Letter to the Editor – June 13, 2017: Supporting S2000/HR669, Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017

By Shawn Hanegan and Chris Gittins, Co-Chairs, Bedford Democratic Town Committee

At a recent meeting of the Bedford Democratic Town Committee, the twelve members present voted unanimously to petition Congressman Seth Moulton to support a Bill that would remove the President’s authority to order a first strike with nuclear weapons without a vote of the U.S. Congress.

The Bill, entitled “Restricting Use of Nuclear Weapons Act” S200/HR669 was introduced by Senator Edward Markey, and is the subject of recent petitions making the rounds in the Commonwealth.

A similar resolution, addressed to the entire Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, was submitted to the State Democratic Platform Convention this past Saturday by the Bedford delegates.  Due to lack of time, this resolution, along with the ten other resolutions also submitted, was tabled.  These tabled resolutions were referred to the Resolutions Committee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party for subsequent action.

The Co-Chairs of the Democratic Town Committee released a statement of support for both resolutions:

Why We Support Markey Bill S200/HR669

1.  We hold this truth to be self-evident:  it is a crime against humanity to launch a nuclear FIRST ATTACK.  Therefore the only justification for such weapons is as a DETERRENT to an attack from another power.  For a deterrent to be credible, the short response time allowed by ballistic missiles requires that a single person have the authority to launch a counter strike, and that person, most people agree, should be our President.

2.  Many decades ago, our Congress ERRED when it ceded its constitutional authority to the President by giving him or her also the authority to START a WAR by launching a First Strike with Nuclear Weapons.  The Markey-Lieu Bill would correct that error, and return us as close to the original intent of the framers of our Constitution as modern technology will allow, until wiser people than we can figure out how to rid the world of all nuclear weapons.

A Petition to  Representative Seth Moulton regarding Federal Bills S.200/H.669

I.  Whereas in times gone by, our national Congress delegated some of its Constitutional powers of declaring war to the President because nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles had shortened the time available for an effective counter strike to a matter of minutes.

II.  Whereas these powers extended even to the ordering of a first strike, thus ceding too much authority to the President because the clear wording and intent of the Constitution was that only by deliberate discussion and action by the Congress should the nation initiate a war.

III.  Whereas the current President has initiated weapons strikes of unprecedented ferocity in Civil Wars in Syria and Afghanistan in circumstances where time was available for our Congress to assess the appropriate scale of these responses relative to the provocations.

IV.  And Whereas our Senator Markey has introduced the Restricting Use of Nuclear Weapons Act (S.200/HR.669) in the U.S. Congress that would prohibit the President from launching nuclear weapons, except in response to a nuclear attack or a vote by Congress to declare war.

V.  Therefore be it resolved that The Democratic Town Committee of Bedford, MA  respectfully requests that you vote in support of HR.669.

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