Can a Nuclear War Really Be Launched in Haste? And By Who?
Journalist Eric Schlosser reports that the president isn’t actually the only American who can launch a nuclear attack all by himself or with one other person.
With the transition from the exceptionally restrained Barack Obama to the mercurial Donald Trump, a lot of people have been thinking about the big red button at a president’s disposal. Is launching a nuclear war is as easy to do on impulse as sending out a 3 am tweet? No. And there is no big red button. It’s a matter of entering codes identifying the Commander in Chief — hey, that is kinda the 140 characters of a tweet — found in the nuclear “football,” a briefcase kept near the president at all times. But a president absolutely can make the decision all by himself, with no checks and balances, to launch a nuclear attack. And so—we think—can a handful of other people in the U.S. government.
The details are understandably a matter of tremendous secrecy, so it’s impossible to know with certainty if the system described by Eric Schlosser is still in place. But it may well be: It’s been reported that the main reason David Petraeus had to resign his position as CIA director after the discovery of his extramarital affair was because he’d violated rules of conduct he’d sworn to uphold when he was pre-delegated with the power to launch a nuclear attack.
About the football, and where its odd name comes from. Smithsonian Magazine explains that, according to 1960s Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, an early nuclear war plan had the code name “Dropkick,” and you can’t have a dropkick without a football.
Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club
- Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
- It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
- This ability may come from a common ancestor
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.
- Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
- The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
- One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.