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Opinion: In defense of Trump’s — or any president’s — authority to launch a nuclear first strike

The mushroom cloud of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test site in New Mexico in 1945.
The mushroom cloud of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test site in New Mexico in 1945.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) is a congressional newbie, so I’ll forgive his apparent ignorance of diplomatic history and nuclear strategy. But Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Lieu’s co-sponsor on a bill to take away the right of a president to order a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress, has no excuse. (“Can Trump be trusted with the nuclear launch codes? Can any president?,” Oct. 30)

Was he concerned when Bill Clinton or Barrack Obama held the same power as President Trump has now?

It will be cold comfort to our Western European and Asian allies if a resurgent Russia, North Korea or China threatens their survival, and we will not back them with a nuclear guarantee absent a congressional vote. This bill would actually make the world more unstable, as Japan and South Korea would probably try to develop their own nuclear weapons.

It took the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 to “awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Had the U.S. intervened earlier in China and France in the late 1930s and opposed the Japanese and Germans, much of World War II could have been avoided.

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By making it explicitly clear that the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons without a congressional debate first, this proposal returns us to the 1930s policy of isolationism.

Raymond White, Pasadena

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To the editor: Duck-and-cover drills were routine when I was in elementary school during the Cold War. In the event of a real nuclear attack, hiding under a desk probably not have been very effective in saving our lives, but those drills did make us feel a bit more secure.

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Perhaps I am naive, but not since that time have I been worried about nuclear war. I have always had some trust in our presidents to be rational human beings.

But with this president, I am scared to death. We should all stand with Lieu and Markey as they push legislation that would take the power to make a preemptive nuclear strike out of the hands of just one person.

This is not a partisan issue; it is a humanitarian one. No president should have that kind of power, and no president should carry that burden.

Kit Bell, Los Angeles

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