|Trinity Site, New Mexico, July 16, 1945|
The system of government in the United States has elaborate checks and balances to prevent excessive concentration of power in any one person or group. Yet, we allow a single person, in a few minutes of misjudgment, the option to launch nuclear weapons. Use of just a few of these weapons in conflict would make the earth literally uninhabitable within a few months, permanently, with no human surviving, anywhere, forever.
The Congress may now have the last opportunity to restrain an itchy trigger finger on the red button. Imminently, in two months, we will inaugurate a famously unpredictable and impulsive president. His 30-second attention span and volatile temper are well documented. Most members of both parties, including majority and minority leaders in the Congress, and the sitting President, doubt the new President’s judgment.
Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to forbid the President and any agency of the government from launching nuclear explosive devices without the unanimous decision of a committee. While specific composition of the committee could be subject to negotiation, I propose a committee of seven, to include the President, the Secretary of State, and the House and Senate party leaders, chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The legislation would specify backup members should any of the primary members be unable or unavailable to perform.
The Congress can, in 2016, pass the legislation and get the President’s signature within weeks, constraining the President in making the nuclear decision.
Photo: Trinity Test Fireball at 16 ms, Trinity Site, New Mexico, July 16, 1945 (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Trinity_Test_Fireball_16ms.jpg retr 20161109)