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Editor’s Pick

If Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, whether it’s ‘legal’ won’t matter

No national decision is as consequential, irreversible and fateful as the decision to use nuclear weapons. In the United States the president, and only the president, has the authority to order the unleashing of nuclear weapons. This power is not given by the Constitution, nor any specific law. It results from a series of Cold War-era decisions made secretly by the executive branch and the U.S. military.

Cold War drama caught on video as N. Korean soldier escapes

Here’s why the Trump administration may actually want Congress to pass a new authorization for military force

Last week, in honor of Veterans Day, the Monkey Cage ran several military-themed posts, including a survey of how those in uniform view President Trump, research on how many veterans serve in Congress (and why that matters), and the current standing (and ongoing expansion) of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

If Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, whether it’s ‘legal’ won’t matter

Spending less on nuclear weapons could actually make us safer

The United States plans to spend $1.7 trillion over the next three decades to replace its nuclear arsenal. This is a lot of money, more annually than the country spends on the entire State Department. Even so, if we thought this level of spending were required to ensure U.S. national security, we would support it. It is not. The nation can spend much less and still be safe. In fact, safer.

If Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, whether it’s ‘legal’ won’t matter

The story behind this powerful photo of deported military veterans saluting the U.S. flag

The men stood on a concrete island in the middle of Cordova International Bridge, where people leaving the Mexican city of Juarez cross the border to El Paso. It was Memorial Day, when U.S. soldiers honor fallen service members by kneeling in front of a battlefield memorial – a symbolic cross formed with the soldier's helmet, rifle, boots and, sometimes, dog tags.

If Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, whether it’s ‘legal’ won’t matter

The Islamic State is more like a street gang than like other terrorist groups

At its peak in the summer of 2014, the Islamic State was a bureaucratic, corporatized organization overseeing (without legal authority) a "shell-state" spanning 35,000 square miles. That's roughly the size of Indiana. The Islamic State has since been defeated militarily a number of times, losing nearly all its territory in both Iraq and Syria. And yet it remains the preeminent international terrorist threat, as we saw again on Oct. 31, when a truck drove onto a New York City bike path, killing eight people.

If Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, whether it’s ‘legal’ won’t matter