A Clear and Present Threat January 7, 2021

Like the rest of the world, we at PSR watched with disgust and disbelief as thousands of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday. PSR condemns the actions of these extremists, and those of President Trump, who incited them to violence.

The president’s actions yesterday are the latest and most disturbing example of his increasingly irresponsible and reckless behavior since he lost his bid for reelection in November. It should put to rest any doubt about the danger posed by giving any president sole authority for the decision to launch a nuclear weapon. While the incident yesterday did not directly involve that power, President Trump’s alarming conduct demonstrated incontrovertibly why providing a president with the sole authority to launch a nuclear weapon needs to be changed—right now. Other officials should be included in such a decision, providing checks and balances and a basic defense against mistakes, accidents, misjudgment or recklessness.

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that people all over the world were watching yesterday’s events and they have every reason to be frightened by what they saw, as the president of a country with one of the two largest nuclear weapons arsenals in the world incited a violent attack on our seat of government. In light of the present situation, there has never been a better time to reassure the world that the U.S. will never be the first to use a nuclear weapon, regardless of the circumstances.

Of course, the best way to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from the danger posed by the dysfunctional leadership of a nuclear-armed nation is to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether. The incoming Biden administration should embrace the principles of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and lead negotiations that move us toward a nuclear-weapons free world.

With less than two weeks to go in the Trump presidency, members of Congress and Administration officials should do whatever they can within the parameters of their constitutional authority to keep our country and the world safe.

Finally, it was impossible to miss the sight of the Confederate flag, a symbol of hatred and white supremacy, being carried by those who broke into the Capitol yesterday—yet another reminder of the responsibility we all have to dismantle racism and the racist underpinnings of our society.

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