Law would mean congress must vote before a nuclear strike
Amid all the hubub about crowd numbers, tahe most worrying thought is President Donald J Trump now has his finger on the button that could launch thousands of nuclear weapons.
Faced with this, in a country with a long-standing policy of allowing a nuclear ‘first strike’ (even against non-nuclear countries), Democratic law makers are proposing new legislation that would prevent the president launching a first strike without a declaration of war by congress.
The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 is a response to President Trump’s alarming views, which have included:
- Being open to using nuclear weapons in Europe because it is a ‘big place’
- Wanting to be ‘unpredictable’ when it comes to the possible use of such weapons
- Not being that worried about other countries obtaining nuclear weapons because ‘it’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them’
- Being prepared to see an arms race in Asia
Then there was the Tweet he sent last month calling for the US to expand its nuclear arsenal.
The Bill is co-sponsored by Ted Lieu, Democratic Congressman from Los Angeles County, has said:
“It is a frightening reality that the US now has a commander-in-chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be ‘unpredictable’ with nuclear weapons, and as President-elect was making sweeping statements about US nuclear policy over Twitter.”
“Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the U.S. would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon.
Our Founders created a system of checks and balances, and it is essential for that standard to be applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war.”
Another co-sponsor, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ed Markey, went on to say:
“Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival. Yet President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists.
Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, US policy provides him with that power.
In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country, this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation.”
“Neither President Trump, nor any other president, should be allowed to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack.
By restricting the first use of nuclear weapons, this legislation enshrines that simple principle into law.”
It comes just days after it emerged that Tadatoshi Akiba, the former mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, has written to Trump inviting him to meet with survivors of the nuclear bomb that hit the city in 1945, and urging him to make ‘wise and peaceable’ decisions regarding nuclear weapons.
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.