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Trump’s COVID treatment raises questions about nuclear authorities

The question is new. Military Strategic Command often conducts training to simulate actual, but definitive, evidence that the United States may be under nuclear attack. Such a simulation reminds us of the reality that the president can make mistakes even by asking all the right questions. However, it rarely simulates what would happen if the president’s judgment was compromised.

“A nuclear crisis can happen at any time,” said Tom Collina, policy director for the Plowshares Foundation, a private group trying to mitigate the nuclear threat, in an opinion piece last week. “If such a crisis occurs when the president’s thinking is undermined for some reason, the consequences can be catastrophic,” he added.

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Traditionally, the president has temporarily informed the vice president of powers, including nuclear powers, when he expected to be under anesthesia. Ronald Reagan took that step in 1985, and George W. Bush did so in 2002 and 2007. There were no signs that Trump was unconscious, but there was reason to worry that the drug cocktail he was given could undermine his judgment. The most important decision entrusted to the president.

In a telephone interview with Fox News and Fox Business Network last week, Trump said he hadn’t taken the experimental drug but is still taking dexamethasone. This can create a feeling of euphoria, an explosion of energy, and even invincibility, doctors say. On Friday, US time, he told Fox News that he wasn’t taking the drug, which seems to have been taken by him for less than a week.

But during the week, his prolific Twitter activity and rambling interviews questioned many as to whether the drug highlighted his precarious tendency. The refusal of his doctor to specifically describe his condition and treatment only raised concerns.

“The history of obfuscating the president’s condition is as old as the Republic,” said Professor Vipin Narang of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who studied the nuclear command and control chain. “The problem here is that dexamethasone, an abbreviation for dexamethasone, can make you delusional and delusional.”

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“I don’t know how much he was given,” Naran said. “And if he issues an order at midnight and no one is there to stop him, we either have his military aide send the order or the Commissioner of the National Military Command Center stops it. Depends on. “

The standard military response is to execute a “legal order” after proving that it really comes from the president. But the narrow answer does not address the issue of not needing approval from other senior officials, such as the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Strategic Commander responsible for nuclear weapons.

Government officials refuse to say whether Trump is taking special precautions while taking the drug. In a conversation over the past week, several have pointed out the story surrounding Richard Nixon’s last days in office in 1974. He drank a lot and talked to the portrait on the wall, but his aides were afraid that he would be emotional. unstable.

Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, a hawkish Cold Warrior, said he had instructed the military not to react to White House’s orders on nuclear weapons unless permitted by him or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. (Schlesinger died in 2014, and Kissinger, now 97, says he has no knowledge of such arrangements.)

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If Schlesinger’s explanation was true, it was “certainly exorbitant,” Naran said. Evidence that everyone around Trump, including Pence and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, reportedly frozen important decisions, had increased powers while the president was taking medication. there is no.

The tradition of “only authority” is unusual among the nine nuclear powers of the world. Even Russia demands two of the three designated officials to approve a nuclear launch. The Constitution states that only Congress can declare war, but during the Cold War, the speed of bombers and missiles revealed that there was no time to convene Congress or begin defense. As a result, Congress began delegating all powers to use nuclear weapons to the President during the Harry Truman administration. He is the only president who ordered a nuclear attack.

Officials from many countries felt great pressure around such decisions during the simulation of the launch exercise this year at the Munich Security Council, a major gathering of Western national security officials. Volunteers wear virtual reality headsets and are exposed to a spinning stream of data as the president faces a 15-minute time frame and decides whether to launch a ground missile before it is destroyed. I did.

There were small hints throughout, suggesting a possible false alarm, but the evidence was muddy.

“The last finger I want for a nuclear button is the drug president’s finger,” said Hans Kristensen, head of the Federation of American Scientists’ nuclear intelligence project in Washington.

It’s not a new issue. John Kennedy has taken powerful painkillers, but there is no evidence that the United States and the Soviet Union have lost his judgment during the Cuban Missile Crisis closest to nuclear exchange.

However, no one really understands how the drugs given to Trump interact. According to scientists, the most common mood enhancements associated with dexamethasone are mania, hypomania, and euphoria. Hypomania is characterized by increased self-esteem, increased chatter, reduced need for sleep, distraction, distraction, and lack of restraint to engage in activities that may cause personal harm. It will be.

At the 2016 presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said Americans “don’t trust Donald Trump with the nuclear code or put his finger on the nuclear button.”credit:AP

Not surprisingly, the military imposes strict restrictions on officers who oversee the country’s nuclear forces. Known as the Human Resources Reliability Program, this program “shows the highest levels of integrity and credibility” and ensures that people whose behavior is observed “frequently and consistently” are empowered. According to a 1991 survey, thousands of nuclear personnel are revoked each year.

Peter Zimmerman, a physicist and former government weapons scientist, said he wanted to prevent an individual from launching a nuclear attack, rather than “two-person rule” on nuclear silos, submarines, bombers, etc. He said there is little better explanation for the confusing nature of American efforts. Atomic complex from coast to coast of the country.

Donald Trump publicly threatened the use of nuclear weapons during the first clash with North Korea's Kim Jong Un in 2017. Since then, he has pursued more diplomatic efforts.

Donald Trump publicly threatened the use of nuclear weapons during the first clash with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in 2017. Since then, he has pursued more diplomatic efforts.credit:AP

This rule requires the presence of two authorized people for every step, including access to weapons or the launch of a nuclear attack. “People without companions never approach nuclear weapons,” Zimmerman wrote in a 2017 opinion essay. “This is a basic precaution against theft, misuse and sabotage.”

However, it does not apply to the Commander-in-Chief, whether in the Presidential Office or the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The president can be misjudged or impulsive, Zimmerman said in an interview. “And the result will be horrifying,” he said.

New York Times

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Trump’s COVID treatment raises questions about nuclear authorities

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