Added: I’m of two minds about this. Part of me says use anything you can to keep Trump from getting elected. The other says that the nuclear football and launch button are metaphorical exaggerations of the kind Republicans often use against Democrats and we shouldn’t step down to their level. Trump would have to have truly gone mad to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on impulse. We could only hope that if he was psychotic steps would have been taken to remove him from office either by impeachment or because he was judged as medically unable to function. I don’t know how the later would be accomplished but certainly doctors would have to weigh in on the decision. Then it would be his VP who’d tae over and who knows who that would be.
This is a Politico Magazine piece by an expert familiar with how U.S. presidents would actually launch a nuclear strike. It’s written by Bruce Blair.
Blair is a nuclear security expert and a research scholar at the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Joining the program in May 2013, he focuses on technical and policy steps on the path toward the verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, specifically on deep bilateral nuclear arms reductions, multilateral arms negotiations and de-alerting of nuclear arsenals. He is co-founder of Global Zero, an international non-partisan group consisting of 300 world leaders, over 150 student chapters and millions of supporters worldwide dedicated to achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Blair is an expert on U.S. and Russian security policies, specializing in nuclear forces and command and control systems. He has frequently testified before Congress In 2011, he was appointed to the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board, a small group of experts that provides the Department of State with independent insight and advice on all aspects of international security, disarmament and arms control. He has also taught security studies as a visiting professor at Yale and Princeton universities. In 1999, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship Prize for his research, work and leadership on de-alerting nuclear forces. In 2008, he was selected as a finalist for the Skoll Social Entrepreneur Award.
Blair's expertise has helped make nuclear and global affairs issues accessible to the public in various media outlets. He was an executive producer of Countdown to Zero, a documentary film on nuclear weapons. He also created and was the executive producer of the PBS weekly television series Superpower: Global Affairs Television (2002–2004), and was the executive producer for Azimuth Media and its weekly PBS television series, Foreign Exchange, which was first hosted by Fareed Zakaria (2005–2007) and subsequently by Daljit Dhaliwal (2008–2009). Wikipedia
This article reads like a Tom Clancy thriller for all the technical detail. Do you want to know how much unrestrained power a president has to launch, for example? There are numerous nuclear warheads aimed at Iran’s 40 WMD sites, 14 leadership locations, and six war-supporting-industry aim points, just read this article. Indeed, the president does have the power to turn the Iranian desert to glass on a whim.
Should I mention that if Putin rubs Trump the wrong way, there are almost 1,000 targets in Russia.
It might be reassuring to know that the United States could turn North Korea to rubble; but to you want that power to rest in the mind that operates the finger of Donald Trump?
I thought I’d share this for those of you having trouble sleeping. But be warned, if you are upset easily it could be the stuff of nightmares. That’s if you can fall asleep after reading it.
Here’s just an excerpt:
If he gave the command, his executing commanders would have no legal or procedural grounds to defy it no matter how inappropriate it might seem. As long as the president can establish his or her true identity by his or her personal presence in the Pentagon’s nuclear war room or its alternates (places like Site R at Fort Richie near Camp David), or by phone or other means of communications linking him or her to these war rooms using a special identification card (colloquially known as “the biscuit” containing “the nuclear codes”) in his or her possession (or, alternatively, kept inside the “nuclear briefcase” carried by his or her military aide who shadows the president everywhere he or she works, travels and plays), a presidential nuclear decision is lawful (putting international humanitarian law aside). It must be obeyed as long as it is constitutional—i.e., the president as commander in chief believes he or she is acting to protect and defend the nation against an actual or imminent attack.
But within these broad constraints there is no wiggle room for evasion or defiance of the president’s orders. That’s true even if the national security adviser, the secretary of defense (who along with the president makes up the “national command authority”) and other top appointees and advisers disagree with the president’s decision. It does not matter whether the United States has already come under attack by nuclear or non-nuclear weapons. It does not even matter if the commander in chief simply orders the use of nuclear weapons on an ordinary day for reasons unknown to all but him or her. Under the president’s open-ended mandate to decide when the national interest is threatened, ordering up a nuclear strike is his or her prerogative, and obeying the order is incumbent upon the military servants of civilian authority.
Short of a “palace coup” where military and civilian leaders at the very top decide Trump has gone stark raving mad and is about to unleash our nuclear arsenal, and that his decision is unlawful, they have to obey it. But that decision might have to be made in 10-20 minutes.
To read the entire article here the link to Politico.