Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Monday, June 18, 2018 07:21:40 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Trump's 'bigger' nuclear button means big trouble

Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Se Young Jang (Wide Angle) :
Today's tense standoff with North Korea needs diplomatic solutions. Thanks to his off-the-cuff, bellicose reactions to North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, President Donald Trump has generated controversy over what authority a president has to unilaterally deploy nuclear weapons. A recent Senate hearing attracted significant public attention, but failed to resolve the controversy.
This debate, however, is not new, but one that traces back to the start of the atomic age. Ironically, given that North Korea has spurred the current concern, an earlier conflict between the United States and North Korea helped shape the current structure of our nuclear command. In that case, control of America's nuclear arsenal was determined by military and diplomatic needs, not by a defined legal structure or debates about the ideal way to handle nuclear weapons. The same will hold true today.
At the heart of this debate are a series of questions: Can any president make a decision to launch nuclear weapons on his own? Is there any check on his authority over nuclear weapons within the US chain of command? Neither the Constitution nor any specific law provides answers. Instead, as historians Alex Wellerstein and Avner Cohen point out, the president's power in this area "results from a series of Cold War-era decisions made secretly by the executive branch and the US military."
When the Korean War broke out in June 1950, nuclear weapons was one of the first military options considered by president Harry Truman and advisers.
Truman asked whether the US Air Force could "knock out" the Soviet air bases in Northeast Asia. Air Force Chief of Staff Hoyt S. Vandenberg replied that "it could be done with if we used 'A-bombs'" even though "it might take some time." Concerned about a potential Soviet intervention in the war, Truman ordered preparation of plans "to wipe out all the Soviet air bases in the Far East," but no action.
By the end of July, North Korea marched down the Korean Peninsula and occupied most of the South, turning the momentum of the war against the US-led multilateral forces under the United Nations Command. The dire situation placed political pressure on Truman to consider using the atomic bomb to both contain and win the emerging war in Korea.
Later, despite the successful landing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's forces at Inchon and North Korea's retreat, massive offensives by the Chinese pushed US and South Korean military forces to pull back again beginning in December 1950, shocking leaders in Washington and US field commanders alike. "We face an entirely new war," MacArthur lamented during the offensive.
Truman hinted during a press conference on November 30, 1950, that nuclear weapons were an option, saying that the United States would "take whatever steps are necessary to meet the military situation" on the battlefield.
Although the president cautioned that the bomb "should not be used on innocent men, women, and children who have nothing whatever to do with this military aggression," Truman admitted that "there has always been active consideration" of using nuclear weapons.
Truman also stirred controversy over who precisely would decide if and when to use the nuclear arsenal. He noted that "[t]he military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has." This pronouncement shocked the reporters in the room, as well as audiences worldwide. Did Truman mean that the bellicose MacArthur actually had the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons?
Before the day was out, the White House tried to walk back both parts of Truman's remarks. The White House's statement portrayed his consideration of the bomb as part of the usual determination to deploy any available weapons during wartime. The White House also emphasised that "only the President can authorise the use of the atom bomb, and no such authorisation has been given." Only after such authorisation occurred would the military commander in the field "have charge of the tactical delivery of the weapons."
The clarification failed to extinguish the widespread alarm because many Americans - and some world leaders - feared that MacArthur might deploy the weapons if Truman decided to use them.
Their fears were well-founded. In December 1950, MacArthur strongly urged Washington to seriously consider waging nuclear warfare. He also sought commander discretion to use those bombs and requested 34 atomic bombs primarily for specific targets.
Truman's declaration provoked mixed reactions from American allies. South Korean President Syngman Rhee, who saw nuclear weapons as a potential military means to achieve his political goal of defeating the Chinese and unifying Korea, welcomed Truman's nuclear saber-rattling. By contrast, an alarmed British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, fearing a third world war, flew to Washington to try to ensure that Truman would not decide to launch a nuclear attack without a prior consultation with the UK and Canada. Although he requested a written declaration from Truman, he secured only a verbal promise.
In March 1951, it seemed as if Rhee might get his wish, and Atlee his nightmare. MacArthur again asked for Washington's permission to hit enemy airfields with atomic bombs. After a series of deliberations and analysis on the status of the war and the possible reactions from Beijing and Moscow, Truman and his senior advisers opted against using nuclear weapons.
Today's nuclear debate has evolved in the opposite direction. In the current case, it is the president, not the commanding general, who is bellicose and impulsive, provoking fears of nuclear conflict. Legislators and others are pondering how to check rather than enable the president's power to launch the world's most destructive weapons.
Yet, just as the tense situation during the Korean War shaped this area of authority where no specific law exists, today's tense standoff with North Korea will reshape who gets to make the call on whether to deploy America's nuclear arsenal - and the eventual outcome is likely to be dictated by military and political exigencies, not a theoretical debate about ideal power structures.
- Washington Post Syndicate

Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Eid Mubarak

EID UL FITR is an important religious event celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The Eid (Muslim religious festival) is the first and only day in the month of Shawal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The ...

Cricket »

History-making Afghanistan get baptism of fire in Test cricket

AFP, Bangalore :Afghanistan were handed a bruising introduction to Test cricket by India on Thursday as they capped their astonishing rise from war and refugee camps to joining the sport's elite.Afghan skipper Asghar Stanikzai called it a "very proud moment" as he strode onto the field at Bangalore's M. Chinnaswamy ...

Football »

Orlando City midfielder Josue Colman kicks the ball away from Montreal Impact defender Rod Fanni during the second half of an MLS soccer match on Wednesday in Montreal.

Football »

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (center) and the former German national soccer team player and integration commissioner of the German soccer association, Cacau (right) attend a women soccer training session at a soccer club in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday.

International »

World can `sleep well` after North Korea summit: Trump

A jubilant-sounding President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that his "deal" with Kim Jong Un has ended the North Korean nuclear threat, as his top diplomat said he hoped to see "major disarmament" of the country by 2020.Despite the lack of detail, or binding terms in the joint statement agreed with ...

International »

UN rights office calls for int’l probe in Kashmir

AP, Geneva :The U.N. human rights chief called Thursday for an independent, international investigation into reports of rights violations in the disputed region of Kashmir, laying blame for civilian deaths and injuries on the actions of both India and Pakistan.In its first report on the region, the office of Zeid ...

City »

Air Chief adorned with Air Marshal rank badge

A ceremony marking the adorning of rank badge of new Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat was held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Thursday.In the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Mohammad Shafiul Huq and Chief of Naval Staff ...

Entertainment »

Sylvester Stallone under probe for sexual assault

Los Angeles prosecutors said on Wednesday that their sex crimes team was reviewing a case against Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone. Los Angeles District Attorney's office spokesman Greg Risling did not give details but said the case was presented by police in the California beach city of Santa Monica.Representatives for Stallone, ...

Editorial »

Pay the workers immediately, let them celebrate the Eid

NEWS media reported that nearly 40 percent of the garment factories, most of which are small and not members of any trade bodies like the BGMEA or the BKMEA, are yet to pay the workers' salaries or festival bonus although Eid-ul-Fitr is knocking at the door. Most of the 4.4 ...

International »

N Korean state media hails Kim-Trump summit success

Reuters, Seoul  :US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were splashed across North Korea's official party newspaper on Wednesday as state media hailed Tuesday's historic summit between the two men.The North's state media framed Tuesday's summit as a win for Pyongyang as it listed concessions made ...

Entertainment »

Secrets of Punam Priyam`s success

Entertainment Report :Punam Priyam is a popular media personality in Bangladesh. She is an anchor, producer and writer. In an interview with The New Nation, she has shared her life story and her views on different professional and personal issues. Details below:1. In our male dominated society men are still ...

Cricket »

Rahane says 'ruthless' India will not take Afghans lightly

AFP, Bangalore :Top-ranked India will be "ruthless" and not take Afghanistan lightly when they make their Test debut in Bangalore, skipper Ajinkya Rahane said Wednesday.It will be a historic moment for Asghar Stanikzai's team when they step out on Thursday for their maiden five-day outing against the world's number one ...

City »

Railway Minister Majibul Huq visited Kamalapur Railway Station in the city on Wednesday to witness the Eid journey of home-bound passengers.

Editorial »

Take urgent steps to prevent further landslides in hill region

AT least 11 people have been killed in separate incidents of landslides triggered by heavy rainfall in Rangamati and Cox's Bazar. Among the deceased, 10 were killed in Naniarchar upazila of Rangamati and one in Maheshkhali upazila of Cox's Bazar, as per a local daily report.In Naniarchar, landslides in Boro ...

Entertainment »

Chitrangda Singh wears the producer's hat!

Recently, 'Soorma' trailer starring Diljit Dosanjh and Taapsee Pannu in lead roles was released. While actress Chitrangda Singh who is been staying away from onscreen for a while has now overtaken the role of a producer for the movie, 'Soorma'. After Anushka Sharma and Priyanka Chopra trying their hands as ...

Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Write a comment to this news