For months now, I've hesitated to repeat my prediction that we'll see a mushroom cloud sometime during the Trump presidency. Boiled down, I honestly believe it could come in the form of an attack against the United States, or one of our allies, in order to exploit Trump's weaknesses; or it could come in the form of an attack by Trump against a threat (real or imagined); or it could simply end up being a nuclear test, authorized by Trump -- in violation of numerous test-ban treaties -- in order to flex his rapidly atrophying political muscle.
Obviously, such a prediction can seem outrageous and extreme, but not to me. Likewise, I'm aware that it could be perceived that way, so I don't go around advertising it. But today, it seems appropriate to revisit my forecast.
NBC News broke a story on Monday in which a defector from North Korea, Thae Yong Ho, the former deputy ambassador to England, warned that Kim Jong Un is itching to use nuclear weapons against the United States.
Ho told NBC News anchor Lester Holt, "Once [Kim Jong Un] sees that there is any kind of sign of a tank or an imminent threat from America, then he would use his nuclear weapons with ICBM."
North Korea apparently has developed eight nuclear warheads, according to NBC, but the "Axis of Evil" nation has yet to build a rocket reliable enough for an attack, nor does it have an intercontinental ballistic missile in its stockpile that can reach the American mainland. In other words, while the threat is there, North Korea doesn't possess the capability to launch any sort of attack to make good on the threat.
Yet. It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when.
On the other hand, what about Trump? We clearly have more than enough operational nukes, and we have a commander-in-chief who has repeatedly flirted with the idea of using them. Does anyone seriously believe that Trump possesses the temperament, the restraint or the human decency to shelve the possibility of a nuclear confrontation? Read his quotes and get back to me. Hell, Trump showed that he lacked the discipline to know what the "nuclear triad" is -- how can he be expected to have the discipline to forego actually using it?
The point here is that we need to keep our eyes open when it comes to nuke-related threats. As Trump's presidency lapses into a freefall, he's increasingly likely to use his war powers to solve all his problems. If Trump goes to war against North Korea, perhaps using a nuclear missile as a means of containing and intimidating Kim Jong Un, it'll be almost impossible to focus on any other story. Russiagate goes away. Impeachment talk goes away. Jokes about his tiny hands and orange face all go away. Worse: a war, especially involving one or more nuclear launches, would almost definitely secure a second term for Trump.
At least, this is how Trump, along with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, would perceive such an event. And if you're expecting H.R. McMaster, Trump's newly minted national security adviser, or his Secretary of Defense, "Mad Dog" Mattis, to step in and prevent such a decision, think again. Already, Trump forced McMaster to retain one of the conspirators, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who secretly gave classified FBI eavesdropping information (allegedly) to Devin Nunes, to remain on the National Security Council despite McMaster's attempt to clean house of all holdovers from Mike Flynn's brief stint in that role.
Trump will do whatever Trump's wants to do. And the drumbeat for war against North Korea has already started, with Trump telling China he'll act unilaterally if he has to.
Do not count on Trump to be pacifistic when it comes to North Korea threatening us with nuclear weapons. That mushroom cloud is coming, and anyone who currently supports Trump is partly responsible for whatever horrors go along with it.