Imagine you are Donald Trump. You are vain, fragile, and stupid. You require constant validation from fans or TV ratings, and are under attack from all sides.
A virus is killing people, and you’re getting the blame. The economy is crashing, and that’s your fault too. Civil unrest is spreading, and the military won’t do what you tell them to. And to top it all, you have started a race war you cannot win – possibly because you’re a colour only an Oompah Loompah could identify with.
You are now, officially, the least popular president in US history, 5 months before an election, and facing an opponent 13 points ahead of you in the polls despite you pushing him out of the headlines.
Then you hold your first rally in 3 months, and thanks to some well-organised teenagers who are cleverer than you are, it’s a humiliating, ego-puncturing sea of empty seats.
What are you going to do, punk?
Well, according to members of your own administration who have leaked it to the Washington Post in sheer terror, you’re considering detonating a nuclear bomb.
There are many good reasons for you to do this.
1. You look tough. BOOM!
2. People are frightened. DOUBLE BOOM!
3. The world quakes. TRIPLE BOOM!
4. Surely there’s some way you can link it to American jobs, TV ratings, or how great America was last time she irradiated most of Nevada and millions of people who lived in it.
It has not, though, happened yet. This seems to be because people who work for you are in the habit of removing your paperwork, listening to your calls, and making sure many of the ideas that randomly pop out of your cat’s bum of a mouth never actually manifest.
They are worried that, if America detonates a nuclear weapon in order to look tough, every other nation that signed up to the same Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty as you will also detonate one, in order to make better nuclear weapons.
You see, since that ban the nuclear powers have (mostly) checked their weapons stockpiles using incredibly-sophisticated computer simulations. Those countries which were a little behind the US have been using the software to plan how they could make warheads lighter, more deadly, and fly further, but have not been able to see if it would work.
If the ban is broken, they’ll all seize the chance to explode an experiment, which will give them more knowledge and, potentially, considerably better bombs than yow.
This means India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, Russia and China – to name just 6 not-the-good-guys countries – could all be setting off nuclear devices, refining the most deadly weapon known to man, and ramping up international tensions, at the same time as spreading radioactive isotopes all over the world via stratospheric winds.
Joe Cirincione, of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund, told Forbes magainze: “A bad idea is waiting a week too long to begin testing for the coronavirus… A bad idea is doing daily press briefings where you attack the press.
“This… is a catastrophically stupid idea.”
The USA last conducted a nuclear test in 1992. Four years later, it signed the test ban treaty, during the presidency of Bill Clinton. It never ratified it, which has given people like Kim Jong Un the excuse they need to make new bombs, and now gives you the same get-out for resuming testing, all because people like Kim are making new bombs.
The ONLY reason to test a nuclear weapon is to build a BETTER one. You don’t need to test it, if all you want to do is see if it still works. You can do that by checking the circuits and taking radioactivity readings, because the whole point of nuclear bombs is that they are bad pretty much forever.
Of course if you do this you’ll cause problems for allies like the UK. You’ll make the French cross, Angela Merkel will be uber-chilly at the next G7, but Vladimir Putin will be positively perky about the prospect of getting himself bigger pea-shooters and an invigorated American menace with which to terrify Russians into keeping him as their leader.
And as for President Xi Jinping – he’ll be chuffed to bits. He has very limited supplies of weapons-grade plutonium, and warheads so heavy they need a lot of the stuff. New tests means lighter warheads, and his plutonium can go further.
So, if you detonate a nuclear warhead, you upset all the grown-ups. You delight all the madmen. You make the air more poisonous, you increase the rate of cancers and birth defects, and start an arms race which can only benefit your country’s near-$1trillion defence industry.
This will be particularly useful, if you want to shore up job figures and the economy while individual states spend much less on military equipment for their police forces, following massive public disapproval of beat bobbies who are inexplicably armed with tanks and tear gas.
You’ll claim to be only the second US president in history to hit the nuclear button, while ignoring all those who tested before you, and were doing so during the Cold War when such detonations at least had a purpose. And it doesn’t involve much thinking, which is always your least favourite activity.
Because thinking might lead you to realise that keeping your allies friendly was more important than titillating tyrants who won’t repay you with loyalty.
It might lead you to the conclusion that the most effective way of stopping other countries playing with nuclear weapons would be to ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty, rather than wipe your morbidly obese arse upon it.
You might even worry that starting an arms race would make an all-out nuclear war far more likely, and that could only end with millions of deaths, and a greater economic disaster, than the one you’re already trying to avoid blame for.
You’re going to try it, though, aren’t you? Your prickly, sensitive, pathetic little ego demands it. But I’ll bet my tail that someone with a brain has already disconnected the wires, because they think you will do it too.
Thump away at that button, fat boy. You’ll explode before anyone else.