Nuclear Weapons

COVID-19 Demonstrates the Need To Change Nuclear Weapon Launch Authority

Giving one man control of all nuclear weapons is a mistake.

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After President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, he was prescribed powerful steroids. Among other things, this has raised important questions about giving presidents unilateral control over nuclear weapons.

While Congress or military leaders are involved in any other decision to use of military force, the president can legally order a nuclear strike on his own. "Congress doesn't have any role in this at the moment," says Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology. "They're not expected to be consulted."

Unitary presidential control of nuclear weapons dates from the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, and the practice has been cemented over time. This is partly a product of the general shift toward a stronger executive, and partly just an issue of timing: If the missiles are coming, you can't call up Congress.

Trump has been given many different medical treatments, among them dexamethasone. According to The Washington Post, this drug's possible side-effects include "psychic derangements" and "frank psychotic manifestations." And where other presidents, such as George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, temporarily transferred power to their vice presidents while they were under the influence of powerful pharmaceuticals, Trump did not.

Psychosis and nuclear weapons are a potentially dangerous combination. Even if the possibility of a rogue president ordering a nuclear strike remains a remote possibility, Wellerstein says that policies should be changed to make sure someone else is included in such a monumental decision. Barring absolute extreme circumstances, he suggests, "the secretary of defense's positive assent" ought to be necessary before a nuclear launch can be legally ordered.

In the absence of a change to the official rules, Wellerstein says, Pentagon officials and members of the presidential cabinet would be left to "try to talk him down out of this." But without a clear violation of the laws of war, and without the invocation of the 25th Amendment, military officials have no power to disobey that order.

What's more likely is a scenario where a flashpoint occurs, and a president under the influence of this sort of medication chooses an escalatory response.

"I consider that a much more realistically dangerous scenario," Wellerstein says.

Regardless of the president's health status, the Cold War mentality that emphasizes first-strike policies designed for a different era of geopolitical concerns should be revisited and revised. Even under the best of circumstances, unilateral presidential control over nuclear weapons is risky. And there are secondary considerations as well: At least one of the five military aides to the president has reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus. Among other tasks, those aides carry the nuclear football.

"The system we have is very much a product of the 1940s, with some modifications in the 1950s and the 1960s," Wellerstein says. "And we don't live in the 1940s, '50s, or '60s. So I think we should feel free to question whether the system we have now is the ideal system for our present day."

NEXT: Massachusetts and Alaska May Join Maine in Letting Voters Rank Their Choices

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  1. But without nukes, how will Gov Cuomo stop the Jews from giving us Covid?

    1. You might view casual anti-Semitism as funny but the Anti-Defamation League doesn’t.

      1. Does the ADL even have a sense of humor, for anything? Do their staff ever play jokes on each other?

        I mean, I can imagine almost all Dems making jokes about Trump and gun-toting toothless hicks; the Bad Rev excepted. I can imagine Republicans doing the same about Democratic spend-a-thons.

        But the ADL? Hard for me to imagine them making jokes about anything.

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  2. Not gonna lie, former Trump voter here. This is fucking hilarious watching Trump crash and burn. But in all seriousness we can’t let this guy get the nuclear codes.

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    2. Never understand this. You voted Trump, the jerk, then he does an actually decent job as president despite being a jerk, so you decide you’re going to vote for Biden who acts nice enough when he isn’t sniffing and touching women??? Well actually you’d be voting Harris because no one really thinks Biden could last more than a month before stepping aside. The presidency turns people old fast, look at pictures when people are elected and when they leave office, Biden does one campaign event every other day and immediately has to go rest.

      1. Biden will be fine as long as black women stock the grocery shelves.

        1. Fortunately, Biden announced today that he stated that “running as a proud Democrat for the Senate”.

          vs the jerk who brought us the lowest unemployment in 50 years, but, but, but, Orange man bad. MSNBC told me so.

    3. Poor lefties. Trump beat the Chinese cold hysteria and now he cant be trusted with his Executive powers under the constitution.

      With all the 25th amendment talk from lefties and this nonsense from unreason, its clear Trump will win reelection. Democrats would never go through the trouble if they knew for sure Biden would win,

      1. Whatever you’re on I want cuz it must be good shit. If Trump loses and riles up his inbred, dumbass base and won’t leave then him and ALL YOU INBRED FUCKING MORONS need to be hung for treason.

        Goddamn far right loons

        Loveconstitution is a racist fucking piece of trash.

        1. Maybe this one’s Kirkland.

      2. These poor new unreason bots.

  3. “COVID-19 Demonstrates the Need To Change Nuclear Weapon Launch Authority”

    I suppose so. But even more importantly, the pandemic demonstrates the need for unlimited, unrestricted immigration.

    Of course we Koch / Reason libertarians always support open borders. But our benefactor Charles Koch’s immigration agenda is more important now than ever. Just think of all the doctors trying to cross the US / Mexico border so they can help overwhelmed American hospitals.

    #OpenBorders
    #(EspeciallyDuringAPandemic)

  4. Whoa, the US has WMDs?!?!

  5. Um, somebody quick go tell Rutzick to bust open a copy of the US Constitution, and look up Article II. He might learn something there. Something about that separation of powers, or the executive something or other.

    Sigh.

    1. It also not one person with all the authority. It requires others to also follow the presidents orders, but their first duty is to the constitution. Trump doesn’t have a red launch button.

      1. But, but, but….Orange Man Bad! Bad Orange Man can press Red Button! /sarc

        The intern Rutzick has to take background research 101. 🙂

      2. Trusting junior air force officers, who may or not be part of your sick cult, to save the planet from nuclear annihilation seems a bit cavalier.

        1. Good thing they aren’t in the chain.

      3. Yea its a multi step process and if they think that those with the actual button would launch with out some real provocation then the whole article is just more scare people because of tds

  6. Nah, having one man control all the nukes is a great idea. As long as it’s me. I have a plan.

    1. “…so anyway, I started blasting.”

    2. Can we hear that plan, or de we have to wait until after the election?

  7. Time to dust off Wing Attack Plan “R”.

    1. Damn you, I was just about to post that.

      1. I love that Kubrick—allegedly—shocked the shit out of the USAF with how close he got the interiors right on a SAC bird.

  8. According to The Washington Post, this drug’s possible side-effects include “psychic derangements” and “frank psychotic manifestations.”

    Other drugs that may do so…

    NSAIDs, penicillin, caffeine, other common drugs…

    https://m.medicalletter.org/w1301c

    News at 11. Drugs can have uncommon side effects.

    1. I feel like Bar Kokhba when I have my second cup of coffee.

      1. I tried a pre workout drink called Lit yesterday… head was tingling. Def should be on the list above.

        1. That’s probably beta alanine. Great stuff.

        2. The 250mg of caffeine probably has something to do with it too.

          1. Ha! Like the pencil-dicked moron even understands what caffeine is. He and the other aborto-freak hillbilly Trumpers just know ‘funny drink make feel weird’. Sadly that’s all their tiny brains can handle.

    2. WHAT ABOUT THE MARIJUANA??

    3. Just to provide some background, we aren’t talking freak reactions here. Mood alterations, typically elevated or expansive moods are pretty common with high potency glucocorticoids like dexamethasone. Ones that make you batshit crazy are rare, and most of the time the changes aren’t clinically significant compared to what the drug is being given to treat, but we are talking about a frequent offender here (as we say in medicine). This is more like talking about jitteriness as a side effect of caffeine, or stomach upset for aspirin. Those tweets from Dad that Donald Trump Jr. got so worried about? That was the dexamethasone talking. That comment about feeling better than he has in 20 years?… Like I haven’t that one before. How many times? Lots. Why? Dexamethasone. Glucocorticoids are a frequent reason for emergent psych consults in an inpatient setting. Batshit crazy is rare, but it is predictably rare. When you get called to see a patient on a medical floor who has suddenly become psychotic, you start looking through their med list for certain drugs. At the top of that list are dexamethasone or other high potency glucocorticoids.

      It’s legitimate to ask WTF makes me think I have something worthwhile to say about this topic? Partly med school and my psychiatry residency. But I think those years getting my PhD studying (mostly) glucocorticoid effects on the serotonin system and mood regulation have something to do with it. I realize recognition of hard earned expertise is out of fashion on both ends of the left-right spectrum these days, but I hold out hope that it might still be in vogue among other libertarian minded folks.

      1. I went to med school too.

        Too bad I got no kick from the Solumedrol and prednisone I got for my parainfluenza B bronchiolitis in the spring of 2018. But I did suffer some adverse mineralocorticoid effects, gaining 10 kg in water and going into congestive heart failure. I should’ve recognized it when the rhonchi went away and were replaced by rales. Of course the atrial fibrillation I was having from the chest infection didn’t help.

      2. Finally someone else in the comments here who understands science and can prove how psychotic the Tangerine Rapist really is. Go ahead and ask them about abortion, if you’re ready for Def-tard 5 level discourse.
        It’s almost hard not to feel sorry for the commenters here, but the uneducated bible-thumping backwoods retards who litter this website have sadly always been this stupid. Probably from spending too much time fellating the Con Man’s misshapen mushroom stipe trying to suck out the snake oil.

        1. By which you mean someone who supports your biases? Trump can be a thin-skinned loudmouth, and that’s been apparent for a long time. Your in-group loyalties and tendency to insult rather than argue have been on display for years as well.

    4. Democrats are butthurt that Tr7mp beat Kungflu like he beat Democrats at every stupid plan they have.

  9. Clearly reason editors watch too many movies and listen to too many democrats.

  10. Wellerstein is usually fantastic on this issue. You’re probably familiar with him as the guy who created NUKEMAP, as well as his Nuclear Secrecy blog. So I’m going to go with quoted wayyyy out of context. Although, he does cover his ass by writing, “Barring extreme circumstances…” Extreme circumstances like a nuclear attack, Alex?

    But, this article has no mention of the two man rule, no mention of public source information on how a nuclear war order would be issued. Hell, Tom Clancy dealt with this exact issue at the end of one of his books. Most face-palmingly, no mention of the steps taken immediately prior to Nixon’s resignation to informally insert additional chains into the path to authenticate, issue, and transmit any orders to engage in military action. See, James Schlesinger (Nixon’s SECDEF at the time) and his public comments about the period: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-most-patriotic-act-of-treason-in-american-history

    Read Eric Schlosser’s “Command and Control”, if you want a decent book about US nuclear surety and C3I issues in this realm.

    1. You’ve got some good points about there being much more involved than just the president saying ‘nuke ’em.’ However I do think it is important to note that the strongest controls mentioned are not pertinent and others are risky to rely on when the president repeatedly, and successfully, blows through informal and president based restraints.
      For example, the two man rule. A standard that two people are needed to engage the system to actually launch nuclear weapons, for example two keys that must be turned at the same time too far apart for anyone to do alone. This essentially precludes a single person from launching a missile, but has no bearing whatsoever on whether a single person has the legal authority or capacity to successfully order the two people to launch.
      Currently the only restraints on the President of the United States ordering a nuclear strike because he feels like it are either informal or can be legally circumvented by replacing the person who refuses. Making them a speed-bump not an obstacle. The secretary of defense must verify the order before it can be carried out. But the president can fire a secretary who refuses and replace him with someone who is compliant. And if there is one thing Donald Trump is good at, it is getting rid of people who say no and finding people willing to do whatever he tells them to do no matter what. If Jim Mattis was Defense Secretary, there is no way he would verify such an order. If William Barr was the Secretary, there is no way he wouldn’t do anything in order to verify it.

      I have total confidence that, in general, officers U.S. military command structures would balk at an out of the blue attack order and do their best to stop or delay it. But those who think the officers oath stating they will only obey lawful orders makes it impossible for such an order to be carried out forget that the order is not technically illegal. Making it a judgement call, and even it was illegal, a certain percentage of officers would obey anyway, probably lying to themselves that it was either legal or if not necessary anyway. Human are like that, you can’t get 100% to do or not do anything. The military might slow such an order down, they could not stop it. Which means we are back to speed-bumps not obstacles. And in the case of an overreaction, which as Wellerstein correctly states is by far and away the real danger, it is unlikely the military would so much as slow it down even if every officer involved had grave misgivings. Ironically for one of the same reasons a U.S. military coup is almost impossible, its total acceptance of civilian control. The military will only resist a batshit crazy order.

      Now for the same reason that some people will accept any order, there are some in the chain between the order and the missile launch that will not turn the key or continue the order. It is this human factor (by Soviet officers) that is the reason we are still here to discuss this issue. But this stopped the actual launch in one case (during the cuban missile crisis), and the communication of erroneous information to those who could order an attack anyway in a second case in 1983. Not a command from the person who was supposed to be able to order an attack. Even so, we can be confident that some will refuse. And that is utterly irrelevant to the issue of whether this is a real problem. Because even if 90+% of people in the chain between order and release of weapons said no, we are talking about a total number of weapons larger than China’s entire nuclear arsenal. Even if 99+% refused, the consequences are devastating. Anyone who thinks ten or twenty nuclear warheads is no biggie and will all blow over is as batshit crazy as someone ordering said launch. Even one is a BFD.
      But while I disagree with Gray-Jay about the effectiveness of limits he mentions, I want to be clear he is thinking about the real issues involved and not just dismissing the risk. As far as I am concerned, my beef with what he says is just an honest disagreement about effectiveness, and to me that is a good faith disagreement. So I want to make clear the rest of what say is really about the people saying this is all Trump hate or democratic party drivel and as a result dismissive of the idea that this is even something worth thinking about at all.

      The saving grace is that the chance that even a psychotic Trump would order a launch is vanishingly remote. He is too navel gazing and focused on personal preening and vendettas to have much chance this would happen. However, as the past 3.5 years has shown, many standards of conduct by the government that most think are encoded in laws are not. Even a president who is constrained only by clear illegality, and not at all by tradition and precedent as almost all have been, is barely constrained at all off their political party refuses to do so. For politicians, being power hungry by nature, this is strong fuel for their worst impulses. Others will look at what he did and say I can do it too. He has likely helped ensure more demagogues (and that is what he is) are in our future. It is likely that some of them will be more externally focused, less self-indulgently lazy, and more generally malevolent than Trump. One would think that a libertarian audience would instinctively understand that government power, even when necessary (perhaps especially), is inherently dangerous. But between the thought destroying qualities of tribalism and the prevalence of right wing statists who fancy themselves libertarian because it sounds cool and Rush said he was one; this idea seems to escape many readers. And since so many here seem to be blind to right wing authoritarianism and eager to make excuses or dismiss concerns about it, I have to state the obvious. You may not give a shit about right wing demagogues, but there will be left wing demagogues in our future too. Do you want an American Hugo Chavez to have these powers? Because he will. Unless we start thinking about how to constrain such powers now, when he arrives it will be too late.

      1. It’s more than a two-man rule to launch. There are checks and balances throughout; the insistence that a ‘junior Air Force officer’ will simply blindly follow an order from an erratic superior is a trope. It is also patently ridiculous, the military is not monolithic in their sociopolitical views. As for left-wing demagogues or populists, we have politicians and media figures analogous to this level of influence now. Career politicians tend toward abuse of power and away from any means of checking them. The likelihood of the voting populace gaining meaningful control of Leviathan is as likely as term limits being placed on members of the US Congress -slim to none.

    2. I should also say that the 25th amendment can be invoked, but it requires the vice president plus 8 of the 15 cabinet level officials have to agree. If the vice president or a majority of cabinet level officials are yes-men or won’t question the president, that can’t happen. And this is a guy who is on record actually demanding cabinet meets start with each official offering obsequious praise. Not to mention getting rid of anyone who tells him no. Unless the needed people act quickly and in secret, the problem of just replacing principled men like James Schlesinger remains. Is anyone in Trump’s current cabinet made of the moral fiber that Schlesinger was? Keep in mind that Nixon was able to get the Atty. General to fire the special prosecutor. It only took going through two people to find one (Robert Bork) who would do what he wanted.

      I’m not going to pretend that the problem of keeping a presidential demagogue from having unilateral authority to launch nukes, while also making sure presidents have the authority when that authority is needed and being used appropriately is an easy one. It is a very difficult problem. perhaps one with no good answers. But I reject the notion that the question isn’t worth asking or that it isn’t worth considering as an hazard. Especially for libertarians. And I suspect a lot more people in this comment section (present company perhaps excluded) would realize this if we were talking about a left wing demagogue and not one from the right.

      1. Ah, so refreshing to have a commenter with a big medulla oblongata (if you know what I mean). A well thought out reply that no one can argue with, but I hate to say you’re really just wasting your time. The Peanuts here are too brainwashed to understand any of it… Literally their faces are so covered in Trump’s milky semen that it washed out all of their few remaining braincells.

        1. The same point applies here, you agree, because your biases are reinforced. You offer no additional arguments, but more ad hominem attacks.

  11. This is quite possibly the stupidest take ever. I can only guess that the author was watching Pelosi’s crazy 25th Amendment presser this morning and then started daydreaming.

    The reason you might extend the authority to launch is solely to ensure that you *can* still launch if the president is incapacitated- and we have a process for succession. Only one person can *order* the launch of missiles. Multiple people are required to actually launch them. So the idea that a crazed president could launch is idiotic. Maybe the author should read Sum of All Fears?

  12. Remember when Trump started WWIII? Yeah I don’t either. But apparently he did and he wasn’t on steroids at the time. Dude gets all junked up on roids and tweets that all the military in Afghanistan will be home by Christmas. Go figure. Nancy says he’s acting erratically and we need to dust off 25A. Reason is terrified that he’s hiding the nuclear button under his pillow and might mistake it for the TV remote. The Chairman once told us that the nuke bomb is a paper tiger. It seems he may have been right. Or not. In any case we clearly need to put TOP MEN in charge of the football.

    1. Of course you don’t remember, what with all the amnesia bombs that were used.

    2. Dude gets all junked up on roids and tweets that all the military in Afghanistan will be home by Christmas.

      Chuckle

    3. “Reason is terrified that he’s hiding the nuclear button under his pillow and might mistake it for the TV remote.”

      Literally lol.

  13. >But without a clear violation of the laws of war, and without the invocation of the 25th Amendment, military officials have no power to disobey that order.

    They can say “No”. A constitutional crisis beats nuclear war. Heck, a Secret Service agent could pull a gun if necessary, if the President was obviously unhinged.

    >Barring absolute extreme circumstances, he suggests, “the secretary of defense’s positive assent” ought to be necessary before a nuclear launch can be legally ordered.

    But what if he’s in another state at the time? Sub-launched missiles would only give minutes of warning before hitting many cities.

    1. Exactly. The author even has an actual solution right there. If your president is hopped up on goofballs and orders you to launch a first strike, 25A his ass. How hard is this?

      1. The hilarious part is, despite Pelosi’s idiocy, it’s exceedingly well designed as is. The VP and cabinet are all that’s required and the cabinet is (in part) intrinsic to the decision and it’s almost inconceivable that the VP would be kept entirely out of the loop.

        Mixing Congress in the decision obviously cripples the timeliness of the decision-making process and doesn’t exactly guarantee any better outcome (see Iraq) and, moreover, the Cabinet has *already* been vetted and confirmed by Congress.

        At best it’s political theater, at worst, she’s overtly trying to make the issue worse.

        1. intrinsic to the decision

          The decision to launch that is…

          1. ‘She’s overtly trying to make the issue worse.’ This does seem to be her only strong suit, other than lying.

  14. Remember when Clinton lost the nuclear codes?

    1. Let’s be accurate. Bill Clinton lost—for something like six months, IIRC—his ‘biscuit.’ What’s a biscuit? It’s a sealed card with a confidential alphanumeric sequence so that someone he’s talking to at the other end of a radio, can be assured that this dickhead is actually who he says he is. Then, the guy at the other end of a radio asks if there’s another guy around (and who can prove it, with their own biscuit) who can verify that yep, it’s the President right here. De facto, it’s also a, ‘and I confirm the President’s right that we need to nuke whoever.’

      Anyway, Bill lost his for awhile, and didn’t tell anyone, because he’s a shithead. Would it have halted Armageddon? Very likely No.

      1. See this, for example: https://abcnews.go.com/WN/president-bill-clinton-lost-nuclear-codes-office-book/story?id=11930878

        They aren’t the codes to launch stuff. They’re the codes that tell the people who tell people to launch stuff, “I’m the President. Listen to me if we need to nuke somebody.”

      2. You’re right about Clinton being a shithead and that it wouldn’t have halted Armageddon,

        But let me point out bringing Clinton into it is a classic Tu quoque fallacy. The fact one’s opponents are hypocrites does not invalidate the points they make. It is utterly irrelevant. Clinton’s irresponsibility does not make anything Trump or anyone else does OK.

        But if we are trotting out fallacies, let me employ guilt by association and point out that this was the favorite tactic of the Soviets when the US attacked their human right abuses. Just google “And you are lynching blacks!” (“А у вас негров линчуют”).

  15. I can’t believe Reason is repeating this same stupid Dr. Strangelove-like theory of a rogue president launching a nuclear war. This is almost impossible. The president doesn’t have the phone number of the launch room in some nuclear missile complex. He can’t call up and say “Let’s get nuking folks, I gots me an itch that needs scratchin!”.

    The authentication codes (the nuclear football) are there so that no launch can be carried out with the President’s approval. That’s not equivalent to saying the President can order a launch on his say so. Every member of the military is taught that they must not carried out illegal orders. The officers in the nuclear weapons chain of command are extra sensitive to what this means. They will not launch just because the President tells them to, they must have evidence of international situation that is consistent with a launch order. If Trump orders up nukes on a whim, or even for something substantive like an Iranian non-WMD terrorist attack on the US, the military will ignore the order.

    1. They made same stupid assumptions nuclear launches with Reagan. It was stupid then even stupider now

      1. Because it is stupid for a avowedly libertarian news magazine to express concern about possible unintended and ill considered hazards of government powers? Funny, I thought that was part and parcel of the libertarian world view. It’s large part of what attracted me to libertarianism, I guess I’m in the wrong place then.

        Less sarcastically, the risk from Reagan doing such as thing, even given the signs of Alzheimers that were clearly present by the second term, are so infinitesimal that even I would be dismissive of the risk. He was a deeply honorable man who had great respect and reverence for American tradition and customs in government that have for all intents and purposes precluded such orders being given.

        Which is why your comment about it being stupider now is among the stupidest things I’ve seen today. Even stupider than the other stupid things being said here. Trump has no respect for traditions or customs of government conduct. He has no respect for anything that limits him from doing what he wants or might want. He is a demagogue, not a very effective one thankfully, which is why such concerns as this article expresses are much more of a concern for the demagogues that are likely to follow him. But to say that it is stupider for be concerned about a demagogue ordering an inappropriate nuclear strike than Ronald Reagan ordering one? Wow. Now that takes the stupid cake. Even if one ignores reality and dismisses Trump as a demagogue, do you really think Donald Trump is a wiser and more stable president than Reagan? Really? Or did you forget who is president right now?

        1. do you really think Donald Trump is a wiser and more stable president than Reagan? Really? Or did you forget who is president right now?

          They actually think Trump isn’t legally retarded. Clearly not the brightest bulbs, this bunch.

        2. Trump has no respect for traditions or customs of government conduct.

          Fantastic. Fuck the poseur fascists.
          Our political-media class is trash, this “have you no decency” talk is a sham.

          But to say that it is stupider for be concerned about a demagogue ordering an inappropriate nuclear strike than Ronald Reagan ordering one? Wow. Now that takes the stupid cake.

          How many wars did Reagan start versus Trump? How many countries did Reagan pledge to pull troops out of? Would Reagan have peacefully negotiated with the Taliban and the NORKs like Trump did? Did Reagan help negotiate as many peace deals as Trump?

          Sure Reagan was less of a warmonger than Clinton, Obama and the Bush’s, but he was nowhere near as instinctively pacifist as Trump. And yet here you are, affecting sham concern.
          Fucking demagogue.

        3. ‘Trump has no respect for traditions or customs of government conduct. He has no respect for anything that limits him from doing what he wants or might want. He is a demagogue.’

          And with these assertions, your argument shifts from rational to emotional, straight into in-group biases. Trump may not be stellar, but he is not what you make him out to be. It is little wonder your entire argument was based on presumption, given your viewpoint.

    2. I can’t believe that so many people who consider themselves libertarian are so unaware of the actual legal standards (as opposed to just what has been standard practice but is not legally required conduct) for making a launch order. Or that the current president has consistently disregarded any standards of conduct or restrictions on his actions that are not absolutely and explicitly legally required (and even then tried to evade them). Or that one can always find someone willing to obey any order if you look hard enough. Not that the powerful have to look very hard to find sychopohants .

      While every officer swears to obey only lawful orders, some engage in unlawful conduct. That is just human nature. Even so, I have total confidence that the officers in the nuclear chain of command understand the meaning of their responsibility. But there is no requirement that ” they must have evidence of international situation that is consistent with a launch order” Show us the law that says they must. There is none. This is tradition and custom not law. Such an order is not unlawful. Even so, I am confident that some, maybe most will say no. And Trump has authority to order them replaced until he gets someone saying yes. Have you not observed his pattern of getting rid of people who say no and replacing them with yes-men?. There is a requirement that the Secretary of Defense confirm the order, same problem. Jim Mattis would say no. Would Mark Esper? And if he did, how much longer would he continue to be secretary?

      You are confusing tradition and custom with legal or statutory requirements. Trump, like any demagogue, barely conforms to actual legal or statutory requirements, and is not at all concerned with following tradition and custom. He just keeps replacing people until he gets someone who does what he wants.

      Now is this likely? Not at all. Trump is too lazy, self-absorbed, and focused on having his ego stoked domestically to make it likely. If anything there is more of a risk of him under reacting. But that probably won’t be the case with the next demagogue, so we should be thinking now about this because preventing inappropriate launches without inhibiting appropriate ones is a very difficult problem. And it is exactly the type of risk arising from misuse of government power that libertarianism is historically concerned about. Especially now that we have a modern example of a president who is not constrained by the tradition and customs that have made such actions almost unthinkable in the past.

      1. That’s a lot of words simply to confirm how paranoid you are while whining about “muh norms.” The Bulwark neocons need to do a better job in sending over their concern trolls.

        1. I know, its hard to read words. Especially long ones. So much easier not to think at all. Thanks for sharing.

          1. Haha! I like your style Doctor.

            1. The hicklib pederast weighs in!

          2. Most of your words were simply paranoiac rambling; the sophistication of them matters little.

      2. Are you suggesting that Trump can replace the Secretary of Defense on a whim? That’s a position which requires the advice and consent of the Senate.

      3. I can’t believe that so many people who consider themselves libertarian are so unaware of the actual legal standards

        I know, but you people won’t shut the hell up and stop spouting your ignorance.

        From word one it was clear you had no clue, but you just keep prattling on.

  16. Nice to know Reason isn’t gonna even pretend anymore.

    1. Unreason is straight democrat ticket now.

    2. Yah, they won’t pretend that right wing statism and libertarianism are the same thing. Let me guess, you started coming here during the Obama administration and didn’t realize that libertarianism opposes statism from both the left and right. You thought it only opposed left statism. Here is a little reality reorientation: right wing statism hates freedom as much as left wing statism. Just different aspects of freedom. If you want a right wing statist party line, you need to look elsewhere.

      1. They’ve conveniently redefined the left/right spectrum around here so that Left = ‘statist’ and Right = ‘freedom’. If you stick around you’ll quickly find that you’re barely using the same language as half of these group-think addled “libertarians”.

      2. I’m a libertarian that subscribed to the hard copy of the magazine in the early 2000’s, so how about you shove your faulty assumptions up your ass and let the adults talk.

      3. This coming from a guy who literally burped out the same, tired “He’s too dangerous to have his finger on the nuclear button!” boilerplate the left wing has said about non-Democratic politicians since 1964.

  17. Must have seen “The Dead Zone” and had bad nightmares.
    Stupid fear article.

  18. What is this bullshit? I’m a stupid layman and I know that an insane president can’t just jam the red button and launch all the nukes. What the fuck is this take?

    If soldiers are issued illegal or immoral orders, they actually have a DUTY to disobey. Getting a call out of blue while we’re at Defcon 5 with the order to level Moscow? They’re not doing that shit.

    1. This whole story is Shikha-level shit.

    2. Oh, c’mon, it’s a big red button on his desk in the Oval Office. He could accidentally bump it with his elbow and KABOOM!

      Everybody knows that.

      1. They had to keep reminding W that it’s not a coaster.

      2. Rutzick was summoning this when he wrote the article:

        https://vimeo.com/126720159

    3. And since when has having a duty to do or not do something ever worked for 100% of human beings. Hint: never.

      1. Feel free to list a different standard of action that does not have the identical problem.

        There was a FAR greater issue of Obama wanting to nuke people than Trump, given that the government did anything Obama asked, including openly violating the law.

  19. Ha ha..who is this Wallerstein guy? some leftie or neocon. Ready the constitution asshole..the President is commander in chief not the Congress. This is very well rooted in Roman historical experience. You can’t have 500plus folks trying to run a war. Obama got knocked out for his endoscopy and Clinton for his knee surgery..you are not supposed to make any decisions the day of your anesthesia. Yes not a whimper from this guy. STFU..this article is useless

    1. What’s well rooted in Roman historical experience is the danger posed by demagogues. The founders knew and warned us of the the type of men that had killed the ancient republics (unfortunately the system the created to protect us from them failed). Read the Constitution. Better yet, follow it up by checking out the federalist papers, specifically Federalist #69 for war powers, #1 and #68 for the danger of demagogues. We are fortunate in that the people who crafted the Constitution wrote about why they did what they did. Pity so few people who claim to value original intent bother to find out what that intent was.

      Congress is supposed to have the power to declare war because the founders believed that the president, while commander in chief, should not have the unilateral power to decide to go to war. This is what kings did and they rejected it absolutely. Decide to go to war and funding of war: congress. Conduct of the war: president. That’s the separation of war powers the founders wrote into the Constitution. And they were clear about why.

      Also it seems you didn’t read the article any more carefully than the Constitution. It states ” And where other presidents, such as George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, temporarily transferred power to their vice presidents while they were under the influence of powerful pharmaceuticals, Trump did not.” Clinton and Obama also temporarily transferred power. Nothing to whimper about, unless you’re actually complaining they didn’t follow today’s standards and just make shit up. Perhaps they chose to mention Bush and Reagan because they know lots of right-wing statists fancy themselves libertarian and maybe they will consider Trumps deviation from Reagan’s conduct more offensive than if it was Clinton’s. Maybe they are hoping you’ll learn something.

      So it is not the writer of this article who has written something useless, who needs to learn something about the Constitution and STFU until he does. It’s the guy you see when you look in the mirror.

      1. Congress hasn’t declared war since World War II, you idiot. Guess how many military actions we’ve taken in that time?

      2. “Congress is supposed to have the power to declare war because the founders believed that the president, while commander in chief, should not have the unilateral power to decide to go to war.”

        Wonderful.
        How many times has this happened in the last seventy-five years?

  20. Is this kid trying to be Bandy Lee jr.?

  21. Covid19 is a fucking flu.

    REASON has died.

    1. No Reason hasn’t died. Its libertarianism that seems to be dying. And the evidence isn’t in the articles that they write, it’s in the comment section where libertarian principles, and the associated rational thought and critical thinking are only rarely found. With remarkably few exceptions, just about all we seem to have here are right wing statists who can’t recognize libertarianism even when it bites them on the ass. It’s just one excuse after another for statism, so long as it is their tribe’s statism. No different than the left. Just as useless and ready to become serfs.

      1. Stick around Dr.

        Libertarians could use some help around here.

        Reason is an experiment to try and build a libertarian community. Not doing well.

        1. Libertarians could use some help around here.

          We absolutely could with all you leftists scuttling about like someone moved the refrigerator.

    2. +1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

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  24. This article is hilarious. Well done. I appreciate good comedy journalism. Will Rutzick be using this in his application to The Babylon Bee?

  25. Search Looking Glass and you’ll find continuously aloft planes on which three officers were empowered to simultaneously turn keys and launch our Titan missiles. This mooted eventualities such as gas attacks on ground crews. The Constitution empowers each State to launch weapons if “actually invaded or in such imminent Danger as will not admit delay” quite apart from 2A which empowers well-regulated militias to “keep and bear arms.” For 3/4 century none have cared to try conclusions with These States, but the sooner we improve defenses, the better.

    1. Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

  26. This article only proves that Rutzick is fucking clueless on how the nuclear chain of command works.

  27. Hold on, if Obama could launch nukes and order drone-strikes on weddings from the 18th hole, and Hillary could make Bill bomb Kosovo while he was getting a header from an aide under the desk in the oval office, why wouldn’t Trump have the football during his weekend stay at the hospital?

    1. “That’s different because shut up”

  28. Can we not sleep tight at night now knowing that our Martian good neighbors have taken the launch keys away from our industrial-strength investment grade nuclear war fighting hobbyists and are unlikely to give them back to them anytime soon?

    Will American workers not STRIKE THEM OUT and take the keys to our purse away from the nuclear warfighting hobbyists and get this nuclear threat and menace off of us? Will workers not shut down that atomic pile fire that has been burning for nearly a decade at Hitachi-GE before we are died off from the brimstone fumes coming from there?

  29. I think so. But even more importantly, the epidemic demonstrates the need for unlimited, unrestricted immigration.

  30. Huh, correct me if I am wrong, is this about the same man that called off attacking Iran after they shot down our drone? The same man who asked how many would be killed? The answer was ‘maybe 50’… So he said stand down, it’s only a drone… or something to that effect.

    What would have Obama, Bush or Clinton have done? Halsey? What would Kamala do??

    The mistake was visiting Reason today.

    p.s. Obama would probably have sent Iran another pallet of cash.

  31. A faulty premise, all around.

    Corticosteroids in very limited (2-day) doses do not cause significant psychogenic effects.

    The President DOES NOT have unitary authority to launch anything. The football consists of some communications equipment, and some plans. The President can call in an order, which has to be verified by a member of a very select, congressionally approved people with the President, and then the orders are relayed to the actual forces commanders involved – who then order the relevant forces to launch. This is only practical. The President does not need to keep track of what works and what doesn’t.

    I know that Reason dislikes the President. But get the facts straight. TELL THE TRUTH.

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