President Donald Trump’s laundry list of horrors— from bashing immigrants to exacerbating climate change to undermining women’s rights—all deserve to be condemned. But the one keeping me up at night is Trump’s power to end all human life on this planet in a matter of hours simply by pressing the nuclear-strike button with that finger he’s always pointing in anger.
Call me paranoid, but I wrote a book on the nuclear-war threat (With Enough Shovels) and had previously raised that subject as a Los Angeles Times correspondent when Ronald Reagan was President and flirting with Alzheimer’s. I also was the first U.S. print journalist to visit the USSR’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant following the reactor meltdown in 1986. During my inspection, 11 months after the disaster, the plant was still radioactively smoldering.
Chernobyl was not a weapon designed to obliterate everything in its path, but rather an example of a “peaceful” and presumably highly controlled harnessing of atomic energy in what is now Ukraine. The once-productive landscape remains largely uninhabitable and barren.
Nuclear weapons, as opposed to nuclear power plants, are designed to vaporize innocent civilians on a massive scale. Outside of that, they are lousy weapons for strictly military purposes.