BOMBastic rhetoric: Congress reminds Trump ‘no nuclear first strike without its approval’

Monday, November 20, 2017
By Paul Martin
20 Nov, 2017

It is a good reminder to the president and to the military that no offensive nuclear strike can be conducted without approval of the peoples’ houses, Ivan Eland, US defense analyst, told RT.

US Air Force Gen. John Hyten, head of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said Saturday he would disobey any presidential order to carry out an atomic strike which he determined illegal, adding he would instead suggest other legitimate options to Donald Trump.

Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday, Hyten said the US military is not exactly unprepared to hear the nuclear order.

“We’re not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?” he said.

Hyten oversees the US strategic nuclear triad, consisting of long-range bombers, land-based intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

RT: Why is the question of illegal strikes even being raised? Is it alarming? Can this be seen as a shift in nuclear weapons rhetoric?

Ivan Eland: This is unprecedented, I think, for a general to come out and say that he would refuse an illegal order from the president.

RT: Do General John Hyten’s remarks indicate there’s little real threat now of a nuclear strike?

IE: I think Donald Trump has used some pretty harsh rhetoric against North Korea, for example, “fire and fury” and he threatened to use nuclear weapons against the country indirectly if they threatened the US again. So the foreign policy and defense establishment here in the United States is pushing back on that. There was a former head of this command at the Congressional hearings last week who said the same thing that the military would push back if there were an illegal order to launch nuclear weapons. And then shortly after that, the current head of the Strategic Command, which deals with nuclear weapons, said the same thing. I think we are seeing these generals and former generals pushing back and saying, “Yes, the military would push back on an illegal order. Of course, the military in our country is pledged to stick up for the Constitution – not any one leader or Congress, or even the president.” If they launch nuclear weapons with an illegal order, they could be put in jail for it.

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