Former President Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Ben Rhodes, came out on Wednesday saying President Trump’s claims about the United States nuclear arsenal in response to North Korea were completely false.
Trump stated that his “first order” as president was to “renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal.” He then said: “It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”
But, the truth is, as Rhodes states, is that “it’s literally impossible for Trump to have changed our nuclear arsenal in 6 months.” He called it an outright blatant lie. “Alarming thing to lie about,” he said.
Not only was it a lie, but President Obama was the one who ordered a nearly $1 trillion review of America’s nuclear weapons – an endeavor that costs $1 trillion over 30 years. Yes, 30 years, not six months.
Trump did sign a presidential memorandum authorizing the secretary of defense to make the review but that came on January 27th, hardly his first action as president, another lie. And, it was only to provide an “assessment.”
So, those are the facts. And, Trump is known for misportraying them – this is no exception. In any case, his comments on North Korea are causing major pushback and Trump appears to have painted himself into a corner.
Trump warned the regime that if they made any more threats they would be faced with “power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.” But, within hours of making the promise, North Korea did exactly that, saying it was looking at bombing the U.S. military island of Guam.
That creates an existential problem: the U.S. goes to war, or Trump looks like he is just making empty threats, and he’s not to be taken seriously.
“If the red line he drew today was ‘North Korea cannot threaten the U.S. anymore,’ that line was crossed within an hour of him making that statement,” said John Delury, associate professor of Chinese studies at Seoul-based Yonsei University.
Already, Trump is trying to dial back his comments, but the damage has already been done. What’s more: Trump made the statement, later said to have been ‘improvised’ without first discussing with his national security advisors, while looking at a piece of paper whose talking points were on the opioid crisis.
According to the Times, it took his advisers completely off guard. Secretary of State Tillerson tried to play damage control within an hour of Trump’s comments while Trump finished his opioid crisis meeting. It was a clear public rebuttal of Trump’s attempt to look tough on North Korea.
“I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters. He added: “Nothing I have seen and nothing I know of would indicate that situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.”