As if 2016 was not exciting enough in the news world, the news media appeared to be pumped with adrenaline to finish off 2016 with more sensational news. The following news sequence certainly cast a dark cloud over the Earth chilling any holiday spirit people might feel about the coming of the New Year. First, President Putin of Russia in his annual meeting on national affairs reaffirmed his policy of refreshing and strengthening Russia's nuclear forces along a note that Russia's economy is recovering steadily with self sufficient agriculture production in 2016. Then, President-elect Trump, after a meeting with the generals about US defense hours after the above Putin news, twitted to the world that the U.S. must greatly strengthen her nuclear capability. The news media immediately latched on this tweet offering many interpretations from concerns about Trump's ignoring the 'protocol' language regarding nuclear weapons and nuclear threats to possibly a new U.S. nuclear policy.
When Putin was queried on Trump's tweet, he said, this was nothing new; Trump had said "to strengthen nuclear forces" in his campaign. The news media's interpretation of course was varied but one consensus implication was that Russia and the U.S. might be heading to nuclear arms race despite Putin's claim that he did not want one. Tweet is a powerful tool and it has been specifically proven in the 2016 US election. Trump was able to send direct messages to tens of millions of people repeatedly through his tweets to energize the ‘Trump’ movement. Since Trump’s victory, his tweets were able to stimulate the US stock market. In fact, the Wall Street observers have coined a term, ‘tweeter risk’ referring the daily rise or fall of stock prices attributable to a tweet from Trump. Trump's victory owes to some degree to his tweet performance.
Twitter is a communication product or service offered on the Internet with 'push and pull' characteristics in one-way and cascading communication. A micro-blog like message can be sent to a large number of tweet followers (A communication being pushed out by the Twitter while tweets being pulled in by followers). The twitter's biggest appeal and attraction to a communicator is the fast speed by which one can send messages to a huge number of Twitter accounts directly with no filtering so long as the short messages are less than 140 characters a piece. The ease of use and friendly way for any Twitter to scan a great number of twitters and their messages allow a Twitter to follow (tune-in) a big number of Twitter accounts. Trump claims that he has 25 million followers, thus making his tweets powerful in delivering messages. President Obama has also used Twitter for delivering his messages. Tweeting does serve a useful purpose if a precise articulated short message can be sent to one's followers, but it also has the possibility to cause a Twitter to be driven by vanity, to become addicted or to be triggered by impulse by sending improprieties messages out. Of course, Twitter followers can freely select to de-follow any Twitter account; hence a Twitter can also easily lose his or her popularity by misbehaving on tweets.
Speaking about Twitter behavior, one cannot help notice a number of Twitter events created by President-elect Trump's tweets. On December 6, Trump tweeted, "Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4B. Cancel order." Within 10 seconds, the Boeing stock started dropping, eventually reaching 1.6% below its previous day closing. This drop might not be significant for Boeing. But a week later Trump tweeted on Lockheed Martin about costs of F-35 (not a new issue) causing its stock to drop 2.5%. Anyone who profited over these tweets is really behaving with questionable ethics since the trades are bordering on insider trading. Some were attributing the stock price drop of aerospace and healthcare industries since the election to Trump's tweets and/or his cabinet appointments. There were Wall Street brokers openly soliciting investors to profit on Trump's tweets.
In addition to Trump's tweet effect on financial market, one can also observe the impact Trump's tweets had on diplomatic and world affairs. Mr. Trump, by speaking with Ms. Tsai on the phone and referring her as “the President of Taiwan” in a Twitter post, created a diplomatic incidence which essentially violated the traditional American position on the "Taiwan Issue", known as the “One China” policy - respect and recognizing that Taiwan is a part of China. Using 140 characters to casually communicate about diplomatic affairs is obviously a dangerous action, which may be easily causing confusion in diplomatic protocol to seriously creating misunderstanding on foreign policies. Remedies of any damage cannot be made by another short tweet.
On December 22, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the United States must “strengthen and expand” its nuclear forces “until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” This tweet may be a response to Putin's speech to his military’s leadership in Moscow earlier vowed to strengthen Russia’s nuclear missiles. But it's effect is very significant not only generating serious concerns in the world about an accelerated nuclear arms race but also wide speculation in our nation and diplomatic relations, domestically exhibited by the rising value of Uranium ETF in the Wall Street stock market and internationally demonstrated by numerous analysts’ comments on possibility of nuclear warfare. These types of effects trigger-able by 140 character tweets issued by one individual not accountable by the U.S. Congress and her government system should be discouraged. From the above examples, one can easily see tweets as a one-way short communication that can lead to misunderstanding between governments and people a lot easier than repairing any damages. Under a tense circumstance, for example, in the Middle East Conflict (Iraq and ISIS) or in the South China Sea Dispute or in the North Korea nuclear missile crisis, an improperly versed brief tweet may very likely be misinterpreted to escalate the tense situation into war, even possible to trigger a nuclear war.
To answer the title question, we believe that an ill-versed tweeter will more likely trigger than prevent a nuclear war!