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Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

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Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”
That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.
His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

The History Of New York Earthquakes: Before The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

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Historic Earthquakes

Near New York City, New York

1884 08 10 19:07 UTC

Magnitude 5.5

Intensity VII

USGS.gov

This severe earthquake affected an area roughly extending along the Atlantic Coast from southern Maine to central Virginia and westward to Cleveland, Ohio. Chimneys were knocked down and walls were cracked in several States, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Many towns from Hartford, Connecticut, to West Chester,Pennsylvania.

Property damage was severe at Amityville and Jamaica, New York, where several chimneys were “overturned” and large cracks formed in walls. Two chimneys were thrown down and bricks were shaken from other chimneys at Stratford (Fairfield County), Conn.; water in the Housatonic River was agitated violently. At Bloomfield, N.J., and Chester, Pa., several chimneys were downed and crockery was broken. Chimneys also were damaged at Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Allentown, Easton, and Philadelphia, Pa. Three shocks occurred, the second of which was most violent. This earthquake also was reported felt in Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Several slight aftershocks were reported on August 11.

Trump’s shameful deference to the Saudi Horn (Daniel 7)

Illustrated | Mark Wilson/Getty Images, Josh Brasted/Getty Images, JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images, OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images, jessicahyde/iStock

Trump’s shameful deference to Saudi Arabia

Joel Mathis

December 9, 2019

It is not always President Trump’s fault when bad things happen. Somehow, though, he often makes them worse.

So it is with America’s relationship with the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Trump is not the first American president to show undue deference to the kingdom’s monarchy — the Bush family, in particular, had an unusually tight relationship with the House of Saud. But it was still unseemly over the weekend to watch the president act as Saudi Arabia’s virtual press agent in the wake of last week’s deadly gun attack in Pensacola by a Saudi air force pilot. The pilot, stationed at an American naval air base for training, killed three Americans, and the attack is now being investigated as an act of terrorism.

The president’s response was oddly — even offensively — muted.

“They are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters Saturday. “And the king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. He feels very strongly. He’s very, very devastated by what happened and what took place.”

The New York Times called out what Trump failed to promise: “What was missing was any assurance that the Saudis would aid in the investigation, help identify the suspect’s motives, or answer the many questions about the vetting process for a coveted slot at one of the country’s premier schools for training allied officers.”

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There is one other unanswered question: Why is the U.S. still so intertwined with Saudi Arabia’s government?

The answer used to be simple: oil. Saudi Arabia is one of the great oil-producing nations; America is among the world’s leaders in petroleum consumption. That has left the United States vulnerable at times — though memories of the 1970s gas embargo that resulted in long lines at the pump have mostly faded — and, in turn, has pushed American presidents to vow to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

In 1974, President Nixon pledged, “At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need.”

By 1981, though, America’s foreign oil consumption had increased. President Reagan promised that would change. “While conservation is worthy in itself, the best answer is to try to make us independent of outside sources to the greatest extent possible for our energy.” That didn’t work out either.

All told, eight presidents in a row promised to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil. None ever did. Under President Obama, the trend began to reverse — aided, admittedly, by the reduced demand for energy during the Great Recession. Last year, for the first time on record, the U.S. exported more oil than it imported.

That’s great. But one benefit of reduced dependence on foreign oil was supposed to be a loosening of political ties with the countries that produce that oil. The 1973 embargo, after all, was aimed at countries — including the United States — that supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

America is more free from foreign oil than it has been in living memory. Yet the ties with Saudi Arabia remain.

One reason is that the United States supports Saudi Arabia as a regional counterweight to Iran’s ambitions. It is not clear why, though. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are dictatorial theocracies that treat women as second-class citizens, interfere with their neighbors — the U.S. supports Saudi Arabia’s morally disastrous war in Yemen — and generally spread suffering while doing so. Saudi Arabia is somewhat less hostile to Israel, which is always a policy concern for U.S. politicians, but otherwise there is no reason one country deserves our support and the other does not. Objectively speaking, both countries are what foreign policy analysts would call “bad actors.”

The Saudis don’t seem to be improving, either. It’s been just a year since the gruesome assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The country continues to crack down on dissent. Tens of thousands of children have died in the Yemen war.

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On the other hand, Trump has a fondness for dictators. He loves that Saudi Arabia buys U.S. weapons. And he came to office determined to undo Obama’s agreement to put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. Still, none of this justifies an alliance with Saudi Arabia; the relationship may persist more out of habit than any fresh strategic thinking.

The good news is that both parties in Congress seem willing to rethink the relationship. The House and Senate voted earlier this year to end U.S. military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Trump vetoed the bill. The Pensacola attack, though, may create new pressure. Even Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who is normally a staunch ally of Trump, said the attack “has to inform on our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

Trump’s behavior is not encouraging. If recent history is any guide, the status quo will prevail. But it is difficult to find any virtue in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. It is time to seek a new approach.

The Iranian Nuclear Horn Upgrades Her Centrifuges (Daniel 8:4)

Iran will unveil a new generation of uranium enrichment centrifuges, the deputy head of Iran’s nuclear agency Ali Asghar Zarean told state TV on Saturday.

“In the near future we will unveil a new generation of centrifuges that are domestically made,” said Zarean, without elaborating.

In September, Iran said it had started developing centrifuges to speed up the enrichment of uranium as part of steps to reduce compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal following the withdrawal of the United States.

In neighboring Iraq, meanwhile, anti-government protesters returned to Baghdad’s central plaza on Saturday after a night of bloody attacks that left 25 people dead and more than 130 wounded.

Storm clouds gathered over Khilani Square as the protesters surveyed the blackened facade of a parking garage that had served as their de facto command post before unknown assailants torched it Friday night.

The attack, which took place in darkness moments after the power was cut, marked a major escalation in assaults against protesters that have been taking place in recent weeks.

It was among the deadliest since Oct. 1, when thousands of Iraqis first took to the streets calling for sweeping political reforms and the end of Iran’s influence in Iraqi affairs. At least 400 have died at the hands of security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations.

A protester holds a bloodstained flag at the site of a gunmen attack in Baghdad, Saturday

Friday’s attacks also came hours after Washington slapped sanctions on the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful Iran-backed militia accused of being behind deadly sniping attacks on protesters. The US Treasury sanctioned leader Qais al-Khazali, his brother Laith al-Khazali, a commander in the group, and Husain Falih Aziz al-Lami.

Demonstrators feared the attacks would be followed by armed street fighting and more violence that would undermine the peaceful tone of their mass rallies.

“Everyone is terrified,” said Noor, a protester who provided only her first name for fear of reprisal. “We don’t want this to become a street war. That is why we are trying to stay peaceful. But day after day we find that we are alone.”

Anti-government activists blame the attacks on Iran-backed militias, which have staged similar assaults against protester sit-ins in the capital and the country’s southern cities. On Thursday, the militias attempted to hold their own demonstration in the square to counter anti-government protesters, many of whom were attacked with knives by unknown assailants. They later withdrew.

Two Iraqi officials, who requested anonymity in line with regulations, said it was widely suspected that militiamen were involved in Friday night’s attacks.

Members of the Popular Mobilization Units, an official umbrella organization comprising an array of militia groups, have said the attacks during the protests have been aimed at infiltrators of the anti-government movement who were looking to cause disturbances.

Policemen use slingshots to fire stones towards anti-government protesters during clashes on Rasheed Street in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday

Falah Fayadh, chairman of the paramilitary PMUs, the program that oversees an array of Shiite militia groups, directed the PMU forces to stay away from squares occupied by protesters, according to an internal statement issued Saturday and seen by The Associated Press. Those who disobeyed the order would be fired, Fayadh said in the statement.

Protesters said the government’s failure to protect them at the height of the hostilities on Friday forced them to rely on a militia linked to influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, also the leader of the Sairoon bloc, which holds the most seats in Parliament.

Al-Sadr has supported the protests by sending Saraya Al Salam (Peace Brigades), a militia group under his control, to block roads and prevent anti-protest gunmen from entering during Friday’s clashes.

Iraqi officials said they believed al-Sadr would use his popularity on the street as political leverage in talks over the selection of a new premier. Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned last week in response to the protests.

Abdul-Mahdi’s ascension to prime minister was the result of an uneasy alliance between the Sairoon bloc and parliament’s other main bloc, the Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units headed by Hadi al-Amiri.

Even protesters who are wary of al-Sadr’s politics – they consider him part of the establishment they are protesting – said the presence of Saraya Al Salam members, who were unarmed, was key to their safety.

“I wish the … army had come and fought for us so that other people don’t feel that Sadr is protecting the protesters – because they are also a militia at the end of the day,” Noor said.

For Iraqi officials inside the fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government, the presence of al-Sadr’s militia on the street serves only to reinforce perceptions that the majority of anti-government protesters are in fact supporters of al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr, meanwhile, said his home in the holy city of Najaf was hit by a drone strike on Saturday. He did not elaborate. Nassar al-Rubaie, head of Sairoon’s political committee, decried the attack in televised remarks and called for an emergency parliamentary session to discuss the violence in Khilani Square.

Friday’s attacks had many protesters on edge.

Mohamed, a protester who only provided his first name for fear of reprisal, said when he arrived at the square Friday night after receiving a call from distressed protesters, he saw groups of masked men wielding knives near the protesters’ command post at the parking garage.

Twenty minutes later, he said, four white pickup trucks arrived from the direction of Abdul-Qadir Gilani mosque, adjacent to Khilani square, without license plates and carrying armed men wearing ski masks.

“They fired at us, and we ran,” he said, noting that the electricity went off moments before. The armed men positioned themselves on the top floor of the parking garage and started shooting at the demonstrators below, said Mohamed, whose version of events was corroborated by a half-dozen other protesters. The shooting lasted for at least three hours, he said.

The attacks claimed the lives of 22 protesters and three policemen, officials said. Iraqi security forces were deployed to streets leading to the square early Saturday.

Some protesters accused the government of colluding with the masked gunmen, pointing to the power outage that happened around the same time as the attacks.

But a senior Electricity Ministry official, who requested anonymity in line with regulations, denied the allegation. The official said it would have been easy for anyone to cut the power lines.

Drone Attack Targets Antichrist’s Home Following Deadly Attack on Protesters

Drone attack targets Iraqi cleric’s home following deadly attack on protesters

07/12/2019 – 18:09

Supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gather near his home, after it was attacked, in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq on December 7, 2019. Alaa al-Marjani, Reuters

The drone attack, which caused little damage and left no casualties, followed a deadly attack by armed men near Baghdad’s main protest site on Friday night, which left at least 23 dead, police and medical sources said.

Nearly 130 others were wounded by gunfire and stabbings targeting anti-government protesters at the Sinak bridge near Tahrir Square, the sources said. The death toll includes three members of the police.

Thousands of Iraqis have occupied the central square and three nearby bridges which lead to the city’s Green Zone, Iraq’s political centre, for more than two months, calling for a complete uprooting of the political system.

Friday and Saturday’s attacks came days after Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, said he would resign.

Sadr, a mercurial figure who has supported the protests but not thrown his full weight behind them, was in Iran at the time of the drone attack on his home in the southern holy city of Najaf, a source in his office said.

However, a spokesman for his party said the incidents were aimed at pressuring both protesters and political leaders to accept whichever candidate is nominated for the premiership by the ruling elite.

“The Sinak massacre and the bombing of (Sadr’s home) is geared at pushing the acceptance of the candidate for prime minister,” said Jaafar Al-Mousawi.

Iranian officials including the powerful commander of its Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, stepped in to prevent Abdul Mahdi’s resignation in October, Reuters reported.

Soleimani was reported to be in Baghdad this week, negotiating with political leaders for a new consensus candidate for prime minister.

Masked gunmen

The weekend’s developments marked a drastic escalation to quell the demonstrations, the country’s largest in decades. More than 430 people have been killed since protests began on Oct. 1.

Security sources said they could not identify the gunmen who attacked protesters on Friday night.

The incident was followed by further intimidation early on Saturday morning, as more unknown gunmen drove in a convoy down the main riverside street which leads to Tahrir Square, firing a volley of shots towards it.

The heavily armed, masked gunmen roamed the street near Tahrir Square and attempted to advance onto it but were eventually turned around at a checkpoint manned by Iraq’s security forces, witnesses said.

Friday’s deadly attack came hours after Washington imposed sanctions on three Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary leaders whom it accused of directing the killing of Iraqi protesters. A senior U.S. Treasury official suggested the sanctions were timed to distance those figures from any role in forming a new government.

Western diplomats condemned the attack on protesters, urging Iraqi authorities to investigate whoever is responsible.

The government has said it would investigate and try those responsible for the violence, but there has been little evidence of real accountability, partly due to the complexity of Iraq’s varied security apparatus.

(REUTERS)

The Flashpoint For The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

India, Kashmir & deterrence

Riaz Mohammad Khan

The writer is an author and a former foreign secretary of Pakistan.

KASHMIR is generally described as a nuclear flashpoint. Reference to Pakistan and India being nuclear-armed neighbours is often cited in times of heightened tension between the two countries and as a reminder that they must avoid an all-out conflict. The Aug 5 Indian move to annex India-held Kashmir (IHK), the draconian lockdown in the Valley since that date, and reckless Indian claims to Azad Kashmir have created a radically new and dangerous situation which has been the subject of extensive comment.

In a recent Dawn article, my respected senior colleague ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi pointed to an impending genocide in the Valley and suggested that “if the people of the Valley are threatened with genocide, as indeed they are, Pakistan’s [nuclear] deterrent must cover them”. The concept of nuclear deterrence has an inbuilt ambiguity, but given the gravity of the subject matter, it needs further scrutiny.

Two questions readily come to mind. Will the post-Aug 5 conditions in IHK morph into a genocidal crisis and how should Pakistan respond to such a situation? Second, what broadly underpins Pakistan’s thinking on resort to its nuclear deterrent and how will it apply to Kashmir?

Arguably, the lockdown of eight million Kashmiris represents a most reprehensible human rights violation that deserves the severest international condemnation, but despite the danger, in the general perception, genocide is tied to large-scale massacres, mass exodus and international outrage. The Indians appear to be avoiding that tipping point and are attempting to pursue calculated repression to tire the Kashmiris out and entice pliable Kashmiri individuals to acquiesce in the new diktat. They are embarked on a long haul.

The Aug 5 move has so poisoned the well that it is difficult to see a path to normal relations with India.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is waiting to see how Kashmiris react to repression when they find some breathing space. This policy dilemma is at play in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning to those intending to cross the Line of Control. The current impasse is fraught and nothing is clear about its denouement. If, however, the situation deteriorates and there is bloodshed and people start fleeing the Valley, Pakistan’s restraint will come under great stress and become untenable. A stage may come when beyond exhausting diplomatic options, Pakistan would be unable to withhold material assistance to the Kashmiri struggle.

That scenario can precipitate a conflict for which Pakistan must be fully prepared.

In all probability, conflict would draw international intervention and activate the United Nations Security Council to call for a ceasefire and dialogue for a political settlement of Kashmir. This could become a new basis for dialogue, since the heart of a meaningful dialogue on Kashmir provided by the Shimla Accords, the Lahore Summit Declaration and subsequent bilateral pronouncements has been knocked out by the Aug 5 move of the Modi government. This could usher in a period of tenuous peace and another status quo over Kashmir. But conflicts can have unpredictable trajectories and far worse, and disastrous consequences cannot be ruled out, which makes the talk of nuclear deterrent relevant.

Pakistan developing a nuclear deterrent was a necessary and understandable response to rectify the qualitative force imbalance created by India’s 1974 nuclear test. Pakistan obviously had no outside nuclear umbrella available and had to rely on its own capacity. Since 1998, Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine has maintained that its deterrent is entirely defensive and meant to be a shield against any intended aggression to destroy its territorial integrity.

India’s Cold Start Doctrine forced further fine-tuning of Pakistan’s thinking as to the practical applicability of its deterrent. Because the Cold Start Doctrine contemplated incursion and lopping off a vulnerable part of Pakistani territory, Pakistan responded by developing tactical nuclear weapons to be deployed against an invading force inside Pakistan. India has reacted by declaring that use of a nuclear weapon, however limited, anywhere (including inside Pakistan) would draw a massive nuclear retaliation. Regardless of the debates swirling around these scenarios, they provide the clearest indication of Pakistan’s determination to go to any extent to defend its territorial integrity.

How does all this apply to Kashmir? In practical terms, Pakistan’s deterrent cannot protect people in the Valley or prevent mayhem in IHK. But a genocide can lead to a conflict between Pakistan and India with its own dynamic and risks, thus Kashmir becoming a nuclear flashpoint. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent must however cover Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to thwart any Indian designs to capture any part of that territory. Many among the current BJP leadership mince no words about their covetous intentions and claims over the territory. It is imperative that we leave no one in doubt that we will defend Azad Kashmir and GB as we will defend any part of Pakistan. We cannot tolerate a repeat of Siachen.

Islamabad must also brace itself for Indian-sponsored subversion and disaffection in Azad Kashmir and GB, and, recognising their special status, ensure well-being, development, rights and opportunities for the people of these areas.

The Aug 5 move by the Modi government has so poisoned the well that it is difficult see a path to normal relations with India. Imran Khan’s Kartarpur initiative and his call to curb any jihadist impulse along the LoC are laudable. These measures, or any other similar gestures or initiatives, are unlikely to compel India to change course to some form of a policy reversal that respects Kashmiri sentiment and restores an environment for purposeful interaction with Pakistan. Much will depend on the Kashmiris and sensitivity of the international community to their predicament and to sane voices within India. Meanwhile, barring further deterioration, Pakistan has little choice but to maintain only a circumspect functional relationship with its eastern neighbour without expectations of normalisation any time soon.

The writer is an author and a former foreign secretary of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2019

Iran Goes on the Offensive in Iraq (Daniel 8:4)

Iraqi demonstrators gather as flames consume Iran’s consulate in Najaf, Iraq, on Nov. 27. HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP via Getty Images

Tehran funnels in missiles while Trump reportedly mulls a big increase in U.S. troops.

Robbie GramerDecember 5, 2019, 11:44 AM

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Security Brief Plus.What’s on tap today: Iran is secretly funneling missiles into Iraq as it grapples with protests, tensions mount on the Korean peninsula as North Korea mulls new long-range missile tests, and Sudan’s new leader makes his debut in Washington.

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Iran Takes Advantage of Turmoil in Iraq

Tehran isn’t letting a good crisis go to waste. As anti-government protests  roil Iraq, neighboring Iran has funneled short-range ballistic missiles into the country to help reassert its influence in the Middle East, U.S. officials told the New York Times.

The move, to some critics, shows that U.S. President Donald Trump’s longstanding efforts to weaken the Iranian regime and roll back its influence in the Middle East through sanctions and increased U.S. troop presence in the Persian Gulf isn’t working out as well as the administration hoped.

Troop surge? The news comes as the Trump administration considers sending more military hardware, ships and up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in an effort to counter Iran, according to the Wall Street Journal. Top Pentagon officials insist they have not yet made a decision to deploy additional troops, however.

The move would be another reversal of Trump’s promise to extricate the U.S. military from costly conflicts in the Middle East. Since the spring, the United States has deployed roughly 14,000 troops to the region after a series of attacks on oil tankers and infrastructure in the Gulf that pushed tensions between Tehran, Washington, and its Gulf allies to new heights.

North Korea ready to renew long-range missile tests. Tensions are mounting on the Korean peninsula, as well as between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fading fast. Name calling is back: Trump has reverted to calling Kim “Rocket Man” again and North Korea threatened to call Trump a “dotard” without going so far as to do so. And as nuclear talks flounder, reports seem to indicate that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its first long-range missile test since 2017.

On Monday, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song issued a vague and ominous warning to the United States, saying, “It is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get.” Kim Jong Un followed those statements with a horse ride up North Korea’s sacred Mount Paektu, his second since October and a symbolic move experts see as a sign that Kim will announce a major new policy decision.

A rare win for NATO with Turkey. Under pressure from U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Turkey has officially agreed to a NATO plan for the defense of Poland and the Baltic states, giving it the necessary unanimous approval. Ankara was dragging its feet over the issue because of disputes over the situation in Syria, where it is demanding that Washington officially label U.S.-allied Kurdish militias as terrorist groups.

On the eve of a meeting of NATO leaders in London this week, Esper urged Turkey to support the defense plan, suggesting that Ankara was too focused on its own narrow agenda rather than the threat of Russia in Eastern Europe. It’s a rare victory as NATO grapples with an increasingly bellicose Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has plunged relations between Ankara and Washington to new lows.

A new Sudan? The leader of Sudan, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, is visiting the United States for the first time in three decades. Long an international pariah accused of supporting terrorism and trading arms with North Korea, Sudan is seeking to turn over a new leaf under a transitional government after a coup ousted the autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir earlier this year. The Trump administration announced on Wednesday it would renormalize relations with Sudan, sending an ambassador there for the first time in over two decades. Sudan is next pushing for the United States to delist it as a state sponsor of terrorism to open its economy to international investors.

Foreign Policy Recommends

Trump’s man on Iran. He may not be a household name, but Brian Hook has played an outsized and influential role in Trump’s State Department from the beginning.Vox has an in-depth profile of Hook, the Trump administration’s special envoy on Iran. Despite initial skepticism of Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy, Hook has become one of the president’s strongest allies in the State Department, steadily implementing the administration’s hardline approach to Tehran.

“Let us stop the façade that our governments enjoy ‘warm and cordial’ relations. The current government of Zambia wants foreign diplomats to be compliant, with open pocketbooks and closed mouths.”

—U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote issues an unusual scathing rebuke of the country’s government, which lashed out at him after he criticized it for sentencing two men to 15-year imprisonment for engaging in a same-sex relationship.

Life inside the DMZ. When the demilitarized zone was formed between North and South Korea after the end of the Korean War, only two villages—one in the north and one in the south—were permitted to remain inside. For decades, the villages served propaganda purposes, allowing each regime to showcase the best of their respective societies. North Korea’s village has mostly been cleared out, but Taesung, the south’s village, still remains. The Seoul government recently installed a 5G network to keep villagers content and ensure the long-term survival of the village.

Drama at the (fake) border. A man was arrested last week for erecting a fake border between between Russia and Finland and charging four migrants from South Asia more than $10,000 in exchange for safe passage. The nationalities of the migrants were not released, but all four were fined by a St. Petersburg court on Wednesday and ordered to be deported.

Trudeau dragged into 2020 fight. Former Vice President Joe Biden is taking advantage of an embarrassing candid camera moment, where NATO leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were caught making fun of Trump. Biden released a 2020 presidential campaign ad Wednesday evening using the viral video to criticize Trump. Trump, meanwhile, was none too pleased with Trudeau.

That’s it for today.

For more from FP, subscribe here or sign up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or typos to securitybrief@foreignpolicy.com.

Dan Haverty contributed to this report.

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer

The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12)

https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/aftershock-640x484.png?044193 

New York City is Past Due for an Earthquake

by , 03/22/11

filed under: News

New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.

Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.

There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation rates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.

John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.

The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.

Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”

Via Metro and NY Daily News

Images © Ed Yourdon

Israel Conducts Air Raid Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel conducts air raid in Gaza Strip after intercepting rocket fire

By Daniel Uria

Israel said it conducted air raids in the Gaza Strip after intercepting two of three rockets fired from the region with its Iron Dome defense system, like the one pictured here. File Pool photo by Jack Guez/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 8 (UPI) — Israel Defense Forces conducted air raids early Sunday in the Gaza Strip after Palestinian rockets were fired from the region toward southern Israel.

The IDF tweeted that three rockets were fired from Gaza and two were intercepted by its Iron Dome Aerial Defense System and hours later Israel deployed fighter jets and attack helicopters to the region in response.

No Palestinian groups took responsibility for the rocket fire but, Israel said the Islamist militant group launched the missiles.

“Hamas is responsible for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip and it will bear the consequences for actions against Israeli citizens,” the Israeli military said.

The air raids struck several targets associated with Hamas including a camp and a naval position in the northern Gaza Strip, IDF said.

Israel’s defense minister, Naftali Bennett, warned that the nation would seek to move from a “defensive approach to an attacking approach” on the Gaza Strip.

“Whatever we’ll do — we’ll do it at the right time — in the right way and with great power,” Bennett said. “No one will drag us to it. A good ruse is served cold, not when the blood is boiling and the other side waits of it.”

Last month, rocket fire was also exchanged between Israel and the Gaza Strip after an Islamic Jihad commander in Northern Gaza and his wife were killed in a strike on his bedroom.

Why Israel fears Iran’s ‘Shi’ite Crescent’ (Daniel 8:8)

ANALYSIS: Why Israel fears Iran’s ‘Shi’ite Crescent’

Even with Tehran facing internal pressure, Iranian expansionism and the formation of a ‘Shi’ite Crescent’ remain Israel’s top concerns.

At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu again addressed the issue of the growing Iranian threat to Israel and the region as a whole.

After mentioning his recent conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the PM spoke about the situation in Iraq where Iran’s proxy al-Hashd al-Shaabi this weekend killed up to 25 unarmed demonstrators in Baghdad after creating an electricity black-out.

Netanyahu again called upon the European countries to increase, not decrease as six European countries did last week, the pressure on the Islamic Republic.

Apparently, the Israeli caretaker premier mentioned the situation in Iraq on purpose to show that Israel sees Iran’s activities in that country, as well as Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and Yemen as one huge Iranian plot to create the Shiite Crescent.

Netanyahu also threatened again to launch a wide-scale military operation in Gaza after four rockets fired from the enclave caused thousands of Israelis to run for their life on Shabbat the Jewish day of rest.

If we take a look at the larger picture Netanyahu has in mind the conclusion should be that the Israeli leader is rightly concerned about Iran’s increasing belligerent activities and about the possibility Iran could launch an attack on Israel.

To start with the latter, the Israeli government is sending signals to Iran it better not crosses “red lines” as the new Defense Minister Naftali Bennett put it.

Bennett indicated he intends to change the equation in the conflict with Iran and its many proxies.

While cautioning it will take time he warned Israel’s enemies “will realize that they cannot shoot at Jews anymore.”

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz sent another message to Iran when he bluntly said that the Israeli government could retort to military action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program after news broke that Iran announced it would introduce a new type of centrifuge to enrich uranium.

Another Israeli message was sent to Iran last Friday when the Israeli air force test-launched a, what seemed to be, a long-range ballistic Jericho 3 missile which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Contrary to usual protocol when the Israeli military tests missiles, the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv was deliberately vague about the test launch from the IAF base Palmachim.

“The defense establishment conducted a launch test a few minutes ago of a rocket motor system from a base in the center of the country,” a statement read adding that the test was planned in advance and had been successful.

The IAF also used a telemetry plane and at least two Israeli AF G550 AEWC Shavit spy planes which flew to all the way to Crete to monitor and handle the test with the Jericho missile.

Iran got the message, which apparently touched a raw nerve.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif fired off a Tweet in which he claimed the “nuke-missile” was “aimed at Iran” and castigated four Western world powers for not complaining “about the only nuclear arsenal in west Asia.”

If we now take a look at developments on the ground in Iran’s Shiite Crescent we will understand the concerns of the Israeli government.

In Iraq, Iran tries with all its might to quell the continuing popular unrest and to install yet another pro-Iranian government after the resignation of PM Adil Abdul Mahdi while it continues to turn northeast Iraq into a missile base.

Iraqi protesters now report that al-Hashd al-Shaabi has resorted to an old tactic which is based on the proverb: if you can’t beat them join them.

Members of the predominantly Shiite organization are infiltrating the demonstrations and try to kill them from within by sowing discord or by sudden arrests.

On Saturday night, furthermore, an unidentified attack drone bombed the house of Muqtada al-Sadr, the winner of the last Iraqi election, who supports the demonstrations and is also known for his resistance against Iran’s attempt to turn Iraq into a second Lebanon.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also dispatched his close confident Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, to Baghdad in order to secure that a pro-Iranian politician becomes the successor of Mahdi.

In Syria, meanwhile, Israel allegedly carried out two new airstrikes on the Quds Force and its allies in the vicinity of the border town al-Bukamal the site of earlier IAF attacks against Iranian targets.

Arab media reported that five members of Iranian militias were killed in the second strike while the first destroyed an ammunition depot of the Quds Force.

Then there is Lebanon where Hezbollah is building-up forces along the border with Israel, the IDF reported last week.

“We have a very serious enemy” said Col. Roy Levy of the IDF’s Northern Command adding that “they have a lot of cameras, a lot of forces along the border, camouflaged.”

Yemen, a new player in Iran’s proxy war against Israel is now also threatening war against Israel.

Maj. General Mohammed al-Atefi, Yemen’s Defense Minister claimed this weekend that Israel has been involved in the Yemenite war since from the first day of “the invasion” an apparent reference to the Saudi-led intervention in the war.

Al-Atefi said that the “Yemeni Army now has a bank of naval and ground military targets of the Zionist enemy, and we will not hesitate to hit it whenever the leadership decides.”

He then added that his army “has completed all aspects of the construction that qualify it for a comprehensive strategic attack that cripples the enemy’s capabilities,” an apparent reference to the anticipated multi-front attack against Israel.

Iran, meanwhile, claims it has succeeded to pass a budget that will offset the effects of the Israeli-US campaign of maximum pressure and aims to ease the hardships of the Iranian population.

President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged that Iran is facing “a lot of problems” but that his government is on the “correct path” thanks to Allah.

If it will be enough to quell the current popular uprising in Iran remains to be seen.

Israeli Iran observer Ya’acov Yashar, the son of Iranian immigrants, reported to Arutz Sheva that the protests continue unabated despite over 1,000 deaths and more than 7,000 injured protesters.

A video posted on Facebook on Saturday showed large students protests in Tehran while another one showed how the Basij militia of the IRGC shot down all protesters of another demonstration in the city of Mahshar.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran later confirmed the student protests in Tehran where demonstrators vowed to continue the path of their martyred brothers.

According to Prophecy Nuclear War With North Korea Will NOT Happen

Is War with North Korea Unavoidable?

Key point: Pyongyang might not be subject to the same constraints as other nuclear regimes.

Many believe that North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons, along with its conventional arsenal, rules out war.

A conflict would indeed prove more horrific than many apprehend, and being enthused by the prospect of another Korean war would truly be insane. However, what is even more insane is telling the President of the United States that the greatest nation in history, and all its 300 million+ citizens, must live in the shadow of annihilation at the whims of a sadistic cult. This is simply not going to happen, and observers insisting that there is no military option ignore reality and all senior members of this administration and the president himself. The United States will not live with a North Korea that can destroy American cities with a nuclear-tipped ICBM, end of story.

Those arguing against war insist that traditional nuclear deterrence with North Korea can work, just like with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Before proceeding everyone should re-read the last paragraph and understand fully that their argument is an academic exercise and not a realistic course of action. They are also totally wrong, for these reasons:

1. Deterrence has already failed

North Korea’s nuclear weapons are not merely about regime survival, for all would agree that its existing capabilities are more than sufficient for dissuading unprovoked regime change. Rather, it seeks mutual nuclear vulnerability with the United States to prevent military responses to North Korea’s current and future aggression towards U.S. allies in the region.

This is already being demonstrated. On September 14, North Korea stated that:

“The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.”

Hardly a declaration that nuclear weapons are for deterrence! The very next day residents on Hokkaido island received a text – ‘a missile from North Korea has been detected, take cover.’

Any suggestion that there is a ‘lock step’ allied response to these provocations is absurd. Imagine it was Hawaii that North Korea proclaimed would be ‘sunk’ and American citizens receiving texts with missiles flying overhead. Washington’s response would be starkly different.

Maybe North Korea could be deterred from launching a nuclear weapon directly against the United States (and none can be certain of that). Once North Korea possesses dozens of nuclear-tipped ICBMs, however, it can attack U.S. allies and even embark on a second Korean war knowing there isn’t a thing the United States can do about it without inviting a massive and unacceptable nuclear retaliation. This fact is not lost on Japan, Korea, or even Australia. Consequently, U.S. alliances in Asia will fast unravel.

2. North Korea is not the Soviet Union or China

This seemed so obvious that when the comparison was first made I regrettably ignored it. Since then there has been an increasing number of deterrence advocates who use the Soviet Union or China as examples to support their case.

(NOTE: This first appeared in 2017.)

Starting with the basics, deterrence can only exist when an adversary would have undertaken the action if not for the deterrent. In the case of China, there was never a prospect of Mao launching a nuclear strike against the United States, regardless of America’s own nuclear arsenal. Nor did America’s nuclear weapons deter China in any way – China fought the Korean war decades before the taboo against nuclear use had been established, and at a time when China did not even possess nuclear weapons!

Moreover, the capabilities and doctrine between Mao’s China and North Korea could not be more different. China did not possess any means of delivering a nuclear weapon to the United States until long after bilateral relations had been normalized. China also instituted a minimum-deterrent and no-first-use policy (maintained to this day), targeted at no specific country. Meanwhile, North Korea pursues nuclear ICBMs with gusto and constantly threatens the United States with nuclear destruction. Certainly, those in the 1960s who insisted that America could not live with a nuclear-armed China were fools, but to draw that comparison with North Korea today is spurious.

The Soviet case is equally broken. For most of the Cold War, the United States believed itself the conventionally inferior party that had to compensate with nuclear weapons. America’s objective was not to deter a Soviet nuclear attack but rather an invasion of Western Europe. Soviet domination of Western Europe would have posed such an existential threat to the United States that it was credible for America to initiate a nuclear war to prevent it. This credibility was underscored by the fact that two European NATO allies possessed their own nuclear deterrents and could retaliate to an attack on behalf of themselves.

By contrast, it is not credible that the United States will incur large-scale nuclear attack from North Korea on behalf of South Korea or even Japan. Unification of the peninsula under Pyongyang would not threaten America’s existence. The North Koreans know this and will therefore not be deterred.

Others say that Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is the answer. The reason being that deterrence by punishment (nuclear retaliation) can be combined with deterrence by denial (thwarting an attack) to effectively deter hostile aggression. After all, if North Korea believes that America can shoot down its ICBMs, it is less likely to engage in hostile acts in the first place.

Again, this is wrong. The hostile reaction of China and Russia to BMD aside, missile defense is more like a Kevlar vest than an impregnable bank vault – the bad guy will still shoot at you, you are hoping to reduce some of the damage. It will take decades of proven efficacy before long-range BMD systems have any deterrent effect at all. In the interim, BMD systems must be assessed as an operational capability, not a strategic one.

However, the most significant issue is that nuclear deterrence simply doesn’t work the same way in the context of a major power-weak state dyad. Nuclear deterrence was effective with Russia and China because both saw themselves as massive and great civilizations in which nuclear weapons were guarantors of ultimate security, not instruments of first response. The risk of uncontrolled escalation created a disincentive against threatening the core interests of rival nuclear powers, and reduced (but hardly eliminated) the threat of major power war.

The incentive for North Korea is exactly opposite. Far from avoiding threatening America’s core interests, doing so directly advances Pyongyang’s own strategic goals. This is because the costs to the United States of intervening will greatly outweigh those of acquiescing to what are, relative to major power competitors, modest North Korean objectives (even though the long-term consequences for the United States’ position in Asia is profound). Moreover, unlike with America’s major power rivals, any level of American military intervention taken against North Korea would necessarily be interpreted by Pyongyang as an existential threat to regime survival, meaning that dramatic escalation is assured and not merely a risk. In short, North Korea will increasingly engage in hostile aggression below the nuclear threshold, without fear of conflict. The bottom line is that the United States will be deterred, not North Korea, despite the wide gap between their respective nuclear capabilities.

A better example than China or Russia would be India and Pakistan, were Pakistan only aggressive toward distant Indian allies and not India itself. It is inconceivable that India would incur a major nuclear exchange on behalf of these allies, and therefore Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would serve as a deterrent for India, but not the other way around, thereby encouraging Pakistani hostility.

The differing nature of each country’s political system should not be ignored either. In the case of both Russia and China, there is an advanced political structure in which the leaders who emerge have risen during a long career. These individuals must possess a degree of reason, patience, and resilience as pre-requisite of their station. In the case of North Korea, however, the requisite qualities are dynastic pedigree, personality worship, and absolute brutality – hardly a dependable catalog for nuclear restraint. Deterrence advocates rely heavily on Kim Jong-Un’s rationality to support their case. Leaving aside the fact that nuclear first use by North Korea could be rational, given the nature of the regime it is irrational for a U.S. president to stake millions of American lives on this assumption.

In timeless wisdom, the Ancient Greek historian Thucydides outlined the three causes of war: fear, honor, and interest. All three are at play on the Korean peninsula. The United States fears a North Korean nuclear weapon could detonate over an American city. Its status as a major power in Asia and credibility as an ally is on the line. And it has profound interests in North Korea not becoming an established nuclear power.

At present, only two nations can credibly threaten the United States with nuclear destruction, Russia, and China. A North Korean nuclear ICBM is entry to a very exclusive club. If this picture seems wrong instinctively, it is. Some with impressive nuclear resumes believe traditional nuclear deterrence strategies are adaptable to North Korea. They are totally wrong about this, and no-one should be seduced by this fantasy.