"We're Not Stupid" - Top US Nuclear Commander Would Disobey "Illegal" Trump Orders

A few short months after Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, said he would obey a hypothetical order to launch a nuclear strike against China if the president chose to give it, Air Force Gen. John Hyten - America's top nuclear commander - said Saturday he would push back against President Trump if the president ordered a nuclear launch the general believed to be "illegal."

When an audience member asked Hyten, who was speaking at a national security conference in Halifax Canada, about the hypothetical scenario, he responded by assuring his interlocutor that military commanders “aren’t stupid.”

Here's CBS:

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), told an audience at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Saturday that he has given a lot of thought to what he would say if Mr. Trump ordered a strike he considered unlawful.

 

"I think some people think we're stupid," Hyten said in response to a question about such a scenario. "We're not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?"

 

Hyten explained the process that would follow such a command. As head of STRATCOM, Hyten is responsible for overseeing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

 

"I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do," Hyten added. "And if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm going to say, 'Mr. President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated."

Hyten said he has been trained every year for decades in the law of armed conflict, which takes into account specific factors to determine legality - necessity, distinction, proportionality, unnecessary suffering and more. Running through scenarios of how to react in the event of an illegal order is standard practice, he said.

And Hyten is not the only one who’s been thinking about how they might react to a hypothetical order to launch a nuclear strike. A few months ago, Vanity Fair reported that Defense Secretary Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had discussed the issue, though it’s unclear, exactly, how they would respond.

Hyten apparently believes that an order from the president could be illegal, under certain unspecified circumstances. And if you execute an illegal order, he said, you could be prosecuted.

John Hyten

"If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life," Hyten said.

As CBS pointed out, Hyten’s comments come at a time when Congress is reexamining the authorization of the use of military force and power to launch a nuclear strike.

In a hearing earlier this week, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, said Mr. Trump "can launch nuclear codes just as easily as he can use his Twitter account."

Hyten said the military is always ready to respond to the threat of North Korea, even at that very moment. Trump has been embroiled in a war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un since shortly after taking office, and has repeatedly threatened to respond with overwhelming force if he the North continues to threaten the US.

"And we are ready every minute of every day to respond to any event that comes out of North Korea. That's the element of deterrence that has to be clear, and it is clear," Hyten said.

But Hyten also said handling North Korea and its unpredictable leader Kim Jong Un has to be an international effort. Mr. Trump has continued to put pressure on China to help manage its tempestuous neighbor.

"President Trump by himself can't change the behavior of Kim Jong Un," Hyten said. "But President Trump can create the conditions that the international community can reach out in different ways where we can work with the Republic of Korea, where we can work with our neighbors in the region."

However, Admiral Swift, who has led the Pacific Fleet since 2015, has a very different view of the obligations that come with being a military commander in charge of the US’s nuclear arsenal.

“Every member of the US military has sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as commander and chief appointed over us.”

When it comes to nuclear war, North Korea, for many, is the first adversary that comes to mind. But in the long run, China, which is reportedly developing hypersonic fighter jets that would be able to reach the Continental US within 14 minutes and has been slowly expanding its military footprint in the Pacific, may pose the bigger threat.

Comments

07564111 Occident Mortal Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:10 Permalink

Nope, he understands MAD.And.. His program has already failed along with his oath... “Every member of the US military has sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as commander and chief appointed over us.”LoL, THe swamp in charge is both a foreign and domestic enemy but the swamp still rules. :D :D :D

In reply to by Occident Mortal

Lurk Skywatcher wee-weed up Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:34 Permalink

pfft.. where were all the "legal eagle" generals this past decade and a half!?Every move by the US military in the world over that time has been illegal under international law, so the question needs to be asked - under which set of laws would this tool assess the legality of Trumps order? Murphy's law? The laws of thermodynamics? the law as interpreted by an Obama appointed Hawaiian judge? 

In reply to by wee-weed up

macholatte IH8OBAMA Sat, 11/18/2017 - 19:25 Permalink

 Let me get this straight.....NORAD detects a launch of hostile ICBMs coming at the USA. The President has 15 minutes to react...Air Force Gen. John Hyten wants to get into a debate with the President, his boss, and have a chat about the right words to use and the right tone of voice and weather or not someone might be offended by the USA retaliating against an enemy.Fuck That!Air Force Gen. John Hyten should be fired in 3, 2, 1.

In reply to by IH8OBAMA

French Bloke macholatte Sat, 11/18/2017 - 19:32 Permalink

"And if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm going to say, 'Mr. President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated."Well actually it's not that straight forward, otherwise the invasion of Iraq would never have happened. Legality hardly comes into it when you have minutes or seconds to decide when nukes (a defensive measure?) come into it. Utter bollocks!

In reply to by macholatte

Gaius Frakkin'… bobcatz Sun, 11/19/2017 - 08:24 Permalink

A general or admiral who said something like this would have been shitcanned under niggerboy for being rayciss (in fact there was a purge).Of course it would have been sexist under Hillary. Can you even imagine any male military commander questioning a female president? The feminists, jews, and cuckbois would have ate him alive.

In reply to by bobcatz

OverTheHedge French Bloke Sun, 11/19/2017 - 04:41 Permalink

The inference for all of this is that Trump is completely mad, and will insanely launch nukes at random non-enemies in a fit of pique, and therefore is not to be trusted, and actually should probably be impeached, for his safety, and the safety of those around him. (Nothing like a run-on sentence, AND a split infinitive to annoy the grammar-Nazis.)All fairly transparent propaganda, I would say.

In reply to by French Bloke

Kayman OverTheHedge Sun, 11/19/2017 - 09:52 Permalink

Speaking anything in public about what he would do when directed by the President, is giving comfort to the enemy. I hope Hyte has already signed his resignation and cashed his Russian check.As if Trump is going to wake up at 3:30 and say fuck it, let's bomb Norway. Hyte tells me the Washington Mob has a large family in the U.S. Military.

In reply to by OverTheHedge

east of eden French Bloke Sun, 11/19/2017 - 11:39 Permalink

First of all, NATO is not even capable of detecting a Russian Sarmat launch, and second of all, if the Russians did launch, in numbers, you would not have 25 minutes to make a decision. You would in truth have no time at all because the Sarmat's travel in space, then re-renter the atmosphere at Mach 26. Which means that by the time the Sarmat's are re-entering the atmosphere, you wouldn't even have time to take a shit.So why don't you fucking smarten up? ANd stop trying to provoke everyone.

In reply to by French Bloke

steelhead23 Boris Alatovkrap Sun, 11/19/2017 - 12:42 Permalink

Quick Boris, check your compass.  Those fomenting to give the U.S. President the unencumbered power to anhilate the globe, are not 'dysregulated leftist hacks.'  Those DLH's I know are very anti-authoritarian, hate war, listen to Raggae music, read obscure books. and would never suggest giving the U.S. President more power.  

In reply to by Boris Alatovkrap