Everyone values a good night’s sleep. So, it would be nice to think there’s some sort of check on President Donald Trump’s authority to launch nuclear weapons, but here’s a wake up call.
If the U.S. President wants to start a nuclear war, all by himself, nobody can stop him. He has the sole authority to launch the United States Nuclear arsenal. That’s hundreds of nukes, ready to fly within just five minutes of Trump’s order.
Yes, launch officers work in pairs, codes have to be authenticated. Nobody can go rogue and launch a nuke, except our very own President. If you think there are other checks and balances, you’re not alone.
When asked in a poll, 44% of American’s said they think President Donald Trump needs to ask Congress before launching any nuke. Now, a few US lawmakers who are worried about Trump’s rhetoric, have sponsored legislation that would require Congressional approved for a preemptive nuclear strike. But that bill is stalled in Congress and even if it did move through, Trump probably wouldn’t sign a bill taking his thermonuclear toys away.
Thirty-two percent of American’s also think Donald Trump needs to confer with military advisors or Cabinet officials, but if he wants to launch an atomic weapon, not even the Secretary of Defense can do anything about it.
As William J. Perry once remarked, “Nobody has the right to countermand that decision.” When former US President Richard Nixon was nearing the end of his Presidency, his advisors started to get worried he might start a nuclear war. President Nixon was depressed, drinking heavily and frightening members of Congress with odd comments about nukes. Even though Nixon worried US officials in the past, nothing was done about it.
In fact, the US arsenal is set up this way on purpose.
The US wants its adversaries to know that if the President orders a strike, that order will be followed quickly and without question. The idea that if a nuclear threat is credible, and scary enough, your adversaries won’t test you and you won’t have to use it.
Donald Trump: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
And since Trump has sole launch authority, other nations watch his behavior closely. Clearly the people who set up the system made some big assumptions. That the US President would be of sound mind and careful with his words and tweets. There goes the assumption theory.