Opinion by Ira Helfand
The President of the United States has the ability to launch a nuclear attack on his own authority, without requiring the authorization of Congress, the Cabinet, the vice president or the Joint Chiefs. It is hard to imagine a more perfect example of the insane danger that we continue to live with as long as we maintain massive arsenals of nuclear weapons.
Even a healthy person, possessed of sound judgment, should not have the ability to launch these terrible weapons. The consequences are simply too great, and people are, well ... human. As humans, we are prone to mistakes, and the technology we have created is too.
Many errors can be corrected. A nuclear war cannot. Studies over the last decade have shown that even a limited nuclear war, involving less than one or two percent of the world's nuclear arsenal, would kill tens of millions directly. Even worse, it would cause worldwide climate disruption and famine putting billions of people at risk and ending civilization as we know it.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the danger of nuclear war was growing at an alarming rate. Experts, like former Secretary of Defense William Perry, have warned that we are closer to nuclear war than we have ever been and the expert panel at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have set their iconic Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to Armageddon. Read more >>