As President Trump was concluding his very successful Asian trip Tuesday, enemies on both sides of the aisle attempted to further undermine his ability to execute his duties as our commander in chief. With POTUS not even home yet, outgoing Republican senator from Tennessee Bob Corker actually called for a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, to determine Trump’s authority to responsibly handle the nation’s nuclear weapon capability. Ostensibly, questioning his sanity and temper.
Corker warned that Trump might be forcing the U.S. “on the path to World War Three.” Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey offered, “Donald Trump can launch nuclear codes just as easily as he can use his Twitter account.” Earlier this year, Markey introduced legislation to prohibit the president from initiating a nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. Keep in mind there hasn’t been a congressional declaration of war since World War Two.
Moreover, Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy declared “We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear-weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests.”
As some of you know, I once worked in the White House for President Bill Clinton. I carried the President’s Emergency Satchel, the “nuclear football,” which accompanies the president no matter where he or she may be, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever. I was an Air Force officer and pilot and performed my assignment loyally and honorably from 1996-1998.
Since the presidency of John F. Kennedy, America’s commanders in chief have had a military aide by their side carrying “the football.” It’s a very small, and unique contingent of military officers selected to serve in such a critical capacity. Not very imposing, the football is a hard-cased container, concealed in a leather outer cover. It weighs about forty-five pounds and the military aide has the option of coupling the satchel to his or her wrist with a handcuff for security purposes. The football is the proverbial nuclear button with launch plans, options, and codes.
I am intimately aware, and knowledgeable, of how our nation’s nuclear capability process works and I find it incredibly disingenuous and dishonest that members of congress would be trying to interfere with the commander in chief’s ability to perform his duties. Especially as he returns from visiting a very volatile region and staring down the threat that North Korea poses as they develop their nuclear capabilities. In fact, this is the first time in 41 years that congress has attempted to intervene and interfere with our nation’s nuclear process. Based on their line of questioning, perhaps congress should go back to doing what they do best which, most of the time, amounts to nothing.
Ultimately, Corker and his colleagues illustrated two things. First, the anti-Trump swamp is deep and will go to any length to undermine his credibility (and, therefore, ours as a nation). Secondly, they have an alarming naiveté toward all things military. Not surprising from the left, but definitely disappointing from the right.
The last thing our nation needs is congressional deliberations during a time of war. We will have a matter of a few minutes if nuclear weapons are required, not months and months of feckless deliberations that go nowhere. We need an ultimate authority, the commander in chief we duly elected, to handle that decision with the assistance of our military, the military aide, and the Pentagon’s senior commanders. As a nation, we make that decision when we elect our commander in chief.
Secondly, the president cannot, by himself, launch anything. There is a very well-established process that involves not only the president and the military aide, but U.S. senior military commanders across the globe. In the end, the military is not required to follow an illegal order, no matter how high the source. In my time working for President Clinton, that was the only way I could humanly rationalize the profound responsibilities associated with being his military aide and possibly assist in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. And, trust me, if there was a commander in chief to worry about, it was Bill Clinton.
Republican James Risch, a senator from Idaho, framed it absolutely correctly. Any decision to employ nuclear weapons will not be “made by courts or by lawyers or by Congress,” Risch said. “It’s going to be made by the commander in chief of the American forces.”
The obstruction by the left knows no bounds, even when it directly affects our president, our military and a potential adversary in North Korea. And you can be sure that every word of their condemnation of President Trump is being scrutinized in Pyongyang. We have met the enemy, and oftentimes it’s right here in Washington, D.C.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Buzz" Patterson, United States Air Force (Retired), is a military combat pilot, distinguished White House military aide, bestselling author, and popular conservative public speaker. Among Patterson’s literary efforts include two New York Times best sellers, Dereliction of Duty and Reckless Disregard. His most recent books include War Crimes and Conduct Unbecoming. Patterson was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Air Command and Staff College; he has his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Virginia Tech University and a Master's in Business Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. He, his wife and their three children currently reside in California.