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The Real Nuclear Threat

Donald Trump’s candidacy has been a source of anxiety for many reasons, but one stands out: the ability of the President to launch Nuclear weapons. When it comes to starting a nuclear war, the President has more freedom than he or she does in, say, ordering the use of torture. In fact, the President has unilateral power to direct the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. Cabinet members may disagree and even resign in protest, but, ultimately, they must obey the order of the Commander-in-Chief. It’s all too easy to imagine Trump issuing an ultimate, thermonuclear “You’re fired!” to China, Iran, or another nation—and perhaps to the whole human race.* Richard Nixon, famously, conducted his foreign policy according to the “madman theory”: he tried to convince enemy leaders that he was irrational and volatile, in an attempt to intimidate them. But this was a potentially useful approach to foreign policy only because it was an act. Trump, on the other hand, genuinely seems to be a man who speaks and acts without significant forethought. …

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The Real Nuclear Threat

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