New York Earthquake: City of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Published 30th April 2018

Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.

Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.

The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.

Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.

EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors

But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.

The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.

What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.

The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.


THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City


RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS

“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher

“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.

Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.

But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.

“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.

In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.

“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.

On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.


FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.

“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.

“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

The Rising Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan’s tactical nukes will render India’s convential army useless

May 20, 2020

Due to Kashmir and multiple other issues, the two rivals from birth, Pakistan and India can go to war. Despite facing oversized enemy, the Pakistani army is prepared to initiate quick-small local offensives, before the Indian army can occupy favorable terrain.

The disparity in the armies has forced Pakistan to rely on tactical nuclear weapons to aid their conventional forces.

The Indian Army’s plan, therefore, failed to immediately take the offensive under a doctrine called “Cold Start.” The doctrine is intended to allow India’s conventional forces to perform holding attacks to prevent a nuclear retaliation from Pakistan in case of a conflict. An offensive from India could make the use of tactical nuclear weapons all the more likely.

As a result, Pakistan’s tactical nuclear strikes on the enemy’s armed forces will render India’s conventional army useless.

Analysts believe the animosity between India and Pakistan makes the Indian subcontinent one of the most dangerous places on Earth. The disparity in forces, war plans on both sides, and the presence of tactical nuclear weapons makes a regional nuclear war—even a limited one—a real possibility.

Pakistan and India are two of the largest armies on Earth. Not only are both armies larger in personnel than the U.S. Army, but they have stood at alert facing one another since the dissolution of the British Indian Army in 1947. The two forces have clashed four times since their birth.

Indian Army is the land force of the Armed Forces of India and has the prime responsibility of conducting land-based warfare. The Indian Army maintains the 3rd largest active force in the world. The army numbers 1.2 million active-duty personnel and 990,000 reservists, for a total force strength of 2.1 million. The army’s primary tasks are guarding the borders with Pakistan and China and domestic security particularly in Kashmir and the Northeast.

The army is structured into fourteen army corps, which are further made up of forty infantry, armored, mountain and RAPID (mechanized infantry) divisions. There is approximately one separate artillery brigade per corps, five separate armored brigades, seven infantry brigades and five brigade-sized air defense formations.

Infantry and mountain divisions are mostly assigned to the mountainous North and Northeast regions, where manpower intensive counterinsurgency and mountain warfare forces are important, while infantry, RAPID, and armored formations sit on the border opposite Pakistan

The army is equipped from a number of sources, primarily Russia and a growing domestic arms industry, with increasing amounts of Israeli and American weaponry.

More than 4,000 tanks equip the country’s ninety-seven armored regiments (the equivalent of American battalions), including 2,400 older T-72 tanks, 1,600 T-90 tanks, and approximately 360 Arjun Mk.1 and Mk.2 tanks.

In 2018, India allocated four trillion rupees ($58bn), or 2.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), to support its 1.4 million active troops, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

With 127,200 personnel and 814 combat aircraft, India’s air force is substantially larger but there are concerns about its fighter jet fleet.

India’s navy consists of one aircraft carrier, 16 submarines, 14 destroyers, 13 frigates, 106 patrol and coastal combatant vessels, and 75 combat-capable aircraft.

It has 67,700 personnel, including marines and naval aviation staff.

Pakistan’s army is smaller, with 560,000 troops backed by 2,496 tanks, 1,605 armored personnel carriers, and 4,472 artillery guns, including 375 self-propelled howitzers.

Although Pakistan resides in what most would consider a rough neighborhood, it is on relatively good terms with neighbors China and Iran. As a result, the army’s primary missions are domestic security operations against the Pakistani Taliban and facing off against the Indian army. Like India, Pakistan is a major contributor of forces to United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Last year, Pakistan spent 1.26 trillion Pakistani rupees ($11bn), about 3.6 percent of its GDP.

The Pakistani army consists of twenty-six combat divisions falling under the control of nine army corps. Most divisions are infantry divisions, with only two armored and two mechanized infantry divisions. Each corps also controls an average of one armored, one infantry and one artillery brigade each.

Pakistan has 425 combat aircraft, including the Chinese-origin F-7PG and American F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.

Special operations forces are concentrated under the control of the Special Services Group, which controls eight commando battalions.

Cold Start envisions rapid mobilization followed by a major offensive into Pakistan before the country can respond with tactical nuclear weapons

The army’s equipment is mostly Pakistani and Chinese, with Turkish and American armaments in key areas. The country has fewer than seven hundred frontline tanks, including the Khalid and the T-80UD, with another one thousand modernized versions of the 1970s-era Chinese Type 59. Pakistan lacks a modern infantry fighting vehicle, relying on more than two thousand upgraded M113 tracked armored personnel carriers.

Pakistan has nearly two thousand artillery pieces, primarily Chinese and American, but they are older models with little in terms of acquisitions in sight.

Standouts among these are roughly 250 M109A5 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzers and two hundred A-100E 300-millimeter multiple launch rocket systems—similar to India’s Smerch. One standout category where Pakistani weapons outmatch Indian ones is the area of attack helicopters, where the country fields fifty-one older AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters with another fifteen AH-1Z Vipers on order.

Pakistan, which has a significantly smaller coastline, has 9 frigates, 8 submarines, 17 patrol and coastal vessels, and 8 combat-capable aircraft.

The Nuclearization of the Middle East (Daniel)

The potential dark side of the militarization of Gulf societies

By Dr. James M. DorseyMay 20, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout calls into question Gulf states’ ability to fund a brewing, costly regional arms race. That in turn could not only reshape their geopolitical posture but also efforts to make the military a pillar of a new national identity at a time that they are forced to renegotiate outdated social contracts.

A significant drop in revenues, as a result of the collapse of oil and gas prices and vastly reduced global demand, raises the question whether countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, can maintain huge military expenditures that rank them among the world’s foremost arms buyers.

Saudi and UAE expenditure was driven by a perceived need to counter Iranian advances in the development of ballistic missiles and drones as well as a potential nuclear military capability and Iranian-backed Arab proxies. Qatar joined the race more recently in response to the three-year-old, Saudi-UAE-led economic and diplomatic boycott of the Gulf state.

The expenditure positioned the military as a driver of an identity grounded in nationalism rather than religion or tribal heritage and was intended to help lay the groundwork for eventual, potentially painful, transitions to more diversified and streamlined post-oil economies.

Male conscription introduced in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait and a Saudi decision to open volunteering for military service to women over the last decade served that purpose as well as government efforts to expand citizen participation in the workforce at the expense of migrant and expatriate labour, including in the armed forces.

The moves constituted a break with a past in which Arab rulers largely distrusted their militaries and employed multiple ways to shield themselves against feared military-backed attempts to remove them from power.

Saudi and Emirati rulers expected that their military intervention in Yemen and the UAE’s involvement in the Libyan war would boost the military’s prestige with quick and decisive victories.

Five years later, the ill-conceived intervention in Yemen has produced at best mixed results. So has the more recent effort to topple the internationally recognized, Islamist Libyan Government of National Accord.

The UAE, dubbed Little Sparta by former US defense secretary Jim Mattis, withdrew partially from Yemen in a bid to cut its losses. UAE forces, moreover, suffered the deaths of tens of Emirati citizens, a high number for a population of only 1.4 million nationals. As a result, the UAE relies increasingly on proxies and mercenaries.

Nonetheless, the UAE may have fared better than the Saudi military whose image, at least internationally, has been severely tarnished.

Recently, the kingdom appears to implicitly acknowledge that it cannot win the Yemen war militarily. Media reports suggested that the Saudi government was cutting back on funding of the internationally recognized, largely Saudi-based Yemeni government headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Saudi conduct of the war has involved multiple attacks on civilian targets, devastated the country’s economic and civilian infrastructure and turned it into one of the world’s greatest humanitarian catastrophes.

Similarly, UAE-backed Libyan rebels led by self-appointed Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar have suffered a similar fate. Mr. Haftar’s promise more than a year ago to launch a blitz conquest of the Libyan capital Tripoli has not only proven to be an illusion. Turkish-backed government troops have put his rebels on the defensive.

Saudi and UAE rulers are betting that their emphasis on values associated with nationalism and armed forces such as patriotism, sacrifice, discipline, duty  and concepts of heroic model citizens will reinforce public appreciation of the military despite its chequered track record. For now, that appears to be a winning bet.

Saudi Arabia has successfully garnered popular support for the armed forces and the Yemen war, despite widespread international criticism, by eulogizing patriotic sacrifices of Saudi military casualties, generously compensating families of permanently disabled or fallen soldiers and creating multiple institutions to ensure veterans’ rights. The UAE has institutionalized the honouring of military martyrs.

Ultimately, however, the Saudi and UAE military’s mixed track record raises questions about the degree to which they can be unqualified standard bearers of new national identities.

It also begs the question whether populations in countries such as Saudi Arabia that were forced to introduce painful social spending cutbacks with no indication that elites are sharing the burden will continue to endorse massive military expenditure at a time of austerity.

If social media are anything to go by, many Saudis praise the government for ensuring the return to the kingdom of Saudi nationals abroad at the beginning of the pandemic, funding their quarantining to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, and subsidizing private sector salaries impacted by a lockdown for up to 60 percent.

A fair number, however, expressed concern that the middle and lower classes would shoulder the brunt of the economic fallout of the pandemic and questioned continued investment in trophies like English soccer club Newcastle United by the Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund. Military expenditure has so far not been called into question.

Potentially complicating issues is the fact that a majority of Emirati and Saudi casualties in Yemen hailed from less privileged emirates in the UAE and provinces in the kingdom, some of which are home to religious minorities with a history of feeling disadvantaged, As a result, it remains to be seen whether military service will ultimately narrow or broaden social gaps.

“Militarization bolsters regime security, thereby serving national security twice over… However, rising nationalist feelings are likely to enhance regional polarization,” warned Gulf scholar Eleonora Ardemagni.

Ms. Ardemagni’s caution focused on the risk of militarization entrenching differences among Gulf states. The question is whether militarization’s so far successful boosting of domestic cohesion could have a flip side that in more dire circumstances polarizes rather than unites.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and three forthcoming books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africaas well as Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism and China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.

Babylon the Great’s Existential Challenge (Revelation 18:10)

America’s Existential Challenge: Pandemic, War and Law

Louis Rene Beres

May 20, 2020 03:06:30 am

Elchinator / Pixabay

JURIST Guest Columnist Louis René Beres, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Purdue, discusses the potentially catastrophic effects of the Trump Presidency on American foreign relations and nuclear proliferation in this time of pandemic …

From the beginnings of his crudely acrimonious presidency, Donald Trump has actively undermined US foreign policy relationships. On urgently key matters of world politics and international law, Mr. Trump’s typically invalid conclusions have generally been drawn from narrowly belligerent premises. Truly, the main problem with such faulty presidential arguments, however, has not been Trump’s gratuitously corrosive premises per se, but rather their implications for national security and world legal order.

Uniformly, these implications have been egregious and baneful.

There is more. On matters that reveal expressly military content, this president’s determined violations of logic must also be characterized as counter-productive, harmful and negatively “force-multiplying.”

In the case of Donald Trump’s multiple policy synergies, the “whole” policy consequence of this president’s cumulative reasoning process exceeds the sum of its various “parts.” Looking back at the entire history of the United States, there has never been such a wittingly defective and determinedly injurious president. Now, at a particularly fragile moment when all the “normal” hazards of “Westphalian” geopolitics have not been diminished, this president’s current liabilities are being accelerated by yet another level of existential challenge. This is the wholly unpredictable challenge of disease pandemic.

When one takes into account both the manifold derelictions of Trump’s conceptual and legal misunderstandings concerning war, terrorism and genocide and the visibly expanding hazards of COVID-19, only one conclusion can make any sense. In essence, it is this: We Americans currently face a “perfect storm” of catastrophic decline and potential collapse. Still, at any willfully ignorant presidential command, our collective difficulties could worsen further. Indeed, at this once unimaginable point of chaotic uncertainty, there has even been high-level and official talk of Trump cancelling the November election as an allegedly precautionary measure.

From the mutually reinforcing standpoints of national and international law, any such cancellation would have immediate and very far-reaching consequences.

For most legal observers, any such cancellation contingency may still seem inconceivable – even amid continuing bad news about the pandemic’s spread and lethality – but delaying or canceling the next election would be consistent with various other law-violating aspects of the Trump presidency. Whether we look to the incessant presidential cronyism or instead to Trump’s calculably flagrant unconcern for peremptory human rights anywhere on earth, there is no good reason to believe that even core expectations of the US Constitution will always be held sacred at the Trump White House.

Trump believes, mistakenly, that anarchic world politics and Westphalian international law are here to stay, forever, and, still more ominously, that these patterns deserve to endure. In consequence, he offers no plausible hopes for any American leadership that is willing to transform or moderate our rapidly disintegrating world legal system, a conflict-based system of “everyone for himself.” This suggests, among other things, that the darkly injurious consequences of Trump’s deformed and law-violating foreign policies are rapidly becoming intolerable. Moreover, these fearful consequences point toward something incrementally far worse than “mere” anarchy or “Westphalian” law.

Now they point directly to national and worldwide chaos.

What happens next, in both law and practice?

In principle, at least, even during an American era that openly loathes both intellect and learning (think, for example, of Trump’s brazen substitution of his own purported scientific/medical authority on controlling pandemics for that of distinguished epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci), we should begin by “looking back” at expressions of authentic political thought. Accordingly, in his seventeenth century work of classical philosophy, Thomas Hobbes

– a little-read but foundational author of the eighteenth century American Republic – explored deductively “the natural condition of mankind.” Published just a few years after the 1648 Peace of Westphalia created the modern state system, Hobbes’ Leviathan placed primary emphasis on geo-strategic and legal context.

More precisely, this key thinker’s analytic focus was directed toward assorted crucial connections between individual or personal weaknesses and world system anarchy or chaos.

Among Hobbes’ principal conclusions was the following: In the “Westphalian” legal system of multiple and independent states, a condition of permanent war obtains, not just where there exists “actual fighting,” but also at any time where there should still remain “a known disposition thereto.” And Hobbes was not even taking into account the rare but plausibly catastrophic factor of a worldwide disease pandemic.

Still, one needn’t be a historian, political scientist or legal scholar to understand that such a relentlessly insidious disposition to conflict remains fully current in 2020. At the present historical moment – especially in consideration of the increasingly verifiable evidence for ongoing nuclear proliferation – we are devolving ever further from traditional anarchy and toward a more stubbornly remorseless and hard to fathom chaos. It follows, for scholars and relevant policy makers, that to better understand America’s changing strategic posture amid constantly dissembling presidential transformations, substantially more attention must now be oriented to understanding world system dynamics and pertinent international law.

This imperative is all the more compelling because of the already-staggering impact of the Covid-19 worldwide disease pandemic.

But what does all this really mean or signify? In brief, it suggests a more consciously contextualized focus on armaments, alignments, power balances and delineated “orders of battle.” Among other things, this suggestion must include a greatly heightened willingness to analyze and examine these listed factors not just as singular or isolated variables of differential importance, but also in various plausible intersections or synergies with each other. By definition, every theory represents a simplification, but this fact ought never be taken as a general license for policy-centered theoreticians to overlook relevant analytic and/or legal complexities.

In its broadest contours, the basic American security dilemma is not complicated. By easy extrapolation, after all, anarchy could soon take on unmanageable and catastrophic forms. At that stage, anarchy could seem benign, or simply be taken as an oddly positive or nostalgic reminder of once seemingly-better days. At that grievously ironic point, of course, “mere” Westphalian anarchy would have been supplanted by chaos, and world law could discover its operational anchor elsewhere.

What then? What would happen to already-decentralized world legal arrangements in a time of chaos? Though hardly compensatory, there would then present an optimal occasion for seeking greater precision in absolutely all corresponding analyses. American strategic thinkers must already understand that certain refractory threats still lying ominously ahead may originate less conspicuously with formidable enemy armies than with multiple forms of decisional miscalculation or inadvertence – threats now being magnified or “force-multiplied” by a many-sided pandemic.

An even more primary axis of conflict in world politics will now require closer conceptual attention by American strategic thinkers and planners. Recalling Thomas Hobbes’ definition of war not merely as “actual fighting,” but as a “known disposition thereto,” US President Donald Trump or his successor should take more explicit note that we already coexist well within certain constraints of “Cold War II.” This expanding adversarial posture between Russia and the United States is both similar and dissimilar to the original Cold War. It defines, inter alia, the most basic context within which all US nuclear strategy must from now on be fashioned or nuanced. Significantly, even this “most basic context” will be impacted by myriad hazards of worldwide disease epidemic, primarily by their largely unpredictable effect upon national decision makers and by their similarly unknowable effects upon Great Power decisional synergies.

In a world increasingly prone to periodic and primal conflict, the role of nuclear weapons will need to be much more closely and specifically considered. This overriding moral and legal obligation pertains not only to the nuclear capacities and intentions of the United States and its most obvious foes, but also to their several and most probable intersections with other countries.

Again, such plausible intersections could sometimes become “synergistic.” In their inherently bewildering task, therefore, American strategists would need to best ensure that (1) there were no further spread of nuclear weapons among recognizable state or sub-state enemies, and (2) attempting to counter any one designable enemy would not wittingly or unwittingly assist another. Even more potentially bewildering in these pandemic-focused times, these strategists would need to take meticulously proper account of expanding disease impact upon enemy decision-makers and on our own leaders.

This will not be a task for thinly-educated, narrowly political or commerce-oriented personalities.

Soon, too, American decision-makers will need to more fully acknowledge that geo-strategic context can be broadly intellectual rather than just narrowly geopolitical or geographic. Or as expressed in terms of Thomas Hobbes’ argument about the Westphalian “state of nature,” America must do whatever it can to avoid the emergence of any “dreadful equality” in enemy nuclear capacity. Here, still more precisely, Washington could learn purposefully from Leviathan, “…the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest.”

For a present-day example, no matter how “powerful” this country may first appear vis-à-vis its pertinent adversaries, even a seemingly “less-powerful” North Korea could sometime bring nuclear harms to the United States. We ought not to be looking, therefore, for any engineered or enlightened “democracy” in fashioning US national nuclear capacity.

Prima facie, in the more formal parlance of original Cold War nuclear theory, any nuclear harms would be “unacceptable.”

Strategy is a “game” that an American president must always be prepared to play with conspicuous skill and also with due consideration of corresponding legal expectations. Behind the manifold complexities of such an expanding chaotic context is the derivative obligation to see things through the eyes of each applicable adversary. Fundamentally, this must quickly become a psychological or psychiatric obligation, one not in any way specific to any orthodox military calculations. It has been succinctly summarized by existentialist thinker Rollo May in The Discovery of Being (1983): “The problem is how we are to understand the other person’s world.”

Now, of necessity to make these matters more of an analytic problem, we must add: “…during a time of pandemic.”

Sooner or later, a visibly stark juxtaposition of pre-modern ideologies with nuclear weapon systems could present a unique challenge to the United States for dealing with chaos. This complex and pandemic-affected challenge could be exacerbated by (a) persistently “opaque” considerations of enemy rationality; and (b) steadily expanding uncertainties of decisional miscalculation and/or escalation. These overlapping factors could become still more daunting whenever the dynamic relationships between them become determinably synergistic at a time of expanding worldwide biological adversity.

There is more. Struggling amid chaos, it should realistically be expected that we would fail to discover any reassuring succor in international law. This plainly regrettable expectation is reinforced not only by President Donald Trump’s unilateral US withdrawal from the JCPOA 2015 Vienna Pact regarding Iran, but also by US withdrawal from the INF Treaty with Russia. Today, one might also add Donald Trump’s needless and generally injurious attacks on the World Health Organization in Geneva, or his continuing attempt to deflect blame for all pandemic harms upon Beijing.

To be sure, thinking people all over the world are still shaking their heads in disbelief about these wholly destructive and irrational US presidential deflections, actions that further undermine certain residually indispensable features of international law.

One notable consequence of shortsighted Trump behaviors is that the United States will have to deal with effects of a nuclear Iran in a shorter period of time and will then to face simultaneously an expanding nuclear arms race with the Russian superpower. It should prove unsurprising, therefore, when an already palpable global slide toward chaos eventually becomes overwhelming and unstoppable.

What then?

For the US, the expected perils of any emerging primal chaos must be particular and unique. Conceivably, the calculable probability of world system chaos could be enlarged by certain unforeseen instances of enemy irrationality. If, for example, America should have to face a Jihadist adversary that would value certain presumed religious expectations more highly than its own physical survival (e.g., Islamic expectations of a Shahid or “martyr”), this country’s applicable deterrent could be correspondingly diminished or even immobilized.

Presumptively worst case scenarios would involve an irrational nuclear North Korea or Pakistan; that is, in essence, a nuclear suicide-bomber in macrocosm. Here, once it had been convincingly determined in Washington that enemy leaders were meaningfully susceptible to certain non-rational judgments vis-à-vis the United States, this country’s rational incentive to strike first defensively could become overwhelming or even irresistible. Naturally, however, there could then be no reasonable or reciprocal assurances that actively yielding to such an incentive would be in the overall security interests of the United States.

None at all.

There is more. America could discard the preemption option – one that would likely be described in more expressly legal terms as “anticipatory self-defense” – but it would then still need to identify other usable and multi-vector strategies of secure deterrence. Any such identification could then further require diminished ambiguity about selected elements of this country’s nuclear forces; an enhanced and at least partial disclosure of certain strategic targeting options; more substantial and simultaneously less ambiguous ballistic missile defense postures; and/or increasingly recognizable steps to ensure the perceived survivability of America’s nuclear retaliatory forces.

Going forward, America will need serious analytic preparation, not just “attitude.” These alternative American strategies should be carefully worked out in advance of any specific crisis. In all such calculations, chaos itself would need to be included as a potentially salient explanatory factor or “independent variable.” In short, pandemic-reinforced chaos would maintain its pride of place, however distasteful to America’s operating strategists and presidential policy-makers.

At that disintegrative point, there might remain no reasonable expectations of safety in arms, of rescues from higher legal authority or of any comforting reassurances from science. As with any true forms of chaos, new wars could rage until every flower of culture were trampled and until many things human were flattened in a vast and barbarous cauldron of biological disorder. In such dire circumstances, even the best-laid plans for collective defense or alliance guarantees could quickly become little more than iconic cultural artifacts of a world order that had once been “merely anarchic.” At that singularly portentous point, Carl von Clausewitz’s idea of “friction” (that is, “the effects of reality on ideas and intentions in war”) would trump all earlier hopes for both predictability and conflict resolution.

At that fearful point, the only fully predictable insight would be that nothing was any longer predictable.

Some further clarifications are still in order. Since the seventeenth century, our anarchic world can best be described as a system. What happens in any one part of this world necessarily affects what would happen in some or potentially all of the other parts. When a particular deterioration is marked, and begins to spread from one nation to another, the disintegrative effects would quickly undermine regional and/or international stability.

We are still living in a planetary system. But now, there are significant points of difference from classic “Westphalian” legal dynamics. Now, when deterioration is rapid and catastrophic, as it would be following the start of any unconventional war and/or act of unconventional terrorism, the corollary effects would be immediate and overwhelming. These critical effects would be chaotic.

Soon, aware that even an incremental collapse of remaining world legal structures would impact its friends as well as its enemies, leaders of the United States, in order to chart more patently durable paths to survival, will need to openly advance certain credible premonitions of global collapse. Such considerations will be uniformly distasteful, and are most likely not yet underway. Still, even without charting any compellingly precise Spenglerian theory of decline, American strategists ought not seek to avoid this obligation.

Determining proper strategic directions for the American future must require a prior awareness of where we seem to be heading – that is, a proper diagnosis and prognosis of world system “pathology.”

All things considered, American strategic planners will soon need to consider how best to respond to international life in a bewilderingly chaotic “state of nature.” The specific triggering mechanisms of any suddenly accelerated world system descent into chaos could originate from mass-casualty attacks launched against the United States or its allies, or from similar attacks directed against other western democracies.

In all cases, whether or not there had obtained a meaningful “pandemic variable,” even the dissembling state of nature would represent a discernible legal system. To figure out this system in suitably conceptual and theoretic terms in time would represent a preeminent responsibility of the American president.

Whatever any actual precipitant of chaotic disorder, deterrence ex ante, not revenge ex post, must remain America’s overriding security goal. If, for any reason, especially amid any expanding primal chaos, Washington should sometime lose sight of this objective, the United States could be reminded of that perpetually apt description of Nature explained in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan: “…every man is enemy to every man…no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society…continual fear and danger of violent death…”

As the lamentably “normal” context for national geo-strategic planning in Westphalian world law, anarchy has always been dangerously unstable.

Left unchallenged, however, an already-emergent chaos would be incalculably worse.

Accordingly, US President Donald Trump must prepare to look far beyond the daily news and conspicuous crises. Now, though plainly unaccustomed to any such longer term analytic assessments, his only proper course must be to solicit policy options from recognizably capable and disciplined scholars, not (per his usual pattern) from narrowly educated and shamelessly deferential political subordinates. If left to the arbitrary and disjointed leadership of Donald Trump, Cold War II amid COVID-19 could propel the United States from anarchy to chaos and from chaos to war and collapse.

None of this is mere hyperbole. “The worst,” says Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt, “does sometimes happen.” What then? More than likely, this above-delineated sequence of national descent would trigger a tale of woe and despair without any discernible historic antecedents. It would be such a tale, as described in Hamlet, “whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul.”


Louis René Beres (Ph.D. Princeton 1971) lectures and publishes widely on war, terrorism, human rights and nuclear security matters. Born in Zürich, Switzerland, at the end of World War II, and Chair of Project Daniel (Nuclear Strategy, Israel, 2003), he is the author of many books on international relations and international law, including Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (The University of Chicago Press, 1980) and several of the earliest major works on nuclear strategy, including Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (D.C. Heath/Lexington Books, 1986) and Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (D.C. Heath/Lexington books, 1983). Professor Beres’ twelfth and latest book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, was published by Rowman and Littlefield, in 2016. His recent articles have appeared at Israel Defense (Tel Aviv); Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); World Politics (Princeton); Yale Global Online; Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs; JURIST; International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; International Security (Harvard University); The Atlantic; The Hill; The New York Times; The Jerusalem Post; The Brown Journal of World Affairs; U.S. News & World Report; The Strategy Bridge; Modern Diplomacy; The War Room (Pentagon); Special Warfare (Pentagon); Modern War Institute (West Point); The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; and Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College (Pentagon). On strategic nuclear military matters, Dr. Beres’ frequent co-authors have included General (ret.) John T. Chain, former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Air Command; Admiral (ret.) Leon “Bud” Edney, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic; and General (ret.), Barry R. McCaffrey, former U S Army SOUTHCOM commander.

Suggested citation: Louis René Beres, America’s Existential Challenge: Pandemic, War and Law, JURIST – Academic Commentary, May 20, 2020,

This article was prepared for publication by Tim Zubizarreta, JURIST’s Managing Editor. Please direct any questions or comments to him at

Nuclear Warheads are NOT a deterrence to WWIII

Sino-US Cold War: Are Nuclear Warheads deterrence to WWIII?

In January of this year, US President Donald Trump and Vice Premier of the State Council of the PRC Liu He signed a partial trade agreement, which was regarded as a sign of reconciliation. Unfortunately, this did not last long, because the Americans were not ready for it.

Economic pressure on China has not and will not produce results – the Americans were able to verify this even before the pandemic. The current financial and other threats may turn against America itself. So, China can start selling US securities (which it has 1.1 trillion) and collapse the dollar. So Beijing also has strong weapons against US threats.

China has enormous intellectual, scientific and human potential. The innate industriousness of the Chinese people pushes this country forward along the path of progress. Washington wants it or not, but the PRC factor in the world will intensify, and it is better for the two world powers to be friends and trade for the benefit of all. And it makes no sense to threaten and make plans against China – he will always have something to answer with.


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.

This post was last modified on May 20, 2020 3:06 pm

Trump’s quest for ‘super-duper’ nuke

Quest for ‘super-duper’ missiles pits US against key rivals – ABC News

The Trump administration is pouring billions of dollars a year into the quest for hypersonic weapons

By ROBERT BURNS AP National Security Writer

May 20, 2020, 8:43 AM ET

News headlines today: May 20, 2020Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — They fly at speeds of a mile a second or faster and maneuver in ways that make them extra difficult to detect and destroy in flight.

President Donald Trump calls them “super-duper” missiles though they’re better known as hypersonic weapons. And they are at the heart of Trump administration worries about China and Russia.

For decades the United States has searched for ways to get ultra-fast flight right. But it has done so in fits and starts. Now, with China and Russia arguably ahead in this chase, the Trump administration is pouring billions of dollars a year into hypersonic offense and defense.

The Pentagon makes no bones about their purpose.

“Our ultimate goal is, simply, we want to dominate future battlefields,” Mark Lewis, the Pentagon’s director of defense research and engineering for modernization, told reporters in March.

Critics argue that hypersonic weapons would add little to the United States’ ability to deter war. Some think they could ignite a new, destabilizing arms race.

A look at hypersonic weapons:


Two things make these weapons special: speed and maneuverability. Speed brings surprise, and maneuverability creates elusiveness. Together, those qualities could mean trouble for missile defenses.

By generally agreed definition, a hypersonic weapon is one that flies at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. Most American missiles, such as those launched from aircraft to hit other aircraft or ground targets, travel between Mach 1 and Mach 5.

Trump occasionally mentions his interest in hypersonic weapons, sometimes without using the term. In February he told governors visiting the White House: “We have the super-fast missiles — tremendous number of the super-fast. We call them ‘super-fast,’ where they’re four, five, six and even seven times faster than an ordinary missile. We need that because, again, Russia has some.”

And last Friday, Trump told reporters, “We have no choice, we have to do it, with the adversaries we have out there,” mentioning China and Russia. He added, “I call it the super-duper missile.” He said he “heard” it travels 17 times faster than any other U.S. missile. “It just got the go-ahead,” he added, although the Pentagon would not comment on that.


The Pentagon is pursuing two main types of hypersonic weapons. One, called a hypersonic glide vehicle, is launched from a rocket. It then glides to a target, maneuvering at high speed to evade interception. The other is sometimes referred to as a hypersonic cruise missile. Capable of being launched from a fighter jet or bomber, it would be powered by a supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, enabling the missile to fly and maneuver at lower altitudes.

On March 19, the Pentagon flight-tested a hypersonic glide vehicle at its Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. It deemed the test a success and “a major milestone towards the department’s goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s.”

Unlike Russia, the United States says it is not developing hypersonic weapons for use with a nuclear warhead. As a result, a U.S. hypersonic weapon will need to be more accurate, posing additional technical challenges.

As recently as 2017, the Pentagon was spending about $800 million on hypersonic weapon programs. That nearly doubled the following year, then rose to $2.4 billion a year later and hit $3.4 billion this year. The administration’s 2021 budget request, which has yet to be approved by Congress, requests $3.6 billion.

Although this is a priority for Pentagon spending, it could become limited by the budgetary pressures that are expected as a result of multitrillion-dollar federal spending to counter the coronavirus pandemic.


Top Pentagon officials say it’s about Russia and, even more so, China.

“By almost any metric that I can construct, China is certainly moving out ahead of us,” Lewis, the Pentagon research and engineering official, said Tuesday. “In large measure, that’s because we did their homework for them.” Basic research in this field was published by the U.S. years ago, “and then we kind of took our foot off the gas,” although the Pentagon is now on a path to catch up and surpass China, he added.

China is pushing for hypersonic weapon breakthroughs. It has conducted a number of successful tests of the DF-17, a medium-range ballistic missile designed to launch hypersonic glide vehicles. According to a Congressional Research Service report in March, U.S. intelligence analysts assess that the DF-17 missile has a range of approximately 1,000 to 1,500 miles (1,600 to 2,400 kilometers) and could be deployed this year.

Russia last December said its first hypersonic missile unit had become operational. It is the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which Moscow says can fly at Mach 27, or 27 times faster than the speed of sound, and could make sharp maneuvers to bypass missile defenses. It has been fitted to existing Soviet-built intercontinental ballistic missiles and in the future could be fitted to the more powerful Sarmat ICBM, which is still in development.


As with other strategic arms, like nuclear weapons and naval fleets, for example, hypersonic weapons are seen by the Trump administration as a must-have if peer competitors have them.

But critics see hypersonic weapons as overkill and potentially an extension of the arms race that led to an excessive nuclear buildup by the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

There also is worry about these technologies spreading beyond the U.S., Russia and China.

“Their proliferation beyond these three nations could result in lesser powers setting their strategic forces on hair-trigger states of readiness and more credibly being able to threaten attacks on major powers,” the RAND Corp., a federally funded research organization, said in a 2017 report.

Russia Slams Babylon the Great’s Nuclear Plans

Russia slams US plans to deploy nukes to Poland


US plans to redeploy its nuclear weapons from Germany to Poland are a direct violation of the Russia-NATO Act, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday. 

Lavrov recalled that the 1997 agreement between Russia and NATO, drafted to overcome a lack of trust and reduce the threat of war, prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons on the territory of new members of the North Atlantic Alliance.

“As for the possibility of redeployment of the American nuclear weapons from Germany to Poland, this would be a direct violation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, in which the alliance pledged not to place nuclear weapons on the territory of its new members at that time or in the future. So I doubt that these procedures will be launched in practical terms,” the minister said.

On May 15, US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher indicated on her Twitter account the possibility of US nuclear weapons being relocated from Germany to Poland.