Nuclear weapons strategy in the United States is designed around “presidential first use,” an arrangement that enables one person, the president, to kill and maim many millions of people in a single afternoon. Is presidential first use legal? Is it constitutional? Is it just? At a November 4, 2017, conference held at Harvard University and co-chaired by Elaine Scarry of Harvard and Jonathan King of MIT, gathers international and constitutional scholars and politicians to examine the nature of presidential first use in the United States alongside parallel arrangements in the other eight nuclear states. The conference exposed the grave illegality of first use, the likelihood of its occurring, and the way citizens can step forward to dismantle it.

Transcript of Presentations

Elaine Scarry: Introduction

Congressman Jim McGovern: Presidential First Use vs. Congress

William J. Perry: Nuclear North Korea: 1999 and 2017

Bruce G. Blair: Protocol for a US Nuclear Strike

Rosa Brooks: Nuclear Weapons and the Deep State

Kennette Benedict: Congress and the Citizenry

John Burroughs: International Law and First Use of Nuclear Weapons

Bruce Ackerman: Presidential Lawlessness

Zia Mian: Nuclear Weapons Use in South Asia

Hugh Gusterson: Democracy, Hypocrisy, First Use

Sissela Bok: The Use and Misuse of the Language of Self-Defense