The Corner

Politics & Policy

Donald Trump, Cold War Nuclear Negotiator

How long has Donald Trump been insisting that he’s so uniquely gifted as a negotiator, he should be personally handling the country’s most important, complicated, and dangerous national security issues? Try 1984.

Back in President Reagan’s first term, Trump told the Washington Post that he should be handling nuclear arms negotiations with the Soviets, concluding, “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles.”

The details of Trump’s undoubtedly ingenious plan were, sadly, too secret to be shared with the general public:

He would know what to ask the Russians for, he says. But he would rather not tip his hand publicly. “In the event anything happens with respect to me, I wouldn’t want to make my opinions public,” he says. “I’d rather keep those thoughts to myself or save them for whoever else is chosen . . . It’s something that somebody should do that knows how to negotiate and not the kind of representatives that I have seen in the past.”

Americans are so lucky the Cold War ended as well as it did without Trump there to guide our nuclear arms negotiations.

I suspect most nuclear weapons experts would be frustrated to learn that they wasted years studying a topic that can be learned entirely in 90 minutes. What’s more, you would think that at some point in the intervening 32 years, Trump would have taken that 90-minute briefing on everything you need to know about missiles, because Trump’s lengthy, meandering answer about his priority in modernizing the nuclear triad in the December 15 debate concluded with the insightful assessment, “I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”

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