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U.S. nuclear commander says he would resist 'illegal' order for strike

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By ALEX WONG

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No first strike without congressional authorization - that should be the law.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Military individuals that decide what orders to follow and when it is convenient to do so certainly brings comfort and a sense of security when dealing with an ever increasingly hostile world.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Finally someone else besides me voiced this. Do some really think armed forces are either profound nationalists or bloodthirsty scum? There are real people wearing the military uniform that will question any attempt at constituional (mass) murder.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

@Laguna - I agree that for a first strike, congressional authorization should need to be obtained. The Constitution requires Congressional approval to formally declare war. However, most of the times the U.S. has declared war this came after hostilities started. In my opinion initiating hostilities is in itself a declaration of war and therefore Congressional approval should be obtained before any type of "fist strike" offensive unless there is a very, very good underlying reason for this to be unnecessary.

The precedence for the fact that the President is authorized to launch nuclear weapons goes back to Truman after the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Japan. Interestingly enough the original intent of this was to try to thwart the military from using nuclear weapons.

In this case the concern seems to be turned around as some are worried that President Trump is the type of person that may engage in irrational behavior and actually launch a nuclear weapon.

One other item, the headline of the article is misleading and misrepresents what Hyten said. The quotes from Hyten are as follows;

"I provide advice to the president, he'll tell me what to do."

"If it's illegal... I'm gonna say, 'Mr President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's gonna do? He's gonna say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities, to respond to whatever the situation is," Hyten said.

The title should be the U.S. Nuclear Commander Would Advise against an illegal first strike or something to that effect.

In the end most in the military command want to avoid war at all costs, however, if it is necessary to go to war they want the ability to execute without further interference. The philosophy being that if something is really worth going to war for then the objective should be to win at all costs.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Private resevations are an individual’s perogative, but we’re talking open insubordination in uniform, for America’s rivals to see.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

Media twisting the words as usual. He would refuse an order whose contents are “illegal”- as he should.

Media trying spin it that he would consider any order from Trump illegal and not do it just because Trump is the person ordering it. Not what he said.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

He is not going to create WW III.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Burning Bush - actually if you read what Hyten said he shows no indication he would engage in insubordination. The headline is completely misleading

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Suppose first one mistakenly drop on China, Russia or Japan by Trump's order?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Tokyo-Engr

How is it misleading? It appears to reflect exactly what he said.

And good on him....

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Burning BushToday 09:22 am JST

Private resevations are an individual’s perogative, but we’re talking open insubordination in uniform, for America’s rivals to see.

This is not insubordination, he laid out clearly what his role is. Blind obedience is not an acceptable approach in the armed forces of a democracy especially at his level. The defence of "just obeying orders" was tried by the Nazis and they still went to the gallows.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This whole argument about basing a nuclear strike on seat-of-the-pants discussions over what is "legal" or "illegal" that would certainly be conducted during a time of extreme stress is insane. There must be a process that cannot be deviated from. Aside from the unwieldy congressional option, there's also one in which the SecState and CJCS agreement would be required.

It's long past time that this discussion occurs but not coincidental that it is prompted by this particular presidency.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

General John Hyten told the Halifax Security Forum in response to a question about the conversation he would have with the president on a potential strike.

"We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it? I provide advice to the president, he'll tell me what to do."

Main stream media, to add its bias flavor to what was NOT said.

President Donald Trump's history of unpredictable and volatile behavior has raised concerns that he could unilaterally order an unnecessary nuclear attack -- an issue recently debated by members of the U.S. Senate.

Not everyone is fooled.

Thank you for your service, General.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

He is worried about going to jail for life as his biggest concern? Really? I would prefer someone who has actually heard a shot fired in anger at sometime in his life to be in charge. Someone who understands the cost in human life is more than some management study in a seminar. Someone who had to make the real life or death character decisions a time or two. Scary.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Lucabrasi - I believe it is misleading

Article title, "U.S. nuclear commander says he would resist 'illegal' order for strike"

Quotes,

"I provide advice to the president, he'll tell me what to do."

"If it's illegal... I'm gonna say, 'Mr President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's gonna do? He's gonna say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities, to respond to whatever the situation is," Hyten said.

My opinion is that the article implies Hyten would defy the President's orders, which is not the case. I believe the title of the article is misleading and could have been better phrased.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

He needs to start looking for new job.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Media trying spin it that he would consider any order from Trump illegal and not do it just because Trump is the person ordering it. Not what he said.

It quotes Hyten using the words "Illegal order".

Many people around the world are afraid of nuclear war and see Trump throwing his potty around in a trash-spewing tantrum. Hyten seems to be saying "Look, there are informed grown-ups in the room who know the score".

Good to hear.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hey, hey, good-bye.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

@Tokyo

But even your explanation above suggests that he would in fact refuse to obey an illegal order, as he should.

Nobody’s suggesting he’d flat-out say “No,” to Trump’s order, but there are far more subtle ways of ensuring that the result is the same....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Treason! He will be replaced by commander in Chief promptly!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The president and the joint chiefs make that decision. General Hyten needs to become a former general ASAP. Trump is showing strength to nutjibs like North Korea’s Kim. Hyten is inserting himself into politics. Fire him immediately.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Lucabrasi...maybe a matter of semantics. I re read the article and at one point he refers to the DoD Law of Armed Conflict which is enforced by the DoD General Council. That seems to be where the definition of illegality is coming from. In the end I still walk away thinking he will follow orders but your point of he possibly indicating the outcome would be a "no first strike" in a subtle manner is understood and I acknowledge this could be his underlying meaning. Headline still bothers me though

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fake news! The MSM would have you believe that Trump will in the near future order a preemptive strike on North Korea because Trump is irrational. However, this is far from the truth. Trump has backed Kim Jong Un into a corner waiting for him to make an offensive move i.e. launch a missile at the U.S. or one of its allies.

With 3 carrier groups, nuclear submarines, and who knows what else on alert status in theater, it's up to Kim Jong Un to decided if he wants total destruction of his country.

Has anyone noticed that Kim Jong Un has disappeared from public view. He's probably hiding in an underground bunker for fear of assassination by one of his own people.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

He is only stating what has been true since Nuremberg. Blindly following orders when those orders constitute a war crime is not a defence. Every person serving in the military knows this.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

President Donald Trump's history of unpredictable and volatile behavior has raised concerns that he could unilaterally order an unnecessary nuclear attack

Yeah, but, you have to weigh that against the benefits of "sticking it to the establishment" and "making America great again." So there are trade-offs.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is fake news extraordinaire!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Trump has backed Kim Jong Un into a corner waiting for him to make an offensive move i.e. launch a missile at the U.S. or one of its allies.

Not Trump himself but military industrial complex behind him.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Fake news! The MSM would have you believe that Trump will in the near future order a preemptive strike on North Korea because Trump is irrational. However, this is far from the truth. 

Trump's knowledge and pronouncements on foreign policy are very troubling. I don't know if you remember him saying that the US should have taken Iraq's oil after invading the country. Think about that - invade a poor country and then take away its main source of income. His gibberish when talking about Ukraine was as bad as Sarah Palin seeing Russia from Alaska. This isn't a well-informed or inquisitive man on these issues.

Then we have the petulance - getting into a trash war with Kim where he lost his temper at being called 'old' and replied with 'short and fat'. He has already used his puerile 'little rocket man' in a speech to the UN. You may see Trump playing 3D chess in foreign policy but many Trump supporters admit he should knock the trash talk off.

Hyten would have not felt the need to reassure people, and that is what he did here, if the commander in chief wasn't Trump.

If you are honest with yourself, you'd admit this.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Refreshing to see the military machine has a human face.

That brave people like this are keeping us (relatively) safe from armageddon.

It may yet come to a military takeover (like Zimbabwe) to prepare for a transition government.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

There is a serious problem if the reason given for refusing an illegal order to blow up the world is that...you could go to jail for the rest of your life.

I want a W

Give me a T

Let me have an F

0 ( +3 / -3 )

THIS

"If it's illegal... I'm gonna say, 'Mr President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's gonna do? He's gonna say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities, to respond to whatever the situation is," Hyten said.

doesn’t mean

THIS

U.S. nuclear commander says he would resist 'illegal' order for strike

at all !!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Good on this man. If Trump were to unilaterally issue such and order because he’s angry not only should they disobey it, Trump should be relieved of his position, arrested, and tried for high treason.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Joe - on the other hand one could see that his reaction is a sign that the Department of Defense's Law of Armed Conflict is doing its job. I had to re-read the article 3 times to extract everything out of it as the article is interesting. Hyten is a military man, trained to follow orders and observe the chain of command. I believe he is therefore very pragmatically pointing out the consequences of performing an illegal act of war. Lucabrasi challenging my post above, made me pay a bit more attention to the last paragraphs.

@tina - In spite of all of the U.S.'s faults (and the U.S. has many), as an expatriated American I often wonder what the post WWI or WWII world would like like if the U.S. had not existed. Or what would have happened if the U.S.S.R. gained global domination. I would imagine things would not be so pleasant.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

General Hyten exemplifies the intelligent rational thinking that heads our armed forces. It is certainly reassuring. AFP exemplifies the nonsense touting press that spins an intelligent comment into a ridiculous "anti-Trump" issue by rewording his comments.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@CrazyJoe

I'm guessing the reason he mentions going to jail is not because it's his main or only concern, but because doing something that will put a person in jail is the one thing the military cannot compel a soldier to do.

The military can force a soldier to do something uncomfortable, dangerous, life threatening, absurd, or even immoral. But they cannot force him to do something that will see him end up in jail.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I often wonder what the post WWI or WWII world would like like if the U.S. had not existed.

Well, Perry wouldn't have forced Japan to open up. The restoration might not have happened. Japan would not have felt the need to modernise and expand. If the US hadn't existed there may not have been a Pacific war.

And Japan would not have been targetted for the hideous nuclear experiments in 1945.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Who’s really sowing division and discord in the US, bogeyman Russian trolls or the MSM?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@Tokyo

We can at least agree regarding the gaol reference.

I’m sure he was just thinking things through, out loud, so to speak.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@lucabrasi - Yes I believe in that regard we are in agreement.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Who’s really sowing division and discord in the US, bogeyman Russian trolls or the MSM?

Um, how about Rupert Murdoch and Fox News?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@NCIS - how about all of the above coordinated by a shadow government which leads Americans to believe that a vote for Dem. or Repub. will bring them prosperity, harmony, etc. Meanwhile the rich continue to get richer (regardless of who is in power) and the poor get poorer and the middle class shrinks (regardless of who is in power)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Trump is irrational

Yes so the General is trying to make people less worried about Trump's mental instability that might make him want to push the button. This was at the Halifax International Security Forum (This is Halifax International Security covfefe for Trump supporters)

He needs to start looking for new job.

Agreed. Trump needs to go. Pence is more stable, although he is a firm flying Jesus zombie believer. Pence believes in zombies, but other than than is is a pretty sane person. But Trump doesn't really need a job. He's a billionaire (But Bill Gates is much richer and would have been a better president)

General Hyten needs to become a former general ASAP.

Well, if he stays it means it's all on Trump if Trump does not fire him. Just like his broken promises of not having Hillary arrested. What is Trump going to do about it. He (and not the General) is commander-in-chief

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Today’s only good news.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The bottom line is that the adults are sweating that the unstable orange manbaby might launch a nuclear strike on a whim. As his populism rapidly fades and the reality that an woefully unsuitable individual is in charge bites, it's probably good that this debate is happening.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Understand that we built ideas on the fail safe use of these weapons and these ideas were perfect except for the variable of human action or lack of same. Face it, we won't know until we are staring directly into the abyss and begging our Gods to prevent us total destruction, then we will know!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Don't worry General gets fired. Military outspoken generals receive pensions after they are fired but POUS can't fire generals. That is why we see generals speaking. And not getting rid of LG whatever sex military 'people and even helping them to have surgery on gender change. They are afraid Trump might order wrong place to attack.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are too many soldiers near N. Korea. Suppose Trump pointed his finger on S. Korea on map to drop nuclear bomb....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Toshiko: Military outspoken generals receive pensions after they are fired but POUS can't fire generals. 

The president can fire any general he wants (read up on Truman and McArthur). If enemies believe that there is dissention in the chain of command they will likely seek to exploit that weakness. The president must rely on the input of many key individuals within the military and intelligence structure to make such a momentous decision. This general is sowing discord and doubt within the ranks. Can him immediately. He is not worth the risk.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@WOLF: It is not 1950 era, Congress have more power now. The time you are writing is the time Feinstein decided to become congressman after she disliked being SF mayor that made her to parade on sewimmingwear. mac and Truman became diffferennnt party member. Mac received Pension.. He visited Japan often.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Trump may order sending nuclear bomb loaded airplane to Aiis. In145, twice they were sent to Japan. From Nellie Air Force Base. .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Toshiko: It is not 1950 era, Congress have more power now.

Obama relieved (ie fired) General James Mattis, Commander of US Central Command in the Spring of 2013. I don’t know how you got the impression that Presidents cannot simply fire any military leader for is no longer trusted. That doesn’t imply that the former commander is forced out of the military, but it does pretty much end their career.

It would literally require an amendment to the Constitution to permit Congress to hold sway over this Executive power.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

U.S. nuclear commander says he would resist 'illegal' order for strike

He is stating the obvious: everyone in the military knows an order which is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders -- if the order was illegal.

So this comment is really just politics. The general is pushing back against Trupmty Dumpty. Because Trump is a big, stupid fool.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Black SabbathToday 05:29 am

So this comment is really just politics. The general is pushing back against Trupmty Dumpty. Because Trump is a big, stupid fool.

I think the General's comment is not political at all. It's the AFP playing with his common sense words to make it look like he's pushing back at Trump. Who indeed is a big stupid fool. This article says more about what the AFP thinks of Trump than what the General thinks.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A nuclear war would have no winners and nobody would go to jail because there would be NOTHING left. Reagan said this in the 80s and he TALKED with the USSR to settle matters. This General is being smart. Trump didn't WIN election to begin with and he has done ZERO positive for anyone. He is irresponsible, unqualified, stupid and immature. He is obsessed with his power like a modern Macbeth and he's even more obsessed with undoing everything Obama (and maybe other Presidents) did before him. This is not a political issue, it's about common sense. It's about responsibility. Donald Trump is destroying America with his cruelty, selfishness and vanity and he has the maturity of a 6 year old and he DOESN'T CARE. Impeach Trump NOW.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The good thing about Generals is, they can always be replaced.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Air Force general and few more came out and they said similar opinions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Generals sounded they are scared.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No idea why rednecks always lead any U.S. argument into Trump's domain. This article describes an example of a proper human being, not a nationalistic military fanatic. Be it Trump, Putin, Kim Jong Un, Shinzo Abe, Teresa May - when any of them orders a nuclear strike at the "enemy", they will first have to explain to at least some of those soldiers they are not commiting a crime against humanity, but a justified "self-defense" murder.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No idea why rednecks always lead any U.S. argument into Trump's domain.

Did a redneck write this article then? As the author brought Trump into it. And, by the way, do you feel superiority to working class men with less education than you? What does that make you?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As a subordinate he cannot assume he is in full possession of the facts and so cannot determine what is illegal or not. He's not a lawyer either. While he's humming and haa-ing, China's missiles could be leaving their silos.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Does US own better ICBM to attack N Korea? Trump began talking like he is going to attack N Korea today.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Even though generals do not want wars, there might be be a war against N. Korea. Trump is still creating phrases too irritating N. Korea.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the Iraq War of 2003 - 2011 was illegal and based on a pack of LIES. It cost over a million lives, or nothing. A war with puny NK would also be illegal because they are not the threat to the world that Trump sez it is. Libya was blamed for ALL terrorism in the 80s, Khadaffy was responsible for a lot (in a certain range zone) but certainly not all of it. Donald Trump is obsessed, immature, vain and stupid. He is not fit for office and these generals know it!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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