The U.S. nuclear triad has so many checks and balances built into it that in reality a President can't just order a nuclear strike, those who control the weapons have to agree that such an order is actually legal.
yes, and no. and mostly no.
"The president has supreme authority to decide whether to use America's nuclear weapons. Period. Full stop," said the Arms Control Association's Kingston Reif. A president could only be stopped by mutiny, he said, and more than one person would have to disobey the president's orders.
the 'checks and balances' fall to the real-time judgment of a handful of generals who *might* choose to disobey the order if they have reason to presume it is illegal.
there was actually a congressional hearing held on this topic late last year,'the first hearing to overtly address this issue in more than four decades'.
"He requires other people to carry out an order, so he can't just lean on a button and automatically the missiles fly. But he has the legal and political authority on his own to give an order that would cause other people to take steps which would result in a nuclear strike. That’s the system we currently have." -Peter Feaver, a political science professor at Duke University and a former special adviser on the National Security Council.
That's what it says, it is not what it is.
I used to work at the Pentagon, imagine, you are a General or group of Generals working there and you are told to launch a nuclear strike, particularly by a President you do not trust, and believe me most of the Pentagon do not trust Trump. You are working there, a few miles out of Washington, your family probably live nearby, your friends are in the building or a lot of them are in the city. You know if you launch you are all dead because the first return salvo will definitely include Washington.
The President might be semi-safe on Air Force One somewhere, you aren't, would you launch ?
i'd say not, There's a reason personal firearms are left at the door at the big house but you are talking about men and women who have seen a deal of combat. some would blindly follow the order, most would not, there would be blood in the corridors.
Contrary to popular belief the U.S. military is not stupid, they understand MAD, those with authority over the nukes in particular, they would question the order and probably ask for confirmation and apply reasoning especially if it were an order for a preemptive strike, a retaliatory strike might be different but the same reasoning applies in the other nuclear armed nations as well - ultimately if you obey you are signing the death warrants of yourself and everyone you care about.
Much simpler to just assassinate the President and believe me many of them, including those on Air Force One, would probably find that the better option.
It has been a problem ever since this enormous amount of power was put in the hands of one person, a serious flaw in the U.S Constitution but also a sign of serious nuclear madness that we have been living with ever since the Manhattan Project.
The SALT talks made a valid attempt to begin getting rid of the things, but we seem to be back into escalation, at least by the U.S. again.
However it takes years for those projects to actually come to fruition, I doubt Trump will be around by then and hopefully someone more sensible will be in the Oval Office.
I've not understood, for a long time, what the hell the angst is about, the initial political disagreement, Democracy versus Communism, whilst hysterical was a product of the times but Russia is not the dark Satan it was once seen as, if anything the U.S. is more extremist these days.
But was Russia ever going to attack America ? no, it could only lose in that fight and they know it. So we had surrogate wars, in which mostly third parties died.
We are ruled by lunatics in the main, in my opinion we have one here just now, but I don't really think even Trump is so stupid as to start a war that would kill him and everyone of his family and friends in the end. That is the reality of any nuclear exchange and both sides and the other nuclear armed nations know it.
Which begs the question why do the things exist in the first place ?
Because in the end the human race is still a bunch of children in a playground daring each other to a fight.
it's time we grew up and away from that mentality.