Clinical Perspective: Trump Must be Blocked from the Nuclear Codes
The only national security threat more compelling than preventing Donald Trump from firing Robert Mueller (which would in all likelihood precipitate a constitutional crisis) is preventing Donald Trump from firing nuclear missiles, unchecked and in the air in under five minutes. Over the last several months, Trump’s unimpeded ability to impulsively launch nuclear weapons has virtually vanished from the news, where once it dominated in response to his shocking twitter threats and uncontrollable outbursts to unleash nuclear fire and fury upon North Korea.
From a clinical perspective, not only is Trump psychologically fragile, reckless, staggeringly dishonest, and irrationally shortsighted, he also demonstrates a vulnerability under duress to deteriorate into delusional disconnection from reality. We see this most vividly in his delusional falsehoods — the Central Park Five are guilty; thousands and thousands of Muslims celebrated 9/11 in New Jersey; he owns an original Renoir that actually hangs in a museum; he has accomplished more in the first year of his presidency than any other in American history; god stopped the rain at his CIA speech; his inaugural crowd was packed all the way to the Washington Monument, to name a few — in which there is not one single word of truth to any of these claims. Quite the opposite, there is irrefutable evidence to the contrary.
Trump believes his delusional falsehoods which serve no strategic purpose, unlike his sociopathic lies in which he knows he is not telling the truth — never called that country a shithole; never met David Duke; Trump University was a spectacular opportunity; father never attended a KKK rally — all of which are intended to wiggle out of a tight spot, or more seriously, assault basic factual truths — Witch Hunt; Fake News; Russia never interfered.
On Sunday, Admiral Mike Muller, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in regard to the proposed meeting with Kim Jong-un, stated, “If the talks do fall apart, the failure is likely to stir the president’s most bellicose, aggressive instincts,” and dangerously elevate the high risk of the “outbreak of nuclear war.” A few days earlier, former CIA Director John Brennan similarly warned that Trump pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement, despite urgent requests from all European allies, undermined the credibility of any US treaty with North Korea, and accelerated the rapid resumption of Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.
Trump’s repeated delusional falsehoods provide a persuasive glimpse into his vulnerability to panicky decompensation and disconnection from reality in the context of the Mueller vice tightening. It is not possible to exaggerate the clinical risk of the president deteriorating into a dark, delusional, paranoid phantasmagoria in which his appearance of relatively normality melts away and only enemies remain everywhere.
From philosophy, I have noted the term solipsism as an apt characterization of Trump, also emphasized by my distinguished colleague, Robert J. Lifton. The solipsist “knows” that their reality and only their reality exists— all other persons and things are mere ornaments or impediments with no life or existence of their own.
To understand Trump’s potential disconnection from the real world, imagine the all-encompassing video-audio virtual reality generated by the Oculus gaming system in which actual reality can neither be seen nor heard, unlike in traditional gaming where the player can hear the phone ring, see the clock that says it’s time to have dinner, even notice the house is on fire. All actual reality, outside the Oculus-generated reality, is blotted out, leaving only full immersion in the gaming experience.
The severely narcissistic person has great difficulty empathizing with the feelings of another person. For the solipsist, there is no actual other person with whom to empathize, any more than a spaceship flying by in an Oculus program. Recall the cold-blooded, reptilian gaze of Trump vilifying the Kahn family in the George Stephanopoulos interview in August, 2016.
This morning, North Korea abruptly cancelled top diplomatic negotiations with South Korea, with whom, in recent weeks, there had been an astonishing thawing of the decades-long threat of war, for which Trump bragged he alone could claim credit. The cancellation was attributed by North Korea to South Korea’s ongoing military exercises with the US. It subsequently became clear that Trump’s high-risk meeting with Kim on June 12th was in similar jeopardy.
Military and intelligence officials who served prior administrations have been deeply concerned that Trump is being duped by Kim because of the president’s zeal to demonstrate his muscularity and power to a world in which he appears increasingly powerless in the face of the intensifying Mueller investigation.
This alarming turn of events, predicted by many, dramatically highlights that there is no greater global peril than a fragile and panicky Trump’s unchallengeable authority over launching nuclear missiles. There is no higher priority than the passage of legislation — immediately — thwarting Trump’s unilateral ability to initiate the incineration of the planet.
Michael J. Tansey, Ph.D.