2020 was the winds of God’s wrath: Jeremiah 23

2020’s hurricane season was the Atlantic’s worst: See all 30 storms

Mary-Anne Desai December 7, 2020

Over thirty hurricanes and deadly tropical storms have ravaged the Atlantic in 2020. These devastating storms have destroyed our homes, local businesses, and schools. We are looking back at all the natural disasters that hit the American continent this year.

America is not overlooked when it comes to scary hurricanes or tropical storms. The nation reached a record high with the amount of disasters during this hurricane season. Buzzfeed News declares these storms have “killed dozens and left thousands homeless” before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Scientists believe even more hurricanes & severe storms could have occurred this season without detection. Buzzfeed News reported a senior staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Michael Wehner believes “the great unknown question is how climate change impacts the number of hurricanes” as their data is definitely limited.

Satellites can’t pick up every sign of a storm and with constant changes in the Earth’s atmosphere, there’s a higher chance many disasters will arise at the height of hurricane season. Michael Wehner stated, “If the conditions are perfect for a hurricane, all else equal except more energy is available, they are going to be more intense”.

Tropical Storms

Tropical Storms

Tropical Storm Arthur

Arthur was recorded as the first storm of the 2020 hurricane season and occurred between May 16th and 19th. The storm impacted three major locations, Cuba, Florida, and North Carolina.

Tropical Storm Bertha

Bertha was one of the quicker storms, only impacting South Carolina for a brief spell during hurricane season. The tropical storm caused landfalls and flooding along the city’s coast between May 27th and May 28th.

Tropical Storm Cristobal

The Cristobal Storm first hit along the Pacific coast of Guatemala in Central America and then crashed into Louisiana. The storm occurred from June 1st to June 9th.

Tropical Storm Dolly

Another quick storm, Dolly only spent time in the Atlantic Ocean between June 22nd and June 24th.

Tropical Storm Edouard

Flash storm Edouard never made any landfalls and survived between July 4th and July 6th.

Tropical Storm Fay

Storm Fay introduced a couple of thunderstorms in New Jersey. This included a dense amount of rain and a massive landfall between July 9th and July 11th.

Tropical Storm Gonzalo

Gonzalo was a swift storm that happened in Trinidad and Tobago between July 21st and July 25th.

Tropical Storm Josephine

Josephine was luckily recorded as the storm that never touched land on August 11th to August 16th.

Tropical Storm Kyle

Kyle was an Atlantic ocean-based storm between August 14th and August 16th.

Tropical Storm Omar

Storm Omar left no physical damage done. The storm did not hit land and occurred on August 31st to September 5th.

Tropical Storm Rene

Rene may have happened during high season, an alarming time for storms, but it fortunately never touched land. The storm took place on September 7th to September 14th.

Tropical Storm Vicky

Tropical Storm Vicky did not cause much harm because it occurred within the bound of the Atlantic ocean between September 14th and September 17th.

Tropical Storm Beta

Beta the tropical storm hit Texas and made a major landfall in the United States of America. Beta created heavy rain between September 17th and September 22nd.

Tropical Storm Wilfred

Buzzfeed News reported Wilfred was the final storm to have a “traditional name”. The storm came from West Africa and luckily landed in the Central Atlantic Ocean on September 18th to September 20th.

Subtropical Storm Alpha

Alpha hit the Atlantic ocean on September 18th , 2020. Reuters stated the storm was short-lived and came off the coast of Portugal.

Tropical Storm Gamma

Gamma created a landfall on Mexico’s Yucatàn Peninsula and took place during October 2nd and October 5th.

Tropical Storm Theta

Theta was the final tropical storm to occur in 2020 between November 10th and November 15th.

Hurricanes

Hurricane Hanna

Hurricane Hanna was the first hurricane of hurricane season to kick off the chain of storms flooding in. Hanna started in South Texas and was labelled a Category 1 storm, occurring between July 23rd and July 27th.

Hurricane Isaias

Hurricane Isaias occurred on July 30th to August 5th. The hurricane caused many tornadoes and dense rainfall on the East Coast of America.

Hurricane Laura

According to UN News, Hurricane Laura was the “most dangerous hurricane” this year, moving from a Category 1 to a Category 4 within one day. Laura ravaged from August 20th to August 28th.

Hurricane Marco

Marco occurred between August 20th and August 25th. The hurricane started in the Gulf of Mexico and ended near the Mississippi River in the United States of America.

Hurricane Nana

Hurricane Nana was a Category 1 storm located within Central America. The storm entered the Caribbean country, Belize between September 1st and September 4th.

Hurricane Paulette

Paulette was a Category 2 hurricane and is believed to have become a tropical storm days after it disappeared. The hurricane started on September 7th to September 22nd.

Hurricane Sally

Hurricane Sally started in Florida as a Category 2 storm between September 11th and September 17th.

Hurricane Teddy

On September 12th to September 22nd, Teddy was labelled as a Category 4 hurricane and eventually traveled along the Atlantic, hitting Canada.

Hurricane Delta

Delta occurred across Louisiana and was labelled as a Category 2 storm on October 4th to October 10th.

Hurricane Eta

Eta was one of the longest hurricanes in hurricane season, happening between October 31st and November 13th. It started in Nicaragua and hit most of Central America including Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane ended outside Florida.

Hurricane Iota

To end hurricane season, Iota was the last recorded hurricane of 2020 and labelled as a Category 4 storm which started in Nicaragua and ended near Guatemala. BBC News called Hurricane Iota “the strongest Atlantic hurricane of the year”.

These tropical storms and hurricanes made history with thirty devastating floods and heavy rainfalls. Many homes were lost and hundreds of lives were taken by these natural disasters in 2020.

The growing nuclear threat: Revelation 16

World War 3 warning: UK, France and Germany deeply concerned about Iran nuclear programme

BRITAIN, France and Germany have raised concerns over the recent law passed by the Iranian Parliament, sparking fears of a World War 3 outbreak.

By STEVEN BROWN

PUBLISHED: 09:52, Mon, Dec 7, 2020

UPDATED: 12:15, Mon, Dec 7, 2020

The three powers said in a joint statement: “If Iran is serious about preserving a space for diplomacy, it must not implement these steps.”

This comes after Iran told the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog it plans to install three more clusters of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

The agency wrote: “Iran informed the Agency that the operator of the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz ‘intends to start the installation of three cascades of IR-2m centrifuge machines’ at FEP.”

They added these were in addition to one of IR-2m machines already used for enrichment there.

The agency wrote: “Iran informed the Agency that the operator of the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz ‘intends to start the installation of three cascades of IR-2m centrifuge machines’ at FEP.”

They added these were in addition to one of IR-2m machines already used for enrichment there.

China outpaces the American military:Daniel 7

China Aims to Outpace U.S. Militarily, American Commander Says

Beijing wants to match U.S. capabilities by 2035 and surpass them by midcentury, Gen. Milley says, echoing concerns in Pentagon report

By Nancy A. Youssef

Dec. 8, 2020 3:36 pm ET

China is seeking to invest its economic growth into equaling American military capabilities by 2035 and aims to be able to defeat the U.S. in an armed conflict by midcentury, the top U.S. military commander said.

“They are on a path to try to do that,” Army Gen. Mark Milley said of Beijing’s ambitions in an interview at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council summit on Tuesday. “It is certainly a significant security challenge for the United States now and in the years to come.”

To defend against a rising China, the U.S. must develop its own economic and military power as it relations between the two countries, Gen. Milley said. He warned, “We don’t want great-power competition to turn into great-power war. That would be a disaster.”

‘We don’t want great-power competition to turn into great-power war. That would be a disaster.’

— Gen. Mark Milley

Chinese officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but have said previously that the country’s military is intended for peaceful purposes.

Gen. Milley said the U.S. military must be prepared to launch offensive and defensive moves both in space and cyber operations, particularly against rivals like China and Russia, both of which are developing their military capabilities in those domains.

The chairman’s comments echoed widely held views within the Trump administration, which has intensified its pressure campaign against Beijing through visa bans, sanctions and a continuing trade war. Militarily, the Trump administration has increased freedom of navigation operations as well as other naval maneuvers in an attempt to challenge China’s claims to parts of the Asia Pacific region.

John Ratcliffe, the current U.S. director of national intelligence, wrote in a Journal opinion article last week, “If I could communicate one thing to the American people from this unique vantage point, it is that the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II.”

Gen. Milley’s concerns also mirrored those in an annual Pentagon report on the Chinese military. Among findings in the most recent report, in September, U.S. officials said Beijing could double its nuclear weapons arsenal over the next decade.

Gen. Milley also publicly addressed for the first time President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary. Gen. Austin, who retired from the military in 2016, would require a congressional waiver to serve in the post, as he hasn’t been out of uniform for more than seven years, as federal law requires.

Should Congress issue that waiver, it would be the second such allowance in five years. Retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis received a waiver to serve as President Trump’s first defense secretary. Before Gen. Mattis, only one other recently retired military commander, Gen. George Marshall, had served as defense chief.

Gen. Milley said he had known Gen. Austin for more than two decades but added that a civilian-controlled military is a “bedrock principle” of the U.S.

“There is no question in any of our minds—any of us in uniform—about civilian control of the military,” he said. “We will follow the orders and instructions of the commander in chief.”

Write to Nancy A. Youssef at nancy.youssef@wsj.com

The UN puts pressure on the Iranian nuclear horn

UN urges Iran to address nuclear, ballistic missile concerns

December 8, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Updated December 8, 2020 at 5:05 pm

By EDITH M. LEDERER

The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging Iran to address concerns raised about its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and return to “full implementation” of its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

The U.N. chief expressed regret in a report to the Security Council obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press that the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions against Tehran, and at Iran’s 2019 decision to violate limits in the deal including on centrifuges and enriching uranium.

Guterres said in the report on implementation of a council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear agreement that for the last five years the nuclear deal “has been largely viewed by the international community as a testament to the efficacy of multilateralism, diplomacy and dialogue, and a success in nuclear nonproliferation.”

But President Donald Trump has waged war on the nuclear agreement, denouncing it during the 2016 campaign as the worst deal ever negotiated, and he has kept up opposition in the years since the U.S. pullout in 2018.

The Trump administration maintains the agreement — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA — is fatally flawed because certain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity gradually expire and will allow the country to eventually develop atomic weapons. In August, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally notified the U.N. that it was invoking a provision of the 2015 deal to restore U.N. sanctions, citing significant Iranian violations and declaring: “The United States will never allow the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to freely buy and sell planes, tanks, missiles and other kinds of conventional weapons … (or) to have a nuclear weapon.”

But the remaining parties to the JCPOA — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — as well as the overwhelming majority of the Security Council called the U.S. action illegal because the U.S. had withdrawn from the treaty. The council and the secretary-general both said there would be no action on the U.S. demands — which meant there would be no U.N. demand for countries to re-impose U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Nonetheless, concerns by the U.S. as well as the European parties to the JCPOA have increased, especially with Iran continuing to violate the deal’s limits. Iran has openly announced all its violations of the nuclear deal in advance and said they are reversible.

The deal promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for the curbs on its nuclear program. Since the U.S. withdrawal and its imposition of new sanctions, Tehran has tried to put pressure on the remaining parties using the violations to come up with new ways to offset the economy-crippling actions by Washington.

Secretary-General Guterres recounted the U.S. actions and Security Council response in the report and stressed again “the importance of initiatives in support of trade and economic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially during the current economic and health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As for implementation of the 2015 Security Council resolution endorsing the JCPOA, the secretary-general said he focused on restrictions on nuclear, ballistic missile, and arms-related transfers to or from Iran.

He said Israel provided information about the presence of four alleged Iranian Dehlavieh anti-tank guided missiles in Libya in June. On the basis of photographic evidence, he said, one missile “had characteristics consistent with the Iranian-produced Dehlavieh” but the U.N. Secretariat has been unable to determine if it had been transferred to Libya in violation of the resolution.

On Australia’s June 2019 arms seizure, Guterres said analysis of high-definition images of some material determined that “the 7.62 mm ammunition in this seizure were not of Iranian manufacture.”

The secretary-general said the U.N. received information that an unnamed “entity” on the sanctions blacklist took actions “inconsistent” with its frozen assets and actions to ship “valves, electronics, and measuring equipment suitable for use in ground testing of liquid propellant ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles” to Iran. He said the U.N. Secretariat is seeking further information.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss the report on Dec. 22.

Trump Is Leaving Us With a New Cold War: Revelation 16

Trump Is Leaving Us With a New Cold War

Besides failing to end our forever wars, the Trump administration has set us on course for a prolonged, potentially catastrophic cold war with China and Russia.

By Michael T. KlareTwitter Today 5:37 pm

US President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference during the 2018 NATO summit. (Gints Ivuskans / Shutterstock)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.

In the military realm, Donald Trump will most likely be remembered for his insistence on ending America’s involvement in its twenty-first-century “forever wars” — the fruitless, relentless, mind-crushing military campaigns undertaken by Presidents Bush and Obama in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia. After all, as a candidate, Trump pledged to bring U.S. troops home from those dreaded war zones and, in his last days in office, he’s been promising to get at least most of the way to that objective. The president’s fixation on this issue (and the opposition of his own generals and other officials on the subject) has generated a fair amount of media coverage and endeared him to his isolationist supporters. Yet, however newsworthy it may be, this focus on Trump’s belated troop withdrawals obscures a far more significant aspect of his military legacy: the conversion of the U.S. military from a global counterterror force into one designed to fight an all-out, cataclysmic, potentially nuclear war with China and/or Russia.

People seldom notice that Trump’s approach to military policy has always been two-faced. Even as he repeatedly denounced the failure of his predecessors to abandon those endless counterinsurgency wars, he bemoaned their alleged neglect of America’s regular armed forces and promised to spend whatever it took to “restore” their fighting strength. “In a Trump administration,” he declared in a September 2016 campaign speech on national security, America’s military priorities would be reversed, with a withdrawal from the “endless wars we are caught in now” and the restoration of “our unquestioned military strength.”

Once in office, he acted to implement that very agenda, instructing his surrogates — a succession of national security advisers and secretaries of defense — to commence U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan (though he agreed for a time to increase troop levels in Afghanistan), while submitting ever-mounting defense budgets. The Pentagon’s annual spending authority climbed every year between 2016 and 2020, rising from $580 billion at the start of his administration to $713 at the end, with much of that increment directed to the procurement of advanced weaponry. Additional billions were incorporated into the Department of Energy budget for the acquisition of new nuclear weapons and the full-scale “modernization” of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Far more important than that increase in arms spending, however, was the shift in strategy that went with it. The military posture President Trump inherited from the Obama administration was focused on fighting the Global War on Terror (GWOT), a grueling, never-ending struggle to identify, track, and destroy anti-Western zealots in far-flung areas of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The posture he’s bequeathing to Joe Biden is almost entirely focused on defeating China and Russia in future “high-end” conflicts waged directly against those two countries — fighting that would undoubtedly involve high-tech conventional weapons on a staggering scale and could easily trigger nuclear war.

From the GWOT to the GPC

It’s impossible to overstate the significance of the Pentagon’s shift from a strategy aimed at fighting relatively small bands of militants to one aimed at fighting the military forces of China and Russia on the peripheries of Eurasia. The first entailed the deployment of scattered bands of infantry and Special Operations Forces units backed by patrolling aircraft and missile-armed drones; the other envisions the commitment of multiple aircraft carriers, fighter squadrons, nuclear-capable bombers, and brigade-strength armored divisions. Similarly, in the GWOT years, it was generally assumed that U.S. troops would face adversaries largely armed with light infantry weapons and homemade bombs, not, as in any future war with China or Russia, an enemy equipped with advanced tanks, planes, missiles, ships, and a full range of nuclear munitions.

This shift in outlook from counterterrorism to what, in these years, has come to be known in Washington as “great power competition,” or GPC, was first officially articulated in the Pentagon’s National Security Strategy of February 2018. “The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security,” it insisted, “is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers,” a catchphrase for China and Russia. (It used those rare italics to emphasize just how significant this was.)

For the Department of Defense and the military services, this meant only one thing: from that moment on, so much of what they did would be aimed at preparing to fight and defeat China and/or Russia in high-intensity conflict. As Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis put it to the Senate Armed Services Committee that April, “The 2018 National Defense Strategy provides clear strategic direction for America’s military to reclaim an era of strategic purpose… Although the Department continues to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, long-term strategic competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

This being the case, Mattis added, America’s armed forces would have to be completely re-equipped with new weaponry intended for high-intensity combat against well-armed adversaries. “Our military remains capable, but our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare,” he noted. “The combination of rapidly changing technology [and] the negative impact on military readiness resulting from the longest continuous period of combat in our nation’s history [has] created an overstretched and under-resourced military.” In response, we must “accelerate modernization programs in a sustained effort to solidify our competitive advantage.”

In that same testimony, Mattis laid out the procurement priorities that have since governed planning as the military seeks to “solidify” its competitive advantage. First comes the “modernization” of the nation’s nuclear weapons capabilities, including its nuclear command-control-and-communications systems; then, the expansion of the Navy through the acquisition of startling numbers of additional surface ships and submarines, along with the modernization of the Air Force, through the accelerated procurement of advanced combat planes; finally, to ensure the country’s military superiority for decades to come, vastly increased investment in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, hypersonics, and cyber warfare.

These priorities have by now been hard-wired into the military budget and govern Pentagon planning. Last February, when submitting its proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021, for example, the Department of Defense asserted, “The FY 2021 budget supports the irreversible implementation of the National Defense Strategy (NDS), which drives the Department’s decision-making in reprioritizing resources and shifting investments to prepare for a potential future, high-end fight.” This nightmarish vision, in other words, is the military future President Trump will leave to the Biden administration.

The Navy in the Lead

From the very beginning, Donald Trump has emphasized the expansion of the Navy as an overriding objective. “When Ronald Reagan left office, our Navy had 592 ships… Today, the Navy has just 276 ships,” he lamented in that 2016 campaign speech. One of his first priorities as president, he asserted, would be to restore its strength. “We will build a Navy of 350 surface ships and submarines,” he promised. Once in office, the “350-ship Navy” (later increased to 355 ships) became a mantra.

In emphasizing a big Navy, Trump was influenced to some degree by the sheer spectacle of large modern warships, especially aircraft carriers with their scores of combat planes. “Our carriers are the centerpiece of American military might overseas,” he insisted while visiting the nearly completed carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, in March 2017. “We are standing here today on four-and-a-half acres of combat power and sovereign U.S. territory, the likes of which there is nothing… there is no competition to this ship.”

Not surprisingly, top Pentagon officials embraced the president’s big-Navy vision with undisguised enthusiasm. The reason: they view China as their number one adversary and believe that any future conflict with that country will largely be fought from the Pacific Ocean and nearby seas — that being the only practical way to concentrate U.S. firepower against China’s increasingly built-up coastal defenses.

Then-Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper expressed this outlook well when, in September, he deemed Beijing the Pentagon’s “top strategic competitor” and the Indo-Pacific region its “priority theater” in planning for future wars. The waters of that region, he suggested, represent “the epicenter of great power competition with China” and so were witnessing increasingly provocative behavior by Chinese air and naval units. In the face of such destabilizing activity, “the United States must be ready to deter conflict and, if necessary, fight and win at sea.”

In that address, Esper made it clear that the U.S. Navy remains vastly superior to its Chinese counterpart. Nonetheless, he asserted, “We must stay ahead; we must retain our overmatch; and we will keep building modern ships to ensure we remain the world’s greatest Navy.”

Although Trump fired Esper on November 9th for, among other things, resisting White House demands to speed up the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the former defense secretary’s focus on fighting China from the Pacific and adjacent seas remains deeply embedded in Pentagon strategic thinking and will be a legacy of the Trump years. In support of such a policy, billions of dollars have already been committed to the construction of new surface ships and submarines, ensuring that such a legacy will persist for years, if not decades to come.

Do Like Patton: Strike Deep, Strike Hard

Trump said little about what should be done for U.S. ground forces during the 2016 campaign, except to indicate that he wanted them even bigger and better equipped. What he did do, however, was speak of his admiration for World War II Army generals known for their aggressive battle tactics. “I was a fan of Douglas MacArthur. I was a fan of George Patton,” he told Maggie Haberman and David Sanger of the New York Times that March. “If we had Douglas MacArthur today or if we had George Patton today and if we had a president that would let them do their thing you wouldn’t have ISIS, okay?”

Trump’s reverence for General Patton has proven especially suggestive in a new era of great-power competition, as U.S. and NATO forces again prepare to face well-equipped land armies on the continent of Europe, much as they did during World War II. Back then, it was the tank corps of Nazi Germany that Patton’s own tanks confronted on the Western Front. Today, U.S. and NATO forces face Russia’s best-equipped armies in Eastern Europe along a line stretching from the Baltic republics and Poland in the north to Romania in the south. If a war with Russia were to break out, much of the fighting would likely occur along this line, with main-force units from both sides engaged in head-on, high-intensity combat.

Since the Cold War ended in 1991 with the implosion of the Soviet Union, American strategists had devoted little serious thought to high-intensity ground combat against a well-equipped adversary in Europe. Now, with East-West tensions rising and U.S. forces again facing well-armed potential foes in what increasingly looks like a military-driven version of the Cold War, that problem is receiving far more attention.

This time around, however, U.S. forces face a very different combat environment. In the Cold War years, Western strategists generally imagined a contest of brute strength in which our tanks and artillery would battle theirs along hundreds of miles of front lines until one side or the other was thoroughly depleted and had no choice but to sue for peace (or ignite a global nuclear catastrophe). Today’s strategists, however, imagine far more multidimensional (or “multi-domain”) warfare extending to the air and well into rear areas, as well as into space and cyberspace. In such an environment, they’ve come to believe that the victor will have to act swiftly, delivering paralyzing blows to what they call the enemy’s C3I capabilities (critical command, control, communications, and intelligence) in a matter of days, or even hours. Only then would powerful armored units be able to strike deep into enemy territory and, in true Patton fashion, ensure a Russian defeat.

The U.S. military has labeled such a strategy “all-domain warfare” and assumes that the U.S. will indeed dominate space, cyberspace, airspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum. In a future confrontation with Russian forces in Europe, as the doctrine lays it out, U.S. air power would seek control of the airspace above the battlefield, while using guided missiles to knock out Russian radar systems, missile batteries, and their C3I facilities. The Army would conduct similar strikes using a new generation of long-range artillery systems and ballistic missiles. Only when Russia’s defensive capabilities were thoroughly degraded would that Army follow up with a ground assault, Patton-style.

Be Prepared to Fight with Nukes

As imagined by senior Pentagon strategists, any future conflict with China or Russia is likely to entail intense, all-out combat on the ground, at sea, and in the air aimed at destroying an enemy’s critical military infrastructure in the first hours or, at most, days of battle, opening the way for a swift U.S. invasion of enemy territory. This sounds like a winning strategy — but only if you possess all the advantages in weaponry and technology. If not, what then? This is the quandary faced by Chinese and Russian strategists whose forces don’t quite match up to the power of the American ones. While their own war planning remains, to date, a mystery, it’s hard not to imagine that the Chinese and Russian equivalents of the Pentagon high command are pondering the possibility of a nuclear response to any all-out American assault on their militaries and territories.

The examination of available Russian military literature has led some Western analysts to conclude that the Russians are indeed increasing their reliance on “tactical” nuclear weapons to obliterate superior U.S./NATO forces before an invasion of their country could be mounted (much as, in the previous century, U.S. forces relied on just such weaponry to avert a possible Soviet invasion of Western Europe). Russian military analysts have indeed published articles exploring just such an option — sometimes described by the phrase “escalate to de-escalate” (a misnomer if ever there was one) — although Russian military officials have never openly discussed such tactics. Still, the Trump administration has cited that unofficial literature as evidence of Russian plans to employ tactical nukes in a future East-West confrontation and used it to justify the acquisition of new U.S. weapons of just this sort.

“Russian strategy and doctrine… mistakenly assesses that the threat of nuclear escalation or actual first use of nuclear weapons would serve to ‘de-escalate’ a conflict on terms favorable to Russia,” the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review of 2018 asserts. “To correct any Russian misperceptions of advantage… the president must have a range of limited and graduated [nuclear] options, including a variety of delivery systems and explosive yields.” In furtherance of such a policy, that review called for the introduction of two new types of nuclear munitions: a “low-yield” warhead (meaning it could, say, pulverize Lower Manhattan without destroying all of New York City) for a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile and a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile.

As in so many of the developments described above, this Trump initiative will prove difficult to reverse in the Biden years. After all, the first W76-2 low-yield warheads have already rolled off the assembly lines, been installed on missiles, and are now deployed on Trident submarines at sea. These could presumably be removed from service and decommissioned, but this has rarely occurred in recent military history and, to do so, a new president would have to go against his own military high command. Even more difficult would be to negate the strategic rationale behind their deployment. During the Trump years, the notion that nuclear arms could be used as ordinary weapons of war in future great-power conflicts took deep root in Pentagon thinking and erasing it will prove to be no easy feat.

Amid arguments over the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia, amid the firings and sudden replacements of civilian leaders at the Pentagon, Donald Trump’s most significant legacy — the one that could lead not to yet more forever wars but to a forever disaster — has passed almost unnoticed in the media and in political circles in Washington.

Supporters of the new administration and even members of Biden’s immediate circle (though not his actual appointees to national security posts) have advanced some stirring ideas about transforming American military policy, including reducing the role military force plays in America’s foreign relations and redeploying some military funds to other purposes like fighting Covid-19. Such ideas are to be welcomed, but President Biden’s top priority in the military area should be to focus on the true Trump military legacy — the one that has set us on a war course in relation to China and Russia — and do everything in his power to steer us in a safer, more prudent direction. Otherwise, the phrase “forever war” could gain a new, far grimmer meaning.

The Sixth Seal: The Big Apple Shake (Revelation 6:12)

Image result for new york earthquake

Big Apple shake? Potential for earthquake in New York City exists

Posted 11:21 PM, April 2, 2014, by Jeremy Tanner and Mario DiazNEW YORK CITY (PIX11) – For the last 43 years John Armbruster has been a seismologist with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.  A veteran of what he describes as “a couple of dozen” quakes, he is interested in the seismic activity throughout the Pacific region in recent weeks.However, does the amount of plate movements around the world in recent weeks as well as years to translate to New York City being more vulnerable, “These earthquakes are not communicating with each other, they are too far apart,” said Armbruster in an interview with PIX 11 News on Wednesday.Nonetheless, Armbruster added that there are many faults around the area and a few in Manhattan, including on specific fault capable of producing a magnitude 6.0 earthquake, “The 125th street fault.”What would a magnitude 6.0 earthquake inflict upon the city?“I think there would be serious damage and casualties,” said Armbruster.  The reason?  Most of the buildings and infrastructure was not constructed  to withstand earthquakes.  This said, what does Armbruster think of the chances of a major earthquake catching New York City by surprise?“We know that its unlikely because it hasn’t happened in the last 300 years but the earthquake that struck Fukushima Japan was the 1000 year earthquake and they weren’t ready for the that.

A history of the Iranian nuclear horn: Daniel 8

A history of continuity in Iran’s long nuclear program

Tue, Dec 8, 2020

IranSource by Sina Azodi

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, 350 km (217 miles) south of Tehran, April 8, 2008. Iran has begun installing 6,000 new centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant, Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday, defying the West which fears Tehran is trying to build nuclear bombs. Picture taken on April 8, 2008. REUTERS/Presidential official website/Handout

Iran’s interest in developing a nuclear deterrent is often attributed to the Islamic Republic, which, according to Western intelligence sources, had a structured nuclear weapons program until 2003. However, in reality, this interest predates the 1979 revolution and reflects a deep-seated desire for national prestige and development, as well as a need to deter regional rivals.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, similar to the leadership under the Islamic Republic, believed that nuclear energy was the gateway to industrialization and the symbol of modernization. The father of Iran’s nuclear program, Akbar Etemad—who also the first chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)—outlines the Shah’s logic: “for achieving an industrialized economy and high social standards, Iran had to resolve two main issues: ‘energy needs and acquiring high tech industries’… Nuclear technology would resolve both because countries that had pursued nuclear industry had also achieved substantial advancements in [other] technologies.”

The Shah was personally involved in the nuclear program and, in his private conversations with Etemad, instructed him that the primary purpose was to diversify energy resources, but that Iran should keep its options open in case “the regional military balance changes.” 

Officially, the Shah’s position varied. For example, he argued that having a small number of nuclear weapons to deter the Soviet Union would be “silly.” Meanwhile, US Department of State documents quote him in June 1974 saying, that if other countries in the region developed nuclear weapons, Iran would too, “without a doubt and sooner than you think.”

The Shah occasionally lectured westerners about what he saw as the unfair treatment of Iran. In an interview with French journalists in 1976, he decried: “Why is it normal for you the Germans and the British to have atomic or hydrogen bombs while it is not for Iran although…it is not automatically protected by any other country…why for Iran [is] a simple matter of self-defense…a problem?” (Germany did not and does not have a nuclear arsenal, but it is under a NATO umbrella.)

It also bears noting that, despite the Shah’s alliance with the US, the Iranian leadership went to great lengths to insist on Iran’s “full rights” under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). For instance, Etemad asserted that “no country has a right to dictate nuclear policy to another,” further pointing out to Americans that Iran should not be treated as a “second-class citizen.” This sounds a lot like former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who accused world powers of imposing “nuclear apartheid” on other members of the NPT.

The Shah also complained that US safeguard requirements for nuclear cooperation with Iran were “incompatible” with Iran’s “national sovereignty.”

In essence, Shah Mohammad Reza’s approach to Iran’s nuclear program was to expand and institutionalize an indigenous nuclear capacity, but to stop short of developing an arsenal that could jeopardize Iran’s security by triggering a regional nuclear arms race. Such capacity, however, could have enabled Iran to develop a nuclear weapon should one of Iran’s regional adversaries, such as Iraq or Saudi Arabia, weaponize their nuclear programs.

The 1979 Islamic Revolution initially halted this process. Revolutionary leaders argued that it was expensive and that nuclear technology would make Iran dependent on western technology, which contradicted one of the pillars of the revolution: estaghlal (independence).

The strategic imperatives of the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 changed the calculus. Iraq’s efforts to develop a dirty bomb and systematic use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops and cities—which began in 1982 according to CIA assessments—convinced Tehran to resume nuclear work. Evidence suggests that Iran’s first attempts to recommence the program began in 1982 through a series of conferences and small-scale uranium conversion activities. It was further expanded upon with the importation of centrifuge kits from the Pakistani proliferator A.Q. Khan in the late 1980s.

The war had a profound impact on Iranian psychology. As the late president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani once explained, “When we first began [the nuclear program], we were at war and we sought to have that possibility for the day that the enemy might use a nuclear weapon. That was the thinking. But it never became real.”

Western intelligence often overestimated Iran’s nuclear advancement. As early as April 1984, the CIA inaccurately predicted that Iran was in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon. However, a US National Intelligence Council memorandum assessed that Iran could not develop a nuclear warhead by the end of the Iran-Iraq war and that it would take at least another decade. This has yet to occur.

Both a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate and the “archive” of Iran’s nuclear secrets reportedly stolen by Israel in 2018 indicate that Iranian leadership issued a “halt” order in 2003 after the US invasion of Iraq. In this context, journalist Jay Solomon writes that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh—the top Iranian nuclear scientist who was purportedly assassinated recently by Israel in November—complained about a government decision to cut his funding in 2007. 

By then, of course, Iran’s major regional rival, Iraq, was not a serious threat, while Iran’s nuclear program was not capable of deterring the United States’ vast nuclear arsenal or Israel’s undisclosed weapons. On the contrary, the program put Iran at risk of attack by Israel and/or the US and led to the imposition of heavy sanctions.

Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected claims that Iran is still pursuing nuclear weapons, often pointing out to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s fatwa against the development and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, has observed, “We do not consider nuclear weapons to be in our national security interests.” 

Given that an Iranian arsenal would most likely prompt Saudi Arabia to go nuclear, the program would be detrimental to Iranian security in the long term. Therefore, it seems that the Islamic Republic has opted for the same hedging strategy that the Shah employed since 2003—to continue to master the nuclear fuel cycle short of weaponization. Rafsanjani is quoted as saying: “As long as we can enrich uranium and master the [nuclear] fuel cycle, we don’t need anything else. Our neighbors will be able to draw the proper conclusions.”

Despite the regime change that occurred in 1979, Iran’s approach to the nuclear question has largely remained consistent and will most likely remain so in the future. That is the result of both the country’s security environment and view of itself as a proud nation with a profound history that exists in an unjust international system—outlooks that transcend regime types.

Sina Azodi is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council and a visiting scholar at the George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies. He is also a PhD Candidate in International Relations at University of South Florida. Follow him on Twitter @Azodiac83.

Fri, Jul 10, 2020

A series of unusual events in Iran point to sabotage. How will Tehran respond?

A spate of explosions has struck highly secure and sensitive sites, as well as regular industrial locales, including factories and gas pipelines, and even a clinic in a fancy part of north Tehran.

IranSource by Borzou Daragahi

Fri, Nov 27, 2020

What the assassination of a nuclear scientist means for Iran’s nuclear showdown with the US and Israel

The assassination of an Iranian scientist has struck at the heart of Iran’s nuclear program and exposed the vulnerabilities of the Islamic Republic, which failed to protect one of its most valuable assets.

New Atlanticist by Holly Dagres

Thu, Nov 12, 2020

A Biden-Rouhani agreement can positively impact Iran’s political future

If he manages to reach an agreement with the United States, President Hassan Rouhani will undoubtedly garner the support of the majority of Iranians like he did after signing an interim agreement in 2013. This will allow him to position himself as the person who finally resolved the dispute with the US after forty-two years.

IranSource by Mehran Haghirian