In the dwindling days of his presidency, Barack Obama appears to be taking seriously the legitimate threat of incoming President-elect Trump, and has enacted several protections on key issues in the hopes that his legacy will survive.

Though the President has preserved millions of acres of land, included the non-religious in a religious protection act, and moved forward on several other goals in the last days of 2016, one thing he has not yet done involves nuclear weapons.

Many are terrified of the prospect of President Trump having his finger on the button and fear that his impulsive nature might end us all. but as it turns out, there is something President Obama could do to distance Trump from the nuclear football – if only he will do it.

According to Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, if Obama were to shift the U.S.’s nuclear stance away from “high alert,” he could severely complicate Trump’s ability to send off a weapon of mass-murder on a whim.

“So there is something that President Obama can do about this to buy us some time. He can end the Cold War practice of keeping our nuclear missiles on high alert, ready to launch in a few minutes’ notice. This is something that he pledged to do when he was campaigning, said he would do it when he took office, never did it. He’s got 22 days to try and correct that mistake.

Yes, President Trump could then come in and reverse it, but that is much harder to do. It would be very difficult for President Trump to put nuclear missiles on high alert. Why are you doing that? What’s the crisis? What’s the justification? This is one of those policies that has survived because people haven’t looked at it, people haven’t questioned it. Why does anyone have the ability to launch nuclear weapons so quickly? In 22 days, Donald Trump will be able to launch nuclear missiles as quickly as he now tweets. Four minutes after he gives the order, those missiles will fly. No one can stop him. No one can reverse those launches.”

Trump’s grasp of the seriousness of nuclear weapons seems excessively weak, with the man threatening to use them during the election and asking for an outright arms race just weeks ago.

Of course, one concerning element of this possible choice by Obama is that it might embolden other nations to amp up their nuclear weapons and threaten the U.S., but despite what madman is running our country, working toward less nuclear weapons rather than more is the ideal goal.

So, President Obama, we hope your advocacy will not stop at declaring some land a national preserve – preserve this entire planet by taking away the nuclear codes from a proven madman.

You can read the entire interview with Joe Cirincione at Democracy Now. 


Sydney Robinson is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. She has also appeared in political news videos for Ring of Fire. Sydney has a degree in English Literature from the University of West Florida, and has an active interest in politics, social justice, and environmental issues. She would love to hear from you on Twitter @SydneyMkay or via email at