Guest: Longtime nuclear weapons analyst Stephen Schwartz; Also: Flake won't seek re-election, rebukes Trump, party; Corker/Trump's sad war...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2017, 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump continues to blow up the GOP today. But what, if anything, will stop him from doing the same, literally, to the world? [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Yet another Republican U.S. Senator has decided they've had enough. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake stunned D.C. today by joining Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker in deciding that he will not run for re-election in 2018 after all. He offered a blistering rebuke of Donald Trump, fellow GOP members of Congress, and the Republican Party itself while making his announcement on the Senate floor on Tuesday. That development came after a remarkably rancorous (and, in truth, very sad) series of media/Twitter back and forths earlier on Tuesday between Corker and Trump.

We cover all of the above today, with a focus on Corker's charge that the President of the United State is, himself, not only failing the country, but a real and present threat to national security in regard to North Korea and other foreign policy concerns.

With that in mind, following the disturbing report over the weekend that the U.S. Air Force is now preparing for the possibility of placing nuclear-armed bombers on 24/7 ready alert for the first time since the end of the Cold War, we are joined by longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Schwartz, formerly the longtime Executive Director and Publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (keepers of the infamous "Doomsday Clock"), explains the reasons --- sensible or otherwise --- the White House and US military might make this extraordinary move, which, he charges, is fraught with any number of perils. It's particularly puzzling, he explains, given that the U.S. already has hundreds, if not thousands of nuclear-armed Intercontinental Missiles at the ready on both land and sea. It is, at various times, a chilling, maddening, and (somewhat) comforting conversation and incredibly enlightening from top to bottom.

(For those interested, here's that disturbingly graphic idea from Roger Fischer in the 1981 Bulletin that I mentioned, regarding making a President's decision to launch nukes much less abstract".)

Schwartz speaks to, among many other things: Why the Air Force may be doing this; How China and Russia, much less North Korea, may respond; Whether or not Congress should finally step in to ensure the U.S. never launches a nuclear first strike, no matter who occupies the Oval Office; Whether or not he agrees with Corker's assessment that Trump is a threat to national security and world peace; And what, if anything, might prevent Trump from "pushing the button" in "a fit of Twitter pique."

"I think we are long overdue for the point of having a national discussion over what it means to put one person and one person alone in charge of authorizing the use of nuclear weapons," he tells me. "Regardless of who is President, if anything good comes out of this, it will be that people are much more aware of the power that a President has to incinerate the world, how many nuclear weapons we have, still, and what our plans are for them."

"I don't worry about Donald Trump so much deciding in a fit of Twitter pique or whatever to launch a nuclear attack," he warns. "I worry that his ignorance, and his arrogance, and his complete lack of knowledge about all things nuclear, not to mention all things foreign policy, will end up getting him blundering into some sort of crisis from which there will be no real escape."

On that point, Schwartz also offers his assessment of whether the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists will move their Doomsday Clock forward once again in their annual assessment, after moving it forward to "2 and a half minutes to midnight" back in January. That was well before the recent disturbing threats by Trump to bring "fire and fury" and "totally destroy" North Korea several weeks ago. The last adjustment was also prior to the Trump Administration's wildly aggressive actions to undermine environmental policy meant to mitigate the existential threat of Climate Change, which the Doomsday Clock has also taken into account since 2007.

Finally, speaking of our climate crisis (and making it worse), we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report as the hottest World Series in baseball history gets under way out here in Los Angeles, with the mercury hitting a record 104 degrees late October...


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