Nuclear Skepticism in the Age of Trump: Jon Wolfsthal’s Claims about Secretary Mattis and the Nuclear Launch Process

 

 Bottom Line Up Front:

     In this post I argue that we should be skeptical of Jon Wolfsthal’s claims about Secretary of Defense James Mattis having attempted to insert himself in the US nuclear launch process. Reasons for skepticism include a lack of evidence such as documents or corroborative witnesses as well as the inherent unlikelihood that Mattis could or would have done so.[1] [2] Extraordinary claims require proof—usually extraordinary proof—and that has not been provided here. In addition, Wolfsthal has failed to provide or work to make available information that would allow the public to judge the truth of his claims. This includes not having worked with the news media to allow independent verification of his assertions and refusing to meaningfully engage with skeptics (such as myself) publicly. I close with a brief reflection on these events and why I feel that Jon Wolfsthal and others have been irresponsible in their handling, dissemination, and discussion of this information.

MATTIS DID WHAT?!? How do you know?!?
     In this section I begin by providing the reader with an overview of the relevant events and claims made by Jon B. Wolfsthal. I then go on to discuss why skepticism is warranted. I conclude by briefly discussing my personal opinions about these events.

The Claims
     Jon B. Wolfsthal describes himself thusly in his Twitter bio: “I know a lot about nuclear weapons. Director, Nuclear Crisis Group. Former Obama Special Asst, Sr. Dir NSC.” He is regarded by numerous people I know as a prestigious and serious voice on nuclear weapon issues and he has, as he noted on December 20th, been involved in nuclear weapon issues for decades including in the Obama administration.

Wolfsthal Tweet of his Credentials Desember 20 2018
Picture 1: @jbwolfsthal, 20 Dec 2018, 8:57pm (MST)[3]

In other words, Wolfsthal should know what he is talking about and have the experience and wherewithal to both consider the ramifications of his claims and to act strategically in his making of them. On December 20, 2018 he posted on Twitter a number of attention grabbing Tweets about Secretary Mattis working to circumscribe Trump’s ability to order the use of nuclear weapons:

Wolfsthal dec 20 249pm this should scare everyone beginning of threadPicture 2: @jbwolfsthal, 20 Dec 2018, 2:49pm (MST)[4]

At 3:15pm (MST) Wolfsthal posted a similar comment that also makes reference to the extra-legal nature of the actions Wolfsthal alleges Mattis has taken:

Dec 20th 315pm Mattis has been a check beyond lawPicture 3: @jbwolfsthal, 20 Dec 2018, 3:15pm (MST)[5]

     Subsequently (beginning at 6:00pm MST), perhaps in response to having encountered public and private questioning about these claims, Wolfsthal began an extended Tweet thread building off his of his first tweet on the subject (made at 2:49pm) and self-described as an effort to “expand on this complex issue” [6]; I have included below a screen capture of the first four of those tweets as they are the most relevant.

Wolfsthal extended thread picture onePicture 4: @jbwolfsthal, 20 Dec 2018, 6:00pm (MST)[7]

     These are extraordinarily serious allegations given that that they touch on nuclear launch authority and extra-constitutional mechanisms allegedly taken by the Secretary of Defense to involve themselves in, or even to circumscribe, Trump’s authority. Furthermore, Wolfsthal claims that multiple US Senators/Congressional Leaders are aware of these efforts. Finally, Wolfsthal’s elaboration that “Mattis has asked/told Strategic Command that he wants to be informed of any issue…” as a “professional courtesy” stikes me as a different presentation of Mattis’s supposed actions than Wolfsthal’s original two Tweets of 2:49pm and 3:15pm. As evidence for these claims Wolfsthal makes vague reference to “colleagues and sources in the Senate have told me that…”.[8]

    On December 23, 2018, the Washington Post printed a piece co-authored by Bruce Blair and Jon Wolfsthal titled “Trump Can Launch Nuclear Weapons Whenever He Wants, with or without Mattis.”[9] This piece included the following allegation which is astounding both in its content and that it was printed as fact with zero textual discussion of sources or supporting evidence:

Wolfsthals claims in the WaPO piecePicture 5: Excerpt from the December 23, 2018 Washington Post Opinion piece co-authored by Bruce Blair and Jon Wolfsthal[10]

Reasons for Skepticism

The primary reasons for skepticism are Wolfsthal’s failure to provide supporting evidence for his exceptional claims as well as consideration of the how the US nuclear weapons launch process is structured. The claims Wolfsthal makes are, quite frankly, extraordinary. To sum up, I understand them as follows: that over the last year the US Secretary of Defense has had conversations with multiple members of Congress about the Secretary’s efforts to intervene in, or to circumscribe, President Trump’s Constitutionally and statutorily provided authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. On its face this allegation demands significantly more evidence than a single man recounting their recollections and understandings of what “colleagues and sources in the Senate have told me…”.[11] When journalists make use of anonymous sources there is a process of editorial supervision, fact-checking, and corroboration. None of that appears to have been done here despite the involvement, according to Wolfsthal, of Congressional Leaders and at least some of their staffs. As Blair & Wolfsthal rightly note: “[p]ersonal relationships and back channels are no way to manage a nuclear arsenal.”[12] I would add that unverified and unsubstantiated conversations held through personal relationships and back channels an also an unacceptable evidentiary basis to make the allegations that Wolfsthal has. If Wolfsthal wants to make his claims more credible then I would suggest he cooperate with one or more journalists so that his allegations can be subjected to fact-checking, investigation, and corroboration.

As a secondary and related argument, it is prima facie unlikely that Mattis could or would have taken the actions Wolfsthal describes; that multiple members of Congress would just kind of shrug or give a tacit thumbs up; and that this would not have leaked to a media outlet and been subject to investigation and reporting at some point in the last year. As Wolfsthal himself notes, the Secretary of Defense has no formal position in the process through which the President would order the use of nuclear weapons.[13] It would be almost unprecedented for a Secretary of Defense to take such steps as Wolfsthal alleges that Mattis has and if he had done so in the way Wolfsthal describes then it seems unlikely that they would have remained quiet until this moment.[14] Again, if Wolfsthal wishes these claims to be accepted as factual then he must provide evidence. They may be true but Wolfsthal has refused to provide the necessary information through which they can be validated or falsified.

     In an unsolicited (and impressively unpleasant) Direct Message conversation initiated by Wolfsthal on Twitter on December 23, 2018, Jon Wolfsthal wrote me the following: “I am not going to engage your accusation in public. I have confidence in my sources and reputation. If you don’t that is up to you.” (see Picture 6):
Wolfsthal to me on DMPicture 6: @jbwolfsthal to @nuclearanthro, December 23, 2018. Direct Message on Twitter.

     To me, this betrays a fundamental misunderstanding or mischaracterization of the process by which claims—especially extraordinary claims about a topic like nuclear weapons—are made and vetted in public life and discourse. I cannot think of a single person, short of Secretary Mattis himself, who could say what Wolfsthal has said and whom I would trust without the provision of corroborating evidence.

I have doubts and you should too.

My Personal Opinions: Wolfsthal and Others Irresponsible

I feel very strongly that those of us who study and work on nuclear weapon topics have moral obligations regarding what we do with the information we gather. We are talking about instruments of destruction capable of scouring cities from the face of the Earth, darkening the skies, and killing hundreds of millions to billions of innocent people. Therefore, I feel that it is important that we—as nuclear weapon scholars, academics, policy makers, and wonks—always act with our obligations to the public in mind.  It is my personal opinion that Jon Wolfsthal has acted irresponsibly in the ways that he has made his claims, disseminated them, and discussed them. His actions, in my opinion, have resulted in a further polarization of this issue, a decreased chance that meaningful action will be taken by those with the power to do so, and an eroding of public trust in the judgment and integrity of the nuclear weapon epistemic community.

Those errors can be partially rectified by Wolfsthal working with the media to ensure that his allegations are rigorously investigated. Or,  Wolfsthal can name names and offer to the public any records that he himself holds (chat logs, emails, etc.) that would substantiate his account. What Wolfsthal has not done, as far as I can see, is create the conditions under which his allegations can be substantiated or demonstrated as factually true. This would be a key step in articulating his allegations to meaningful and impactful processes of public awareness and pressure that could result in lawful and Constitutional oversight by Congress.

 

Works Cited

Blair, Bruce, and Jon Wolfsthal. 2018. “Trump Can Launch Nuclear Weapons Whenever He Wants, with or without Mattis.” Washington Post, December 23, 2018, Online edition, sec. Perspective. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/12/23/trump-can-launch-nuclear-weapons-whenever-he-wants-with-or-without-mattis/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.11898ebaef0e.

Cutler, Stanley. 2014. “The Imaginings of James R. Schlesinger.” Huffington Post, June 1, 2014, Online edition. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-imaginings-of-james-r_b_5066130?ec_carp=7161326241804413397.

Wellerstein, Alex. 2017. “The President and the Bomb, Part III.” Restricted Data, April. http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2017/04/10/president-bomb-iii/. Accessed December 24, 2018.

Tweets Cited

@jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 2:49pm (MST). “This should scare everyone…” [beginning of thread]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/1075885907050418178. Accessed December 20, 2018.
@jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 3:15pm (MST). “Mattis has been a check…” Twitter. https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/1075892529416024069. Accessed December 20, 2018.
@jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 6:00pm (MST). “So to expand on this complex issue…” Twitter. https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/1075934085921562624. Accessed December 20, 2018.
@jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 8:57pm (MST). “Yeah. What would I know?” Twitter. https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/1075963345910554626. Accessed December 20, 2018.

Endnotes

[1] Yes, I am aware of Schlesinger’s claims to have acted to restrict Nixon’s nuclear launch authority and they are questionable for many of the same reasons. See Cutler, Stanley. 2014. “The Imaginings of James R. Schlesinger.” Huffington Post, June 1, 2014, Online edition. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-imaginings-of-james-r_b_5066130?ec_carp=7161326241804413397.

[2] As Jon Wolfsthal has blocked me on Twitter, I am basing my discussion on screen captures of his Twitter account (@jbwolfsthal) made on or prior to the afternoon of December 24, 2018 and on the opinion piece he co-authored with Bruce Blair and that was published online by the Washington Post on December 23, 2018. I make no judgment as to Wolfsthal’s honesty or integrity and for the purposes of this post I assume that he has been acting in good faith and believes what he has said.

[3] @jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 8:57pm (MST). “Yeah. What would I know?” Twitter.
https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/1075963345910554626. Accessed December 20, 2018.

[4] @jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 2:49pm (MST). “This should scare everyone…” [beginning of thread]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/1075885907050418178. Accessed December 20, 2018.

[5] @jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 3:15pm (MST). “Mattis has been a check…” Twitter. https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/1075892529416024069. Accessed December 20, 2018.

[6] @jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 6:00pm (MST). “So to expand on this complex issue…” Twitter. https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/1075934085921562624. Accessed December 20, 2018.

[7] @jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 6:00pm (MST). “So to expand on this complex issue…”

[8] @jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 6:00pm (MST). “So to expand on this complex issue…”

[9] Blair, Bruce, and Jon Wolfsthal. 2018. “Trump Can Launch Nuclear Weapons Whenever He Wants, with or without Mattis.” Washington Post, December 23, 2018, Online edition, sec. Perspective. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/12/23/trump-can-launch-nuclear-weapons-whenever-he-wants-with-or-without-mattis/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.11898ebaef0e.

[10] Blair & Wolfsthal 2018 “Trump can Launch Nuclear Weapons…” Washington Post.

[11] @jbwolfsthal. 2018 Dec 20. 6:00pm (MST). “So to expand on this complex issue…”

[12] Blair & Wolfsthal 2018 “Trump can Launch Nuclear Weapons…” Washington Post.

[13] Blair & Wolfsthal 2018 “Trump can Launch Nuclear Weapons…” Washington Post.. See also Wellerstein, Alex. 2017. “The President and the Bomb, Part III.” Restricted Data, April. http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2017/04/10/president-bomb-iii/.

[14] Yes, I am aware of Schlesinger’s claims to have acted to restrict Nixon’s nuclear launch authority and they are questionable for many of the same reasons. See Cutler, Stanley. 2014. “The Imaginings of James R. Schlesinger.” Huffington Post, June 1, 2014, Online edition. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-imaginings-of-james-r_b_5066130?ec_carp=7161326241804413397.

 

“He’s Fucking Crazy and We Need to Nuke Him First”: Kim Jong Un, North Korea, and Nuclear Deterrence

Bottom Line Up Front

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or “North Korea”) has shown impressive progress in their nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs. Currently the DPRK has a demonstrated ICBM capability and, if not now then soon, will most likely be able to deliver nuclear weapons to continental US targets on (at least) the West coast. Over the last six weeks, while volunteering at the “Nuclear Institute,” visitors and fellow volunteers have regularly  disparaged North Korean technical abilities and described Kim Jong Un in terms such as “crazy,” “insane,” and “unpredictable.” These statements resemble those made by some political and military elites in the United States and cannot therefore be written off as solely the result of low-information assessments or “ignorance.” In this post I interrogate underlying social processes and logics that enable, and encourage, both viewing Kim Jong Un as “crazy” (and therefore unable to be incorporated into US strategies of nuclear deterrence) and denying North Korean missile and nuclear weapon capabilities.

Denial: Not Just a River in Egypt

As of this writing, North Korea has conducted five explosive nuclear tests and two successful ICBM flight tests. Modelling suggests that, at the least and depending on your assumptions, the Hwasong-14 ICBM can carry a nuclear warhead to targets on the West coast of the United States.[1]

David Wright UCS all things nuclear blog july 28 2017 range table
Wright, David. 2017. “North Korean ICBM Appears Able to Reach Major US Cities.” Union of Concerned Scientists: All Things Nuclear. July 28. http://allthingsnuclear.org/dwright/new-north-korean-icbm.
As a volunteer at the “Nuclear Institute,” an educational entity focused on nuclear science and history, I talk a lot about nuclear weapons with visitors and fellow volunteers.[2] For obvious reasons, North Korea has been a recurring topic over the last six weeks and both visitors and volunteers have regularly and spontaneously described Kim Jong Un to me using terms like “crazy,” “psychotic,” “insane,” and “a teenager with nukes.” In addition, although less common, folk have also made disparaging comments about North Korean technical capability and human capital such as “North Korea would need actual scientists to be able to threaten the US” and “China [or Russia or Iran or Pakistan] must be giving them their technology.”[3] The implications of these comments are two-fold. First, that Kim Jong Un (KJU) is irrational and therefore cannot be incorporated into US practices and strategies of nuclear deterrence. Second, that the United States is not currently vulnerable to DPRK nuclear attack and will not become so unless China, or some other outside party, transfers technology to North Korea.

Trump Tweet It Wont Happena bout DPRK
Trump, Donald (@realdonaldtrump). 2017, January 2. Twitter Post. “North Korea just…” https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/816057920223846400?lang=en, accessed 08/03/2017.
Before and after the July 4th and July 28th tests of the Hwasong-14 ICBM there have been statements—including by elite members of US military & political organizations—minimizing or denying the demonstrated and likely capabilities of North Korean nuclear weapons and delivery systems. These include, for example, “President Trump” tweeting that “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!”[4] Senator Lindsay Graham, supposedly relating a conversation he had with “President Trump,” seemed to discount the possibility of a DPRK nuclear strike on the US when he quipped that “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die over here” during a preemptive US war. Similarly, General Paul Selva (Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “I…am not sanguine that the test on the Fourth of July demonstrates that they have the capacity to strike the United States with any degree of accuracy or reasonable confidence of success” even though “[o]n range, they clearly have the capability.”[5]

     The resonance of statements by (presumably) well-informed political and military elites with those of (presumed) lay-people visiting and volunteering at the Nuclear Institute suggests wishful and biased thinking rather than ignorance per se. The point of this post is to explicate what underlying social processes and logics encourage conceptualizing of KJU as “crazy” and disparaging DPRK technical abilities. I argue three main points. First, that ethnocentrism and racism significantly enable and promote these counter-factual assessments. Second, that many Americans share, especially in this particular historical moment, an extreme discomfort with acknowledging vulnerability to nuclear attack. Furthermore, and third, this discomfort is produced in part by a deep uneasiness and lack of faith in nuclear deterrence that Americans are politically and socially discouraged from admitting.

Racialized Logics and The Bomb

     As anthropologist Hugh Gusterson has discussed, there are persistent and widespread racialized and colonialist logics expressed in US government and public discourses about “non-Western” nuclear weapon programs.[6] Government and intellectual elites in India and Pakistan, among others, have made similar and related critiques about how their nuclear energy and weapon programs have been treated by the US. Furthermore, domestically and internationally, India and Pakistan (and now North Korea) have linked indigenous mastery of nuclear technology, including weaponization, to anti-colonial and nation building projects.[7] In the United States, discourses about North Korea have been shaped by, and express, the same racially coded and Orientalist conceptions that were applied to China, India, and Pakistan.

 

new yorker kim jong-un north korea nukes
New Yorker. 2016, January 18. Front Cover.

     For example, Kim Jong Un is often simultaneously infantilized while being also (paradoxically) described as a Ming the Merciless caricature: maniacal, without regard for human life, and driven solely by power.[8] Within two minutes, an interlocutor at the Nuclear Institute referred to KJU as “crazy” and like a “teenager with nukes” who can’t be deterred because he “kills his own people.” The North Korean people in this conversation were described as “mind-controlled” in a way that the Soviet and Chinese supposedly were not. Certainly, KJU can be cruel, oppressive, and murderous; based on historical example (Stalin, Mao, Nixon), however, this does not place a person outside the bounds of rationality required for nuclear deterrence. In addition, the persistent doubting of DPRK technical capability, and the assumption that North Korean successes result from outside help, is exacerbated by racialized imaginaries of North Koreans as backward, pre-modern, and ant-like. Similar themes are discernable in US discourses occurring after and in reaction to the first Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani nuclear tests.[9]

     I would also point out that Lindsay Graham’s (as one example) seeming cavalier willingness to sacrifice hundreds of thousands, or millions, of Korean lives through a preemptive US war reflects racialized notions of Asians as less than human. It is telling that Graham presents US military action against DPRK as a unilateral decision not requiring consultation with South Korea. I doubt that the South Koreans would view the massive casualties of a second Korean war in quite the same terms as Graham.

Faith and Doubt in the Nuclear Age

     Mutual vulnerability to nuclear attack is an unresolved, and unpleasant, paradox of the logics of nuclear deterrence. Americans do not like being vulnerable. After the first Chinese nuclear test in 1964, for example, the Johnson administration seriously considered attacking China (including the use of nuclear weapons) to destroy or delay Chinese nuclear capabilities.[10] Our widespread denial of DPRK technical abilities, encouraged by racialized imaginaries of North Korea, allows for the deferment or downplaying of nuclear risk. At the same time, imagining Kim as “crazy” and outside the bounds of nuclear deterrence logic justifies and encourages thoughts of preemptive warfare.

     I would argue that, with brief exceptions and until recently, the post-Cold War American public has largely ignored nuclear weapon risks. The collapse of the Soviet Union, post-Cold War US conventional military dominance, and the construction of terrorism as the predominant national security threat meant that we thought, talked, and worried less about nuclear weapons. This is no longer the case and Americans are once again subject to what Masco calls the nuclear uncanny.[11] In the nuclear uncanny our assumptions of safety in the world are violated and we are forced to confront our atomic modernity: we live in a world in which everything we love and cherish can be destroyed in an hour because one man decided to do so.

     The ongoing public freak-out about North Korea reveals deep-seated doubts and lack of faith in nuclear deterrence as a long-term guarantee of security and survival. These concerns are especially sensitive at this moment for a number of reasons: souring relations with Russia, worries about Iranian nuclear intentions, and of course North Korea’s ongoing nuclearization. Above all, Americans are particularly prone to musing about the implications of imperfect human rationality in nuclear deterrence to because of Donald Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Presidential nuclear launch authority was more of an issue than any other moment in my life that I can personally remember. I have discussed and argued more about US nuclear launch procedures in the last year than ever before.

     I have been particularly surprised at how widespread, and how tenaciously held, the belief is that some system of checks-and-balances constrain the US President’s ability to use nuclear weapons. The truth is, there seems to be virtually no constraints on Presidential authority to use nuclear weapons and that, especially in this moment, is terrifying. [12]  The truth is, we remain under what President Kennedy described as a “nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness.”[13] We insist that Kim Jung Un must be mad because we cannot face our own inherent irrationality or that of our nominal President. We lack faith in nuclear deterrence because we lack faith in human rationality and the systems we have built on our assumption of its existence. Our conceptualization of Kim Jong Un as crazy is encouraged by racism and rooted in our recognition that no person is fit to wield doomsday machines.

 

Footnotes

[1] Wright, David. 2017. “North Korean ICBM Appears Able to Reach Major US Cities.” Union of Concerned Scientists: All Things Nuclear. July 28, http://allthingsnuclear.org/dwright/new-north-korean-icbm, Accessed 7/28/2017.

[2] The “Nuclear Institute” is an anonymized moniker.

[3] I did not record these discussions & these quotes were reconstructed from memory several hours after the conversations occurred.  I believe these reconstructions accurately reflect the statements made but they should not be taken as exact quotes.

[4] Trump, Donald (@realdonaldtrump). 2017, January 2. Twitter Post. “North Korea just…” https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/816057920223846400?lang=en, accessed 08/03/2017.

[5] McLaughlin, Elizabeth. 2017. “North Korea ‘Clearly’ Has Missiles That Can Reach US,General Says.” ABC News, July 18. http://abcnews.go.com/International/north-korea-missiles-reach-us-general/story?id=48704780, accessed 08/05/2017.; For additional examples see also: Lewis, Jeffrey. 2017, Aug 3. “Let’s Face It: North Korean Nuclear Weapons Can Hit the U.S.” New York Times, Opinion Pages. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/03/opinion/north-korea-nukes.html, accessed 8/4/2017.

[6] Gusterson, Hugh. 1999. “Nuclear Weapons and the Other in the Western Imagination.” Cultural Anthropology 14 (1): 111–43.

[7] Abraham, Itty. 2009. South Asian Cultures of the Bomb: Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.; Sagan, Scott D., ed. 2009. Inside Nuclear South Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

[8] New Yorker. 2016, January 18. Front Cover.; Rofer, Cheryl. 2017. “Mike Pence Isn’t Kim Jong Un’s Daddy.” Nuclear Diner. April 27. https://nucleardiner.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/mike-pence-isnt-kim-jong-uns-daddy, /accessed 7/31/2017.

[9] Abraham, Itty. 2009. South Asian Cultures of the Bomb: Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.; Lewis, Jeffrey. 2017, Aug 3. “Let’s Face It: North Korean Nuclear Weapons Can Hit the U.S.” New York Times, Opinion Pages. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/03/opinion/north-korea-nukes.html, accessed 8/4/2017.; Sagan, Scott D., ed. 2009. Inside Nuclear South Asia. Stanford Security Studies. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

[10] Mann, Jim. 1998. “U.S. Considered ’64 Bombing to Keep China Nuclear-Free.” Los Angeles Times, September 27. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/sep/27/news/mn-26986.

[11] Joseph Masco. 2006. The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

[12] Wellerstein, Alex. 2017, April 10. “The President and the Bomb, Part III.” Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog. http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2017/04/10/president-bomb-iii/, accessed 07/20/2017.

Works Cited

Abraham, Itty. 2009. South Asian Cultures of the Bomb: Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Chang, Gordon. 2017. “The Lindsay Graham Option for ‘Handling’ North Korea: Death for ‘Thousands.’” Daily Beast, August 2. http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-lindsey-graham-option-for-handling-north-korea-death-for-thousands.

Gusterson, Hugh. 1999. “Nuclear Weapons and the Other in the Western Imagination.” Cultural Anthropology 14 (1): 111–43.

———. 2008. “Paranoid, Potbellied Stalinist Gets Nuclear Weapons: How the U.S. Print Media Cover North Korea.” Nonproliferation Review 15 (1): 21–41.

Joseph Masco. 2006. The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Lewis, Jeffrey. 2017a. “Forget Alaska. North Korea Might Soon Be Able to Nuke New York.” Daily Beast, July 6. http://www.thedailybeast.com/forget-alaska-north-korea-might-soon-be-able-to-nuke-new-york.

———. 2017b. “Let’s Face It: North Korean Nuclear Weapons Can Hit the U.S.” New York Times, August 3, sec. Opinion Pages. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/03/opinion/north-korea-nukes.html.

Mann, Jim. 1998. “U.S. Considered ’64 Bombing to Keep China Nuclear-Free.” Los Angeles Times, September 27. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/sep/27/news/mn-26986.

McLaughlin, Elizabeth. 2017. “North Korea ‘Clearly’ Has Missiles That Can Reach US, General Says.” ABC News, July 18. http://abcnews.go.com/International/north-korea-missiles-reach-us-general/story?id=48704780.

New Yorker. 2016, January 18. Front Cover.

Rofer, Cheryl. 2017. “Mike Pence Isn’t Kim Jong Un’s Daddy.” Nuclear Diner. April 27. https://nucleardiner.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/mike-pence-isnt-kim-jong-uns-daddy/.

Sagan, Scott D., ed. 2009. Inside Nuclear South Asia. Stanford Security Studies. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Trump, Donald (@realdonaldtrump). 2017, January 2. Twitter Post. “North Korea just…” https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/816057920223846400?lang=en, accessed 08/03/2017.

Wright, David. 2017. “North Korean ICBM Appears Able to Reach Major US Cities.” Union of Concerned Scientists: All Things Nuclear. July 28. http://allthingsnuclear.org/dwright/new-north-korean-icbm.

Wellerstein, Alex. 2017, April 10. “The President and the Bomb, Part III.” Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog. http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2017/04/10/president-bomb-iii/, accessed 07/20/2017.