History Warns New York Is The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New York Earthquake 1884

Friday, 18 March 2011 – 9:23pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: ANI

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale.

Indian Point nuclear power plant to test sirens before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point nuclear power plant to test sirens today in Hudson Valley

John Meore, jmeore@lohud.com

BUCHANAN — Indian Point will test its sirens throughout the Lower Hudson Valley this evening.

The siren system for the Buchanan nuclear power plant will be tested at approximately 6 p.m. in Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties. 

Sirens will sound at full volume for about four minutes as part of a regular, quarterly test of the system, said Entergy, Indian Point’s owner. 

John Meore & Peter Carr/The Journal News

If an emergency were to occur at the nuclear power plant, the sirens would be followed by an activation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on radio and television stations to broadcast important information and instructions.

The sirens are not a signal to evacuate but are intended to alert the public to tune into an EAS radio or TV station for important information, said Entergy. 

The public is not required to respond to today’s siren sounding. 

Indian Point’s Unit 2 reactor shut down for good in April, leaving only Unit 3 operating. Unit 3 will shut off permanently around the same time in 2021, when the power plant closes.

Isabel Keane covers breaking news throughout the Lower Hudson Valley. Click here for her latest stories. Follow her on Twitter @ijkeane. Check out how to support local journalism here.  

Trump Prepares for Martial Law

Former Trump DHS officials launch anti-Trump group - POLITICO

President Trump amends emergency declarations for Louisiana, Texas in response to Hurricane Laura
August 25, 2020 8:18 PM in NewsSource: FEMABy: News Staff Share:

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump amended the emergency declarations for Louisiana and Texas ahead of Hurricane Laura’s landfall.

These efforts are intended to cover emergency protective response actions that state, local, and tribal officials take in the areas affected by Hurricanes Laura and Marco beginning Aug. 22, 2020.

The following Louisiana parishes are eligible for reimbursement for emergency protective measures (Category B):

  • Acadia
  • Allen
  • Ascension
  • Assumption
  • Beauregard
  • Calcasieu
  • Cameron
  • East Baton Rouge
  • East Feliciana
  • Evangeline
  • Iberia
  • Iberville
  • Jefferson
  • Jefferson Davis
  • Lafayette
  • Lafourche
  • Livingston
  • Orleans
  • Plaquemines
  • Pointe Coupee
  • St. Bernard
  • St. Charles
  • St. Helena
  • St. James
  • St. John the Baptist
  • St. Landry
  • St. Martin
  • St. Mary
  • St. Tammany
  • Tangipahoa
  • Terrebonne
  • Vermilion
  • Washington
  • West Baton Rouge
  • West Feliciana

These parishes were previously limited to direct federal assistance and reimbursement for mass care, including evacuation and shelter support.

Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Friday, Aug. 21, and requested federal emergency declaration on Saturday, Aug. 22 ahead of the storm.

Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall in southwest Louisiana late Wednesday through Thursday morning as a Category 3.

“The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population,” FEMA stated Tuesday in a news release.

FEMA says these efforts also provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, to save lives, to protect property, public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.

US nuclear weapons budget will skyrocket when Russia treaty ends

US nuclear weapons budget could skyrocket if Russia treaty ends

Joe Gould

WASHINGTON ― The New START nuclear pact’s demise could cost the Department of Defense as much as $439 billion for modernization, plus $28 billion in annual maintenance costs, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report published Tuesday.

That price estimate, as the United States and Russia remain at odds over the treaty, reflects a threefold increase in weapons production costs. With Washington and Moscow’s responses to the expiration of New START unclear, CBO explored several possible paths, including other less expensive options.

“If the New START treaty expired, the United States could choose to make no changes to its current plans for nuclear forces, in which case it would incur no additional costs,” the CBO study found. “If the United States chose to increase its forces in response to the expiration of the treaty, modest expansions could be relatively inexpensive and could be done quickly. Larger expansions could be quite costly, however, and could take several decades to accomplish.”

The New START treaty limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. Signed in 2010 by then-U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the pact would expire Feb. 5, but includes an option to extend it for another five years without needing the approval of either country’s legislature.

The analysis comes amid predictions of flattening defense budgets and as the United States and Russia concluded two days of arms control talks in Vienna last week with some signs of a possible willingness to extend the existing New START deal. A key sticking point is the U.S. demand to include China in any new treaty, even as China has repeatedly refused.

U.S. government leaders argue that any new nuclear arms limitation treaty should cover all types of warheads, include better verification protocols and transparency measures, and extend to include China, which has been increasing its own arsenal.

Russia has offered an extension without any conditions. U.S. negotiator Marshall Billingslea indicated the U.S. was willing to talk about an extension but only if there were a politically binding framework for making changes to New START, which he called “deeply flawed.”

Arms control advocates have warned against the U.S. allowing the treaty to lapse with no limits on their nuclear arsenals, after both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year.

“Ever-increasing spending on nuclear weapons without an arms control framework that bounds U.S. and Russian nuclear forces is a recipe for budget chaos, undermining strategic stability, and damaging the health of the global nonproliferation regime,” said the Arms Control Association’s director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, Kingston Reif.

“Such an approach also flies in the face of longstanding bipartisan Congressional support for the pursuit of modernization and arms control in tandem.”

An expansion in nuclear weapons spending would likely place pressure on other parts of the national defense budget. CBO previously concluded the U.S. will spend $1.2 trillion over the next three decades on nuclear-weapons. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is not budgeting for New START’s expiration, according to a recent GAO report.

U.S. lawmakers of both parties are pressuring the White House to extend the pact. The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel, and ranking Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul, sponsored legislation last year calling for a treaty extension until 2026.

New START is the latest in a series of strategic nuclear arms control treaties—following START I, START II, and the Moscow Treaty—between the United States and Russia (or the Soviet Union). CBO offered estimates of the cost of expanding to the limits under each of those previous treaties, but did not consider decreasing any components of the nuclear triad.

An expansion from the current 1,550 warhead cap to 2002 Moscow Treaty cap of 2,200, would not exceed the cost of current plans, CBO found. That and remaining on the current course were least expensive options.

Expanding to 1993 START II Treaty limits, for forces that would carry up to 3,500 warheads, would either upload warheads on existing and next-generation forces at $100 million, while a more flexible approach would purchase enough additional next-generation delivery vehicles to reach START II limits using current warhead loadings at more than $114 billion and $3 billion annually.

Expanding to 1991 START I Treaty limits would require even more delivery systems and warheads. Minimizing delivery systems, it would cost more than $88 billion and more than $4 billion annually. Maintaining the current number of warheads on new delivery systems would cost as much as $439 billion and $28 billion annually.

CBO did not estimate the cost to produce, sustain and store new warheads under each treaty but said it could range from $15 million to $20 million each, which equates to $45 billion to $60 billion to reach the START I limit of 6,000 warheads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Babylon the Great Pays for Iraq

In Iraq, the United States Must Be Careful What It Wishes For

If Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi cracks down too hard on pro-Iran militias, as Washington has demanded, he risks losing his position and jeopardizing the country’s security.

Lahib HigelAugust 25, 2020, 9:28 AM

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s credibility was at stake when he visited Washington last week. In the eyes of many Iraqi politicians, the purpose of elevating Kadhimi from intelligence chief to premier in May was to strengthen the country’s bilateral relationship with the United States.

At home, the prime minister faces a perfect storm of challenges: rampant corruption, lack of basic services, and massive unemployment—all of which have generated mass protests since 2019. The domestic turmoil forced his predecessor to resign, and it is now compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis caused by the oil price slump.

The idea of traveling to Washington was to secure some U.S. help in dealing with these severe difficulties. Although Kadhimi received an audience with U.S. President Donald Trump and promises of economic assistance, the question is whether he is returning home with enough to tackle these problems, stabilize the country, and ensure his own longer-term political survival.

Kadhimi faces the same dilemma as all Iraqi premiers since the demise of Saddam Hussein’s regime: He must find a way to relieve pressure from the country’s two crucial foreign backers—the United States and Iran—which are also mutual adversaries. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. government has mounted an increasingly aggressive maximum pressure campaign against Iran, which is forcing Kadhimi to walk an even tighter diplomatic tightrope than his predecessors had to.

Kadhimi faces the same dilemma as all Iraqi premiers since the demise of Saddam Hussein’s regime: He must find a way to relieve pressure from the country’s two crucial foreign backers—the United States and Iran—which are also mutual adversaries.

The U.S. government has imposed secondary sanctions on Iraqi political figures and organizations with close ties to Iran, pressed the Iraqi government to take steps toward energy independence of its eastern neighbor, and carried out drone strikes against Iranian-backed paramilitary groups in Iraq.

In January, the most notorious of these drone strikes killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of one such group, Kataib Hezbollah, along with the Iranian military leader Qassem Suleimani, at the Baghdad airport. Kataib Hezbollah and its fellow paramilitaries have continued to harass the U.S. military by firing rockets at Iraqi bases hosting American personnel, with the ultimate objective of compelling a full U.S. troop withdrawal.

In Washington, senior U.S. policymakers have long insisted that Baghdad adopt tougher measures to rein in the paramilitary groups—a demand on which Kadhimi’s predecessor, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who was denied a meeting with Trump, failed to deliver.

Kadhimi has likewise vowed to curb the activities of paramilitaries operating outside the law, but he has pursued the effort through less visible but possibly more effective means, notably by trying to cut off their informal revenue streams from such sources as border checkpoints. Earlier this summer, Kadhimi went further, suggesting he was prepared to take more aggressive action to push back against Iranian influence.

The outcome was mixed, showing the limits of Kadhimi’s power: On June 25, he ordered a bold raid on Kataib Hezbollah to detain one of its senior officers. While the raid netted several other members, they were promptly set free after Kataib Hezbollah mobilized its forces inside the International Zone—the area of Baghdad where parliament and several executive government institutions, in addition to some diplomatic missions, are located.

Meeting with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, on Aug. 20, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear that Washington’s priority is still to ensure that Baghdad checks the influence of Kataib Hezbollah and its ilk. “The United States is committed to supporting Iraq’s security forces, including through the NATO Mission and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, to curb the power of militias that have for far too long terrorized the Iraqi people and undermined Iraq’s national sovereignty,” Pompeo said. The paramilitaries, he suggested, “need to be replaced by local police as soon as possible”—and said the U.S. government “would help” with that initiative.

Given the constraints he faces, however, Kadhimi risks prompting another cycle of civil strife if he steps up his attempts to go after the paramilitaries. The warning signs are already there: On July 6, gunmen assassinated Husham al-Hashimi, a close advisor to Kadhimi on security sector reform, in front of his Baghdad home. It was one in a series of killings of activists, likely aimed both at deterring the prime minister from more vigorous action against paramilitaries and at discrediting him, if only by exposing his inability to hold anyone accountable.

Kadhimi risks prompting another cycle of civil strife if he steps up his attempts to go after the paramilitaries.

While U.S. policymakers make ambitious demands of Kadhimi, they often fail to appreciate his circumstances. The prime minister lacks strong and stable domestic political support. He has no constituency of his own; he is neither the leader of a political party nor a member of one. Unlike previous premiers, he came to power not through the bargaining processes that typically follow Iraqi general elections but instead through a series of compromises among parties after the sitting prime minister resigned in the wake of popular protests demanding reform. He was the third choice.

His would-be constituents among the protesters are divided and have struggled to organize politically, while becoming targets of assassinations and kidnappings by armed groups. They are unlikely to be able to compete in the early elections that Kadhimi has proposed for June 6, 2021, nearly a year ahead of schedule.

Iraq’s New Prime Minister Wants to Control the Iran-Backed Militias. It Won’t Be Easy.

Iraq’s New Prime Minister Needs to Take Control of His Security Forces

While early elections were one of the protesters’ core demands, voices inside the movement say such a move would be premature without the conditions necessary to ensure a fair process. For instance, parliament has yet to complete key aspects of the electoral law adopted in 2019, which many argue favors established parties, as it stands. Moreover, demands to reform the politicized electoral commission or amend the law governing political parties are still unaddressed. In this context, elections will remain a mechanism that perpetuates a broken system.

Kadhimi has no safety net that would allow him to take risks. Taking on paramilitary groups and their political backers is always dangerous, but the consequences would likely be far worse without an insurance policy.

Following the June 25 raid, the Shiite Hikma party exposed the weakness of Kadhimi’s support when it tried to form a parliamentary bloc buttressing his government’s position.

Hikma fell short of gaining wider cross-sectarian traction. It was no surprise: Kadhimi has not allocated a portfolio to Sunni Arabs in security institutions, and while he recently reached an agreement with the Kurdish parties to transfer monthly payments to the Kurdistan Regional Government, it is a temporary measure, not a settlement of the perennial budget struggle between Baghdad and Erbil. Tellingly, when U.S. policymakers lobbied Iraqi politicians to signal public support for the raid against Kataib Hezbollah, they declined.

Not only has the failure to strike bargains restricted Kadhimi’s ability to find reliable allies among the Sunni Arab and Kurdish elites, but his attempts to corral the paramilitaries also may have prematurely revealed his intentions to undercut powerful members of the Shiite political establishment, putting them on guard and prompting them to close ranks. In practical terms, his actions have further limited the number of alliances he could forge, making him overly dependent on a small group of partners and constraining his room for maneuver.

In addition, Kadhimi has no safety net that would allow him to take risks. Taking on paramilitary groups and their political backers is always dangerous, but the consequences would likely be far worse without an insurance policy. Losing such a contest would not only jeopardize Kadhimi’s tenure in office; it could also cause long-lasting damage to the U.S.-Iraqi bilateral relationship, as any successor premier in such a scenario would be much less inclined to heed Washington’s calls to reduce Iranian influence.

In 2008, then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ushered in consolidation that lasted for years after he initiated a military campaign against Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. That decision was facilitated by conditions that allowed him to accept a high degree of risk: a massive U.S. troop presence, which salvaged his campaign after its early stumbles, and a previous political shift away from Sadr.

These two conditions gave Maliki a stable coalition in parliament to assure his political survival when he clipped Sadr’s wings. Today, neither exists. The U.S. military presence is too modest in size and limited in mission to back up Kadhimi, whose hold on power remains dependent on the very forces he needs to weaken.

Moreover, the prime minister does not have the option of singling out a particular Iranian-backed group for elimination. Rather, an escalation with any one of them is likely to prompt the others to circle the wagons. The June raid against Kataib Hezbollah made other paramilitary groups wary that they might, sooner or later, be targeted as well. Should future altercations trigger armed conflict, these other groups are unlikely to remain on the sidelines, waiting for their turn to come.

A conflict that pits forces aligned with the premier, such as the Counter-Terrorism Service, against Iranian-backed groups has the potential to be far more complex than the battle with the Islamic State. Such a confrontation would carry the risk of undermining the state security apparatus from within, with the possibility of defections and fractures. Paramilitaries in Iraq are not free-standing rogue agents, but units intertwined with numerous state institutions, and a campaign to purge them may well end up unraveling these institutions along the way.

Since 2003, individuals with ties to paramilitary groups have become ministers, lawmakers, military and police commanders, and senior members of the prime minister’s office. Thousands of paramilitaries are now positioned inside the International Zone. Indicative of the degree of entrenchment is Kataib Hezbollah’s influence over security inside the zone, as is the makeup of the Ministry of Interior, which long has been shaped by the Badr Organization, a paramilitary group and party backed by Iran. Both groups are part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization brought into the formal security apparatus during the war against the Islamic State.

While Iraq’s paramilitaries pose a major problem for the government’s institutional development, the preferred U.S. approach is counterproductive. Washington should recognize that Kadhimi needs flexibility to maneuver and balance international and domestic relationships. The Trump administration’s pressure on the Iraqi government (and its offer of assistance) to curtail the influence of paramilitary groups is risking escalation at a time when Kadhimi lacks the capacity to stand his ground, let alone win, should armed confrontation ensue.

The Trump administration’s pressure on the Iraqi government to curtail the influence of paramilitary groups is risking escalation at a time when Kadhimi lacks the capacity to stand his ground.

Decision-makers in both Washington and Baghdad should come to terms with the fact that the United States does not have the commitment to Iraq that it did during the years of occupation, nor the influence it once wielded over Iraqi politics. Thus, it cannot guarantee a prime minister’s political survival, as it did when it bailed out Maliki in 2008.

Instead, U.S. policymakers should focus their efforts on empowering the prime minster so he can better manage domestic pressures stemming from rival politicians and the public.

Washington should help Kadhimi widen and strengthen his political coalition. Thus far, he has employed a media strategy to gain public support. But public relations cannot make up for poor political organization inside and outside parliament, both of which constrain his ability to govern.

Kadhimi needs to win over a set of political actors beyond the moderate Shiite parties that back him now, including among Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Aggressive government policies against the armed groups have not addressed other core interests. On the contrary, Kurdish parties have gained more by striking direct bargains with Iran-backed parties in the past, and Sunni Arabs still preside over fewer state portfolios than under the previous government.

A permanent settlement between Baghdad and Erbil, especially on budget allocation, is crucial to assure Kurdish leaders that Kadhimi can be a reliable partner. Without stable Kurdish support, the prime minister will be dependent on Iranian-backed groups for political survival. Additionally, Kadhimi must assure Sunni Arabs (in ways that transcend rhetoric) that the government does not only cater to Shiite interests.

A permanent settlement between Baghdad and Erbil, especially on budget allocation, is crucial to assure Kurdish leaders that Kadhimi can be a reliable partner.

Iranian resources that long benefited the paramilitaries are waning given Tehran’s dire fiscal straits. This development opens a window to use the strategic talks and previous bilateral arrangements to concentrate U.S. support to partnered Iraqi security institutions, notably the Counter-Terrorism Service and Iraqi National Intelligence Service, which were essential in the fight against the Islamic State.

While it downsizes its own military presence in the country, the United States should commit to a sustained and selective engagement with institutions in which the prime minister has more control over personnel and resources. Ultimately, this approach would help those parts of the security sector that follow a formal chain of command to develop and, gradually, outgrow those that do not—paving the way, over time, for a stronger Iraqi state.

Lahib Higel is the senior analyst for Iraq at the International Crisis Group Twitter: @LahibHigel

Ramzy Mardini is an associate at the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the University of Chicago Twitter: @RamzyMardini

By Taboola

Kashmir Battle Leading to the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

Clash of the Titans: India and Pakistan Continue to Battle Over Kashmir

Last week, a senior Indian national security reporter dropped a bombshell that, at first glance, should have turned more heads. The story revealed “persistent” rumors in New Delhi of a secret diplomatic backchannel currently underway between India and Pakistan. The speculation is that these talks, purportedly involving senior officials holed up in Washington and London, have included discussions on everything from “the fate of Kashmir” to “the future of Afghanistan”.

The report was instructive for several reasons, not least its author. Praveen Swami’s chumminess with the Indian security establishment has been scrutinized in the past, but in this instance, his cozy relationship with the military brass adds credibility to the claims. In all likelihood, this report is not coming from nowhere. If nothing else, it could be a senior leader in the BJP government or security apparatus publicly musing or floating the possibility to gauge the idea’s reception.

Any news that portends warmer ties between India and Pakistan or progress on a Kashmir settlement should be welcomed. That said, the same pathologies that have doomed past efforts at rapprochement in South Asia still exist. Without excising those, peacebuilding in the region will always be a precarious enterprise, a Jenga-like structure vulnerable to the diplomatic equivalent of someone breathing too hard.

Hardliners in Pakistan and India

Casual observers of South Asia may be surprised by just how often India and Pakistan embark on a process of normalizing ties. There has been at least one such attempt in each of the last four decades: between Zia-ul-Haq and Rajiv Gandhi (1980s), Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee (1990s), Manmohan Singh with both Pervez Musharraf and briefly Asif Ali Zardari (2000s), and Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi (2010s). More than one of these efforts has involved detailed negotiations over Kashmir.

The cynic might interject that such fleeting optimism only serves to intersperse insurgencies, terrorist attacks, and threats of nuclear war. True enough. But it bears repeating that, under the right circumstances, the leaderships of India and Pakistan are not impervious to the seductive scent of a landmark peace deal or treaty.

Yet each of those attempts failed, and handily at that. The reasons were predictable: hardliners on both sides scuttling painstaking progress, unwilling to expend political capital and risk their domestic standing, reputations, and careers.

In Pakistan, the main problem has been the security establishment. Tellingly, even hawkish Pakistani generals, from Zia to Musharraf to now (reportedly) Bajwa, have shown that they are not, in principle, against deal-making with India. Rather, what they object to is deals negotiated by civilians.

Over the past two decades, the army and intelligence services have upended, undercut, and undermined the efforts of elected politicians to thaw relations not once (1999), not twice (2008), but thrice (2016). Having arrogated to itself the role of national custodian, the security establishment does not trust politicians to represent Pakistan with India. Each time the hapless civilian leaders dare to do so, like clockwork, a major terrorist attack or act of war on Indian soil happens to take place.

In India, the issue has not been one specific actor, but a wider ideology: nationalism, a powerful and pernicious force. Indian nationalists often protest that they hardly give the time of day to Pakistan and have bigger fish to fry.

But their western neighbor remains a resonant symbol that evokes suspicion, mistrust, and contempt from the Indian body politic, security establishment, and society writ-large, with the notable exception of the south and, perhaps, the northeast. “Pakistan,” both as a word and as an idea, is used as a rhetorical cudgel across the political spectrum: right-wingers will tell their opponents to “go to Pakistan” while liberals will urge their opponents to not turn India into a “Hindu Pakistan.” Even amongst sophisticated Indian observers, the understanding of Pakistan and Pakistani society remains largely a caricature.

The Last Best Chance?

The mid-2000s serve to highlight the severe costs that these two dynamics impose on South Asia. It was an opportune time for negotiation: the United States was deeply involved in the region and had leverage and credibility with both parties. The pair’s nuclear tests were almost a decade old, sufficient time for decisionmakers to adjust to new geostrategic realities. Each government wished to pursue an accommodationist course. The Mumbai terror attacks, which poisoned the idea of cooperating with Pakistan for a generous swathe of the Indian intelligentsia and policymaking community, had not yet occurred.

Sure enough, in 2006, Pakistan and India came tantalizingly close to demilitarizing the Siachen glacier—the highest, coldest, and most punishing battlefield in the world, occupied by Indian and Pakistani troops since the early 1980s. At the last minute, according to a book by India’s former Foreign Secretary, M. K. Narayanan (the Indian National Security Advisor) and Gen. J. J. Singh (the Army Chief) lobbied against the deal, dashing hopes of an agreement.

Worse followed in 2007. Back-channel talks, having taken place over several years in locations such as Bangkok, Dubai, and London between emissaries from Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf, were so advanced that the two had “come to semicolons” in a draft agreement on Kashmir. A visit by the Indian prime minister to Pakistan to announce the deal, and begin its implementation, was in the works. But Musharraf, a dictator who rose to power in a coup, began to lose his grip on the country and responded as all authoritarians are wont to do: desperation and force. By the end of the year, he was no longer Army Chief. By the next year, he was out of public life altogether.

The year 2006 showed that the ugly image of Pakistan in India’s collective strategic thinking can be self-defeating. The year 2007 showed that Pakistani military leaders will seldom enjoy the broad-based and institutionalized political support that freely and fairly elected governments are built on. When mired in sensitive diplomacy, such support can be worth its weight in gold.

Kashmir Today

A far cry from the mid-2000s, the noxious atmosphere in South Asia today is hardly facilitative of constructive dialog. Barely eighteen months ago, India and Pakistan flew fighter jets into each other’s airspace for the first time since 1971. Exactly a year ago, Modi’s BJP government executed a suffocating clampdown on Kashmir. Since then, Imran Khan has referred to Modi’s regime as “fascist” and likened Modi to Hitler, while Indian leaders and security officials have spoken of designs to annex Pakistani Kashmir.

Under such conditions, an inclination to despair may seem natural. In truth, objective conditions show the advisability of talking on Kashmir.

From Pakistan’s perspective, the conflict has exacted an enormous toll: blowback from the militarization and Islamization of its foreign policy in the form of a deadly insurgency that brought the state to its knees, pariah status in major global capitals for its sponsorship of terrorism, and economic ruin impelled by avaricious defense budgets.

Meanwhile, India’s hardball strategy under Modi, both on Kashmir and the region more generally, has largely failed. Domestically, space for mainstream politics in the Valley has essentially vanished, recruitment of homegrown militants continues unabated, and the Kashmiri street remains bitterly angry. Regionally, New Delhi’s ties with Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have deteriorated. Most importantly, its aggressive behavior last August invited retaliation from China, boxing it into a crisis where India has few palatable options.

International Relations research suggests that leaders of regional rivals tend to bury the past only when it serves some larger geopolitical purpose and helps solidify their domestic rule. The good news is that these are exactly the conditions that obtain in India and Pakistan today. The bad news is the two governments may not see it that way and certainly evince little indication that they are prepared to make tough concessions on territory, terrorism, and trade.

If India and Pakistan are interested, however, then there are viable solutions to the Kashmir conflict. The near-settlement under Musharraf and Manmohan—which calls for (1) demilitarization and (2) self-governance for the entire historical state of Jammu and Kashmir, (3) free movement of people and goods across the border, and (4) joint management of Kashmir by Indians, Pakistanis, and Kashmiris—is a sound departure point.

From Kosovo to the Cook Islands, from Gibraltar to Monaco, it is evident that sovereignty in international politics is layered and nuanced, not a simple binary of independent statehood or bust. Whether India and Pakistan can operate with sufficient boldness and deftness within that maneuverability is, of course, another question entirely.

The Payoff

Though Kashmir grabs the headlines, it is in many ways a distraction from the fundamental social and political challenges facing Indian and Pakistani citizens both: abysmally low standards of living and climate change.

Nationalist Indians gloat about their economy being the fifth largest in the world but in the UN Human Development Index, which accounts for health, education, and per capita wealth, India ranks in the bottom third of countries (129th to be exact). India lags tiny war-torn Latin American countries like Guatemala and El Salvador and only narrowly edges poor sub-Saharan African states like Namibia and the Congo.

Israeli warplanes carry out more attacks outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli warplanes carry out more attacks on Gaza

The Israeli army has intensified its near-daily attacks on Gaza since August 6, along with tightening the blockade.

24 Aug 2020

Smoke and flames are seen following an Israeli air raid in the southern Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

Israeli warplanes carried out more air raids on Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip early on Monday, according to the Israeli army.

The Israeli army has carried out attacks on Gaza almost daily since August 6, along with tightening a blockade under which it has banned the entry of fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant, plunging the Palestinian territory into darkness.

Monday’s attacks targeted a Hamas tunnel and some military points, the Israeli army said in a statement, and were carried out in retaliation for the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza that Israel blames on Hamas, the group that rules the Gaza Strip.

No casualties have been reported so far.

According to Palestinian news agency WAFA, Israeli warplanes targeted an area east of the town of al-Qarara, in the southern city of Khan Younis, with at least three missiles, leaving behind a deep crater.

Moreover, Israeli artillery struck a site east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, which led to its destruction and catching fire.

An Egyptian delegation has been trying to broker a return to an informal truce.

The Gaza Strip has a population of two million people, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank. The Palestinian territory has been under a devastating Israeli blockade since 2007.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

The latest Israeli attacks came just before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touched down in Tel Aviv, the first stop in a five-day trip to the Middle East.

His visit will focus on the United Arab Emirates’s normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel, seen as a betrayal by many Palestinians, and urging other Arab states to follow suit.