Between his ongoing spat with North Korea, the Doomsday Clock’s recent adjustment, and numerous statements as a presidential candidate, nominee, and victor, Donald Trump’s love affair with nuclear weapons is an established fact. So, of course, the subject of the American president’s potential ability to invoke the nation’s nuclear deterrent in self-defense (or offense) came up at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday. And according to CBS News, Air Force Gen. John Hyten gave his captive audience a rather clear and concise breath of fresh, non-irradiated air.
“I think some people think we’re stupid,” the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said in response to a question about what he’d do if Trump ordered him to launch a nuclear strike that might not be legally sound. “We’re not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?”
“I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do,” Hyten added. “And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.”
If Trump’s proximity to nuclear weapons still stresses you, the STRATCOM commander — whose job concerns, among other things, America’s maintained nuclear arsenal — is somewhat of an expert on the legalities (or otherwise) of armed conflict. Per his job, in particular, Hyten has spent “decades” studying the ins and outs of international law during wartime. “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life,” he explained.
(Via CBS News)