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Adam Smith

U.S. nuclear policy is undemocratic

U.S. nuclear policy is undemocratic

The president can order a nuclear attack at any time. He doesn’t have to give a reason to anybody. He doesn’t have to consult with anybody. He doesn’t need anyone else’s consent. He just needs to make a phone call and read off some authorization codes. It’s very simple, really. These specific procedures were developed during the Kennedy administration, though Harry Truman was the first one to assert presidential control over nuclear weapons.

For nearly 75 years, Americans have lived with this arrangement. One person has the authority to end the world. There are no checks and balances on this particular presidential power. This has caused more angst lately because the current...