Last night, I had dinner with a woman who spent much of her career as a military officer as a U.S. representative in nuclear arms talks with Russia and other world powers. Because of her work, she understands very well how nuclear weapons operate, and what would happen if someone sent off a missile with a nuclear warhead -- destination: Russia or China or even North Korea.
She said that there would be about 20 minutes between the launch and the landing ... with devastating destruction and loss of life at the point of impact, and for hundreds of miles around. And of course, the superpowers of this world keep a close eye on what each other are doing in the nuclear sphere. So if, for example, Russia detected that we had launched a nuclear missile, it would have about 20 minutes to react and retaliate -- or lose the ability to do it at all. So, it is unlikely that Russia would wait. And bingo! A nuclear weapon would be headed to our shores.
In less than an hour, the loss of life and habitat would be devastating on both sides. The world, as we know it, would change forever.
All this has her deeply worried about Donald Trump. He is frankly -- by many assessments -- an unstable, narcissistic personality who knows little, if anything, about nuclear weapons -- or even foreign policy and international events. (Recently, for example, he showed he did not know that Russia had invaded Ukraine). The thought that he might, as president, have access to the nuclear codes is scary -- for her, and for me.
In my mind, nuclear war is unthinkable, and we should do all in our power to eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. But the fact is: these weapons are here. The United States, and several other powers, possess them. So the person who controls the nuclear codes must be a mentally stable (and hopefully peace-loving) personality who understands these facts and is not given to rash decisions or comments.
Visit EarthBeat, NCR's new reporting project that explores the ways Catholics and other faith groups are taking action on the climate crisis.
Donald Trump does not meet these criteria. And many psychologists are speaking out on this point, specifically diagnosing him with a narcissistic personality disorder. For example:
Narcissists like Donald Trump ... are constantly driven to prove themselves among the 'winners' of the world, often by triumphing over or denigrating other people as comparative 'losers'. If you examine Trump's language in his public statements as well as in the debates, you will hear him proclaim his winner status again and again while sneering at his detractors as losers.
You can read more here.
What if such a personality became president and felt the need to "prove himself" with a nuclear weapon? It's beyond scary to contemplate.