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Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons: Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?
November 4, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons
Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?
Saturday, November 4, 2017, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Harvard University, Science Center C, Cambridge, MA
Nuclear weapons strategy in the United States is designed around “presidential first use,” an arrangement that enables one man, the president, to kill and maim many millions of people in a single afternoon. Is this arrangement just? Is it legal? Is it constitutional? Since the start of the atomic age, how many times have presidents come close to launching a nuclear weapon? What responsibilities does a president have – while in office or once out of office – to inform his own citizenry and the world citizenry of any such contemplated actions? Does Congress, the press, or the citizenry have any record of asking the president to report on his record of contemplated launches?
What acts might a foreign population (as opposed to a foreign leader) commit that would warrant or justify delivering such weapons to them? What legal or philosophical principle differentiates the moral harm or moral wrong that would be attributed to a terrorist, non-state actor or hacker who delivered a nuclear weapon from a presidential launch of a nuclear weapon?
The conference will bring together international and constitutional scholars and statesmen to examine the nature of presidential first use in the United States, as well as parallel arrangements in the other nuclear states.
Sponsors: Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University; Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Harvard University; Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund; Institute for People’s Engagement; Union of Concerned Scientists
Co-Sponsors: Boston Review; American Friends Service Committee; Council for a Livable World; Future of Life Institute; World Beyond War; Peace Action; Pax Christi Massachusetts; Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility; Global Zero Boston; Women’s Action for New Directions; United for Peace and Justice
Venue: Harvard University, Science Center C, 1 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138.
Transportation: The Red Line is running shuttles between Park Street and Kendall on weekends. If coming from Boston, allow extra time for your trip!
Parking: You can park at Harvard for $8 for the day. We can sign you up; you must send your license plate number to Mass. Peace Action and pay $8 when you register for the conference at the Science Center. (Or you can sign up yourself using Harvard Parking’s computer system, but — it is a confusing system to use!) And of course you can also park at the Charles Hotel or other public parking garages in the Harvard Square area.
Lunch: A complimentary box lunch will be provided to the first 350 to register. Four food trucks will also be parked outside the Science Center for those who wish a different option: Bon Me – Vietnamese, many vegetarian options; Rhythm and Wraps – wraps, beans, etc; Roxy’s – great grilled cheese sandwiches, etc; and Zinneken’s.
Registration: Students free; general admission $0-20 depending what you can afford; supporters $75 or more (name will be listed in the conference program). Register online at http://presidential-first-use.bpt.me/; or mail a check to Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund, 11 Garden St, Cambridge, MA 02138 (write “Presidential first use” on memo line); or call 617-354-2169 to charge your credit card. Pre-pregistered attendees given first preference; walk-ins will be welcomed if space permits.