Trump is Hastening the First Nuclear War (Genesis 8)

Trump’s support of India could have unintended consequences

By David A. Andelman

Editor’s note: David A. Andelman, visiting scholar at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School and director of its Red Lines Project, is a contributor to CNN and a columnist for USA Today. Author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today,” he was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News in Asia and Europe. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN) — Quietly, all but unheralded, Donald Trump has begun tilting significantly away from Pakistan and toward another South Asian ally — a counterweight to China that could help tip the balance, particularly in the region’s potentially most sensitive flashpoint, the South China Sea. That enemy of my enemy is India, and it is not an inconsiderable friend to have. At the same time, though, Trump’s actions have opened another door to a resurgent China that could prove even more dangerous down the road.

So, when did this relationship with India develop? The United States and India have been allies for a while, but Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have significantly strengthened their bonds over the few months. Modi visited Trump in Washington last June, kicking off a new set of talks between the nations. And then at November’s ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila, Philippines, the two leaders resolved to strengthen the US-India defense partnership, discussed expanding Indian oil imports from the United States to help shrink the trade gap and agreed to expand a supply line to Afghanistan that India was developing.

All this plays to India’s advantage. India is hoping to find a big-power ally that can help it become a viable force against China, while at the same time maintaining security of its sea routes to the east. After all, more than two-thirds of India’s entire trade volume arrives and departs by sea.

India’s new “Look East Policy” involves not only bulking up its blue water naval capability but also launching a new intercontinental ballistic missile that puts all of China within range of attack. China is not taking this news well. China has been concerned for a while with India’s surging economic growth, military reach and population expansion. This new policy only irritates China more.

To complicate matters, India’s growth is surging at the very moment that China’s is beginning to plateau. Last month, the International Monetary Fund revised Asia’s economic growth upward largely on the strength of India’s performance — projecting an expansion in India of 7.5% this year and 7.8% next year, an increase over the 6.7% growth registered in 2017. By contrast, China is heading in the other direction — its growth dropping from 6.8% last year to 6.6% this year and 6.4% next year.

And there is no suggestion that the United States is prepared to squeeze India’s foreign trade as it has already shown an inclination to take on leading Chinese exports, raising tariffs substantially on solar panels and washing machines. Of course, American two-way trade with India is a fraction of the trade with China, but it has been rising rapidly and the Indian government has been receptive to the Trump administration’s pressure to reduce the size of its trade deficit.

Most smaller Southeast Asian nations are also eager to see a newly resurgent India as a trade partner, but especially as a reliable balance to China, which has loomed over the region militarily as well as economically.

In this respect, India is very much flexing its muscles. Last month, India successfully test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 3,400 to 3,600 miles. It’s also looking to double its fleet of 12 state-of-the-art American made P-81 anti-submarine patrol aircraft, able to detect submarine activity from the air. This comes just as China has offered India’s neighbors — Bangladesh, Thailand and especially Pakistan — advanced Yuan class submarines at a fraction of the price of European or American models.

In its nuclear arsenal, India already is believed to have 120 to 130 nuclear warheads, compared with China’s 270, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Building a deliverable nuclear capacity has been a vital concern to India, until recently as a deterrent to the nation it has long seen as its mortal enemy: Pakistan, with 130 to 140 nuclear weapons. Which makes the current strategic situation in the region especially fraught, because both nations are believed to be bulking up their arsenals still further.

This confrontation comes at the very moment the Trump administration has entered into a bitter war of words with Pakistan, once a loyal South Asian nation. As he has done in other parts of the world, notably the Middle East, where the President has thrown America’s support firmly to Saudi Arabia, last month Trump announced that he was withholding some $2 billion of security aid from Pakistan as punishment for the regime allegedly harboring terrorists who are actively working to further destabilize Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the Pakistani government has begun actively seeking new strategic partners. And, according to Chinese state-owned media, China has eagerly stepped in to assist. Already, China has investments and loans in Pakistan surpassing $100 billion. China has also, as CNN reported, made a major move into India’s offshore neighbor, Sri Lanka, with a 99-year lease on a major port facility and some $15 billion in investments.

All this has led a number of Asian nations, already skeptical of Trump after his withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership, wondering how committed the United States is to providing a counterweight to Chinese hegemony across the region. While India could eventually prove to be such a counterweight, China has a significant head start.

Somehow, the United States has to find a way of choosing its friends more judiciously. It must also appreciate the consequences of choosing sides in a complex diplomatic and military game. At this point, though, the administration seems to have little understanding of the rules of the game, let alone the stakes involved.

TM & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Closer to the Nuclear Trumpets (Revelation 15)

The Chance of Accidental Nuclear War Is Growing

Michael Krepon

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Russian Strategic Missile Troops Commander, Col. Gen. Sergei Karakayev, right, as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu looks on outside Moscow, Russia, Dec. 22, 2017.

The Trump administration’s nuclear posture statement comes at a particularly rough time, reminiscent of the transition from President Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. Back then, an outgoing president had watched his ambitious arms control agenda fall to tatters. Negotiations on nuclear testing and space warfare had gone nowhere, while the prospect of a second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty had been shredded by Soviet tanks rumbling into Afghanistan.

Then as now, Washington and Moscow’s strategic modernization programs were out of phase. One competitor or the other felt obliged to play nuclear “catch-up,” even when, as was true of the United States, it was actually ahead in the competition. Then, as now, there was much talk of Russian violations of treaty commitments. Some of it was true back then; this problem is far worse now.

Arms control and reductions don’t happen in a vacuum. When the Kremlin rides roughshod over the sovereignty of neighboring countries, diplomacy to reduce nuclear force structure takes a hiatus. Here again, the parallels between Carter/Reagan and Obama/Trump are striking. Crimea hasn’t just been occupied, like Afghanistan; it has been annexed, while Russian troops help proxies to establish dominion in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere along the Russian Federation’s periphery. To make matters worse still, the Kremlin has baldly interfered in democratic elections, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Under these circumstances, Trump’s nuclear posture could hardly be a statement devoted to peace, love, and understanding. Like others drafted in Republican administrations, it lends the Bomb more credence in shoring up deterrence while ascribing greater risks to disregarding deterrence orthodoxy. As this litany goes, gaps must be filled and credibility shored up by the only ways clearly understood by challengers: spending large sums of money and demanding more of a production complex already straining at the seams.

The drafters of nuclear posture statements are obliged to presume that using nuclear weapons in battle will be an orderly business; otherwise, the entire exercise would lose any semblance of logic and cohesion. But as the economist Kenneth Boulding has sagely reminded us, “If deterrence were really stable… it would cease to deter. If the probability of nuclear weapons going off were zero, they would not deter anybody.” Without the very real prospect of mushroom clouds, deterrence would be de-fanged.

Cutting-edge nuclear deterrence, in the view of the Trump posture statement, requires “tailored strategies” and “flexible capabilities.” This sounds reasonable enough until we remember Boulding’s admonition and strip the veneer off. The flip side of deterrence, as Boulding warns, is mushroom clouds. Tailored strategies and flexible capabilities require assigning nuclear weapons to targets.

This is where the logic and cohesion of nuclear posture reviews break down. What are the humanitarian consequences of targeting plans for nuclear weapons? And how is escalation to be controlled after these Gates of Hell are opened and the nuclear threshold is crossed? If the defenders of nuclear deterrence and the drafters of nuclear posture statements cannot answer these questions satisfactorily, their handiwork is built on quicksand. Adding new warhead designs and targeting options only make these questions more pointed.

Because nuclear orthodoxy cannot withstand public scrutiny on the fundamental questions of humanitarian consequences and escalation control, we wear blinders, seeking refuge underneath the warm, fuzzy blanket of deterrence. We insist on presuming that deterrence is sturdy – that there is a thick barrier between deterrence and battlefield use. But what if this thick barrier is in actuality a thin membrane that can be punctuated by human error, miscalculation, and accident? The close calls we have thus far managed to survive suggest this is the case. Until we recognize and act upon how thin the margin of error is between deterrence and the appearance of a mushroom cloud, we will continue to live in this house of cards.

Where do we go from here? During the first Reagan administration, when arms-reduction negotiations were suspended, when U.S. and Soviet forces were engaged in very dangerous military practices and the risk of accidents was high, a group of concerned citizens led by Senators John Warner and Sam Nunn focused on the need for improved communication channels and nuclear-risk-reduction measures between Moscow and Washington. Underneath the superstructure of nuclear deterrence, they proposed modest but necessary steps to prevent accidents, miscalculation, and the consequences of human error.

These conditions are once again evident, suggesting the same remedial approach: improved communication channels and the avoidance of dangerous military practices. Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and former Senator Nunn have suggested the pursuit of this agenda. They argue that the foremost nuclear danger of this era is not massive nuclear attacks like those postulated during the Cold War, but “fateful errors.”

This is a very different paradigm than the one on which nuclear posture statements are constructed. Trump’s nuclear posture focuses on the strategic competition between major powers, not the appearance of a singular mushroom cloud based on human error, unauthorized use, or accident that could lead to cataclysm. One paradigm seeks safety in nuclear excess and punishment; the other in diplomacy and prevention.

This is not an either/or choice. It makes no sense to recapitalize the U.S. nuclear deterrent, at a cost of well over a trillion dollars, while short-changing diplomatic and preventive initiatives related to war by accident, miscalculation, and human error. Safety from nuclear dangers requires a far wider aperture than the one now on offer.

The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Rev 6:12)

Earthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You Think

By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017

Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

There are other places around the country that are also well overdue for an earthquake. New York City has historically had a moderate earthquake approximately every 100 years. If that is to be trusted, any moment now there will be another one, which will be devastating for that city.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Babylon the Great Prepares for a Military Parade

See the source imageTrump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade

Washington Post

Trump wanted a parade. He might get one.

The Pentagon and White House are planning a military parade requested by President Trump, breaking with U.S. tradition. (Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.

Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

Shows of military strength are not typical in the United States — and they don’t come cheap. The cost of shipping Abrams tanks and high-tech hardware to Washington could run in the millions, and military officials said it was unclear how they would pay for it.

A White House official familiar with the planning described the discussions as “brainstorming” and said nothing was settled. “Right now, there’s really no meat on the bones,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

After The Washington Post first published this story, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement confirming that plans are underway.

“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe,” Sanders said. “He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

The Pentagon also confirmed the plans following The Post’s initial report. “We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. We will share more information throughout the planning process,” Defense Department spokesman Thomas Crosson said in a statement.

The inspiration for Trump’s push is last year’s Bastille Day celebration in Paris, which the president attended as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron. Trump was awestruck by the tableau of uniformed French troops marching down Avenue des Champs-Elysees with military tanks, armored vehicles, gun trucks and carriers — complete with fighter jets flying over the Arc de Triomphe and painting the sky with streaks of blue, white and red smoke for the colors of the French flag.

Aboard Air Force One en route home from Paris in July, aides said Trump told them that he was dazzled by the French display and that he wanted one at home.

It was still on his mind two months later when he met with Macron on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen,” Trump told reporters. “It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France.”

Seated next to Macron, Trump added: “We’re going to have to try to top it.”

Several administration officials said the parade planning began in recent weeks and involves White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, but they cautioned that it is in the preliminary stages. D.C. officials said they had not been notified of parade plans.

A date has not been selected, although officials said Trump would like to tie the parade to a patriotic holiday. Officials are weighing weather patterns as well as competing events, such as the massive annual Independence Day celebration on the Mall.

Trump officials had discussed Memorial Day on May 28, and July 4, but the Pentagon prefers Veterans Day on Nov. 11 — in part because it would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the victorious end of World War I and therefore be less associated with the president and politics. “That’s what everyone is hoping,” said the military official.

It is unclear what role Trump would play, whether he may perhaps serve as a grand marshal or observe the spectacle from a reviewing stand.

The location is still being discussed, though Trump has said he would like it to proceed along Pennsylvania Avenue, which links the Capitol and the White House. It would be the same route as Trump’s inaugural parade and pass by his family’s showpiece: Trump International Hotel.

Even before he was sworn in as president, Trump was dreaming of America’s war machine on display in front of the White House or Capitol.

“We’re going to show the people as we build up our military,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post before his inauguration. “. . . That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.”

But big military parades — even those launched with the best of intentions — carry risks and troublesome historical echoes.

With a few exceptions — such as President George H.W. Bush’s 1991 parade down Constitution Avenue celebrating victory in the Persian Gulf War — presidents have avoided displays of military hardware that are more associated in the American mind with the Soviet Union’s Red Square celebrations or, more recently, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s efforts to show off his Taepodong missiles.

“I don’t think there’s a lack of love and respect for our armed forces in the United States,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “What are they going to do, stand there while Donald Trump waves at them? It smacks of something you see in a totalitarian country — unless there’s a genuine, earnest reason to be doing it.”

The White House official rejected the suggestion that some associate a military parade with strongmen, saying it would be a “celebration of the men and women who give us freedom.”

“That’s the opposite of a totalitarian government,” the official said.

Weaponry on the streets of Washington is not unheard of. Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy had military equipment during their inaugural parades, in 1949 and 1961 respectively, during key junctures in the Cold War, said Michael Beschloss, another presidential historian.

“Set against the backdrop of American history, it does seem to hark back to the harsh days of the Cold War,” Beschloss said. “Those parades were a counterpoint to the parades in front of Lenin’s tomb at Red Square . . . One reason the Soviets had those parades was to distract the world from the fact that the Soviet military was actually much weaker than the Soviets were claiming.”

But generally, the United States has shied away from parading its military assets, calculating that doing so was not necessary for the world’s preeminent superpower.

There is no law or regulation preventing Trump from putting on a military parade, but there are plenty of potential complications that military leaders are likely to raise with the president. One worry is practical: that 70-ton tanks built for the battlefield would chew up Pennsylvania Avenue blacktop.

The military might also want to weigh in on the kind of equipment on parade. One concern is that big displays of missile launchers might evoke Pyongyang-style nationalism more than American patriotism.

A parade would probably be interpreted as another stroke of nuclear gamesmanship. Tensions between North Korea and the United States have risen over the past year as Trump and Kim have taunted each other with playground nicknames and threats.

After Kim warned last month that he had a “nuclear button” on his desk, Trump replied: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

The White House official said a parade would have nothing to do with Trump’s feuds with Kim but would be designed as a broad show of strength to send a warning to all of America’s adversaries.

Then there are the domestic pitfalls. At a time when Mattis and his top generals have been complaining about the state of military readiness and lobbying Congress for more money, pulling equipment off line for a costly parade could send the wrong signal.

There are personal risks for Trump, as well. Although he attended a military high school, Trump did not serve in the armed forces, avoiding the draft during the Vietnam War by claiming bone spurs. Critics have called Trump disingenuous for basking in the military’s glory.

Honoring the troops without politicizing their service has long been a dilemma for presidents. President Barack Obama’s frequent focus on wounded troops fighting to resume their lives struck the wrong chord with some conservatives.

One of George W. Bush’s biggest blunders as president came in 2003 when he landed on an aircraft carrier bearing a “Mission Accomplished” banner to claim victory in the Iraq War.

Former aides say Bush would have loved a big parade, but they recognized a problem: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan never ended. Such subtleties — the United States is now dropping bombs in seven countries — don’t seem to have factored into Trump’s calculations.

With the midterm elections approaching and Trump’s approval ratings at historic lows, the lure of honoring the troops is powerful.

“Who flipped the coin for the Super Bowl on Sunday?” asked Peter Feaver, a former Bush White House official and professor at Duke University. “It was Medal of Honor winners. Why? The military brings us together.”

But Feaver also issued a warning for Trump, who is known for his excesses.

“A military parade,” he said, “is the kind of thing that can easily be overdone.”

The Ten Horns Expand Their Nuclear Arsenals (Daniel 7)

US warns about the expanding nuclear arsenals of China, Russia, and North Korea

Reuters

In an undated image distributed on Sept. 3, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was inspecting the loading of a hydrogen bomb into a new ICBM, according to the North’s state media.

KCNA via KNS | Associated Press

North Korea is only months away from obtaining the capability to hit U.S. territory with a nuclear weapon and must be disarmed, a U.S. envoy said on Tuesday, dismissing Pyonyang’s diplomatic thaw with South Korea as a “charm offensive” that fooled no one.

In a diplomatic showdown at a U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament, North Korea responded by blaming Washington for escalating confrontation, saying it was deploying nuclear assets including aircraft carriers near the divided peninsula and was considering a pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang.

“North Korea has accelerated its provocative pursuit of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities, and expressed explicit threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States and its allies in the region,” U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood told the Geneva forum.

“North Korean officials insist that they will not give up nuclear weapons, and North Korea may now be only months away from the capability to strike the United States with nuclear-armed ballistic missiles,” he said.

A new U.S. nuclear policy review outlined last week “reaffirms that North Koreas illicit nuclear program must be completely, verifiably, and irreversibly eliminated, resulting in a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Asked later what the basis was for the assessment that North Korea would soon be able to hit the United States with a nuclear weapon, he said he had “no new information to share.”

North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14, twice last July. In November it tested the Hwasong-15, believed to be capable of reaching the continental United States. It is not yet believed to have the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.

North Korea is under tightening U.N. Security Council sanctions for its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. But recent weeks have seen a thaw with South Korea, after Pyongyang agreed to send athletes to compete in the Olympic Games opening on Feb. 9 in the south.

‘Charm offensive’

“What I would call ‘the charm offensive’ frankly is fooling no one,” Wood told the talks.

He also said arsenals in China and Russia were expanding, drawing rebukes from their respective delegations.

“Russia, China, and North Korea are growing their stockpiles, increasing the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies, and — in some cases — pursuing the development of new nuclear capabilities to threaten other peaceful nations,” Wood said.

“We are not going to stick our head in the sand, we are going to respond to these growing challenges,” he later told reporters.

North Korea accused the United States of seeking to aggravate the situation on the divided peninsula by “deploying large nuclear assets” nearby, laying the ground for a possible pre-emptive strike against it.

“In view of the nature and scale of U.S. military reinforcements, they are designed to make a pre-emptive strike against the DPRK,” North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol told the talks, referring to his country’s official name the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“U.S. officials including the defense secretary and the CIA director repeatedly talked about DPRK nuclear and missile threat to justify their argument for a military option and a new concept of a so-called ‘bloody nose’, a limited pre-emptive strike on the DPRK is under consideration within the U.S. administration,” Ju said.

He said President Donald Trump’s “America First” doctrine and U.S. nuclear superiority would endanger global peace and security and “trigger off a new nuclear arms race and could bring the whole world close to a horrible catastrophe.”