The Imperial Presidency And Nukes

Social theorist Elaine Scarry argues that nuclear weapons are to blame for executive power grabs:

I strongly believe that we absolutely must get rid of nuclear weapons, because once you allow nuclear weapons, then they seem to require putting aside the Constitution. Somebody might say, “But wait a minute, in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, in the invasions of Haiti and Grenada and Panama or the former Yugoslavia, we weren’t using nuclear weapons.” Well, that’s true, but Presidents, knowing that they have assumed the power to fire nuclear weapons, look with great impatience on having to get any authorization for merely using machine guns, tanks, and aerial bombing. They know that they have at their disposal this vast arsenal, and it’s therefore not at all coincidental that the disappearance of the requirement for a Congressional declaration of war is exactly timed to the invention of nuclear weapons.

This is an argument made more thoroughly by Garry Wills.