The Location of America’s Nuclear Submarines Isn’t Really a Secret

May 30, 2017
Jeffrey Lewis

This article originally appeared in Foreign Policy on May 26, 2017.

The Location of America’s Nuclear Submarines Isn’t Really a Secret

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

First things first: Donald Trump didn’t reveal the location of U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarines in his phone call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Trump comes off as a braggart and bully in the transcript, but what he said about submarines is far less interesting than our reaction to it.

It’s clear that whatever signal Trump was trying to send got fouled up. But that shouldn’t make us angry about the Trump administration’s clumsiness. It should make us wary about the overconfidence of all policymakers who think they can use the deployment of military forces to signal resolve to adversaries and allies without getting the rest of us killed.

Trump did say a fair number of awful and stupid things to Duterte. He told him that his campaign of extrajudicial executions was working (it isn’t) and that North Korea’s missiles are crashing (they aren’t). But on the subject of submarines, Trump is blameless. Here is what he said in reference to North Korea:

We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all.

It is entirely unclear where Trump thinks “over there” is, but in recent days U.S. Pacific Command had announced two port calls for nuclear-powered submarines, one in South Korea and another in Japan.

Continue to read on Foreign Policy.

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