Author Topic: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?  (Read 23097 times)

Greg Davidson

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Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« on: December 26, 2015, 10:22:44 PM »
The President of the United States has it within his or her power to take actions that can literally destroy all of humanity. For example, all it would take is a series of ego-based escalations of conflict with Russia or China and the person we elect as President could start a nuclear war (or goad an adversary until they do). Just because that has never happened doesn't mean it never will. We have had 10 men with the power to start (or forestall) global nuclear warfare, and so far they have all handled that ultimate responsibility wisely. Who do you trust with this power?

I don't think Trump will be the nominee, but of the current candidates I believe he poses too much of a risk (and even a small risk on this question is too much of a risk). I suspect others will disagree, but I am interested in where you stand on this.



JoshCrow

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2015, 11:01:46 PM »
Trump is not the fool his supporters are. I'm not terribly worried about him.

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2015, 11:29:25 PM »
I would 'trust' (as much as I can trust a politician not to be a colossal idiot) some of the GOP candidates, including Trump, Paul, maybe Rubio, and in a realpolitik sense probably Bush (curse me for saying so). The Bush dynasty is my last choice imaginable to be given any power but in respect strictly to responsibility to their own ambitions I think they are savvy enough not to blow up the world for no reason.

I have to agree with Greg that I'm not entirely comfortable with some of the "World War III" candidates, though, which include Kasich, Fiorina, Graham, Christie, and possibly Cruz (I say 'possibly' because some of what he says is off the wall but other things he says are considerably more grounded than his colleagues). I might hesitantly add Clinton to this group if she stands by what she says about the no-fly zone, but I'm willing to believe her talk about being tough with Putin is BS in which case she may not be such a threat. Overall I don't think she would support global stability but it might be pushing it to say I think she's a risk factor with the nuclear codes. Like the Bushes she's probably too calculating to blow up the world on an emotional lark.

I think Bernie and O'Malley would be ok with the responsibility as well.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2015, 08:21:11 AM »
One criteria to judge a future President is craziness, by which standard many of the GOP candidates should self-eliminate since their fans love that about them and won't force them off the stage.  Another is not honesty, but rather a willingness to admit they have lied or made mistakes when caught and correct the record.  Can anyone recall when Trump has done that?

Greg Davidson

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2015, 11:46:49 AM »
As someone for whom telling the truth is an important value, I would differ from AI Wessex in not having honesty be a primary consideration with respect to the use of nuclear weapons.  We have had a number of Presidents who were below average on veracity but would not concern me in this regard (take President Nixon, for example).

What matters to me in making this determination is the perceived level of discipline and self-control. This isn't trustworthiness or intelligence or native cunning, it's the ability to understand the implications of his (or her) actions. 

Seriati

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2015, 11:24:43 AM »
Both President Clinton and President Obama have taken unilateral military actions in furtherance of their own goals - I still can't see a rational argument for murdering Kadafi in Lybia, and you're concerned about whether Trump will start a nuclear war?  Seriously, wasn't your last thread about how Republicans appeal to fear?

I have no idea what kind of failsafe we have in place to ensure that just because someone is President they can't unilaterally start a nuclear war, but I seriously hope there are some.  In any event, I don't see a single one of the current candidates as a risk on that front, and that's with me having absolutely no trust that Hillary will act in anyone's interest but her own.  I still don't understand why anyone thinks she is a legitimate candidate for President, the Democrats should be able to do better.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2015, 10:30:16 PM »
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Both President Clinton and President Obama have taken unilateral military actions in furtherance of their own goals

I'll note just for the record that you somehow skipped over George W. Bush, who launched not one, but two wars that together were the most expensive wars in US history, had enormous costs to the US economy and to US standing in the world, not to mention that neither accomplished anything that advanced the state of the countries we invaded.  Both remain mired in tribal chaos, corruption and social oppression, and are spawning new threats to the region and the US on a very regular basis.  How did you miss that?

Seriati

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2015, 11:15:32 AM »
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Both President Clinton and President Obama have taken unilateral military actions in furtherance of their own goals
I'll note just for the record that you somehow skipped over George W. Bush, who launched not one, but two wars that together were the most expensive wars in US history, had enormous costs to the US economy and to US standing in the world, not to mention that neither accomplished anything that advanced the state of the countries we invaded.  Both remain mired in tribal chaos, corruption and social oppression, and are spawning new threats to the region and the US on a very regular basis.  How did you miss that?
I didn't miss them, but they were not unilateral having being authorized by Congressional action before they began, rather than in President Clinton's case after the fact and President Obama's case not at all.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2015, 11:30:20 AM »
Yes, Congress complains loudly about Obama's actions and inactions, but takes no actions themselves other than to make their complaints known.  They want lots of places to be invaded, bombed and attacked but won't approve anything or even propose a solution.  They don't have to declare war (we don't that any more), but they can stand up on their hind legs and tell the country what they would support if the President would ask for it.  So, feel free to attack Obama for trying to do what he thinks is in the best interests of the country. Too bad he has to do it without any help. 

Seriati

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2015, 12:19:23 PM »
How was killing Kaddafi in the best interests of the country?  Please, you're very vocal on how other people's wars are unnecessary, spell out why killing the head of a largely reformed state, was in our best interests.  I'll wait.

NobleHunter

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2015, 12:40:52 PM »
Last I checked, the US didn't kill him. IRRC, US intervention was mostly at the behest of European allies, with a fig-leaf of a request for assistance from the Arab League(?). The intervention by Western forces was "supposed" to be much more limited than it was but I think the French and/or British wanted Kaddafi out.

You'll note the Arabs didn't ask for foreign intervention in Syria.

AI's comment reminds me that people tend to prefer effective government. For isntance, if you gave people a choice between the President violating the Constitution or allow Congress to cause the economy to collapse, most people will prefer to avoid the economic collapse (in reality, most people will refuse to believe it's a binary choice and, of course,  it isn't a binary choice until things have gotten so bad that it is). If one branch of government refuses to exercise its powers then it tends to empower the other branches. In the American case, the Executive should resist the impulse to fill the void left by a disfunctional lesgislature, there are some pervasive forces driving it to act. Part of it is disagreement over what a government is permitted to do but there's also dissonance between what a government can do and what it ought to do. It seems there's a tendency to implicitly expect the government to do certain things while explicitly denying that it has the authority or right to do them.

The way to prevent tyranny is not to refuse to exercise the powers one has but to use those powers to deny tyrants their justification. Disfunctional goverment is the Tyrant's best friend and I'm slightly boggled by how many Republicans don't seem to recognize it.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2015, 12:56:42 PM »
How was killing Kaddafi in the best interests of the country?  Please, you're very vocal on how other people's wars are unnecessary, spell out why killing the head of a largely reformed state, was in our best interests.  I'll wait.
Interesting, given how many "leading Republicans" savaged him for "leading from behind" and not taking a strong enough role in Libya.  Which group do you side with, he did too much or he did too little?  I remember when Gingrich attacked Obama for not acting and then when he did what Gingrich had insisted be done a week or so later he attacked Obama for acting in haste (ah, found a video!).  Obama shall have no cake nor eat it, neither.  That rule doesn't apply to Republicans, apparently.

TheDrake

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2015, 04:22:07 PM »
Historically, I think Reagan and Kennedy were much more dangerous than other Presidents in the nuclear era. The tension during the Cold War was massive, and provocation was the soup du jour. I'm not sure I see any of the candidates pushing the other nuclear capable nations as far as we did back then with the USSR. As far as using nuclear weapons unilaterally on a non-nuclear state, that's a non-starter. Nobody is going to do that when they have cluster bombs, cruise missiles, drones, etc.


Seriati

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2015, 04:46:10 PM »
How was killing Kaddafi in the best interests of the country?  Please, you're very vocal on how other people's wars are unnecessary, spell out why killing the head of a largely reformed state, was in our best interests.  I'll wait.
Interesting, given how many "leading Republicans" savaged him for "leading from behind" and not taking a strong enough role in Libya.
Is this a reverse argument from authority?  Are you trying to assert that I should have a particular viewpoint because "leading Republicans" do?
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Which group do you side with, he did too much or he did too little?
I side with the "group" that thinks a President is not a King and doesn't have the authority to commit the country to a war absent an emergency situation.  What was the emergency in Libya?

And you clearly punted on any explanation for why this war was a good idea.  If you can't make a positive argument for why this was in our best interests, and why it needed to be conducted without Congressional support, then please find some way to rationalize this to me other than team/party loyalty.
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Obama shall have no cake nor eat it, neither.  That rule doesn't apply to Republicans, apparently.
I grant you, it's way easier to just to make unfounded assertions, but I equally criticized Bush on his change in long standing US policy to a pre-emptive war doctrine.  I can not, however, understand any rational basis for someone who thinks every "Republican" war was unjustifiable mistake to think Libya was okay.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2015, 04:53:30 PM by Seriati »

Seriati

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2015, 04:52:55 PM »
AI's comment reminds me that people tend to prefer effective government. For isntance, if you gave people a choice between the President violating the Constitution or allow Congress to cause the economy to collapse, most people will prefer to avoid the economic collapse (in reality, most people will refuse to believe it's a binary choice and, of course,  it isn't a binary choice until things have gotten so bad that it is).
I agree with you here.  My strong preference is for ineffective government.  I think a good government is one that comes together in a crisis and when a clear majority agrees on a course of action, not what we have now where its at best a bare majority, and lately thanks to President Obama a minority held opinion that is ruling.

The right answer in a Representative government when you can't get majority support is for there to be NO action, not for a dictator to step in and put us on the "right" course.

I get you on your argument about ineffective government and opening the door for Tyranny, that was the plot of the Phantom Menace afterall.  But really its not an ineffective Congress that's opening that door, its a colluding minority party in Congress that is.  President Obama should be stopped by Congress jealousy guarding its own authority, but that is being undermined by a Democratic party that puts party goals, as implemented by the President, above Constitutional restrictions and limits.  I understand they find it unpalatable to cooperate in the least with the Republican majority, but preserving the legislative role really should be a much higher priority to them than it is.

NobleHunter

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2015, 09:05:09 PM »
That is quite a partisan way to portray the last seven years.

It may not be the right answer, but it seems to be a likely one.

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2015, 09:14:51 PM »
Last I checked, the US didn't kill him. IRRC, US intervention was mostly at the behest of European allies, with a fig-leaf of a request for assistance from the Arab League(?). The intervention by Western forces was "supposed" to be much more limited than it was but I think the French and/or British wanted Kaddafi out.

Gaddafi wasn't killed by an American, but Hillary did personally call for his death when she landed in Libya. For me that's enough. Calling for the assassination of the head of a foreign state is morally equivalent to personally killing him in my book. Legally, calling for such a thing in an international war crime and also a breach of the U.S. constitution. The argument to justify this would have to be - as Seriati mentioned - a pressing emergency in Libya where swift action was needed, like Germany in WWII. And even in WWII I believe they would have tried Hitler at Nuremberg rather than kill him outright. I suppose since the Geneva Convention has long since been thrown in the garbage this point may matter little.

NobleHunter

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2015, 09:18:40 PM »
Last I checked, Hitler committed suicide. If he didn't, the only possible suspects are Soviets and it's not like they were big on the rules of war.

Saying a call for assassination is morally equivalent to murder neglects the fact that only one of those necessarily results in a dead person. I'd be kinda surprised if the rebels killed him because Clinton said so.

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2015, 09:37:03 PM »
Last I checked, Hitler committed suicide. If he didn't, the only possible suspects are Soviets and it's not like they were big on the rules of war.

He did, but if he hadn't I don't think in that era he would have been murdered by his enemies. I'm guessing, to be sure.

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Saying a call for assassination is morally equivalent to murder neglects the fact that only one of those necessarily results in a dead person. I'd be kinda surprised if the rebels killed him because Clinton said so.

The difference between the two is merely one's level of success in achieving one's stated goal. Calling for a murder rather than just doing it yourself might be a sign of cowardice or incompetence, but not of moral superiority.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2015, 01:11:01 AM »
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I can not, however, understand any rational basis for someone who thinks every "Republican" war was unjustifiable mistake to think Libya was okay.
I'm not following what you mean.  You generalize about something called "Republican war(s)" and then assume that our effort in Libya was also a war and then that I was ok with it.
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President Obama should be stopped by Congress jealousy guarding its own authority, but that is being undermined by a Democratic party that puts party goals, as implemented by the President, above Constitutional restrictions and limits.
I think you're confusing our form of Representational Democracy with a Parliamentary system where the minority party has no power.  I imagine you were just fine with the incredible obstructionism of the Congressional GOP when the Democrats had majorities in both chambers.  For the record, you're as partisan as anyone else here, moreso if you don't think you are.  It would be a refreshing bit of honesty if you would admit it.

Seriati

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2015, 11:08:32 AM »
So for the record then, AI, you don't have a rational explanation for why President Obama's actions were "in the best interests of the country," that was just a throw away line?

Noblehunter, it's definitely a partisan view.  But I honestly think it's also an accurate one.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2015, 11:19:00 AM »
So for the record then, AI, you don't have a rational explanation for why President Obama's actions were "in the best interests of the country," that was just a throw away line?
Is it a throwaway line to say that even if you object to what he did he did it for what he believes were in the best interests of the country?  You're bundling too many things together. 

* Whether I agree with him or not doesn't determine whether what he did was right.
* What happened in Libya might have been handled differently, but nobody that I know of (including "leading Republicans" and you) have said what that would have been.
* It's hard to discuss policy with people who never seem to think that what Obama or any other Democrat does is defensible. 

Like I said, you're much more partisan than you think, and although it's perfectly understandable to think you're right on all these matters, you haven't actually offered any reason why anyone should think you are.  In other words, attacking Obama for every outcome that doesn't please you doesn't actually amount to making an argument about what should or shouldn't be done.

Prove me wrong.  With the clarity of hindsight (so you don't have to try to solve a problem that hasn't yet been addressed), explain exactly what should have been done in Libya and how things would be better there now.  That will help establish whether you are being serious about discussing these things.

Seriati

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2015, 11:54:33 AM »
The point of this thread was to cast aspersions on Republican candidates as somehow untrustworthy with the nations launch codes.  I pointed out that the last two Democratic Presidents have each engaged in military actions - without any emergency threat to the US - on their own, without the support of Congress.  And you responded that the last Republican President started two wars, to which I correctly responded that he went to Congress for approval and received overwhelming support there by Democrats as well as Republicans.  All of which is directly on point to the topic of this thread.

You then claimed that President Obama was acting in what he thinks were the best interests of the country, and presumably couldn't wait around for Congressional approval.  So I asked you very specifically, what that best interest rationale was and what the pressing need was, to which you've gone on full attack rather than explaining.  I don't see a best interests rationale and I definitely don't see a pressing need argument, and from the tenor of your posts its clear you don't either.  So why exactly are you defending the action?

As to your further derail attempt, to get me to explain what should have been done in Libya, the answer is nothing.  Why exactly was the US intervening there, and destabilizing yet another country in Northern Africa/the Middle East.  Why create such a power vacuum at all?  The consequences (ISIS) should be obvious even to you.  If we did need to topple Kaddafi - and again no rationale explanation for how its in our interests, at all, to act against one of the few regional leaders that has ever even partially reformed, then we should have done it in a way that didn't create a power vacuum.  And there's even less explanation for why we'd attack in Libya, but not in Iran when similar events were occurring there.  Even you ought to understand the poor message it sends when we topple "reformed" leaders and sign peace treaties (which we pretend are not treaties to bypass our constitutional protections with respect to treaties) with countries like Iran.  Pretty much says don't ever reform or you'll pay the price, keep being horrible and we will eventually give you gifts.

I don't see any logical or moral argument for what we did there.  Make your case, or just be revealed as playing one sided party politics without regard to any actual logical consistency.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2015, 12:36:34 PM »
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The point of this thread was to cast aspersions on Republican candidates as somehow untrustworthy with the nations launch codes.
To explore that question, rather.
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I pointed out that the last two Democratic Presidents have each engaged in military actions
Why them and not the last 3 (or 4 ( or 5)) Presidents?  They all launched military invasions, whether they boondoggled Congress into going along with them or not.  Rise above and not make this partisan, even if you think that was the intent of the thread.  FWIW, there is plenty to worry about if one of the untried "non-establishment" Republican candidates, none of whom (AFAIK) ever served in the military themselves, ever gets their sweaty palms on The Button. Cruz, Huckabee, Santorum, Carson, Rubio and Bush (if not all of them) think the bible will guide and inform their military policies. 
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You then claimed that President Obama was acting in what he thinks were the best interests of the country, and presumably couldn't wait around for Congressional approval.
No, I said Congress refuses to do anything except whine and complain that whatever he chooses to do is wrong.  Would you have him sit idly by while the world goes up in smoke?  I'm sure Congress would rather Obama be seen as a failure than give him a green light and support him.  I remember the good old days when politics stopped at the border.  Now, the Republicans go out of their way to entertain foreign leaders and send missions to advise foreign governments that they shouldn't listen to the President.  How times have changed...
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If we did need to topple Kaddafi - and again no rationale explanation for how its in our interests, at all, to act against one of the few regional leaders that has ever even partially reformed, then we should have done it in a way that didn't create a power vacuum.
All well and good, but HOW and WHAT would have led to that happy result?
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I don't see any logical or moral argument for what we did there.  Make your case, or just be revealed as playing one sided party politics without regard to any actual logical consistency.
Fair enough.  I think we should have continued to isolate Qaddafi and Libya with economic and diplomatic sanctions.  If we had convincing evidence about the Lockerbie bombing or other terrorist acts we should have taken it to the International court.  But, we don't control other countries and they decided it was in their (more local) interest to take him out.  That we supported them was not a mistake, per se, but we should have anticipated and attempted to mitigate the ensuing chaos.  Likewise, in Iraq we should have been more honest with ourselves that we would (easily) destroy a country that we had no real ability to rebuild afterward.  That's the problem with having the world's most powerful military force.  It's like claiming drugs are being sold out of  a ramshackle house, so we bulldoze it and replace it with a slum.  Except that what we did in Iraq was millions of times worse.  Those who would want their fingers on The Button and would carpet bomb or otherwise "get rid of" the terrorists and have no experience to guide them should not be allowed the chance to screw up like Bush did.

If you think I'm being unfair to Bush and too kind to Obama, consider the magnitude of their errors and the scope and scale of their manipulations to get their way. Then consider that Congress gave Bush authority to act and this Congress refuses to give Obama any.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2015, 02:04:36 PM »
Here's the rationale for the US government's action in Libya:

1. Provide support for allies (France, England, and Italy) who were already committed to military action (and who had been reliably supporting the US in multiple military interventions)
2. Provide support as called for by the UN and the Arab league by taking "all necessary measures" to protect civilians (includes avoiding the risk of hundreds of thousands of killings by Libyan army troops advancing on Benghazi and other rebel areas - there was some consideration of the effects of international inaction in the genocide in the former Yugoslavia)
3. Act in concert with this international coalition (rather than become isolationist) at the same time that much more important struggle with uncertain outcome was going on in neighboring Egypt
2. Do so in a way with very low risk to US troops, very low cost (from the standards of US military interventions), and very low risk of the need for a sustained commitment

Let me raise the obvious questions:

Can you identify any nationally-recognized political leaders who recommended a better approach at the time, and what was it?

With perfect 20/20 hindsight, what alternative policy would you have suggested? Take Seriati's isolationism - how do you address the impacts on our relations with France, UK, Italy, the Arab League and the UN? What impact would US inaction have had on how events transpired in Egypt? What happens if the genocide in Benghazi and other rebel-held areas did occur?
 

 

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #25 on: December 31, 2015, 02:08:38 PM »
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I pointed out that the last two Democratic Presidents have each engaged in military actions
Why them and not the last 3 (or 4 ( or 5)) Presidents?  They all launched military invasions, whether they boondoggled Congress into going along with them or not.  Rise above and not make this partisan, even if you think that was the intent of the thread.

Not to butt in, but you really discredit your argument by making comments like this. If you view gaining Congressional support for a war as a boondoggle then you really are making Anakin's argument for a strong dictator rather than risking inaction. If your beef is with the Congressional system itself then that is a completely separate argument from the issue of whether Democratic Presidents have effectively flouted the constitution by waging unilateral wars. Seriati's point is that the only danger of having the nuclear codes is if a President has the unilateral power to use them foolishly, and that is it the Democratic Presidents of late that have exercised unilateral power, not GOP ones.

In case you think I'm taking partisan sides you should know that despite my belief that Obama has, indeed, committed illegal military and foreign actions, this is tame compared to what I think Bush/Cheney got away with. The latter two didn't defy the Congress or declare unilateral wars, but they did other (worse) things. This comparison doesn't mean that Obama has done nothing wrong either, even if it's not as bad. But the argument here isn't about who's done the worst things, but rather about who's done the most unilateral things, bypassing oversight and doing whatever they want unquestioned. The war on Iraq was heavily questioned by the Congress, but because of lies told to them they decided to vote a certain way. That made the result bad, but the debate itself did happen and is the right way for things to be done. The solution isn't to do away with the debate (and possible inaction), but rather to prevent people getting away with the lies. Then again multiple people here argued against any repercussions for those who told the lies (in my CIA vs Bush Admin thread) so it seems that either a dictator or a lied-to Congress that then gets bypassed is the desired result by some.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2015, 02:11:10 PM by Fenring »

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #26 on: December 31, 2015, 03:03:21 PM »
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Not to butt in, but you really discredit your argument by making comments like this. If you view gaining Congressional support for a war as a boondoggle then you really are making Anakin's argument for a strong dictator rather than risking inaction.
Governing in an open society isn't easy, especially one where Presidents have taken unilateral actions in defense of the nation for decades.  BTW, including references to fictional outer space movies as if they are somehow relevant to real-world discussions about the gravity of war doesn't do service to your argument, either.

Why do you think Obama took what you call "unilateral action"?  By that I don't mean what do you think his motivation was, but what were the exigent governmental circumstances surrounding his actions.  He is authorized by the War Powers Act of 1973 to do the kind of thing he did if there is no time to gain Congressional consensus and approval.  This applies to Syria as well as Libya, and I would argue with the continuing prosecution of the so-called Iraq War, as well as current operations in Afghanistan, too.  The 60 day window and extensions allowed by the WPA have long since expired.

In other words, should he be required by law to withdraw all troops from both countries?  Here is the relevant text from the 2002 Authorization passed by the Senate:
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    (a) Authorization.--The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--
            (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
            (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
Is Iraq still out of compliance?  Apparently not, so the 2002 Authorization no longer applies.  Is the Obama Administration operation in Iraq in compliance with the following:
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The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 3 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338).

Was the invasion of Afghanistan legal at all?  International treaties require countries to respect the sovereignty of other nations and to use diplomatic means to settle disputes.  That initial "police action" didn't wait for meaningful diplomatic efforts to commence, and the operation was later magically transformed into a massively military "humanitarian mission" after NATO forces disabled the national government of the country.  If so, do the predicates and legal justifications under which we invaded still pertain? 

Has Congress authorized military actions in either country or just agreed to pay for them?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2015, 03:06:50 PM by AI Wessex »

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #27 on: December 31, 2015, 03:44:25 PM »
BTW, including references to fictional outer space movies as if they are somehow relevant to real-world discussions about the gravity of war doesn't do service to your argument, either.

This is bizarre and non-sequitur, especially on a board whose host is a science fiction author.

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Was the invasion of Afghanistan legal at all?  International treaties require countries to respect the sovereignty of other nations and to use diplomatic means to settle disputes.  That initial "police action" didn't wait for meaningful diplomatic efforts to commence, and the operation was later magically transformed into a massively military "humanitarian mission" after NATO forces disabled the national government of the country.  If so, do the predicates and legal justifications under which we invaded still pertain? 

Has Congress authorized military actions in either country or just agreed to pay for them?

Congress authorizes military action, obviously. It also has to finance such action, which is a separate but also important thing. As far as whether invading Afghanistan was 'legal' you seem to be speaking of international law. Domestically it was clearly legal, and internationally it also seems clear that when a country is attacked it's fully within its rights to defend itself. In the case of terrorist attack there isn't a clear singular nation to target in response, but the argument made was that the Taliban was helping Al Qaeda and therefore were part of the attack, at least indirectly. The case for this argument rests on the details of whether the Taliban actually did help Al Qaeda or not. If they did then international law would certainly be satisfied in terms of a military response to an attack on America. It is not required by international law to employ strictly diplomatic efforts in response to a direct attack on a nation's soil; such a rule would be utterly ridiculous.

There is an argument to be made that Afghanistan and Iraq 2.0 were illegal knowing what we know now, but if what we're talking about is abiding by the law and following the proper procedures then they were executed legally. I personally think that lying to the Congress about military details should be considered criminal, but since most people here apparently don't agree we'll leave that point aside and therefore should conclude that based on what they knew the Congress voted on and executed both wars legally and within international law. But the main point is that the Congress voted on them, which was not true of Libya. In answer to your point about the circumstances surrounding Obama's decisions on Libya, you should note that following European countries in a war there does not actually legitimize America doing so. Strictly speaking that has no relevance to whether doing so violated the procedures requiring the Congress to declare wars themselves. As some people now jokingly say, America apparently doesn't declare wars anymore when it commits itself to military action, and that in itself says something about how the Congress is now being bypassed on a unilateral basis. Unless you could show that America was in any way materially threatened by Gaddafi I don't think you could claim grounds to employ the military on an emergency basis without going to the Congress first.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2016, 09:15:07 AM »
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If you view gaining Congressional support for a war as a boondoggle...
No, I meant the manipulation of information and the methods of "persuasion" to get Congress to act as they wanted it to. The obvious example is Bush's WMD full-frontal torturing of facts and public opinion, but you can go back to Johnson, Nixon and Reagan if you want. 

I'll go further and argue that an incomplete plan is as bad or worse than a fundamentally flawed plan.  Everyone gives great credit to Bush I for the relatively quick and clean execution of the first Gulf war, but neither he nor any of the members of Congress who supported him gave much thought to what would happen in Iraq after the mission was accomplished.  What followed the withdrawal of the coalition forces was perhaps as horrific in terms of human suffering as what befell Iraq after Bush II's seeming easy victory. 

To torture a saying, neither cared to see the whole board, they only looked at the moves they intended to make.  In that regard, the first Gulf war was a military success and a social disaster, so call it a draw; the second was arson followed by anarchy, thus an utter rout (of us, not them).  The fatal flaw of having overwhelming military power at our disposal is that we tend to think only in offensive terms.  If we kill the father, the son will not seek revenge.

Breaking down different overseas military efforts by whether they were "unilateral" by the President or based on Congressional approval is a weak analytical method.  Consider that the lack of Congressional support imposed significant limitations on Obama's abilities to act and thus weakened his efforts.  In other words, Congress has equal responsibility for the limited success of his program in Syria.  Their inaction was as much a factor as Obama's actions.

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There is an argument to be made that Afghanistan and Iraq 2.0 were illegal knowing what we know now, but if what we're talking about is abiding by the law and following the proper procedures then they were executed legally.
I think you're basically saying that Bush committed crimes for which the statute of limitations have expired.

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2016, 01:28:35 PM »

Quote
There is an argument to be made that Afghanistan and Iraq 2.0 were illegal knowing what we know now, but if what we're talking about is abiding by the law and following the proper procedures then they were executed legally.
I think you're basically saying that Bush committed crimes for which the statute of limitations have expired.

Huh? Where in what I said did you read this message?

TheDrake

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2016, 01:52:12 PM »
I find it interesting that there's an implied thread here, that suggests that unilateral action is more likely to lead to nuclear or widespread war. I can't imagine anything happening in Libya that would lead to that scenario, whether it was done by Reagan or Obama, who both unilaterally attacked Libya. Or Clinton in Somalia. Or Reagan in Granada. I don't think the rest of the world really cares whether we jumped through our proper legal hoops and get Congressional approval.


AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2016, 02:54:16 PM »
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Where in what I said did you read this message?
Where you said:
Quote
There is an argument to be made that Afghanistan and Iraq 2.0 were illegal knowing what we know now
If it was illegal, there's nothing we can do about it now. The rule is to leave office before your illegal acts are discovered and prosecuted.  No one would hold an ex-President accountable after that.  Ford made sure of that with Nixon. 

Pete at Home

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #32 on: January 01, 2016, 02:58:31 PM »
I distinguish Bush jr in that he advocated renewed war with Iraq in his campaign speeches.  Voters knew or should have known that he wanted to "finish the job in Iraq" which is a line that came from DEMOCRATS as much as Republicans during the Clinton admin.  So bush jr wasn't off doing his own thing on a backroom deal.


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Both President Clinton and President Obama have taken unilateral military actions in furtherance of their own goals

I'll note just for the record that you somehow skipped over George W. Bush, who launched not one, but two wars that together were the most expensive wars in US history, had enormous costs to the US economy and to US standing in the world, not to mention that neither accomplished anything that advanced the state of the countries we invaded.  Both remain mired in tribal chaos, corruption and social oppression, and are spawning new threats to the region and the US on a very regular basis.  How did you miss that?

Pete at Home

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #33 on: January 01, 2016, 03:04:16 PM »
WTF? What "argument" is there that THE AFGHANISTAN WAR was illegal given what we know now?  What idiocy is this?

As far as legality goes, we were still at war with Iraq, and it goes to the commander in chief to decide when a cease fire has been broken.   Iraq 2 was a gross error, but not so much as Iraq 1 and desert shield .

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #34 on: January 01, 2016, 03:10:20 PM »
There's no question that Jr wanted to go back to war with Iraq to complete Poppy's mission, but he didn't have a rationale until 9/11.  He didn't have one after that, either, but it gave him an opportunity to ride the wave of fear that swept the nation under the banner of protecting the US from WMD.  As for Afghanistan, what was the legal basis for the invasion?  There was no UN authorization, nor was there a plausible reason to invade the country when the government did not participate in the planning or execution of the attack.  An argument based on defense of the US doesn't work, either.  If it did, how would that apply to the UK participation?

NobleHunter

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2016, 03:16:40 PM »
Aiding and abetting terrorists has traditionally been considered a valid casus belli. The rest of us joined in because we're allies and you were attacked by those terrorists.

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #36 on: January 01, 2016, 04:19:42 PM »
That's a thin argument if there was no evidence of government collusion or support, which analysts have generally said there wasn't.  You have to infer support because they were there (somewhere) within the country's borders, but that still doesn't justify a full-scale invasion and overthrow of a lawful sovereign government for a "police action".

NobleHunter

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #37 on: January 01, 2016, 04:28:03 PM »
In a rather notable case, a country was invaded for not allowing the attacked party to conduct it's own search for the assassin's compatriots. In any event, given the magnitude of the attack and its target, someone was going to be invaded. It wasn't an insult that could be assuaged with a minor bombing campaign.

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #38 on: January 01, 2016, 05:03:06 PM »
Quote
Where in what I said did you read this message?
Where you said:
Quote
There is an argument to be made that Afghanistan and Iraq 2.0 were illegal knowing what we know now
If it was illegal, there's nothing we can do about it now. The rule is to leave office before your illegal acts are discovered and prosecuted.  No one would hold an ex-President accountable after that.  Ford made sure of that with Nixon.

I never said that, and I don't believe it. What I did say was that we can clearly say now that the justification given for war was invalid. What that has to do with a 'statute of limitations' is beyond me. It was others on this board, and definitely not me, who argued that nothing can be done and it's too late now. My entire CIA vs Bush thread was about asking what can be done. I personally view it as unacceptable that merely getting out of office makes someone immune to answering for their actions.


As for Afghanistan, what was the legal basis for the invasion?  There was no UN authorization, nor was there a plausible reason to invade the country when the government did not participate in the planning or execution of the attack.  An argument based on defense of the US doesn't work, either.  If it did, how would that apply to the UK participation?

UN authorization...what does that mean? Do you mean that a nation is dispermitted to declare war unless some other group of nations permits it? That's absurd. It's true, mind you, that certain kinds of wars go against international law, such as an unprovoked invasion for the purposes of conquest, but that has nothing to do with a war requiring 'UN authorization' to go ahead. The American voters do not have to answer to the U.N., nor does the Congress when it carries out what it thinks is their will. America is not a protectorate of the U.N. empire that it has to ask their permission. That being said it's good when other nations agree that America is in the right, and ignoring this entirely carries with it its own set of problems.

The argument for defense of the U.S. was that the Taliban was aiding Al Qaeda. Very simple. If this was false then it was perhaps another lie, but from the perspective of the Congress and the legality of the war it's moot - the war would have been justified had the information been accurate. To think that a group like the Taliban could abet terrorists in attacking America and not suffer repercussions would only invite further attacks. As for the UK's involvement, are you unaware that Blair had previously agreed to go along with Bush's invasions far before they happened? Even while the debates were raging in both countries Blair and Bush/Cheney were in private communication with each other and had already agreed to go ahead with the two invasions. Iraq 2.0 had been preplanned and agreed upon even before 9/11, so your question about UK involvement is completely orthogonal to the question of whether the war was waged legally or not. The UK's involvement had nothing to do with whether it was legal, justified, or really about defending America; they were going to go along with it either way, and this is turning into a major scandal in the UK right as we speak. Perhaps you've heard about the recent evidence of communiques between Blair and the Bush admin about agreeing to Iraq 2.0 far before it was actually a go? Let's just say the English citizens aren't happy about it and there is a push to have the English involvement be declared illegal (under English law). None of that addresses whether America declared and waged the war legally, though. From the perspective of going through the Congress, naming a reason, and putting it to a vote, it was certainly legal. You can call that a boondoggle, just as you can call the proceedings of legal cases in court boondoggles if evidence is suppressed and other shenanigans, but it's still gone through the legal system for better or worse and it different from a procedure that flouts the system altogether. A badly executed court case is still more legitimate than someone being sentenced without a trial or due process.

Gaoics79

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2016, 12:10:57 PM »
I trust no one with the codes. Anyone who tried to use such weapons under any circumstances would be a traitor to humanity and deserving of death.

JoshuaD

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #40 on: January 02, 2016, 04:18:08 PM »
Jason, 2 questions:

1. Do you think we should have the threat of nuclear weapons as a deterrent?

2. What about non-nuclear high destruction bombs?

Gaoics79

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #41 on: January 02, 2016, 08:46:45 PM »
1. No. The existence of H bombs on ICBMs is itself inherent insanity. It is not well known fact that the world nearly ended by accident on at leazt one occasion to say nothing of deliberately. There is no justification for such weapons to exist, no rationalization. TIhey are inherently evil.

2. They bave their legitimate uses. I am not a pacifist. Weapons that can end the world by mistake or otherwise are creatures of lunacy. Anyone who has a hand in their propagation or creation should be shot and their heads mounted on a pike.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #42 on: January 03, 2016, 02:15:49 AM »
jasonr,

Would you recommend that the US government unilaterally disarm by eliminating our land-based ICBMs and our submarine-based ICBMs? Given that other countries still possess them?

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #43 on: January 03, 2016, 02:49:29 AM »
One thing worth noting is that the type of nuclear device currently being given tactical priority isn't the 'world-ender' variety but rather smaller and more numerous tactical nukes that can effectively be used to eliminate reasonably sized areas without devastating an entire region or making vast areas uninhabitable. This still doesn't eliminate the capacity for the world-enders to ever be deployed, but it's not necessary for it to be the case that a nuclear war actually entails armageddon, depending on who's waging that war.

That being said it's not like the technology for the larger warheads has ceased to exist, notwithstanding the fact that they are obviously useless for any purpose other than threatening mutual total annihilation. I'm not sure I agree with the notion that any thought whatsoever of using nukes is automatically insanity. But when discussing mutually assured destruction it does begin to sound like insanity unless one has a tremendous amount of faith in the good sense that both parties involved will never really pull the trigger. Inasmuch as the nuclear powers have never entered war with each other even once since they were nuclear capable it does seem like the deterrent works in preventing full-scale conflict, and instead incentivizes trickery and economic conflict, especially through the exploitation of third parties. From the perspective of the nuclear powers, though, this standoff is still a positive evolution in modern affairs compared to the almost constant warfare the stronger nations engaged in for the 100 years prior to nuclear technology. Is it plausible to thank nuclear technology for this lasting peace, at least in part?

LetterRip

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #44 on: January 03, 2016, 12:27:33 PM »
We have almost had nuclear war due to accident at least 2 times (US had sent actual launch orders that had meant to be drill orders - one soldier was prevented from launching only upon threat of execution; in Russia an early warning system had a false positive due to the aurora and had a individual in the hierarchy not been ill a full launch likely would have been ordered); and leaders were close to launching nuclear war due to strategic considerations as well (The US and NATO were doing drills that looked like preparations for an preemptive strike - which is what they were but only as a drill - and the Russians were prepared to launch to preempt the preemptive strike; The Cuban Missile crisis both sides had advisors who were heavily pushing for a first strike; etc.).

In all we've 'gotten lucky' probably at least 5 times where we would have had nuclear war if the exact right person hadn't made the exact right decision - where protocol and analysis would normally have led to the decision of nuclear war.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/25685/7-close-calls-nuclear-age

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Soviet_nuclear_false_alarm_incident

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Arkhipov

The above listing is incomplete ...

AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #45 on: January 03, 2016, 01:20:22 PM »
Times have changed.  IMO we don't have to worry about "rogue states" or first, second or third world countries building or acquiring and then detonating a bomb.  The more realistic fear is nuclear contamination from a non-nuclear detonation by non-state extremist groups.  We've been plagued with rumors of such groups attempting to acquire the necessary radioactive materials for over two decades now.  There's plenty of the right materials floating around, as it only ever gets mined and is never destroyed.  Even though no attack has materialized (yet), the anxiety is realistic and the potential for it to happen is ineradicable.  If we lived in the nuclear age from the '50s until the fall of the USSR, we are now living in the radioactive age.  I'm not sure how we will ever bring that to an end.
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One thing worth noting is that the type of nuclear device currently being given tactical priority isn't the 'world-ender' variety but rather smaller and more numerous tactical nukes that can effectively be used to eliminate reasonably sized areas without devastating an entire region or making vast areas uninhabitable.
IMO, there is no such thing as a "small nuclear device".  If one ever goes off, whatever the tonnage, al hell will break loose.

Gaoics79

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #46 on: January 03, 2016, 06:45:26 PM »
I don't pretend to have all the answers on this topic. For one power to unilaterally disarm may invite the very madness it was meant to pretend. I don't know how to cut this gordion knot.

But let's put this in perspective. If tomorrow some country, even an ally, announced that they were building a death star in orbit, capable of literally blowing up the entire planet, would that be okay? Would we say that this is something we need to learn to live with, or that other countries should build their own death stars too, to ensure balance of power? Would we say that the resultant stability is worth the risk of such a weapon being deployed?

Of course not. We would consider the construction of such a weapon an act of lunacy, something in the province of a bond villain - basically a madman's folly.

Yet that's exactly what we have, today, right this second - multiple countries equipped with world ending weapons and the means to deliver them, almost instantly, via ICBM, from submarines, bombers, etc...

Unless you are a religious lunatic or an actual lunatic (i.e. mentally ill) there is no rational justification for these weapons to ever exist. We have nearly annihilated ourselves no fewer than twice (that we know of publicly) by accident, to say nothing of by design. The number of parties with access to this technology is expanding. Granted, most of the weapons are not of the world ending variety, but the sphere of powers with access to them, even on a smaller scale is growing. It's like Ultron's asteroid, rising higher and higher, its destructive power expanding (I can't believe I just made that stupid reference). Except it's *censored*ing real.

What would I like to see? I'd like the weapons to be banned completely. I'd like all major powers to wipe out their own stockpiles and then to treat the development of any atomic weaponry as tantamount to an attack on the entire world. Anyone who so much as tries to create such a weapon should be subject to massive, relentless and total annihilation by conventional means.

My wish sounds extreme, but when you stop and think about it, I don't think it really is. What's insane is continuing with the status quo.

Fenring

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #47 on: January 03, 2016, 08:57:53 PM »
It's actually ludicrous that nations still have difficulty developing something that two nations in 1945 were capable of creating. 70 years ago! The idea of banning a technology that will become easier and easier with time to create - to say nothing of new technologies that may be just as destructive - is only plausible for some finite amount of time. Eventually it will either be so easy to develop such a thing that no one could prevent it, or there will be something else that can be created. Total prevention of nations ever again owning a devastating technology is a fantasy in the long-term. One thing having nukes did do was give us an opportunity to flex muscles and explore the details of how to deal with delicate detente over time. If the first time this was done was with a literal Death Star then one mistake would end the planet. One mistake in 1962 could have been devastating but it wouldn't have literally cracked the Earth in half. The Human race would have survived in some fashion. In the future even this consolation may not be available so it's better to work out how to deal with this now when the states are at least a little lower.

The reason a Death Star should never be allowed to exist is because its very construction is conspicuous and slow. There is a lengthy process that can be halted. When technologies that are much smaller can do almost the same thing one cannot necessarily nip it in the bud forever, and although playing Whac-a-Mole may be tenable for now that's just a band-aid. The question of what answer can serve in the long-term is a good one. Frank Herbert, for instance, along with current minds such as Elon Musk, are of the mind that there is actually no solution to this and that extra-terrestrial colonization is the only real failsafe. I'm more or less in that camp for now.

Pete at Home

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #48 on: January 04, 2016, 08:01:03 AM »
Quote from: AI Wessex link=topic=27.msg506#msg506
  As for Afghanistan, what was the legal basis for the invasion?  There was no UN authorization, nor was there a plausible reason to invade the country when the government did not participate in the planning or execution of the attack.  An argument based on defense of the US doesn't work, either.  If it did, how would that apply to the UK participation?

Wow.

There is no treaty or agreement that says that a war not authorized by the United Nations is "illegal"

International law as recognized by the Nuremberg decision recognizes a legitimate right of self defense when a government allows another military group to operate out of government territory, striking another country.

There is also a defense of another argument when the country attacks another, and Taliban's attack on the Northern Alliance qualified.

You seem to have scrambled another newer international meme where the UN. has the right to make legal a war that otherwise would not be legal.  For example, a war against a country for INTERNAL genocide, for development of WMDs, etc.  So our participation in the Kosovo action were illegal because of lack of UN approval,

So any argument that our attack on the Taliban was illegal is based on disinformation or utter ignorance of the Law of Nations.  The premise that UN approval must be obtained before a nation may strike back in self defense is completely ludicrous.


AI Wessex

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Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2016, 08:36:37 AM »
Pete, did Afghanistan attack the US?  Was the UK attacked?