September 15th, 2021

Me 2

General Milley

Word has come out that Trump appointee General Mark Milley, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took various steps to ensure Trump did not unilaterally launch nuclear warheads after Trump lost the election. Various right-wing sources are running around claiming "treason" or "loss of civilian control of the military."

These sources are wrong. Every US military officer, when commissioned, takes an oath. The relevant part is "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic." This is not an oath to a political party or a President. It was first enacted into law in 1789 by the First Congress, and specifically envisioned a need for the military to defend against domestic threats.

Simply put, if Milley, or any other officer, thought the President was an enemy of the Constitution, they had a duty to defend the Constitution, not the President. Starting a thermonuclear war because you're mad at losing an election certainly qualifies as being an enemy. This is what being a "nation of laws" means - some orders are illegal and thus not to be obeyed.

In general, this logic of requiring real human beings to actually send and execute orders is imbedded in our nuclear forces. We could have automated the launch systems such that one individual could push a button and all our missiles start flying. We did not, specifically to avoid wars by accident, error or insanity. Milley's actions are a feature, not a bug.

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