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General Trump and His Nuclear Labyrinth

Donald Trump's pronouncements on nuclear weapons are reminiscent of General Douglas MacArthur's playbook in 1952.
US Nuclear device test 'Priscilla,' conducted June 24, 1957. Trump has said on multiple occasions that he would use nuclear weapons, possibly dropping on ISIS.
10_07_TrumanMacArthur_01 Source: Universal History Archive/Getty

Autumn arrived late in Washington this year, along with a morbid acceptance that Donald Trump may well get his hands on the nuclear football.

Nothing else Trump has said—about Muslims, women, protesters, immigrants and so on—has chilled the political, military and media establishment more than his glib pronouncements on nuclear weapons. If we’re not going to use them, Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in a typical remark last March, “then why are we making them?” He said he might drop one on the Islamic State group, known as ISIS, or Europe. “You want to be unpredictable,” he said. A year ago, people thought such statements would disqualify him.

Whether he knew it or not, though, Trump was expressing standard U.S. policy since the dawn of the Cold War. But it’s one thing for President Barack Obama or his mostly even-keeled predecessors to have

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