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The nuclear perils of Trump’s last days

Caligula Goes Covid: Nuclear Perils of Trump’s Last Days,   Modern Diplomacy  November 15, 2020, By Prof. Louis René Beres

“The air tonight is as heavy as the sum of human sorrows.”-Albert Camus, Caligula

It is no longer just hyperbole. Still armed with nuclear weapons, a conspicuously deranged American president may be willing to do anything to cling to power. And if that willingness should appear futile, Donald J. Trump could conceivably prefer apocalypse to “surrender.”[1]

Credo quia absurdum, said the ancient philosophers. “I believe because it is absurd.” In these presumptively final days of the Trump presidency, an impaired or irrational nuclear command decision remains possible. Though nothing can  be determined about the true mathematical probability of any such once unimaginable scenario,[2] there are increasingly compelling reasons for concern. One of these reasons is Mr. Trump’s bizarre eleventh-hour shakeup at the Department of Defense.

 Americans have let these urgent matters drift too long. Nonetheless, despite evident lateness of the hour, a summarizing query must finally be raised: Should this visibly impaired president still be allowed to decide when and where to launch American nuclear weapons? This is not a silly or trivial question.

In the early days of the Nuclear Age, when strategic weapon-survivability was still uncertain, granting presidential authority for immediate firing command was necessary to ensure credible nuclear deterrence. Today, however, when there no longer exists any reasonable  basis to doubt America’s durable second-strike nuclear capability (sometimes also called an “assured destruction” or undiminished retaliatory capability), there remains no good argument for continuing to grant the  president (any president) such potentially problematic decisional authority.

More general questions should now also be raised.

In our expansively imperiled democracy, ought any American president be permitted to hold such precarious life or death power over the entire country?

Inter alia, could such an allowance still be consistent with a Constitutional  “separation of powers?”

Can anyone reasonably believe that such existential power could ever have been favored by America’s Founding Fathers?

The correct answers are apparent, obvious and starkly uncomplicated.

We can readily extrapolate from Articles I and II of the Constitution that the Founders had  profound concern about Presidential power long before the advent of nuclear weapons. This concern predates even any imagination of apocalyptic warfare possibilities.[3]  So what next?…………………..

At this grievous point in America’s Trump-created declension, anything seems possible.

History deserves pride of place. Soon, any such disregard for plausible national harms could prove unconscionable. In the chaotic 1st century CE, long before political democracy could ever seem sustainable[12] and long before nuclear weapons, Roman Emperor Caligula revealed the overwhelmingly lethal costs of barbarous governance.

Today, a democratically defeated American president, clinging wrongfully to political power and expressing this egregious dereliction during a period of “plague,” could produce even less bearable costs.  At that nation-destroying point, the “air would be as heavy as the sum of human sorrows.”

History may not repeat itself, observed Mark Twain, “but it often rhymes.” Donald J. Trump may not be quite as decadent or depraved as Caligula,  but he may not be that far removed either. Credo quia absurdum, warned the ancient Romans. “I believe because it is absurd.”

Donald J. Trump is not Caligula, but he is a sinister stain upon the integrity and survival of the United States.  https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/11/15/caligula-goes-covid-nuclear-perils-of-trumps-last-days/

November 16, 2020 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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