Before lunchtime Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump said he would expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, upending a reduction course set by presidents of both parties over the past four decades, and called for the United States to veto a pending U.N. resolution that criticized Israel’s settlements policy.
The policy prescriptions, communicated in morning tweets, followed calls since last month’s election to reconsider the arms-length U.S. relationship with Taiwan and to let China keep an underwater U.S. vessel seized by its navy. Trump declared within hours of this week’s Berlin terrorist attack that it was part of a global Islamic State campaign to “slaughter Christians” and later said it reaffirmed the wisdom of his plans to bar Muslim immigrants.
Late Thursday, Trump suggested in another tweet that the U.S. military’s years-in-the-making plans for a new stealth fighter, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, might be reconsidered, saying he had “asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!”
With weeks to go before he becomes president, Trump has not hesitated to voice his opinions on national security issues of the day and to publicly advise the current president on what to do about them.
Ultimately, the nuclear statement was tempered by a Trump spokesman. And the likely fallout from a tentative decision by the Obama administration to break years of precedent and abstain on the Israel resolution was avoided when Egypt, its sponsor, abruptly postponed it just hours before a scheduled Security Council vote.
But the president-elect’s pronouncements have privately riled a White House that has repeatedly insisted in public that the transition has been smooth sailing.