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  • Writer's pictureDoug Neckers

THE BUTTON - revisited

Some months ago I wrote a piece entitled The Button - you can find it on my website In it I pointed out that after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945, President Truman made sure that the ability to use nuclear weapons was placed under civilian control. Out of this came a series of actions the most important of which was and is that the president of the United States has total control over when, if, or how nuclear weapons are dispatched on a first strike.

The concept of the Button arose from this. The president is always accompanied by a member of the military carrying the nuclear football in which the codes needed to dispense the nuclear arsenal are encaptured. As we saw on January 6, 2021, the code football is also carried by the Vice President.

Several poo-pooed my notion though it wasn’t that original with me. The military would never let such a thing happen, and ‘there are many other fail-safe devices’ were two thoughts that were offered.

Well as Woodward and Costa must be pointing out in their book, Peril, that wasn’t and isn’t exactly so. At least the Joint Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, was not convinced. He engaged - according to the book - each of the individual chiefs in meetings at the Pentagon in conversations about prevention. Thinking President Trump was unstable, he said that they might be forced to prevent his using his nuclear capacity to start a war. So they took steps to make sure that didn’t happen.

Pence for his part looks rocky too. According to Peril, he reached out to Dan Quayle, of all folks (“Mr. Quayle, you are no John Kennedy”) to find out if he had any way to ‘help Trump out’ in his role as president of senate during the confirmation that Joe Biden had been elected president.

At this point the only thing to say is that we have to be very careful who we elect - Republican or Democrat - entrusting the presidency to the insecure, and unstable, could be the death of all of us.

DCN September 16, 2021.

Press by Tom Magliery, Flickr CC

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