Biden Can Now Launch the Nukes and Unleash World War III Whenever He Feels Like It
During the Trump administration, I pointed to a problem with the American presidential system: it provides presidents with essentially unchecked power when it comes to launching a nuclear holocaust. Presidents can initiate nuclear war whenever they like. They need not be acting in a defensive capacity. This should strike any sane person as a rather insane policy, and as a huge hole in the so-called checks and balances on which the US political system is allegedly premised.
Because of the Beltway hysteria over Trump, the Congress—possibly for the first time—considered measures to rein in the president in this regard. It’s a shame it required Trump derangement syndrome to make this an issue, but we should take what we can get when it comes to admitting some of the grave threats to commonsensical governance that plague the American national security state.
Naturally, these lukewarm attempts at reform failed, likely because the Pentagon was surely opposed to them. While the president’s power is essentially unrestrained in this manner, the loosey goosey approach to controlling launching power also empowers the Pentagon. Surely, the Pentagon’s generals wanted to make sure they can have a big role in launching World War III on a whim as well.
Moreover, Trump supporters opposed the idea as well. When I published the 2020 article on the problem of unchecked presidential power in this regard, I was savaged by Trump supporters on social media for allegedly being a “never Trumper” and failing to understand that the power of the president must never be limited in any way, lest it get in the way of Trump “owning the libs.” Now that Trump is an ex-president, however, both Washington and the hero-worshipping Trump backers will completely forget about the issue. As far as Washington is concerned, the nuke codes are now being controlled by one of their own. And few Trump supporters ever cared about limiting presidential power anyway.
So, the power to incinerate a billion or more human beings over morning coffee remains in the power of the president. This morning, Biden supporters on Twitter were ecstatic over the video of the nuclear “football”—the device which enables the president to launch the nukes—being handed over to Biden:
Football incoming. pic.twitter.com/Ww4wz1GbIE
— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) January 20, 2021
But this should be little comfort to anyone who’s paying attention, especially given that the launch codes are now under the thumb of a man who may not even know what year it is.
But regardless of who is president, the fact is that the only thing that stands between a president and his launching of nuclear missiles is his own moral compass. Anyone who isn’t hopelessly naïve about politicians and political institutions will find this deeply disturbing.
A Brief History of the Nuclear Launch Process
But why has there been no significant effort to develop some sort of check or veto to this process? Part of this lies in the fact the US military establishment maintains a posture very much in favor of erring on the side of aggression rather than restraint. In the early days of the nuclear-armed