For 40 years, the president of the United States has had the sole authority to launch a nuclear strike. Congress gave the commander in chief that power during the height of the Cold War because the threat of a Soviet ballistic missile attack required the U.S. to have immediate counter strike capability, if for no other reason than to substantiate our deterrent and complete the Mutually Assured Destruction circle. If the Kremlin knew we could fire our missiles on them before their missiles reached U.S. airspace, they would be less likely to launch a preemptive strike in the first place.
But even after the Cold War ended, congress didn’t feel the need to reevaluate the authority it gave to the Oval Office. They sat by as four presidents came and went following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and never did they question the commander in chief’s lone ability to launch a nuclear strike.
Until now. Not a year into President Trump’s first term, and congress has decided it’s time to reconsider the wisdom of investing one man with the power to destroy the planet.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings today to discuss the authority given to the office of the president, and committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “it’s time to review the president’s authority to launch a nuclear strike,” reports UPI.
“Making the decision to go to war of any sort is a heavy responsibility for our nation’s elected leaders, and the decision to use nuclear weapons is the most consequential of all,” he said during his opening statement. Later, Sen. Corker was careful to add that, “this shouldn’t be taken as something that is specific to anyone.”
Democrat Chris Murphy, however, was less diplomatic, and wasn’t afraid to state loudly and clearly what was motivating today’s historic hearing.
“We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
Experts weighed-in on the merits of both changing and keeping the current command and control structure, though Sen. Corker pointed out that today’s groundbreaking hearings were just the beginning.
“I do not see a legislative solution today,” Corker said. “But that doesn’t mean that over the course of next several months one might develop.”/verifiedpolitics.com/