This is how Trump could start World War III

This is how Trump could start World War III
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Do you have a nagging feeling that President Trump is putting the United States on a slippery slope to war? If so, you are not alone.

Senator Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE, Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Sunday that President Trump, with his reckless threats to other countries, could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

“He concerns me,” Sen. Corker said, clearly questioning Trump’s fitness to be commander-in-chief. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

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It is shocking to hear a senior Republican senator, and early Trump supporter, speak so honestly about a sitting president. But something like this was bound to happen. It is now obvious to anyone paying attention that President Trump is driving U.S. national security policy over a cliff, and it is getting too painful — even for loyal Republicans — to watch.

Make no mistake, this is not just a side-show spat between Trump and Corker. This is Corker channeling the Republican establishment as well mainstream America. It is no exaggeration to say that Trump is on the verge of leading the United States into at least two major, unnecessary wars. Here’s how.

Shooting himself in the foot on Iran.

This week, Trump is expected to “decertify” — wonk speak for undermine — the one deal that is peacefully and effectively containing Iran’s nuclear program. Trump’s act would put the fate of the deal in the hands of Congress, an unjustified and dangerous move.

This 2015 agreement is supported by Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China, all of our NATO allies and the United Nations. Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Mattis, the U.S. military and intelligence services all support this deal. Why? Because it is working. It is keeping Iran well away from the ability to produce nuclear weapons.

And by doing so, the Iran deal likely prevented another war in the Middle East that many said would be needed if Iran got too close to the bomb. And as former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates warned, “If you think the war in Iraq was hard, an attack on Iran would, in my opinion, be a catastrophe.”

Why would Trump want to take a solved crisis — Iran’s nuclear program — and break it, thus creating another nuclear crisis like we already have with North Korea? Can Trump’s desire to please his political base (he called the deal an “embarrassment”) and go after all things Obama really mean he is willing to put U.S. and global security at risk? Unfortunately, yes. Just look at the Paris climate agreement.

But this is different. Republicans are worried now.

Tweeting war with North Korea.

Iran could be just the beginning. Trump’s attack on the Iran deal is so unbelievable, unforgivable, and unconscionable because it also brings us closer to war with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Ask yourself: Why would Kim Jong Un trust Trump to honor a deal with the North when Trump so casually trashes the Iran deal? He would not.

Yet without a diplomatic agreement of some kind, Trump’s preferred solution, to “totally destroy North Korea,” becomes more likely. Trump in fact told Tillerson that he was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man” and that “we’ll do what has to be done.” This despite the fact that Gen. Mattis said a military conflict with the North would be “catastrophic."

Defense experts say there is no military solution to North Korea. International sanctions are not enough. Missile defenses are simply not reliable. We can deter North Korea from attacking, but only diplomacy can effectively freeze and roll back its nuclear arsenal.

There are good ideas out there, such as seeking a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing in exchange for suspending or scaling back U.S.-South Korean military exercises. But such a deal will take dedicated work, not snarky tweets.

Corker may have been referring to such talks when he said: “I know (Trump) has hurt…us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out.”

Trump’s finger on the nuclear button.  

President Trump, like all presidents in the nuclear age, has sole authority to launch U.S. nuclear weapons, enough firepower to end life as we know it. Most Americans do not believe this, and assume that Congress would be able to intervene and stop Trump from initiating a unilateral nuclear attack. Not so. Trump could launch nuclear weapons on his own authority in about the time it takes to send a tweet.

Unless Congress acts. Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John Markey2020 Dem slams Green New Deal: As realistic as Trump's claim that Mexico will pay for wall EPA chief knocks Green New Deal: 'Not really ready for prime time' How to pay for the Green New Deal: Make the fossil fuel industry pay MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation to prevent the first use of nuclear weapons unless authorized by Congress. The time has come to pass this bill.

Despite all this, Corker seems calm: “As long as there are people like (Tillerson and Mattis) around him who are able to talk him down when he gets spun up, you know, calm him down and continue to work with him before a decision gets made, I think we’ll be fine.”

The hope of continuous adult supervision is a thin reed to hang the world on. President Trump is not listening to his wise men. He is acting on his own.

Tom Z. Collina is director of policy at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation in Washington, D.C. He served as lead editor of the recent Ploughshares Fund report, “Ten Big Nuclear Ideas for the New President.”