Election Takeaway: One Person Should Not Have Power to End Civilization

Why there should be no button - “The 2016 U.S. presidential election and questions regarding the fitness of a single individual to launch a civilization-ending nuclear war are beginning to help us understand the real meaning of the nuclear dilemma,” writes James Doyle for U.S. News & World Report. “[With] either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton alone with their finger on the proverbial nuclear ‘red button’... we are learning that the most profound effect of nuclear deterrence is that it requires all of us to make ourselves constantly available for self-sacrifice at the whims of often flawed and irrational leaders. If Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to take the world down in a blaze of nuclear glory, there is no way to stop him.”

--“No single human being should have the ability to threaten the lives of 2 billion people. Citizens of the world must wrest control of nuclear weapons from the hands of a tiny number of leaders who may act irrationally in a crisis. If we must live with these terrible weapons, their use should only be possible after sufficient consultation with a broader range of representative government officials. Otherwise we have all abandoned free will and made ourselves available for sacrifice at a moment's notice. Ready, set, die is no way to live.” Full piece here. http://bit.ly/2fk0duU

Tweet - @globalzero: A friendly reminder of #Election2016's nuclear stakes. #ElectionDay http://bit.ly/2fd5nLI

Lowering the nuclear threshold - “At this very moment, for a variety of reasons, the ‘nuclear threshold’ — the point at which some party to a ‘conventional’ non-nuclear conflict chooses to employ atomic weapons — seems to be moving dangerously lower,” writes Michael Klare for War is Boring. “Not so long ago, it was implausible that a major nuclear power — the United States, Russia or China — would consider using atomic weapons in any imaginable conflict scenario. No longer.”

--“This is likely to be our reality for years to come, which means that the next president will face a world in which a nuclear decision-making point might arrive far sooner than anyone would have thought possible just a year or two ago ... No less worrisome, the major nuclear powers... are all in the process of acquiring new nuclear arms, which could, in theory, push that threshold lower still. These include a variety of cruise missiles... capable of being used in ‘limited’ nuclear wars... [that] could be confined to just a single country or one area of the world — say, Eastern Europe — and so might be even easier for decision-makers to initiate.” Full piece here. http://bit.ly/2fvOKch

Editors’ note - Early Warning will go on a short hiatus next week due to Ploughshares Fund’s Board Meeting.

Long-lost nuke is found - “Sean Smyrichinsky was diving for sea cucumbers near British Columbia when he discovered a large metal device that looked a bit like a flying saucer. The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) believes it could be a ‘lost nuke’ from a US B-36 bomber that crashed in the area in 1950. The government does not believe the bomb contains active nuclear material,” writes Robin Levinson-King for BBC. “It may sound like something from a thriller movie but accidents did mean that nuclear weapons sometimes were lost in the Cold War and it has often taken years for the full story to emerge.”

--“A spokesperson for DND told the BBC the department had conferred with its American counterparts, and that the object the diver found could very well be the bomb. The American military do not believe the bomb is active or a threat to anyone, he said, but Canada is sending military ships to the site to make sure.” Full story here. http://bbc.in/2ef0DWv

Tweet - @TMCountryman: Congratulate @SinaZerbo for second four year term #CTBT, a true professional and an effective leader for this vital organization.

U.S. prohibits financial transactions with North Korea - “The United States on [November 4, 2016] formally prohibited U.S. financial institutions from opening or maintaining accounts created on behalf of North Korean banks, extending sanctions imposed on the isolated Asian country over its nuclear and missile programs. The U.S. Treasury Department said North Korea was using front companies and agents to conduct illicit financial transactions to support the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to evade international sanctions,” writes David Brunnstrom for Reuters. Full story here. http://reut.rs/2fBdIFS

Tweet - @plough_shares: ICYMI: Nuclear Arms Control Choices for the Next Administration via @steven_pifer http://brook.gs/2eiBE4p

China policy for a new administration - “If Hillary Clinton is elected, her national security team plans to urgently address the growing North Korean nuclear and missile threat,” writes Josh Rogin for The Washington Post. “That would surely raise tensions on the Korean peninsula — and it could also lead to an early and acrimonious confrontation between a Clinton administration and the Chinese government of Xi Jinping.”

--“China is really crucial to this and we’d like to get a paradigm shift in the thinking of the Chinese leadership,” [David Shambaugh, director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University,] said. ‘But if they continue to refuse to move into these discussions, the temptation for the American side is just to move unilaterally.’ Clinton’s advisers are threatening to do just that, but they should have no expectation that China is going to comply. In fact, the North Korea issue could mean that the first foreign crisis of a potential Clinton presidency will come not in the Middle East or with Russia, but in northeast Asia.” lihttp://wapo.st/2fqon7wnk

Quick Hits:

--“The Scariest Thing North Korea Could Ever Do: Sell a Nuclear Weapon,” by June Park and J. Berkshire Miller for The National Interest. http://bit.ly/2fXr1oo

--“Can France Still Afford Nukes?” by Paul Soyez for The National Interest. http://bit.ly/2fBdj65

--“Kim Jong Un may be plotting Election Day nuclear fireworks,” by Joshua Rhett Miller for New York Post. http://nyp.st/2fsd2DZ

--“Bombs, Bans, and Norms,” by Michael Krepon for Arms Control Wonk. http://bit.ly/2f9zNhO

--“Iran nears first big Western energy deal since sanctions,” by Zahraa Alkhalisi and John Defterios for CNN Money. http://cnnmon.ie/2fBedQ8


--“Balancing a New Relationship with Iran: Security and Insecurity in the Wake of the Nuclear Deal,” a panel featuring Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr., Richard Burchill (Moderator), Laicie Heeley, David Albright and Mark Fitzpatrick, hosted by The Stimson Center. November 10, 10:30am-12:00pm at 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Fl, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details here. http://bit.ly/2fAKI55

--“Maximizing the Opening with Iran: How the Next President Can Secure American Interests in the Middle East,” a panel featuring Andrew Bacevich, Reza Marashi, John Mearsheimer, Sanam Anderlini, and Steve Clemons (moderator), hosted by NIAC and The Stimson Center. November 16, 9:45 to 11:15am, at Stimson Center – Joint Conference Room A/B, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Fl, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details & RSVP here. https://goo.gl/2fVM2k

--Ploughshares Fund report launch: “10 big ideas for the next president.” With essays by Sec. Bill Perry, Gen. James Cartwright, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Edward Markey, Rep. Adam Smith and others. Remarks by Tom Countryman, Rep. John Garamendi, Todd Harrison and featuring a panel discussion with: Valerie Plame, Suzanne DiMaggio, Ellen Tauscher and Kennette Benedict. Event held on November 16 from 12:15 to 3:30pm at The Atlantic Council, 12th floor, 1030 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. Check out live stream of the event here. goo.gl/xeKgS8

--“What to Do about Russia’s Rising Profile in the Middle East,” a conversation featuring Anna Borshchevskaya, Thomas Cunningham, Alireza Nader, Aaron Stein and Barbara Slavin, hosted by The Atlantic Council. November 29 at 9:30am, at Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator), Washington, DC. Details here. http://bit.ly/2ejjWfF

--“The Future of the Command and Control of Our Nuclear Weapons,” by Ploughshares Fund, featuring Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control and Joe Cirincione, President of Plowshares Fund. At Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, 99 Union St., Seattle, WA on November 29, 2016 from 6:00 to 9:00pm. Details and registration here. http://bit.ly/2frpJT9


Nuclear winter, still not survivable - Gizmodo released an explanatory video on the ramifications of nuclear weapons use, and the likelihood of surviving nuclear war. Spoiler alert: it’s still not survivable and the vast majority of the world’s people will be negatively affected. Video here: http://bit.ly/2fXw5cp and a longer discussion with leading nuclear winter experts Alan Robock and Brian Toon for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists here: http://bit.ly/2fBimUg

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