Nuclear Launch Officers Call For A Limit To Trump’s Power

nuclear bomb mushroom cloud

Thanks to Donald Trump, the risk of nuclear war has never been higher. And now 17 nuclear launch control officers have written a letter urging Congress to do something about it before it’s too late.

Ever since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945, no American president has ordered the use of nuclear weapons against another country.

But even before he was elected, Trump was already refusing to rule out the use of such weapons of mass destruction in Europe.

“I’m not going to take it off the table,” Trump said.

Just a few months later, Joe Scarborough reported that Trump repeatedly asked why the United States can’t use nuclear weapons since we have them.

That resulted in several former nuclear launch control officers sounding the alarm that Trump is too dangerous to be president. And now they are doing it again a year later in a statement published by Global Zero.

“In the final weeks of the presidential election, we sounded our alarm over Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as commander-in-chief, with absolute authority over the nation’s nuclear arsenal,” the former officers wrote.

Joining hundreds of leaders across the political spectrum in questioning Trump’s temperament, judgement
and indifference to expert advice, we warned that Trump should not be allowed to have his finger on
the proverbial “Red Button.”

One year into the Trump presidency, our alarm has only intensified and we must raise our voices
again. The president has had ample opportunity to educate and humble himself to the grave
responsibilities of his office. Instead, he consistently shows himself to be easily baited, stubborn in
his ignorance of world politics and diplomacy, and quick to brandish nuclear threats. The reality of
this presidency is worse than we feared.

The officers specifically referenced Trump’s rhetoric against North Korea, which also happened to include rhetoric about who has a bigger nuclear button.

Not long after that tweet, Trump proclaimed success by claiming credit for talks between the two Koreas, which means he thinks threats of nuclear war is a good strategy. But threats eventually lead to action, and that would have devastating consequences for the world, which is why they are asking Congress to limit Trump’s power over our nuclear arsenal.

Every American president has absolute authority to order the first use of nuclear weapons. No one – not the secretary of defense, not the attorney general, not Congress – can veto that order. There are no reliable safeguards in place to contain this power.

As former nuclear launch control officers, it was our job to fire nuclear missiles if the president so
directed. Once the president orders a launch, we could have missiles leaving their silos in several
minutes. They cannot be recalled. The missiles would reach their destination – whether Russia, China
or North Korea – within 30 minutes. There is no act of greater consequence, and it should not rest in
the hands of any one person.

So, if Trump gets mad or desperate enough, he could order a strike without any further oversight unless the person responsible for launching the missiles refuses to obey the order. And if that person obeys, there is no way to reverse it. Once a nuke is launched, it can’t be stopped.

There are currently several bills in Congress that could be adopted immediately to take this power away from Trump. The question is if Republicans have the guts to tell Trump no.

“We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish
commander-in-chief,” the officers concluded. “No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction.”

The American people and people all around the globe cannot continue to allow Trump to have sole discretion over when and where to deploy nuclear weapons. There has to be oversight. There has to be a check on that power, and it’s up to Congress to do their job and provide it.

If Trump launches a nuke out of sheer pettiness one day, our nation and the planet will never be the same. Just as we can fire nukes at other countries, other countries can fire their nukes at us. We need to think about that and do something to make sure we never have to experience the horrors of nuclear war again. Taking away Trump’s unilateral control would be a good start.

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