The use of nuclear weapons is a sin for which none is forgiven; a nuclear exchange is a potential extermination event.'

She continued, "When nuclear escalation is on the table, every journalist in America should get a new beat, and that beat should be reporting on how to avert nuclear war. We have covered this, but not with enough urgency. Each time the President of the United States speaks cavalierly or competitively about nuclear weapons, that should be a six-column headline in every paper in America. It isn’t; it hasn’t been."

In turn, many other journalists and political commentators, including Ring of Fire's Sydney Robinson, welcomed Sanders' promise to hold Trump to account on the issue.

"Trump’s promise to begin a nuclear arms race is incredibly concerning for the entire globe," Robinson wrote Saturday, "and we hope that Senator Sanders and others will do more in the future to protect the nation from such dangerous outcomes."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Rights Groups Demand Hearings on the 'Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act'

"The longer Congress waits," warned one advocate, "the stronger and more dangerous this industry will become."

Kenny Stancil ·


Democrats Urge Biden to Abandon Dangerous Trump Policies on Nuclear Weapons

With the Nuclear Posture Review, say congressional lawmakers, the president can ensure "future generations can finally be free from the nuclear sword of Damocles that hangs over all our heads."

Andrea Germanos ·


'There Is No Military Solution': Jayapal, Lee Demand Diplomacy on Ukraine

"We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis," said the progressive Democrats.

Jake Johnson ·


Gun-Maker Slammed for 'Children's Assault Rifles' Based on AR-15

"At first glance, this comes across as a grotesque joke," said one gun control advocate. "On second look, it's just grotesque."

Jessica Corbett ·


Biden Urged to Nominate Black Woman to Supreme Court as Breyer Says He'll Retire

"President Biden has an opportunity to secure a seat on the bench for a justice committed to protecting our democracy and the constitutional rights of all Americans, including the freedom to vote."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo