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USA Cabinet would not be able to Stop a Trump-Ordered Nuclear Strike

Don’t Count on the Cabinet to Stop a Trump-Ordered Nuclear Strike,  James Mattis and Rex Tillerson can’t stop a nuclear war if President Trump wants one, says former Defense Secretary Bill Perry. Politico
By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, November 14, 2017 
Stop counting on Secretary of Defense James Mattis or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to stop a nuclear war if Donald Trump wants one, says Bill Perry. They couldn’t.

 Perry, who served as secretary of defense for President Bill Clinton, is a 90-year-old arm-waving apostle of doom—“the possibility of an apocalypse thrust itself upon me,” he told me in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. He says nuclear war has “become more probable in the last year, partly because of President Trump,” and partly due to events beyond the president’s control. He thinks Trump doesn’t understand the North Koreans, and doesn’t understand what his rhetoric is doing.

That the president and his Cabinet secretaries are so often putting out conflicting messages makes the situation worse. And though Perry subscribes to the idea that Mattis and Tillerson are a “stabilizing influence,” he said that with this president, “I’m not really comfortable with anybody.”

While bills by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to restrict first use of nuclear weapons have stalled in Congress, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is set to put some muscle behind his very public anxiety about Trump’s leadership. On Tuesday, Corker will hold a committee hearing on nuclear authorization—the first on the topic since Gerald Ford was president—prompted by concerns he’s heard from members both on and off the committee over letting one person, and this person in particular, have the unfettered ability to launch a nuclear war.

Perry knows Mattis well—while Perry was defense secretary in the 1990s, Mattis worked for him directly, and they both ended up at Stanford University in recent years. The two still talk, and Perry thinks Mattis understands the nuclear threat well—he just doesn’t think Mattis would necessarily be able to do anything if Trump decided to go ahead with a strike.

Perry’s heard the story of Richard Nixon’s final days in the White House, when Defense Secretary James Schlesinger supposedly told generals that any nuclear strike order from the clearly distressed president be run by him first.

But that’s not really the way it works, Perry said.

“The order can go directly from the president to the Strategic Air Command. The defense secretary is not necessarily in that loop. So, in a five- or six- or seven-minute kind of decision, the secretary of defense probably never hears about it until it’s too late. If there is time, and if he does consult the secretary, it’s advisory, just that,” Perry explained. “Whether [the president] goes with it or doesn’t go with it—[the secretary] doesn’t have the authority to stop it.”

Perry lived through two nuclear apocalypse scares. The first lasted for days, when as a consultant, he was brought by the CIA to help sort through intelligence during the Cuban missile crisis. The second lasted for a split second, when as a lower-ranking Pentagon official during Jimmy Carter’s term, he was woken by a phone call warning him that it looked as if 200 nuclear missiles were already in the air—but it was immediately explained to him that this was a computer error. The experiences were searing, and left him convinced that only good luck and a little bit of good management saved the world from ending under John F. Kennedy, and that the context of lower tensions during that 1979 computer error stopped the situation from spiraling out of hand……….


November 15, 2017 - Posted by | politics, weapons and war

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