Monday, August 1, 2016

A constitutional amendment for a Trump administration

Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech raised the chilling thought of a furious Donald Trump in the Oval Office at 3 a.m.: "A man you can bait with a Tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."

Ever since the night before Richard Nixon resigned, when the idea that the depressed, heavy-drinking president would pull something crazy did not seem farfetched even to his defense secretary, I've wondered about our system of launching nukes, which is so dependent on one person.

Under the National Command Authority, the president has sole authority to order a strike, but the secretary of defense has to confirm the order. This at least theoretically guards against a president who has lost his sanity. But if the defense secretary doesn't go along, the president can fire him and immediately replace him with the chief deputy, rather like Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" in which he ran through two attorney generals before he got to one who would fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

My proposed constitutional amendment would state: Except in direct response to an attack on the United States, its armed forces, or treaty allies, the president must receive the consent of Congress prior to initiating military action against a foreign power. 

This amendment would stop any president from launching most attacks, but allow for retaliatory strikes against, say, North Korea, when every minute would count. If a president did order a non-retaliatory strike, the defense secretary or the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have the duty to refuse to obey an unconstitutional order.

It would also strengthen the War Powers Resolution, which requires Congress to authorize military force within 48 hours of taking action but has been circumvented by presidents of both parties--including by President Obama in 2011 in Libya, an action defended in Congress by none other than Hillary Clinton.

This amendment would help keep our country out of wars no matter who was president--and if one particular person becomes president, it would let us get better sleep.  

No comments:

Post a Comment