My overriding concern about the Trump presidency is that he alone has the power to launch our nuclear weapons and thus bring about the end of everything. One might ask why he would do that? Gee, why ask why? He is prone to making instant and not always well thought out decisions and his ego is easily bruised. He might feel slighted by something someone says or does or feel his honor is threatened. He is a bully and can’t stand the thought of anyone questioning or challenging him. Or he might just overreact to a legitimate threat. Iran is testing missiles again. And then there is North Korea.
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is “officially putting Iran on notice,” and senior administration officials later refused to rule out military action against the Islamic Republic.
And me writing again:
Meanwhile, who knows what North Korea’s next move is going to be? That country has been threatening and taunting with its continued nuclear weapons testing and missile launches.
Will Trump be goaded to react? It would present a quandary for any president with a rational thought process.
Of course we have faced this peril of basically self-inflicted nuclear annihilation for more than 70 years. Somehow we got through the Cold War and the belligerence of Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union and Richard Nixon as desperate as a cornered rat with the Watergate scandal coming down upon him, drunk in his private quarters with those close to him afraid he might do something outlandish and actually putting out the order to defy the president should he decide to use the nukes. It was thought he might use them to bring his “peace with honor” in Vietnam.
But I keep reading that under the law and policy the president, and only he, has the power and it cannot be overridden. Of course if it really happened, who knows? His order might be defied if it was thought not to be correct.
President Harry Truman was the only president to order the use of nuclear weapons. I’m wondering if he really understood the full implications. It was the first and only use of nuclear weapons in history. It will always be debated whether it was the right decision. The common thinking has been that as cruel as it was, that is dropping two, not one, but two, A-bombs on Japan (they did not seem to get the message with just one), it saved thousands of U.S. servicemen’s lives, avoiding the invasion of the Japanese mainland and bringing the end of WWII.
Several hundred thousand people, mostly civilians, were killed, a large number instantly and then more over time from the effects of radiation.
But the world did not come to an end. But today, there are far more powerful nuclear weapons and too many nations have them. Surely any use now would signal the end of the world.
Since Truman I can only recall one president we might have had concern over pushing the button, so to speak, and that would be Nixon. I don’t think there was concern over George W. Bush, even though he was essentially a Vietnam draft dodger (who reportedly did not serve out all of his required duty in the Air National Guard) and seemed to want to display his warrior worthiness by going to war in Iraq over imaginary weapons of mass destruction. As bad as he was, I doubt he would have gone off his rocker and actually ordered the use of nuclear weapons unless it was truly the last resort for our defense.
After posting all this I realized that the time the U.S. came the closest to a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union during the Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis during the presidency of John Kennedy. I don’t think anyone thought JFK would launch missiles, at least not the first strike, but we did not know what the Russians would do. We learned decades later that we were much closer to a nuclear war than we even had thought. Because of a lack of reliable communication, Russian submarine commanders had been given the authority to launch nuclear weapons on their own – fortunately they did not.
Trump? We just don’t know. He comes across as a man mad with power. Even his own supporters have to have some concern, although they probably just dismiss it all — I mean you can’t get through each day if you worry the world is going to end.
To underscore the weirdness of Trump, before an audience that included foreign dignitaries, at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, he went off script and talked about how bad the ratings were for his former TV Show now that Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken over as host. He jibed Arnold and asked the gathering to pray for him and went on about how “fabulous” everything was when he, Trump, was host. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the Trump personality. But a few are: vain, conceited, self-centered, narcissistic. Can you imagine him actually listening to and absorbing something someone else says, unless it fits his current thought waves?
We all try to avoid thinking about it I think, that is whether it will all end in a nuclear holocaust brought on by a misunderstanding or fit of rage. But that does not mean we don’t face extreme danger.
Maybe we ought to rethink the nuclear weapons policy — such as at least three people, perhaps the president, a military officer, and a cabinet member all have to agree, but time would be of the essence and that might not be practical. I mean what do you have? Ten to 15 minutes? Even that?
Oh, yeah, presidential candidate George McGovern had to dump his running mate Thomas Eagleton because he had seen a shrink. The thought someone with a history of mental problems could assume the presidency and have his finger on the nuclear trigger was the concern.
And even more to the point, Barry Goldwater lost a presidential election in a landslide that saw an opposition ad showing a nuclear bomb exploding in the background with a little girl picking daisies in the foreground. Goldwater had suggested the possible need to go nuclear in Vietnam.
And so some four-plus decades later Donald Trump is elected president. Candidate Trump was rather cavalier about the subject of using nukes and even allowing the proliferation of them, even allowing Japan, of all countries, to develop an arsenal to protect itself from North Korea.
But meanwhile, Trump is reportedly busy badgering our allies I originally read on the Washington Post site. There was a description of rough talk by Trump with Australia’s prime minister over a refugee program and then Trump abruptly ending the call. I think this was an unnamed source story, but it seems plausible, if a bit disappointing.