Today we have a report that Donald Trump would like to meet with Vladimir Putin before the election to present a new arms control agreement to the world.
The easiest thing for Trump to do would be to extend the New START Treaty, which lapses in early February next year. The treaty is written to allow five-year extensions with a minimum of negotiation, and Putin has said he is willing to extend it.
Trump has been surrounded by treaty-haters, though, particularly but not only John Bolton, who would be happy for New START to lapse. Their strategy is to insist that China be a part of arms control negotiations and spin their wheels doing stunts like adding small Chinese flags to places around the table during US-Russian interactions and then whining that China didn’t show up. As China had said it wouldn’t.
Since elements of the story first appeared, I have been intrigued by the idea that Michael Flynn wanted to sell nuclear reactors to the Saudis. Too much of it doesn’t make sense and still doesn’t. A few things I’ve wondered about:
Flynn has no experience with nuclear reactors.
Why nuclear reactors? There are a great many problems in selling in building them.
Why Russian reactors?
Why is the administration so persistent in pushing this deal?
Most importantly, is this activity connected to other varieties of Trumpian corruption?
A simple theory can explain this. The Saudis want nuclear reactors to eventually build a nuclear weapons program. Flynn was at the head of a group of Trump-connected grifters who wanted to make money from that desire. Informed by a profound ignorance of nuclear economics and nonproliferation, it explains everything in a general way, but others also have the uneasy feeling that it’s more than that. Read More
Michael Flynn is known for thinking outside the box, and we need ideas outside the box to solve some of the world’s problems. It’s also great when an action can address more than one problem. But it also helps to know what you’re doing.
Here’s an IDEA: The United States and Russia work together to supply Middle Eastern countries with civilian nuclear power. Several of those countries have been seeking nuclear power. The United States and Russia have companies that can build the plants. That’s the deal Flynn was seeking in October 2015. Read More
What do interviews in the 1980s and 1990s with Donald Trump tell us about his attitudes toward Russia and nuclear weapons?
The interviews are oblivious to world events taking place at that time. They are basically gossip columns by Lois Romano and William E. Geist, 1984; Ron Rosenbaum, 1987; Mark Singer, 1997. Descriptions of Trump’s lavish quarters and sycophantic workers, his expensive clothes, and his ease in getting a table at a restaurant figure prominently in the introductory paragraphs. Read More
One of Donald Trump’s few consistencies has been his admiration of Vladimir Putin and his unwillingness to criticize Russia. Many of his other actions, like his refusal to explicitly support NATO’s Article 5, seem to be consistent with a Kremlin line.
The big question is why. From the information publicly available, this theme seems to have surfaced around the time of his trip to Russia in 1987. That was an interesting time for Russia, too. Read More