Our planet is in a terrible place

East London Humanist chair Paul Kaufman

Paul Kaufman says Trump acted recklessly towards man-made climate change, environmental destruction, and Covid - Credit: Vishal Thaper

We have often been warned, not least by the US, about the risk of a "rogue" state acquiring nuclear weapons. But few imagined a dangerous malcontent like Trump would get his finger on the American nuclear button.

It’s not as if Trump’s nature was a secret. He promoted the racist "birther" conspiracy, aimed at derailing Obama, spouted anti-Muslim venom, and has given succour to neo-Nazis. He has normalised hatred and bigotry, trashed experts and science, and shown contempt for truth and integrity. It was entirely predictable he would deny losing the election, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and incite mob violence.

Our group was proud to protest during Trump’s London visits. But despite his obvious traits many rushed unreservedly to cosy up to Trump and give him the UK’s finest red-carpet treatment. It shows the fragility of our democratic systems and how easily someone so flawed can gain sway.

Nuclear weapons are no less inhumane than chemical and germ warfare, long-since outlawed. They are indiscriminate. Victims die, or suffer agonising injuries, in their thousands. The US is the sole country to have used them, twice in 1945. Only a rogue, a spiteful egomaniac or someone delusional would contemplate using them again. Trump is arguably all three.

Our planet is in a terrible place. Man-made climate change, environmental destruction, and now Covid. Trump acted recklessly towards them all. The world’s priorities are ripe for review. Nuclear weapons should be one. They are hugely expensive, unproductive, and yet another threat to life on earth. Trump makes the unimaginable frighteningly imaginable.

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Nuclear disarmament should not be a party-political issue. The UK signed up to the Non-proliferation Treaty in 1968, along with the US and other nuclear states. It has been ratified by most countries. All signatories undertake to pursue negotiation with a view to full disarmament. The government’s commitment to renewing the Trident weapon system flies in the face of this.

Taking Trump’s finger off the button has been a close call. To borrow from the Bible, surely now is the time to “beat swords into ploughshares".

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