Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons

Photo by The Official CTBTO Photo | CC BY 2.0

Maybe having a president in the White House who acts like an impulsive child is a good thing — at least if it convinces the Senate, a body that has for decades surrendered its vital Constitutional power over war and peace to the Executive Branch, to wrest it back.

This is particularly important in the case of nuclear weapons. As things stand, going back all the way to Harry Truman, the only world leader to have actually ordered the use of nuclear weapons in war (twice!), US presidents have been accorded the unfettered power and the technical ability to launch a nuclear strike with no input from Congress.

President Trump has alluded ominously and even gloatingly to his having that awesome power, literally at his fingertips.

That has led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has publicly referred to the Trump White House as an “adult daycare center,” to hold a hearing earlier this week to at least consider putting constraints on Trump’s power to launch nukes. No conclusions were reached, but the issue will likely come up again.

As one might have expected, critics are already decrying the idea of tying this or any president’s hands when it comes to the decision to launch nuclear missiles because they claim that a nuclear missile, even if fired from the opposite side of the earth, would only need 15 minutes to reach the US — far too little time for the Senate to debate and…

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