Friday, August 11, 2017

Who Could Stop Trump From Launching A Nuclear Attack ?

(Cartoon image is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.)

The current occupant of the White House (Donald Trump) has the ability to think deeply about complicated matters of a six-year-old, the attention span of a four-year-old, and the temperament of a two-year-old. And the really scary thing is that he's the one with his finger on the nuclear button. Could anyone stop him if he wanted to launch a nuclear attack? NO! Our system is designed to prevent anyone from countermanding his order to launch.

Here is some of an article on this scary scenario by Ian Millhiser at Think Progress:

Should Trump order a nuclear attack on North Korea, there is nothing in our launch protocols restraining him or providing a check on his ability to do so. Our nuclear launch protocols are designed for a swift, unquestioning response to a presidential order — not for deliberation and caution. Trump can end all life on Earth, and our system has no built in a fail safe to stop him.
As former Secretary of Defense William Perry told the podcast Radiolab, “the system is set up so only the president has the authority to order a nuclear war. Nobody has the right to countermand that decision.”
Nobody. Not the Defense Secretary. Not the vice president. Not the generals. Not the individual officers tasked with launching the missiles. Donald Trump alone decides whether to set off a nuclear holocaust.
The reason for this is that our nuclear protocols were designed for a very different era, when the threat of an external enemy loomed much larger than the threat of a madman president.
America’s Cold War nuclear strategy rested on the premise of mutually assured destruction. If the Soviets believed that, within an hour of any strike on the United States, Moscow would be wiped off the map, the Soviets would be smart enough not to attack the United States. But this threat only worked if the Soviets (or the Chinese, or any other hostile nuclear power) genuinely believed that we could get our missiles in the air before death rained down upon us.
One implication of this strategy is that, if the Soviets knew that one of the president’s subordinates might not immediately carry out a launch order, then the Soviets would be more likely to launch. Our safety depended, or, at least, so the theory went, upon our adversaries thinking that we actually were crazy enough to meet genocide with genocide. And that no one would stop the machinery of death from moving forward.
For this reason, many of our launch protocols are designed to prevent an individual’s conscience from avoiding a nuclear holocaust.
To give just one example, many U.S. missile silos are controlled by five teams of two officers each. Once a confirmed launch order is received, any two of these teams can trigger the strike. Thus, even if 60 percent of the officers refuse the launch order, the nuclear attack will still happen.
Our protocols, moreover, aren’t just designed to ensure that the president’s order is carried out. They are designed to ensure that it is carried out quickly.

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