Finally, the nuclear issue is raised. It has always been there but there is a rhythm to the way things unfold. In this case, the cause is the intention of the United Nations to seek the complete banning of Nuclear Weapons. The cause of that is an open letter from scientists around the world. Before you sigh with relief, the rest of the story is that the US has joined other nuclear powers in boycotting discussions of the ban now underway

Obvious objection

The argument is not complex. The US and other nuclear powers know that some powers like North Korea will not sign the agreement.

To keep the peace they argue they need to keep the threat of retaliation alive. But on the other side, there is the argument of Beatrice Fihn, who runs the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. "It's very difficult to eliminate a weapon that you haven't prohibited first," Fihn says.

Creating a new normal

Fihn's logic is persuasive. There is presently no way that agreeing to the ban would immediately end the nuclear capacities of the countries that signed the treaty that is intended to be produced this year. But as these processes reach completion they help create an atmosphere that is more and more receptive to the underlying idea.

US record is mixed

The United States has been unwilling to ratify either the International Criminal Court or the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

But the existence of these landmarks creates, according to the AP article in the New York Times, a new international norm.

Did Trump cause this concern?

When the president of the nation that has in the past been regarded as the leader of the free world, talks casually about nuclear war, it raises fears.

It is hard not to conclude that a new level of uncertainty exists. Not only has Rex Tillerson announced that we will consider preemptive action vis a vis North Korea, but Trump also has made bellicose remarks about both North Korea and Iran. His talk is alarming when one considers some of his most influential advisers.