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A normal nuclear United States

Analytics | Syed Sadam Hussain Shah | 13-03-2018, 01:35

A normal nuclear United StatesFrom trigger happy generals to irrational leaders, who should be trusted with U.S. nuclear button? Let’s find out. For decades wise nuclear experts like Ash Carter and Peter D. Fever have written about the nuclear hair triggers. To their respected warnings, I’ll add another. We all know that in the United States, President has the legal and political authority to order the launch of nuclear weapons. He requires other people to carry out order but not for permission but to follow the procedures. This can harm U.S. National Interests by initiating an unintended nuclear war. Therefore, it is vital to modify U.S. presidential authority.

Theoretically, if President wanted to attack any country with nuclear weapons, no one could stop him. But, what happens if he sends the launch codes by mistake? Or when he orders the launch in unstable condition? This is quite dangerous. During the Watergate scandal, President Nixon was drinking heavily and considered as unstable. He told reporters that “I can go back into my office and pick up the telephone and in 25 minutes 70 million people will be dead.” Likewise, President Donald J. Trump tweeted that “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works.” This is risky as President may not be stable all the times.

To avoid the risks and provide realistic solutions to modify U.S. presidential authority, scientists have suggested some essential measures.In their latest communication, scientists agreed that, “The United States should modify its decision-making procedures to require that one or more officials concur with a presidential order to use nuclear weapons before the military carries it out”. They added, “Implementing such a requirement is readily accomplished using a tracking system operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)”. Yet, I’ll add some more apples in the basket.

FEMA and Presidential authority both are unnecessary. FEMA tracks the Presidential line of succession and provides an early information that can help the U.S. leadership to manage an escape before a nuclear weapon strikes its territory. But things have never changed. Same threat perception and old technical stand points. Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles will take approximately 30 minutes to reach Washington D.C. Simply put 30 minutes are ‘enough time’ to survive President and his line of succession. Furthermore, U.S. early warning systems (EWS) are the most advanced technology in the world. EWS will intimate folks sitting in nuclear weapon attack proof housesandhelp Presidential line to manage anearly escape. 

However, FEMA can also be hacked and wrongly reverted to order the launch of nuclear strike on a wrong country. This is one drawback, there are many. The development of FEMA with respect to command and control, will require the dedication of necessary resources and man power. Therefore, I propose following strategies to modify U.S. presidential authority.

Strategy 1: I propose that the use of nuclear weapons would require order from Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense, incubating significant input from their respective departments. The orders are Cc-ed to President and then passed to the military guys for launch. The order still remains the political decision. Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense understands international politics and nuclear strategy better than the President do. With this strategy, you’ve not to worry of President’s state of mind, forget it.

Strategy 2: If secretary of state, secretary of defense and President are decapitated, then the second layer should take charge. This layer should comprise of highest ranking officials from scientific community, civil service and from the state and defense departments. These individuals must be present 24/7 on a rolling base at nuclear attack proof houses. In addition, essentially designed pocket device that would detect the Secretary of state, and secretary of defense’ decapitation, and automatically inform the guys sitting in nuclear attack proof houses is a necessary thing.

Strategy 3: Instead of FEMA, design such devices that can support early warning system from a very great distance (from the country of attack launch). For example, one of such device placed in Russia would send US early warning system a message on launch of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons top lists the threat posed to humanity.  Turning a blind eye to nuclear weapons of major powers would be just like a scared pigeon, who closes his eyes, and wishes that cat will not eat him, and it happens the opposite. Nuclear weapons have no religion, no morals, whether its nuclear weapons of small powers like N. Korea, or whether its big powers like the United States. Yet, shocking and overbearing it isthat powerful states escapes the arms control efforts by virtue of their powerful allies and small states are bound by their commitments to non-proliferation.

However, the United States should modify its presidential line of succession and also should work indiscriminately to further arms control efforts.This is how U.S. can achieve truly normal status. And this is the only way to save humanity from the risks of nuclear war.

If to do the justice with the subject, the global nuclear threat should be discussed unbiasedly. We all have heard million times that South Asia is vulnerable to a nuclear war and particularly fingers are pointed towards Pakistan. But, turning blind eyes towards the nuclear dangers posed by major powers like Russia and U.S. that holds world’s largest and ready nuclear arsenal would be naïve. This is our moral and journalistic responsibility to argue what is true, not what is popular.


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Syed Sadam Hussain Shah

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