While a top USA nuclear military commander made global headlines over the weekend after he stated plainly on Saturday that he would resist any order from President Donald Trump that he deemed "illegal", including an unlawful directive to carry out a nuclear strike, experts warn that individual objections such as that could be overcome by a commander-in-chief determined to launch an attack.
For example, what would happen if an American president ordered a nuclear strike, for whatever reason, and the four-star general at Strategic Command balked or refused, believing it to be illegal?
Hyten's comments come against the backdrop of Mr. Trump's bombastic comments about North Korea and how he might respond to that regime's nuclear threat.
"I provide advice to the President", Hyten answered when asked how he would respond to a nuclear attack being ordered. Hyten also predicted that the president would then ask him for options that Hyten judged to be legal. Were it to even be so, as Slate noted, experts say the military has "devised legal rationales to justify nearly any sort of nuclear attack that a president might want to order". At the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday, the first one of this kind in over 40 years, some senators raised the alarm about Trump, who has threatened to unleash "fire and fury" against North Korea, pulling the nuclear trigger. He's going to say, 'What would be legal?'" Hyten said."And we'll come up options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works.
Top US nuclear commander would resist 'illegal' launch of nuclear weapons
During testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, retired Gen. Robert Kehler who served as the head of Strategic Command from January 2011 to November 2013, also said the USA armed forces are obligated to follow legal orders, not illegal ones. From there it would go to the men and women who would turn the launch keys. "Only the President of the United States can order the employment of USA nuclear weapons", Kehler said.
"I think some people think we're stupid", Hyten said in response to a question about such a scenario.
Later, he added, "If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail". "He did not know the microphone attached to his lapel was on when he said, "(If we) become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast".
That still leaves us with legal strikes to worry about, but it's some reassurance. Mr. Trump has continued to put pressure on China to help manage its tempestuous neighbor.
These comments come following Trump's most recent flagrant comments about North Korea.
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