Op-Ed: Karl Novak — Curbing presidential power to use nuclear weapons

By Karl Novak

Our Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, requires the concurrence of Congress before war is declared.  In the aftermath of 9-11, Congress gave the president of our country the sole power to declare a preemptive war.  Regardless of your feelings for or against our current president, do you agree that a decision such as starting a war against North Korea should be vested in a single person?
Contravening decades of effort to disarm the world of nuclear weapons, the recent U.S.  Nuclear Posture Review and weapons budget provide the intention and money to build more and improved nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
Do you support this $1.3 trillion buildup for weapons which are, as our country has shown in Japan, incapable of discriminating between hostile forces and innocent civilians?
Are you aware that any use of these weapons will disburse radioactive fallout on countries bordering or downwind of a targeted country, and that using more than a few can lead to a nuclear winter capable of starving billions of people?
In his new book, “The Doomsday Machine,” Daniel Ellsberg, a man deeply involved in nuclear planning of the Cold War era (before he became the famed leaker of the Pentagon Papers), describes the situation: “What none of us knew at that time – not the Joint Chiefs, not the president or his science advisors, not anyone else for the next two decades, until 1983 – were the phenomena of nuclear winter and nuclear famine, which meant that a large nuclear war of the kind we prepared for then or later would kill nearly every human on earth (along with most other large species).”
Our Congressional Rep. Peter Welch has joined other members of the U.S. House to introduce to the Committee on Foreign Affairs Bill H669 that would “prohibit the conduct of a first-use nuclear strike absent a declaration of war by Congress.”  Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders have co-sponsored in the Senate a similar bill, number S200.
Please join me in thanking Rep.Welch and Sens. Leahy and Sanders for taking this position and encourage them to make every effort to do whatever is necessary to bring both bills to the floor for a vote.
Rep. Peter Welch
Sen. Patrick Leahy
Sen. Bernard Sanders
Please share this information with friends and family elsewhere in Vermont, and in other states as well, with hopes for a positive outcome.
Karl Novak lives in Hinesburg.

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