I was certified as Nuclear Weapons Delivery Crew and as a Nuclear Weapons Loading Officer when I was an aviator in the Navy many years ago. I planned actual missions to attack cities in Eastern Europe. If the order had been given, those missions would have been flown as I had planned them, down to the minor details. I might have flown them myself.
It was a sobering thing. I thought about it, prayed about it and talked to my Catholic chaplains about it. When I was doing this actively, we got a very liberal bishop in charge of the diocese we lived in. He wanted to declare all military personnel who handled nuclear weapons as excommunicated. Fortunately, he got talked out of it, since it would have affected thousands of people in his diocese. Now that threat has ended. John Paul II set up the US Military Archdiocese. Now the spiritual lives of Catholics in the military are led by the military archbishop.
Here is my take: Nuclear weapons in the context of the doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction” did have a huge effect on keeping the world at peace for over 50 years. Now that nuclear weapons are within the grasp of many countries, there is no way to “put the genie back in the bottle.” Nukes will always be with us. Like anything, it is not the technology, but how it is used. If you don’t use them offensively without extensive justification, if you mostly keep them defensively, you actually promote peace.
We need to keep a strong capability in this area. At some point, it will be the only thing that keeps N. Korea or Iran from attacking us and conquering us. The Nazis would have done it if they had been able, as would the Soviets. More importantly, the threat of US nuclear capability can bring those countries to the peace table if we handle it right. That is a reality.
We should not blame military people whose only goal is to serve and protect for the jobs they are assigned to do.