Seventeen former missile officers on Thursday released an open letter asking Congress to take Donald Trump’s finger off the “proverbial ‘Red Button.’”
In the statement—published through the Global Zero campaign, which aims to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2030—the former United States Air Force officers said they were increasingly alarmed by Trump’s temperament, declaring “this presidency is worse than we feared.”
“In the final weeks of the presidential election, we sounded our alarm over Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as commander-in-chief, with absolute authority over the nation’s nuclear arsenal,” the statement reads.
“One year into the Trump presidency, our alarm has only intensified and we must raise our voices again,” it continues. “The president has had ample opportunity to educate and humble himself to the grave responsibilities of his office. Instead, he consistently shows himself to be easily baited, stubborn in his ignorance of world politics and diplomacy, and quick to brandish nuclear threats.”
Pointing to “Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the statement warns the administration has “undercut diplomatic efforts and [increased] the likelihood of stumbling into conflict.”
“As former nuclear launch control officers, it was our job to fire nuclear missiles if the president so directed,” the statement explains. “Once the president orders a launch, we could have missiles leaving their silos in several minutes. They cannot be recalled … There is no act of greater consequence, and it should not rest in the hands of any one person.”
“We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish
commander-in-chief,” they write. “No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction.”