Podcast: Can Trump Start A Nuclear War On His Own?


Donald Trump’s aggressive, unpredictable behavior — including his threat of war with North Korea — has raised questions about his stability.

Commenting on Trump’s rant at an Arizona rally on Tuesday night, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said:

Having some understanding of the levers that a president can exercise, I worry about, frankly, the access to the nuclear codes….[If] “in a fit of pique he decides to do something about Kim Jong-un, there’s actually very little to stop him. The whole system is built to ensure rapid response if necessary. So there’s very little in the way of controls over exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.

Could Donald Trump start a nuclear war all by himself? Formally there is no veto on his order; however, I draw on a bit of history — such as a drunk Richard Nixon trying to drop The Bomb on North Korea in 1969 — to argue that in practice advisors will be trying to contain Trump’s authority.

Listen to Discussion with Austria’s Radio FM4 from 13:37

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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