On today's BradCast, the Chaos Presidency continues apace, as do the nuclear threats, despite a potential thaw of tensions on the Korean Peninsula today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
First up, another top White House official, top economic advisor Gary Cohn, has had enough. He announced his resignation late on Tuesday in response to Trump vowing to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that virtually everyone in the country and world has come out in opposition to.
At the same time, as we also discuss today, Donald Trump makes clear that he has no actual plans to "counteract" interference of the 2018 and 2020 elections, though he managed to say the words "paper backup" out-loud during a press appearance today, as if to indicate he knew anything about how easily computerized election results can be manipulated (presuming he cares).
Meanwhile, after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, officials in South Korea announced plans for face-to-face talks between the leaders of the both countries, along with an easing of tensions and the possibility of direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington D.C. --- unless Trump blows it. The potentially encouraging news on the Korean Peninsula comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a number of new, high-tech nuclear weapons which he says his nation has now developed in response to so-called U.S. missile defense systems deployed near Russia's border and Trump's own efforts to greatly expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Longtime nuclear policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ of Middlebury Institute of International Studies, joins us to help explain what's actually going on, what isn't, and why all of it is happening in the first place in both potential conflicts and/or nuclear standoffs..
“Winston Churchill once said that 'It's better to jaw-jaw than war-war’. And I think that's probably the first takeaway from today's news” out of Korea, says Schwartz, noting “the good news is we are talking about the possibility of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and we're not talking about lobbing nuclear weapons in both directions.” But, while he says he is “cautiously optimistic,” he believes talks between NK and Trump’s Administration are not likely to go anywhere. The former longtime Executive Director and Publisher of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (keepers of the infamous “Doomsday Clock”) reminds us of similar agreements with NK in the past --- and how our previous Republican President, George W. Bush, (No, you don't "look pretty good" now, George) helped to scuttle them.
As to the dizzying array of new high-tech weaponry revealed by Putin in Moscow late last week, Schwartz believes “it’s sort of less than meets the eye,” and argues much of the show “was for domestic political consumption” in advance of Russian’s Presidential election later this month. While the new weapons systems are, ostensibly, said to be a response to the deployment of U.S. defensive missiles, Schwartz contends those systems don’t actually work --- even if Russia believes they do.
The massive new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) revealed by Putin, however, “is for real”, Schwartz says, adding: “It's worth pointing out that the New START agreement just went into effect officially last month. If Donald Trump does not choose to extend it, it will expire in three years, in 2021, and if it does, that means Russia can deploy as many nuclear ICBMs and submarines and bombers, without any constraint whatsoever, and completely overwhelm any missile defense system we have. And then we'd be truly off to the races.” To date, he notes, “Trump has said this is a bad deal and we're not going to do it.”
Finally, as if all of that doesn’t offer enough doom and gloom for ya, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as potential nuclear doomsday scenarios are matched only by our ongoing doomsday climate crisis...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)