Apostle of doom

Apostle of doom

by digby

Good lord this is scary:

Stop counting on Secretary of Defense James Mattis or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to stop a nuclear war if Donald Trump wants one, says Bill Perry. They couldn’t.

Perry, who served as secretary of defense for President Bill Clinton, is a 90-year-old arm-waving apostle of doom—“the possibility of an apocalypse thrust itself upon me,” he told me in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. He says nuclear war has “become more probable in the last year, partly because of President Trump,” and partly due to events beyond the president’s control. He thinks Trump doesn’t understand the North Koreans, and doesn’t understand what his rhetoric is doing.

That the president and his Cabinet secretaries are so often putting out conflicting messages makes the situation worse. And though Perry subscribes to the idea that Mattis and Tillerson are a “stabilizing influence,” he said that with this president, “I’m not really comfortable with anybody.”

Nope. Mattis and Tillerson can't control him. His twitter feed is the best evidence that he refuses to listen to anyone or grow in the job.


That is the unstable, infantile man who has unilateral power to start a nuclear war. I don't think we need to know anything more. The world is in grave danger.

While bills by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to restrict first use of nuclear weapons have stalled in Congress, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is set to put some muscle behind his very public anxiety about Trump’s leadership. On Tuesday, Corker will hold a committee hearing on nuclear authorization—the first on the topic since Gerald Ford was president—prompted by concerns he’s heard from members both on and off the committee over letting one person, and this person in particular, have the unfettered ability to launch a nuclear war.

Perry knows Mattis well—while Perry was defense secretary in the 1990s, Mattis worked for him directly, and they both ended up at Stanford University in recent years. The two still talk, and Perry thinks Mattis understands the nuclear threat well—he just doesn’t think Mattis would necessarily be able to do anything if Trump decided to go ahead with a strike.

Perry’s heard the story of Richard Nixon’s final days in the White House, when Defense Secretary James Schlesinger supposedly told generals that any nuclear strike order from the clearly distressed president be run by him first.

But that’s not really the way it works, Perry said.

“The order can go directly from the president to the Strategic Air Command. The defense secretary is not necessarily in that loop. So, in a five- or six- or seven-minute kind of decision, the secretary of defense probably never hears about it until it’s too late. If there is time, and if he does consult the secretary, it’s advisory, just that,” Perry explained. “Whether [the president] goes with it or doesn’t go with it—[the secretary] doesn’t have the authority to stop it.”