At the Brink
At the Brink
Jul 2, 2020
The Biscuit and the Football: Presidential Nuclear Authority
Play • 36 min

Is there anything more quintessentially American that naming the briefcase that the President uses to authorize a nuclear attack, “the football”? The authority to single-handedly decide the fate of the world with a deadly weapon is possibly one of the most important responsibilities to understand about the President’s role. In this episode, we unpack the history of this power, how it came to be, and what it is like to carry the weight of that decision according to Bill Clinton. We further discuss the dangerous Cold War hangovers of sole presidential authority and the failure of the United States to commit to no first use of nuclear weapons with Congressmen and scientific experts.

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