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How to prevent Donald Trump from starting a nuclear war?

How do we keep Trump from launching nuclear war? Washington wakes up to a terrifying problem
How do you keep an impulsive and ignorant president, a man who has been described by his own Secretary of State as a “f**king moron,” from launching a nuclear war?

That terrifying question, often asked worriedly, privately or rhetorically over the last months, is echoing ever more loudly this week after President Trump insulted another inexperienced authoritarian nuclear commander, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Trump described Kim as “short and fat,” and the 33-year-old dictator responded by sentencing Trump to death. The nightmare of nuclear-armed boys in the playground of geopolitics has come to life.

William Perry, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, who said he was “terrified” by trends in nuclear proliferation before Trump took office, says the American people cannot count on Trump’s advisers from restraining him in a crisis.

Perry says he knows and speaks with James Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary, and he thinks Mattis understands the nuclear threat well. But as Perry told Politico this week, he also doesn’t think Mattis would necessarily be able to do anything if Trump decided to go ahead with a strike.

“The order can go directly from the president to the Strategic Air Command. The defense secretary is not necessarily in that loop. So, in a five- or six- or seven-minute kind of decision, the secretary of defense probably never hears about it until it’s too late. If there is time, and if he does consult the secretary, it’s advisory, just that,” Perry explained. “Whether [the president] goes with it or doesn’t go with it—[the secretary] doesn’t have the authority to stop it.”

Retired Gen. Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command from 2011-’13, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he would have refused to carry out a nuclear first strike on presidential orders if he believed it did not meet the requirements of proportionality and necessity under the law of armed conflict. “I would have said, I’m not ready to proceed,” Kehler said.

After the hearing, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told the Guardian, “I don’t have confidence that a military chain of command would reject an order by the president to launch nuclear weapons in a preventative nuclear war situation.”



There was no declaration of war for Korean, Vietnam, the 1991 Gulf War, or the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Once Congress cedes a power to the president, it is hard to take it back. The best hope is that Congress is becoming scared enough to act. The willingness of Corker, a senior Republican, to at least contemplate legislation to control Trump at some point, is a welcome sign of progress, however slight.

“I put this in the category of urgent,” Pelosi said. “We each take an oath to protect and defend. If Congress doesn’t act, we might wake up to a mushroom cloud and the nightmare of ‘It’s too late.'”

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835.


November 25, 2017 - Posted by | General News

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