Donald Trump's election as president signals a big shift in the political landscape. Many observers have commented on how unpredictable the country's future course now seems. However, there is at least one thing that will not change over the next four years. Avoiding nuclear war will remain the top priority of the U.S. government, because it is the one danger that can destroy our democracy in a day.
Trump understood this from the beginning of his campaign. He said early on that the U.S. needed to modernize its aging nuclear deterrent, and he returned to that theme over and over again in stump speeches. He was right: maintaining an assured ability to retaliate after a surprise attack is the main reason why potential aggressors don't attack in the first place. So Washington needs to pick up the pace of nuclear modernization.
However, there is more to averting nuclear holocaust than having a robust strategic force. The U.S. needs to avoid getting into non-nuclear conflicts and crises that could escalate to the nuclear level. Eastern Europe is the place where such a scenario is most likely to unfold, because since the Cold War ended, the U.S. has extended security guarantees to former Soviet republics and satellites that lie close to the Russian heartland.