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Trump’s nuclear briefcase

Posted November. 20, 2017 07:26,   

Updated November. 20, 2017 08:13


When the Soviet Union sought to construct a missile base for long-range attack in Cuba in 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union got into a pressing nuclear crisis. President John F. Kennedy had lingering images of misery and tragedy of the earth completely destroyed due to fires, poison, chaos and disaster in his mind when facing a potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union in the morning of October 27. Michael Dobbs, author of “One Minute to Midnight” documenting conflict between Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, then first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, gives an account on the U.S. president’s agonies by the hour in the book.


Kennedy commanded a torpedo battleship in the Pacific as first lieutenant during the World War II but it was different from what he saw from the White House or the Pentagon. Kennedy sensed that while Japanese soldiers gladly chose to sacrifice their lives, U.S. soldiers apparently strove to survive. Kennedy was also deeply impressed by American historian Barbara Tuchman's “The Guns of August.” When then German Chancellor asked his predecessor “How such a thing has happened” after the war, the predecessor reportedly regretted, saying, “Alas, if we knew this outcome at that time…” Kennedy found wisdom to overcome the Cuban missile crisis through this book and his own experience.

U.S. president’s launch code for nuclear attack is contained in the black leather briefcase called “The Football.” The 20-kilogram briefcase contains a manual of options for nuclear attack, identification card to verify the president’s authenticity, and communication tools to allow the president to order a nuclear attack. If U.S. president approves, missiles will get launched immediately from silos in plains located in the states of Montana and North Dakota. It only takes four minutes for president to decide on retaliation upon being informed of the enemy’s attack.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the incoming commander of the United States Strategic Command, said he would push back if President Donald Trump asked him to carry out an order he deemed "illegal." He apparently means that he will prevent a global disaster anticipated if President Trump, who often makes unprepared random statement, orders a nuclear attack. The remarks by Gen. Hyten, who said he would not follow an illegal order while saying that he worries about North Korea every night, remind us of Kennedy’s agonies 55 years ago.