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HomeForeign PolicyDi Leo: Raising a White Flag Before the First Shot is Fired 

Di Leo: Raising a White Flag Before the First Shot is Fired 



Dongfeng 2 Chinese ICBM

By John F. Di Leo - 

A couple of largely unknown Congressmen from California – Rep Jimmy Panetta (D, Beijing) and Rep Ted Lieu (D, Tehran) – assembled a couple dozen fellow Democrats and issued a letter last week, proposing that the nuclear codes were too important to entrust to the President alone. 

Citing contemporary rumors and slanders about past presidents’ illnesses or incapacitation, this group declared that we should revise the whole approach America takes to the “nuclear football.” They posit that no nuclear weapons should be used without such democratic steps as a Congressional declaration of war, and such fail-safes as a requirement that a whole team of leaders, including the Speaker of the House and the Vice President, should make the decision, not the President alone. 

This probably sounds reasonable on its face, and some Republicans have jumped on it as an admission that even Democrats finally recognize how far gone Mr. Biden is.  But that’s really not the issue here at all; the apparent admission of Mr. Biden’s growing dementia is just a smokescreen. 

A Plausible Case 

When Joe Biden started campaigning for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, most onlookers assumed that he was doing it in an attempt to remain in the spotlight, or to provide the field with a titular frontrunner while the real top tier candidates were sorted out. Many of us didn’t believe that a man who would be 78 years old at the inauguration could possibly be nominated, let alone win the office. 

This assumption only grew stronger during the campaign, as incident after incident provided incontestable proof of Mr. Biden’s decline.  During the primaries, every Republican could see that Mr. Biden’s blunders were becoming more frequent; he was undeniably displaying the kinds of behavior that one associates with the onset of dementia.  Would it take ten years to get really bad?  Or just ten months?  Or ten days? 

Even as he continued his decline, the Democratic party continued to prop him up, insulating him from the kind of press coverage that would reveal his weakness.  And they managed to propel him onward to the November election, and then even to the January installation, with far less of the minute-by-minute coverage that most presidents receive. 

But now he’s in office, and the need to give speeches – or at least read prepared remarks – far exceeds their ability to shield his stumbles from view.  

The American public knows his weakness… and, more importantly, even their own voters are beginning to put two and two together, realizing that the Democratic party knew his condition – they had to – long before they let on. The Democratic party, which this subset of the electorate trusted to take care of their interests – knowingly put forward a man in severe decline, for the most important political job on the planet, in fact, the very job that controls the nuclear launch codes. 

As this understanding – and the appreciation of its impact – spreads throughout the Democrat base, the party knows it must fear retaliation, the next time those voters visit the ballot box. The American people have to be placated.   A Democrat effort to blunt the most severe dangers of their destructive choice, such as to remove the nuclear codes from his jurisdiction, would go a long way toward achieving the forgiveness they hope for.  

So, people logically assume that’s what this is all about: party recognition of their man’s illness, and an effort to redeem themselves by blunting the dangerous results of their machinations. 

The Disarmament Movement 

To some extent, we are all the product of our upbringing. As adults, we at least partially reflect the movements of our youth.  Where was society’s mind, its focus, when today’s politicians were young?  

Well, the Cold War can be broken into two parts. In the first half, the concern was about building enough of a nuclear force – a combination of nuclear armed bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles – to provide a deterrent through the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction.  Once this general parity was achieved, in the second half of the Cold War, a new and peculiar concept came along: the nuclear disarmament movement. 

This disarmament movement – run by Soviet front groups and their allies on the college campuses, talked churches and synagogues into putting signs in their yards – “nuclear free zone!”  They held rallies in business districts and on college campuses.  They organized letter-to-the-editor campaigns.  They pushed for anti-nuclear resolutions in their local party offices.  They convinced Democratic candidates to put disarmament resolutions into their campaign materials and party platforms.  

To the horror of old-fashioned, normal, anti-communist Democrat politicians, by the end of the 1980s, the Democrat party had been taken over by the disarmament crowd. 

This movement opposed the building of new nuclear weapons; it advocated the decommissioning of existing ones. It advocated not only a commitment to never be the first in any conflict to use nuclear weapons, but also a commitment to never even respond to a first nuclear strike with a nuclear counterattack.  

In short, if the unilateral nuclear disarmament movement had won out during the Cold War, the signal would have been sent that the way to defeat the United States was simply to be the first to launch nuclear weapons, because the United States would accept the tens of millions of casualties and refuse to fire back. 

Thank Divine Providence that the Soviet Union dissolved before the unilateral disarmament crowd fully took over the Democratic party. 

A New Threat, and a New Day 

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, new threats arose to take its place.  While many in the traditional party structures cheered a “Peace Dividend” in the 1990s, military analysts and think tanks tried to raise alarms about the rise of islamofascist terror and the incredible military buildup of Communist China. 

Soviet Russia pursued conquests in more traditional ways – sending troops to lead homegrown-appearing insurrections, conquering countries across Africa and the Americas, in revolution after revolution, war after war. 

By contrast, the islamofascists have operated through terrorism, sometimes developing enough distance so that their host countries might have plausible deniability.  And the politburo in Beijing has been most clever of them all, avoiding wars by merely taking what they want and demonstrating the pointlessness of resistance. China claimed Hong Kong. China claims the South China Sea. China hints that it will soon take Taiwan. 

These threats are real, and growing in power by the day.  They see a weak American president, and are tempted to act.  For long, the only barrier that stood in the way of attack was the fear that the United States might respond.  We have as many nuclear weapons as anyone on earth, with better, more dependable delivery methods than anyone else.  

The United States have always said that we don’t want to be the first to go nuclear, but we hold open the option if it makes sense. And, to add more fear to the equation, it must be remembered that the United States is still the only country that has used such weapons in war – twice, in fact, in Japan.  It worked; when we used these weapons, it brought the war in the Pacific to an end. 

What keeps China from attacking Taiwan, or Australia, or Japan, or any of the many other places they desire?  What has kept the several nuclear-capable islamic countries from using the nuclear bombs we have long known they have?  Just one thing: fear of American retaliation.  Fear that their first strike would be met by our immediate and overwhelming response turning the attacking country into rubble.    It would be imperative, in fact, because we would count on our quick and unhesitating response being the core of our future deterrent.  The American ability to react with such force and such immediacy is utterly imperative to western defense strategy in the future. 

A Modest Proposal 

The Panetta/Lieu letter laid out precise options.  It recognized a concern – What if a president were not in his right mind? – without acknowledging that their own party was responsible for putting him there.  

Then they laid out several potential fail-safes they think worth implementing, either alone or in tandem (to be determined), to precede our nuclear strike: 

  • Require that the Secretary of State and the Attorney General confirm in writing that the response is valid and legal.  
  • Require that the Speaker of the House and the Vice President must join in the discussions and concur with the decision before returning fire.  
  • Require that the House meet and declare war first.
  • Develop a council of Congressional leaders to approve – in advance – of such a decision. 

One can understand the temptation to consider these proposals.  They sound reasonable, don’t they? 

A Matter of Timing 

Here’s the problem:  When a foreign country has launched nuclear weapons against us, we don’t have time for those idealistic but bureaucratic hurdles.   Our Framers anticipated that there would be such times, and they expected there to be “energy in the executive” (cf. The Federalist, Number 70, by Alexander Hamilton).   

Our Framers carefully designed the presidency, and the selection process for it, using the elder statesmen of each state to build an “electoral college,” to ensure that the wisest, most sensible and patriotic people, known to and trusted by our state legislators, would serve as President.  The Framers never dreamed that the country would completely abandon their idea, and take the state legislators out of the selection process entirely.  They did not design a system in which a Joe Biden could be elected. 

Our system requires a competent executive, as intended by the Framers, today more than ever… because of the limited amount of time that a modern president could have to decide on a military response. 

With conventional warfare, an army or navy needs to move slowly across land or sea to get into position. We have plenty of warning, plenty of time to consult with any expert we want to. 

But if an enemy decides to attack us with bombers equipped with nuclear weapons, those planes fly so fast, the bombs can hit American targets in a matter of hours.  We need to make up our minds on how to respond quickly, to get our own planes in the air and on their way before their airfields are destroyed. 

And most important, the intercontinental ballistic missile – along with its related shorter-distance versions – has tightened that range to be almost immediate.  If China, North Korea or Iran were to fire land-based ICBMS at America, they would reach their targets within 20 to 30 minutes.  If they used ship based or submarine-based missiles, that range shortens even further, to just 10 to 20 minutes. 

No matter how well-intentioned the Panetta/Lieu letter may have been – and it wasn’t – there simply isn’t time in the modern world to enjoy the philosophical frills of extra layers of bureaucracy in this regard.   

The President, Vice President, and Speaker don’t even travel on the same plane, for safety reasons.  By the time we tried to round up any of these proposed groups for a formal vote – that is, if it could even be attempted at all; we expect that modern enemies would attempt EMPs to knock out communications - our launch pads would be incinerated by the time the conference call commenced, and our nation would already have lost the shortest war in history. 

With an expected decision time frame of no more than five to ten minutes, a President cannot be forced to run around collecting signatures. 

Make no mistake: there is no possible way that we can implement these Panetta/Lieu proposals.   It cannot be done.  In the nuclear age, the time window is just too short. 

This fact begs the question: How can these 30-some congressmen, and their sycophantic allies in the punditry, not have realized this?  How can they be unaware of the impossibility of their proposal? 

The answers are: they did, and they aren’t.  Of course, they realize it, and of course, they are fully aware. 

This letter is just the latest step in a long, long process by the left, to undermine American defense capabilities and unilaterally disarm ourselves.  At least the SALT and ABM talks of the 1970s and 1980s aimed for mutual reductions, for cuts in the nuclear arsenals on both sides.  But not here.   

With this outrageous plan, we use a bureaucratic obstacle course to effectively take all our B-52s, B-1s, ICBMs and in fact all other nuclear options out of our toolbox.  The day we adopt such a rule, any enemy worth his salt would have to consider launching his own nuclear strike; if they wipe out our bases on the first strike, they need fear no response from us. None at all.  The Panetta/Lieu letter is their protective forcefield. 

Conservatives and other Biden foes reacted to this letter as a tool supporting their charges that Mr. Biden isn’t fully competent.  It’s a trap.  This letter has nothing to do with Mr. Biden’s incompetence; it’s all about a permanent surrender of our greatest military protection. It’s the latest installment of the antiwar movement’s century-long effort to undermine America and invite a fatal, instant attack. 

If you don’t want an incompetent President, good: then don’t install one. Use the tools of the Constitution – such as the judiciary system and the electoral college, and the final Vice Presidential review of the delegate count – to keep an incompetent fool out of the office.  That's what checks and balances are for. 

But don’t implement a regulation that would render the greatest nation in the world defenseless in the face of nuclear attack.  That’s not just foolishness, it’s treason. 

Copyright 2021 John F Di Leo 

John F Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer, writer and actor. A former county chairman of the  Milwaukee County Republican Party and campaign activist, he is largely retired from political activism.  His columns have been regularly found in Illinois Review since 2009. A collection of his explorations of the crisis of vote fraud in America, “The Tales of Little Pavel,” is available on Amazon in paperback or eBook. 

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  1. Our system does indeed require “a competent executive.”
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t require competent VOTERS, and the votes of idiots and morons, plus blatant vote fraud, put Biden where he now is: in the White House.