Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Trump’s COVID infection shows why it’s time to retire the nuclear football

Trump’s COVID infection shows why it’s time to retire the nuclear football, Bulletin of the Atomic SCientists By Tom Z. Collina, October 6, 2020   President John Kennedy took powerful pain medications. President Richard Nixon was a heavy drinker. President Ronald Reagan had dementia. And now President Donald Trump has the coronavirus. These conditions can significantly impair one’s ability to think clearly. And yet, as president, each had—or, in Trump’s case, still has–the unilateral authority to launch US nuclear weapons within minutes.

President Trump is followed 24/7 by a military aide that carries the “football,” the briefcase that holds all he would need to order the immediate launch of up to 1,000 nuclear weapons, more than enough megatonnage to blow the world back into the stone age. He does not need the approval of Congress or the secretary of defense. Shockingly, there are no checks and balances on this ultimate executive power.

President Trump took the nuclear football with him to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he received treatment for COVID-19. According to Trump’s doctor, the president’s blood oxygen levels had dipped. And this, according to independent health experts, can impair decision-making ability. He is taking dexamethasone, which can cause mood swings and “frank psychotic manifestations.” Yet as far as we know, at no point did the president transfer his powers to the vice president, as allowed under the 25th Amendment.

To state the obvious, we should not entrust nuclear launch authority to someone who is not fully lucid. (Reagan transferred authority temporarily before planned surgery, as did President George W. Bush before a medical procedure that required his sedation.) A nuclear crisis can happen at any time, including at the worst possible time. If such a crisis takes place when a president’s thinking is compromised for any reason, the results could be catastrophic. ……..

If the president or his advisors have reason to believe that Trump’s thinking may be compromised, nuclear launch authority should be transferred to the vice president, Mike Pence. If Pence also gets COVID, the football could then be passed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley, and the secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense, in that order.

But kicking the football down the line does not solve the problem—and in fact shows why the system is broken. Does anyone really believe that the president pro tem of the Senate or the Treasury Secretary has spent much time preparing for nuclear war? And even if they had prepared, the central dilemma remains: All humans are imperfect, and we should not trust the fate of the world to any one person.

The whole concept of giving the president unilateral nuclear authority is built on the false assumption that Russia might launch a surprise first strike. In fact, Russia has never seriously considered a first strike against the United States for a simple reason: It would be national suicide. Both sides have to assume that an attack would provoke an unacceptable nuclear retaliation. Both nations, and much of the rest of the globe, would be obliterated. Starting such a war would be insanity………

It is time to retire the nuclear football. The only thing standing between us and nuclear holocaust is one man with COVID on heavy meds. That is the plan? Ending sole authority is better than entrusting it to any individual. In a vibrant democracy, no one person should have the unchecked power to destroy the world. https://thebulletin.org/2020/10/trumps-covid-infection-shows-why-its-time-to-retire-the-nuclear-football/

 

October 8, 2020 - Posted by | General News

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