The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

 

India and Pakistan will of course retain their nuclear arms, and continue to see them as vital deterrents to attack. However, for such policies to remain tenable in the long run, the longtime adversaries must seek to bring an end to a pattern of recurring conflict that is entering its seventh decade this year.

While the United States is preoccupied by the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of potential adversaries such as Russia, China or North Korea, the danger of nuclear conflict may actually be greatest between two of its allies, Pakistan and India. The two nations have engaged in four wars starting since their partition along religious lines in 1947. A fifth could be drastically more costly, as their nuclear capabilities continue to grow and diversify.

Several years ago I made the acquaintance of a Pakistani nuclear science student in China. Curious about the thinking behind his country’s nuclear program, I asked if he really believed there was a possibility that India would invade Pakistan. “There’s still a lot of old-school thinkers in the Congress Party that believe India and Pakistan should be united,” he told me.

I doubt there are many observers outside of Pakistan who believe India is plotting to invade and occupy the Muslim state, but a feeling of existential enmity persists. The third conflict between the two countries in 1971 established India’s superiority in conventional warfare—not unexpectedly, as India has several times Pakistan’s population.

The bone of contention has always been the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. At the time of partition, the predominantly Muslim state was politically divided over which nation to join. When Pakistani-allied tribesmen attempted to force the issue, the Hindu maharaja of the region chose to accede to India, leading to the first war between India and Pakistan. Ever since, the line of control between the Indian and Pakistan side has remained bitterly contested, with artillery and sniper fire routinely exchanged. Pakistan intelligence services have infiltrated insurgents and plotted attacks across the border for decades, and Indian security troops have been implicated in human-rights violations and killings of the locals as a result of their counterinsurgency operations.

Pakistan does have to fear the potential of an Indian counterstrike intended to retaliate for a terrorist attack by Pakistani-aligned groups, such as the killing of 166 in Mumbai by Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2008 or the attack on Indian parliament in 2001 by Jaish-e-Muhammad. In both cases, the attackers had ties with Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, and Islamabad has shown limited willingness or ability to crack down on these groups. Complicating matters, civilian control of the military is far from consolidated in Pakistan, and it would be quite possible for ISI or some other agency to carry out such activities on its own initiative without the knowledge or support of the head of state.

India’s military has formulated a “Cold Start” doctrine to enable its forward-deployed land forces to launch an armored assault into Pakistani territory on short notice in response to a perceived provocation from Islamabad. This new strategy was devised after the Indian Army’s armored strike corps took three weeks to deploy to the border after the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, by which time Pakistan had already mobilized its own troops.

Islamabad sees nuclear weapons as its deterrent against a conventional attack, and Cold Start in particular. This is demonstrated by its refusal to adhere to a “No First Use” policy. Pakistan has an extensive plutonium production capacity, and is estimated to possess 130 to 140 warheads, a total that may easily increase to 220 to 250 in a decade, according to a report by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Many of the new weapons are smaller, short-range tactical weapons intended for targeting frontline troops. To enable a second-strike capability, Pakistan has also empowered local commanders to launch retaliatory nuclear strikes in case the chain of command is disrupted.

While battlefield nuclear weapons are less likely to cause the mass civilian casualties that a strike against a densely populated city would produce, they are deeply worrying in their own way: a state may be more tempted to employ tactical nuclear weapons, and perceive doing so as being intrinsically less risky. However, many simulations of nuclear war suggest that tactical-nuclear-weapon usage rapidly escalates to strategic weapons.

Furthermore, tactical nuclear weapons are necessarily more dispersed, and thus less secure than those stationed in permanent facilities. These issues led the U.S. Army to at first reorganize its tactical nuclear forces in the 1960s, and largely abandon them after the end of the Cold War.

Pakistan fields nearly a dozen different types of missiles to facilitate this strategy, developed with Chinese and North Korean assistance. Ground based tactical systems include the Hatf I, an unguided ground-based rocket with a range of one hundred kilometers, and the Nasr Hatf IX, which can be mounted on mobile quad-launchers. Longer reach is provided by Ghauri II and Shaheen II medium-range ballistic missiles, which can strike targets up to around 1,600 and 2,500 kilometers, respectively.

The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Rev 6:12)

https://imgs.6sqft.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/21040046/USGS-Seismic-Hazard-Map.jpgEarthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You Think

By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017

Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

There are other places around the country that are also well overdue for an earthquake. New York City has historically had a moderate earthquake approximately every 100 years. If that is to be trusted, any moment now there will be another one, which will be devastating for that city.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

The Last Martyrs of Prophecy (Revelation 7:3)

Will the Trump administration and this Congress let this historic and preventable tragedy happen on their watch?

We are on the precipice of catastrophe, and unless we act soon, within weeks, the tiny remnants of Christian communities in Iraq may be mostly eradicated by the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria.

Other global crises such as North Korea’s nuclear adventurism may be dominating the headlines, but this tragedy has been unfolding in agonizing slow motion over the past decade, an unintended consequence of the turmoil and sectarian strife unleashed by the Iraq war of 2003. Saddam Hussein was hardly a protector of Christians, but the power vacuum that came after his fall made the plight of Christians in Iraq dramatically worse. The George W. Bush administration tried to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, but had its hands full avoiding defeat in the larger civil war. Whatever respite Bush’s surge decision bought soon gave way under the Obama administration to an even more terrible extermination campaign launched by the Islamic State, leading to a charnel house of death and displacement for Christians. In turn, the Obama administration found itself making its own painful tradeoffs as it tried to fight the Islamic State while relying on local militias that had designs on Christian lands. The result was an accelerated Christian exodus and extermination of those who stayed behind.

Bureaucrats in the Obama administration compounded the problem by blocking efforts to direct some funding to help local church groups and other religious organizations that were providing almost all of the humanitarian assistance to the suffering Christian communities. Their rationale stemmed from a benighted misinterpretation of humanitarian principles and a desire to avoid the appearance of favoritism when there were so many suffering groups. Such head-scratching punctiliousness prevailed despite the Obama administration’s own public recognition that the Christian and other religious minorities like Yazidis were the victims of genocide and faced extinction unless they were helped.

The counter-Islamic State campaign launched belatedly by Obama and intensified under Trump is reclaiming land, but the Christian minorities are benefiting little from U.S. and U.N. humanitarian and stabilization assistance. The other various factions in the anti-Islamic State coalition seem all too willing to entertain other plans for the newly freed territories. Some communities, such as the tiny Christian pockets in Mosul, are almost certainly lost forever. A few nascent Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains are clinging to viability, beginning the painful process of rebuilding with funds donated principally by a few international relief organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need, and the Hungarian government, and kept alive by emergency aid from the local Catholic and Orthodox dioceses.

Years of humanitarian assistance through the local Catholic and Orthodox churches have provided food, shelter, medical and educational assistance for Christian, Yazidi, and some Muslims internally displaced people and refugees, but those resources have been exhausted and now the eyes of the local communities have turned to Washington, where American political leaders are considering stepping up with significant humanitarian assistance from the U.S. government.

The clearest, best path to rescue involves the bipartisan H.R. 390 – “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017,” co-authored by representatives Chris Smith and Anna Eshoo, which would explicitly authorize the Trump administration, and future administrations, to direct some existing funds for immediate assistance on the ground to religious and ethnic minority communities that have been victims of genocide. Its passage would also to signal to our local partners the priority the United States places on protecting these most vulnerable victims from extinction. Despite passing unanimously in the House, the legislation has languished in the Senate. Unless Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate leadership recognizes the existential urgency for genocide survivors on the ground and therefore prioritize moving on H.R. 390 now — or unless other entrepreneurial senators figure out a way to act regardless — this bill may fall victim to the Senate’s already overcrowded calendar (made even more crowded by the obvious and all-consuming-crisis of Hurricane Harvey relief). The White House should send an unequivocal message to Corker and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to act on H.R. 390 and ensure it is transmitted to the Senate floor as a top-level priority after reconvening this week.

An additional path would be for the Trump administration to use existing congressional authorization for the fiscal year 2017 omnibus, along with executive prerogatives, to direct urgent aid and assistance to imperiled Middle Eastern Christians and Yazidis now. Their plight is a tragedy that many on the Trump team understand viscerally, and many senior officials have spoken of their concern for the issue, beginning with president himself (see also here, and here).

But the administration has multiple other challenges vying for its attention, so dealing with this one will require focus and perseverance — and perhaps some explicit guidance to overcome resistance at lower levels in the bureaucracy, especially at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, about acting on behalf of endangered religious and ethnic minority communities in this way.

Meanwhile, the Senate should confirm Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom as soon as possible, so that he can join the State Department’s capable Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia in serving as Foggy Bottom’s lead advocates on this issue.

The situation is bleak, but it is not yet beyond hope. Some refugees are returning, and if they receive adequate, targeted assistance immediately, this might be enough of a remnant to keep the Christianity alive in its New Testament birthplace for another generation.

But that may require U.S. politicians taking a page out of the Old Testament. The Book of Esther tells the story of a well-placed favorite in the king of Persia’s court. In those days, local political factions were conspiring to exterminate another religious minority, the Jews, and Queen Esther was challenged by her adopted father to use her political clout to intervene on their behalf. Mordecai’s words ring down through the ages, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

The alternative is a bleak one that should sear the conscience of people of every faith and conviction. Unless we act soon, we may bear witness to the final chapter of a genocide that we could have prevented.

Photo credit: ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images

Nuclear Korea is a Product of US Hegemony

Pyongyang is not a threat. They have no territorial ambitions. Its priority is survival and independence, and that has always driven the North Korean nuclear program, Dan Glazebrook, political writer, told RT. John Bosnitch also joins the discussion.

Russia and China offered their solution to the crisis calling it the ‘Double Freeze’ initiative.

It calls for North Korea to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile testing. In return, the US and South Korea would halt their joint exercises near North Korea.

However, the US dismissed the proposal.

RT:  How much of a threat does North Korea really represent to the US? Presumably if left alone, would it attack any other state?

Dan Glazebrook: No, I don’t think they are a threat. They clearly are not a threat. They have no territorial ambitions. Simply their priority is survival and independence, and that is what has always driven the North Korean nuclear program. As they have pointed out, they have seen what happened to Iraq after Iraq allowed itself to be disarmed by the UN. They saw what happened to Libya after Libya gave up its nuclear program. They are determined to avoid the same fate. They also remember what happened to them during the Korean War, when over three million people were killed in that war. More towns and cities were destroyed by US bombing in North Korea during the Korean War than in the whole of Japan or Germany during WWII. In fact, the US dropped more bombs on North Korea in the Korea War, than it dropped in the entire Pacific theater during WWII.

So Britain and the US may have wiped this from their historical memory, but the Korean certainly haven’t. There are a large number of Koreans alive today who lived through that. They are determined to make sure that nothing like that happens again. And it is working because the US is backing off. Where is Trump’s “fire and fury” now? The best he seems to be able to do is to say that he is considering trade restrictions. He is looking like an irate clown, who’s just discovered that his flower won’t squirt. Even Nikki Haley – you know her belligerent sounding comments that North Korea is “begging for war.” That sounds to me like they [US] are setting themselves up for a huge climb down by saying North Korea is begging for war. Therefore we are not going to give it to them. The truth is: they have realized that their bluff is being called – they are not able to do anything about Korea. And the whole world is learning a very valuable lesson by comparing the fate of North Korea, which has its nuclear weapons program, and countries like Iraq and Libya, which gave it up…Kim Jong-un is not being paranoid. He is basing his policy on a very concrete, realistic analysis of the history of his own country, and the history of other countries who have been on the US hit list.

RT:  Do you think the US should tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea?

DG: Yes, absolutely. The US and Britain have no stomach for wars where they might actually have any real repercussions. They only like to fight wars with impunity. They like to fight wars. Look at Iraq in 2003. They spent 12 years systematically disarming that country before they felt prepared to take on; Libya – they persuaded to give up its nuclear weapons program and so on. They don’t have the stomach for this kind of fight. They simulate these kinds of wars year in and year out with North Korea, and they always conclude that the casualties will be too great. And that was before there was even a nuclear weapon. There is no way they would have the stomach for that kind of fight.

 

RT:  Do you think the US is right to impose this ‘Double Freeze’ solution put forward by Russia and China?

John Bosnitch: I think that a normal fair-minded person would ask why the US is opposed to that solution in honesty. The US already has intercontinental ballistic missiles pointed not only at North Korea but at dozens of countries around the world. When North Korea says that it wants to exercise a policy of “peace through strength” – that is not a translation from the original Korean – that it is the original talk coming out of Washington some fifty years ago. When North Korea is just copying Washington’s policy of peace through strength, I find it very difficult to understand the US response.

RT:  Nikki Haley said that North Korea is “begging for war.” Is that a strange choice of language to use?

JB:“Begging for war” is the kind of phrase you hear the schoolyard bully using. I heard it in my youth and “you’re begging for a fight,” and so on. I don’t think that is the correct language to use if you’re attempted to achieve a diplomatic solution with respect to North Korea. Once again, we do have saber-rattling on both sides. Most people need to remember one very, very important thing: saber-rattling only makes a big, big noise when the saber stays inside the scabbard. And that is what is happening here: nobody is shooting anybody, nobody is launching any missiles at anyone. What we’re seeing is the setting of the stage for negotiations.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.