The Gravest Responsibility: Who Will Eventually Have Access to the Nuclear Trigger?

Most of the world is helplessly experiencing the political season in the United States — they have no vote. The primary source of their anxiety is simply, which war-rabid candidate will have access to the nuclear trigger — Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich or Donald Trump?

Watching pay-to-play politicians like Clinton, Cruz, Kasich and Trump pander to pro-Israel lobbying groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for the support they wield from wealthy members that seek to dictate US policies in the Middle East was disturbing. Which candidate was most likely to bomb Gaza into submission seemed the primary qualification under consideration.

Imagine how their exceedingly accommodating rhetoric undermines future diplomacy and translates into anxiety, fear and distrust of US globalism and our next commander-in-chief.

Every American should step into the shoes of our anxious global neighbors before voting their individual cultural and social concerns. The reason is simple: Casting our vote confers this gravest responsibility of all for every US president — universal and convenient access to the Online Nuclear Launch System.

A Frightening Indicator of the Greater Chaos

The upending globalism of the last 25 years and our ever-expanding military presence, now active in 147 countries, has made US politics far more than an interesting experiment in self determination for our global neighbors.

With the coronation of the former secretary of state well underway and the commercial media focused on Trump’s every word, the views of Sen. Bernie Sanders apparently don’t warrant the consideration of either AIPAC or the media.

Senator Sanders’ was the only candidate to decline an invitation to address the conference which, at the time, conflicted with scheduled campaign events in Idaho, Utah and Arizona. Despite having allowed both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich to address AIPAC via satellite in 2012, Senator Sanders, who is Jewish, was denied the same opportunity to remotely address the recent gathering in Washington.

In a recorded speech from Utah, Senator Sanders made clear that it was time Israel’s government gets serious about a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. While Sanders declared his support for Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state, he made clear he was “obligated to speak the truth as we see it, and that is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times.” The senator implicitly criticized AIPAC for lobbying against the Iran-nuclear agreement last year.

With cruelty and exclusion fast becoming the fitness test for conservatism, and Hillary Clinton’s AIPAC speech standing to the right of even GOP front-runner Donald Trump, their remarks, with no exception, offer a frightening indicator of the greater chaos to come in the Middle East and around the globe.

Gaffe-Prone Foreign Policies of Clinton

Moreover, Clinton’s inability to learn from her past hawkish foreign policy decisions, which include voting for the Iraq War, applying that same Iraq War logic to Libya and Syria, meddling illegally in a Honduran coup and even bugging the office of the UN secretary general serve as a reliable window of inevitability into our future.

Importantly, President Obama deserves some deference for his instincts and convictions in overcoming the urging influences of both the former secretary of state and then-senior adviser Samantha Power, who argued for an early and assertive response to Bashar al-Assad’s violence in Syria.

On the other hand, Obama’s willingness to continue US drone strikes in Somalia, regardless of claimed accomplishments like killing a key leader of an al-Shabaab militant group, hardly serves our long term interests which pragmatically suggests, we cannot rationally expect to bomb terrorism out of existence.

In short, granting war-rabid candidates like Clinton, Cruz, Kasich and Trump access to the nuclear trigger should legitimately be a concern for all of humanity.

A Vacuum of Discussion

For many Americans, the ever-expanding enterprise of war has become a mantle of leadership and an almost normal condition. There’s a near philosophical vacuum of meaningful discussion among these candidates about the legitimacy of ruling by military occupation.

Recently, the media’s near-zero discussion on the modernization of nuclear weapons and concerns about our next commander-in-chief have only been minimally elevated with the closing comments of President Obama recently at the Nuclear Security Summit.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin, who boycotted the Summit meetings, may well be the “thug” he is often described to be, it doesn’t further Obama’s nonproliferation goal to shrug off Putin’s primary interest in trying to maintain his status within Russia. Somehow, all the players needed to be at the table that raises the issue of whether Clinton, Cruz, Kasich or Trump would have even bothered with a diplomatic avenue to engage Putin?

At the center of this political nonproliferation vacuum is the US military’s tireless effort to modernize nuclear warheads. How sincere is Obama when he speaks about modernizing and securing nuclear arsenals around the globe while in the same breath claiming a vision for a nuclear-free planet?

Admitting this inconsistency that was marginalized as a mere pretext and clearly a matter of tension for Russia and China, Obama claims he was only an attempting to strike a “proper balance.”

Modernization Program Means More Usable

The Obama administration’s announced plans to modernize the US nuclear arsenal with smaller nuclear weapons creates a more usable nuclear weapons arsenal which, in Ret. Colonel Andrew Bacevich’s opinion, also increases the likelihood of its use. The planned modernization program involves new ballistic missiles, a new manned bomber for the Air Force and new missile-launching submarines at a projected cost of a trillion dollars or more.

Also a professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University, Andrew Bacevich told Nermeen Shaiki at Democracy Now!, “Neither party, certainly none of these candidates, to my knowledge, have questioned whether this is going to be money well spent, why we need an expanded arsenal, how this plays with regard to the professions by, what, the last 10 presidents, all of who have indicated that they would like to see nuclear weapons eliminated altogether.”

Looking Beyond Partisanship

It’s difficult to rationalize the cost of a nuclear modernization program much less the uncertainty created by having to secure this cache of nuclear weapons far into the future. At a minimum, it’s certainly worthy of a discussion going into the 2016 presidential election.

In a world of terrorist groups plotting to seize weapons of mass destruction, insecure leaders and a cast of war-rabid candidates whose political tone raises questions of rational evenhandedness, clarity and competence, looking beyond mere partisanship has become our mandate for the future of humanity.