The recent attempt to reign in President Donald Trump’s power to launch nuclear weapons is in the best tradition of the American Republic.
In January, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act in January, making it impossible for the president to launch a nuclear strike without a declaration of war from Congress. A petition drive backing the bill has reached 500,000 signatures.
The men who founded this country – Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and Washington – were staunch anti-militarists. They made it hard for the state to inflict violence through the separation of powers by making the president commander-in-chief of the armed services and giving the war-making powers to Congress. Large standing armies in peacetime were controversial in the early days of the republic.
It’s no secret that nuclear weapons are very destructive, but trying to limit the power of the president to launch nuclear weapons would be irrelevant if these weapons were illegal. Last month, 120 countries gathered at the United Nations to draft a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. More than 2,000 scientists signed an open letter endorsing the talks, but the U.S. led a boycott.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Healey registered opposition and correctly stated that North Korea wouldn’t give up its nuclear arsenal in the event of a treaty. But there’s a larger question. Why hasn’t anyone worked out a multi-lateral framework for the abolition of nuclear weapons, which would solve the problems of unsecured nuclear weapons?
Jason Sibert, Peace Economy Project in St. Louis