A 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, on Sunday morning, officials said — startling residents across the Northeast who expressed shock about the rare tremors.
The quake struck the area about five miles southwest of the community in Buzzards Bay just after 9 a.m. — marking the strongest one in the area since a magnitude 3.5 temblor in March 1976, the US Geological Survey said.
With a depth of 9.3 miles, the impact was felt across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and into Connecticut and Long Island, New York.
“This is the strongest earthquake that we’ve recorded in that area — Southern New England,” USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Providence Journal.
But the quake was still considered “light” on the magnitude scale, meaning that it was felt but didn’t cause significant damage.
The quake, however, was unusual for the region — which has only experienced 26 larger than a magnitude 2.5 since 1973, Caruso said.
Around 14,000 people went onto the USGS site to report the shaking — with some logging tremors as far as Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, both about 100 miles away.
“It’s common for them to be felt very far away because the rock here is old and continuous and transmits the energy a long way,” Caruso said.
Journalist Katie Couric was among those on Long Island to be roused by the Sunday-morning rumblings.
“Did anyone on the east coast experience an earthquake of sorts?” Couric wrote on Twitter.
“We are on Long Island and the attic and walls rattled.”
Closer to the epicenter, residents estimated they felt the impact for 10 to 15 seconds.
“In that moment, it feels like it’s going on forever,” said Ali Kenner Brodsky, who lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Is South Korea questioning its reliance on the US nuclear umbrella?
Words: Bo Ram Kwon
Pictures: Elle MorreDate: August 11th, 2021
Since early 2020, the world has been obsessed with non-traditional security threats, especially those related to public health due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, for many countries including South Korea, traditional security threats, such as the shadow of a nuclear war, still looms. If and when the pandemic subsides, these problems will be exposed in raw form as national economies contend for recovery and have less room for making concessions.
Despite extraordinary efforts by the Moon administration to reengage with North Korea since 2018, no deal has been met on denuclearization while its nuclear and missile capabilities have continued to increase, which indicates that the Trump administration’s North Korea policy has largely failed. In January 2021, North Korea continued to emphasize the advancement of its nuclear capabilities during its Eighth Party Congress, adding that it had “ultramodern tactical nuclear weapons” ready for deployment. In recent months, China’s nuclear ambitions have become more obvious. This is worrisome as heightened US–China competition stretches the “peaceful” security fabric in Northeast Asia. South Korea, therefore, is reevaluating its security environment and concerns, which will have implications for its bilateral relationship with the United States.
WHAT SOUTH KOREANS THINK
Under current circumstances, it is not surprising that South Koreans feel that more protection is needed. Recent polling trends suggest that there is a growing appetite for redeploying tactical nuclear weapons on the peninsula among the general population. Some claim it is time South Korea started to build its own nuclear capabilities like nuclear-powered submarines or to introduce a nuclear sharing agreement like NATO in Northeast Asia. This sentiment is not without reason as US commitment to extended deterrence, the alliance and liberal world order per se were drastically weakened during the Trump administration. In 2017, President Donald Trump threatened to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea, which could have led to fatal nuclear retaliation. He also suggested that both South Korea and Japan should acquire their own nuclear arsenal. His rationale was that treaty alliances are too costly and provide little benefit to the American people, so the United States would be better off if allies pursued their own nuclear capabilities. To witness a US president utter these words was shocking to all South Koreans, making conservatives more realistic and progressives more skeptical about US security commitments.
Meanwhile, how South Koreans perceive the need to acquire nuclear weapons for the country’s survival is far from fixed. Polls show that when additional information is offered about what tactical nuclear weapons are, what the physical and political costs and risks of redeploying them on our soil is, people tend to become less supportive of obtaining nuclear capabilities. In fact, the majority of South Koreans welcomed President Joe Biden’s coming into office this year and polls show they view the ROK–US alliance as necessary and express a high level of trust. According to a 2020 Pew Research Center poll, South Korea and Japan were the only two countries that saw the United States as the leading economic power, while the rest, including the EU and Australia (who later decided to pull out of the Belt and Road Initiative) pointed to China. The world, however, is not naively optimistic. A 2021 Pew Research Center poll shows that respondents from 16 countries, including South Korea, still think “America Firstism” is to stay and that bilateral relations with the United States will maintain the status quo rather than improve significantly.
PERCEPTIONS OF THE SOUTH KOREAN ELITE
If the average South Korean’s nuclear perceptions are largely based on fear and the want to feel better protected, elite perceptions incorporate the responsibility to provide a viable solution. While the Biden administrationhas completed its North Korea policy review, there is still more posturing than actual policy engagement. North Korea has yet to respond to US calls for dialogue, only recently repairing direct communication lines with South Korea. Preliminary ROK–US joint military exercises resumed this week on a smaller scale, which draws much concern about actual deterrence efficacy as well as the straining of alliance relations. Against this background, the United States is showing signs of fatigue, such that there is a growing chance they may well settle for immediately freezing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program rather than aiming for denuclearization in the long haul. Sensing this possibility, South Korean conservative elites arebecoming more vocal about redeploying tactical nuclear weapons and acquiring independent nuclear capabilities. From their viewpoint, it is unacceptable to become hostage to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and thus South Korea must reign in proactively.
The Pacific Ocean is simply too vast and South Korea’s neighbors are becoming too capable to take the US nuclear umbrella for granted.
South Korea has resolved to pursue athree-pronged strategy of deterrenceby investing heavily in its conventional military capabilities known as the Kill Chain, the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) and Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD). Since 2012, the Kill Chain has aimed to detect and preempt North Korean ballistic missiles with or without nuclear warheads before they are launched using enhanced intelligence and surveillance assets. KMPR is literally geared toward retaliation. Originally in 2016, the focus was to prepare to retaliate directly against North Korean attacks, but it was revised in 2018 to incorporate retaliation against omnidirectional security threats. Nevertheless, such efforts are insufficient to offset the anxiety of those who argue that conventional and nuclear weapons are inherently asymmetric.
THE CREDIBILITY DEFICIT IN THE ROK–US RELATIONSHIP
The inconvenient truth is that US extended deterrence is a strategic concept that needs to be reinforced repeatedly due to the embedded credibility problem within. The Pacific Ocean is simply too vast and South Korea’s neighbors are becoming too capable to take the US nuclear umbrella for granted. Moreover, acute partisanship and disarray of democratic governance in the US often ties the hands of its leadership. The Biden administration has inherited the burden of building back the trust of allies and has played its part in finalizing cost sharing agreements and holding summits with its Asian allies in first order. However, more could be done to reduce the credibility deficit than merely repeat declarations of US commitment to extended deterrence in the face of a real, growing North Korean nuclear arsenal. Drafting a detailed extended deterrence plan or the beginnings of a doctrine would signal that it is indeed a fully working concept. Reviving high level exchanges or activating working groups with South Korea on nuclear strategy implementation would help restore confidence. Holding open and closed discussions of “possible redeployment” of US tactical nuclear weapons with South Korean experts could begin to highlight what is feasible and not, along with concrete ways to move forward.
What is increasingly unsettling is that the structural changes in international politics are pointing to substantial change in US global leadership and alliance relations. During the first half of 2021, arguments advocating restraintand retrenchment became prominent in the US security narrative. Some called for the establishment of “new spheres of influence” while others envisioned a “new concert of powers,” claiming that the US will inevitably give up some of its responsibilities even if it retained its hegemon status. It is foreseeable that US foreign policy would be motivated by narrowly framed existential concerns, which will not be appreciated by its allies. While the Biden administration is poised to go quite far with its focus on values and diplomacy, the core of its national and defense strategy echoes much of what we saw during the Trump administration: An inward-looking America putting its interests first. As the needs of Kenosha are argued to be more important than any other foreign city, there is reason to be skeptical about the United States using its nuclear forces to defend South Korea against a North Korean attack.
As we approach the March 2022 presidential elections in South Korea, candidates will capitalize on public sentiment and make strong demands for enhancing national security. Still early in the race, a dominant narrative on nuclear issues has yet to emerge. This makes it all the more important to build and maintain serious discussions on external deterrence before politics gets in the way of sound policy and coordination.
On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito addressed his subjects conveying his decision to surrender unconditionally. He used, as to be expected under the exceptional circumstances, slightly convoluted language:
“We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.
The global public, especially in North America, and most scholars across the world have held that Japan surrendered because President Truman used the atom bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is not always a good argument.
Japan’s Supreme War Council consisted of the Big Six (Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Army Minister, Navy Minister, Army Chief, and Navy Chief). Since the Army and Navy ministers had to be from the services, and as the Prime Minister was Admiral Kantaro Suzuki, the only civilian was the Foreign Minister Togo.
Meeting at Potsdam, following Germany’s surrender, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and President Chiang Kai-shek called on Japan to surrender unconditionally. This was on July 26, 1945. Stalin who too was present at Potsdam, did not join as, technically, the Neutrality Pact between Japan and the Soviet Union was still in force. In fact, Japan was convinced that Stalin was trying to mediate on their behalf. Initially, Prime Minister Suzuki had tried to belittle the import of the call to surrender by using the word “mokusatsu,” which can be translated as ‘no comments.’
The Supreme War Council that met on August 9 was split down the middle, on the question of surrender and it was Emperor Hirohito who ordered the Council to accept the ultimatum issued at Potsdam. The decision to surrender was conveyed to the United States with a caveat. Japan wanted assurance that the Emperor’s status would not be affected. Washington replied that the Emperor’s authority would be subject to that of the Supreme Commander to be appointed.
Once again the lobby that was against surrender got active and there was even an attempt at a military coup. In short, though Japan had conveyed its decision to surrender through diplomatic channels, the war continued, and the Japanese public had not been told of the surrender. Nor had they been prepared to accept a surrender that ran against the imperial, aggressive policy, imperiously pursued by the country whose government had told the people of continuing success abroad even as city after city was being bombed to smithereens.
Before the destruction of Hiroshima, 68 cities had been bombed and in terms destruction, Hiroshima was not exactly a shock. The Carnegie Council in a study titled “Did Nuclear Weapons Cause Japan to Surrender?” says:
The United States bombed 68 cities in the summer of 1945. If you graph the number of people killed in all 68 of those attacks, you imagine that Hiroshima is off the charts, because that’s the way it’s usually presented. In fact, Hiroshima is second. Tokyo, a conventional attack, is first in the number killed. If you graph the number of square miles destroyed, Hiroshima is sixth. If you graph the percentage of the city destroyed, Hiroshima is 17th.
After Hiroshima, the Foreign Minister wanted a meeting of the War Council. However, the Prime Minister refused, saying Hiroshima was only a part of what Japan had been seeing, and not anything extra-ordinary.
On August 8, the Soviet Union withdrew from the Neutrality Treaty and moved troops. The War Council met on 9 August to consider the consequences and implications of Soviet Union’s move. The Soviet military had already moved into Manchukuo before the Council met. The Council concluded that Japan was in no position to resist the Soviet Union and the United States simultaneously. The Council learnt about Nagasaki, but it was the Soviet move that had already prompted the decision on surrender.
Truman learnt of the successful Trinity Test at Potsdam. He shared the full information with Churchill, but told Stalin only of ‘a new weapon of immense destruction’ that he had. Truman honestly thought that he was imparting new information to Stalin.
Little did Truman know that Stalin was kept informed of the Manhattan Project by a nest of spies – the most famous or infamous of whom was Klaus Fuchs, a theoretical physicist. In fact, Truman as Roosevelt’s Vice-President was not kept in the loop on that project. Secretary for War Stimson briefed President Truman only 12 days after he succeeded Roosevelt who died on April 12, 1945.
Truman was trying to impress and even frighten Stalin by hinting at the new weapon. Stalin feigned ignorance and sent instructions to Moscow to speed up with the bomb project.
We need to look at another aspect of Stalin’s diplomacy. He was under pressure from Roosevelt and Churchill to join the war against Japan even before Germany’s surrender. Stalin had resisted the pressure as for him Europe, especially eastern Europe, was more important than East Asia. He had entered into a five-year Neutrality Pact with Japan in April 1941.
By June 1945, if not earlier, the Japanese Navy has ceased to be active, the military was running short of supplies, and the American bombing of cities continued with increasing ferocity. On June 22, 1945, the Emperor ordered that an end to the war be sought. The War Council decided to request Stalin to do the mediation, naively believing that he would deliver. Stalin was contacted on June 30.
Stalin had his own geopolitical agenda. He wanted the war to continue to give him time to transfer troops from the West to the Far East so that he could grab Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, South Sakhalin, the Kuriles, and even Hokkaido. However, Moscow gave the impression to Tokyo that serious effort was being made to get terms respecting the Emperor’s status.
Did Truman Have To Use The Bomb To End The War?
The answer based on sound historical reasoning is no.
The Americans had broken the Japanese code and knew of the exchanges between Foreign Minister Togo and Ambassador Sato in Moscow. Truman knew that if the Emperor’s status was protected, Japan was anxious to surrender. Truman could have easily told Japan through diplomatic channels that the Allies had no intention to humiliate the Emperor. In fact, General MacArthur came to the conclusion, once he landed in Japan, that it was in the interest of the Allies to retain the Emperor as otherwise the people would not have cooperated with the occupying forces.
Why didn’t Truman try out diplomacy? There are three reasons. First, he did not care for non- American lives. When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, Senator Truman said:
If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don’t want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances. 
Second, Truman was determined to demonstrate to the world, especially to Stalin, that he had a unique weapon.
Third, Truman was worried that once the Soviet Union entered the war, its troops will get into Japan before U.S. troops and he will have to share the occupation with Stalin. Truman was determined to take over Japan, with no Soviet involvement.
Truman was given the options to make a demonstration of the tremendous destructive power by detonating a bomb in an unpopulated area or using it against a military target with less civilian deaths. He deliberately wanted to see the destruction in a populated city and a few cities were put on a no-bombing list.
Initially, the list included Kyoto. Secretary Stimson got Kyoto deleted because he had honeymooned there. Nagasaki replaced Kyoto.
Truman made a huge error. By using the bomb he inaugurated the Atomic Era and the Cold War. He is an icon and American scholars, with a few honourable exceptions, have failed to prevent their narrow minded patriotism from vitiating their judgment. The scholars in the rest of the world have accepted the American lead.
Iraqi police keep watch during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Baghdad on December 21, 2020. (AFP)
The countdown for the October 10 parliamentary elections began in Iraq amid the boycott of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Several blocs and coalitions have started their electoral campaigns, including the Rule of Law coalition of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Shiite parties have kicked off their campaigns, while Sunni and Kurdish coalitions have yet to start theirs despite the various meetings held between their leaders.
An independent Iraqi politician and former MP said it has become evident that Sadr will not retract his withdrawal.
“This has led to serious concerns among Shiites of impending inter-Shiite fighting even if a new government is formed after the elections,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He explained that with Sadr out of the equation, new balances of power within parliament may lead to tensions among the various parties that could escalate into fighting,
He noted that strenuous efforts were exerted to convince Sadr to change his position, but he has so far resisted them, prompting speculation over the motives behind the cleric’s stance.
Some sides believe that he has a plan that has yet to materialize that would see him not only have a say in the nomination of a new prime minister or claim ministerial portfolios for himself, but go beyond that, especially if the balance of power sways in favor of his great rival, the Fatah alliance or even Maliki, added the official.
It appears that Maliki is eyeing the position of prime minister in spite of his previous assertion that he no longer aspires for that seat.
“Sadr’s rivals are aware of his influence and therefore, he would be difficult to ignore in any new political equation,” remarked the former MP.
Moreover, some sides have been proven wrong in believing that the cleric’s supporters will grow divided with his withdrawal from the elections, he added.
Sadr, he explained, has come up with a plan to prevent these divisions.
Meanwhile, Maliki stressed that the elections will be held as scheduled “regardless of the threats”, saying that the democratic process should be respected.
Following a months-long escalation of hostilities on Israel’s northern border, Hezbollah militants fired an estimated twenty rockets into northern Israel Friday morning in response to an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) airstrike Thursday evening.
“At 11:15 a.m. this Friday, and in response to the Israeli air raids on open lands in the al-Jarmaq and al-Shawakir areas last Thursday night, the groups of the martyr Ali Kamel Mohsen [killed by the IDF in 2020] and the martyr Muhammad Qasim Tahan [killed by the IDF in 2021] in the Islamic Resistance bombed open lands in the vicinity of the occupation sites,” a Hezbollah statement said.
The Hezbollah cell that fired the rockets was stopped and detained by local Druze villagers as they fled the area after the attack. Subsequently they were arrested by the Lebanese Armed Forces, but later released, according to Lebanese reports.
Two incidents of rocket fire from Lebanon during the May conflict in Gaza were blamed on Palestinian militant groups operating in the country. However, after repeated attacks, a pattern has emerged suggesting a broader involvement of Hezbollah and possibly Iran.
What first must be understood is that little happens in southern Lebanon without Hezbollah’s knowledge – let alone if it’s an attack against Israel. Fifteen years of general calm on Israel’s northern border did not occur by happenstance. Both Israel and Hezbollah have shared an understanding of keeping the border quiet through mutual deterrence.
Israel mostly refrained from responding militarily to the May attacks, likely due to concerns of igniting a second front with Hezbollah in the midst of an operation in Gaza.
However, three rocket attacks from southern Lebanon since the end of hostilities in Gaza has made the explanation of Palestinian groups firing rockets moot.
Hezbollah likely understood that it would enter into a direct conflict with Israel if rockets continued to be fired into northern Israel. It would not have allowed the attacks to happen from its territory unless it was prepared for this eventuality.
Furthermore, even if Hezbollah used Palestinian groups to fire rockets into Israel, the act of using them as a proxy is inconsequential. By allowing the rocket fire, and likely supporting the cells who fired them, Hezbollah is ultimately responsible for the attacks.
The Israeli government’s policy is to hold Hamas directly responsible for all attacks coming from Gaza even when it is another group initiating the attacks. However, the impression created by the multitude of statements by the IDF and Israeli officials is that this policy isn’t reciprocated with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
By continuing to blame Palestinian groups for the rocket fire, the Israeli government is obscuring the reality of the situation it finds itself in which is a clear escalation of hostilities with Hezbollah initiated months ago. This leads to a confusing policy of holding one ruling non-state actor, Hamas, responsible for military actions in Gaza, but not the more stronger and dangerous Hezbollah in Lebanon.
There are many reasons why Hezbollah, and to an extent Iran, are heating up the northern sector of Israel.
Hezbollah finds itself in a very difficult situation as Lebanon’s economy seemingly descends into unending chaos. The Beirut port explosion, increasing anti-Hezbollah sentimentamong Lebanon’s population, and sectarian clashes including the recent killing of several Hezbollah members by Sunni tribesmen, may have motivated Hezbollah into attacking Israel in an effort to divert attention from its domestic woes.
Another possibility is that Iran has changed its strategy vis-à-vis Israeli attacks against its nuclear program and assets in Syria. By using its chief proxy in Lebanon, Iran can entangle Israel in a cross-border conflict and distract it as it continues its malign activity in the region. Adding to that is the July 29 attack against an Israeli-operated oil vessel, MT Mercer Street, resulting in the deaths of two of its crew.
Israel warned it would respond to the Aug. 6 attack by Hezbollah. Although, it may not respond immediately, rather choose to wait in an attempt to calm the tension in the northern arena. However, the number of attacks over the last several months, and increasing Iranian belligerence, suggests an unfavorable outcome in keeping tensions from continuing to rise between the actors.
Joe Truzman is a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal.
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This is the latest in a long line of terrorist training camps that incite violence against the Jewish state, teach children to murder innocent Jews, glorify jihad, and promote the idea that Israel can be defeated militarily, with all its Jewish citizens pushed into the sea.
But this time, photos from the camp show that not only do they appear to be training children to join the Hamas Al Qassam Brigades, but also some grey-haired men.
Ever since partition, Pakistan and India have harboured deep-rooted mistrust and animosity towards one another. In a longstanding rivalry, the two states have faced each other on numerous occasions and shared a long history ridden with conflict and disputes. Siachen is one such dispute that continuous to hamper the peaceful coexistence of the two nuclear neighbours. Time and time again, the Siachen dispute has been brought to the forefront but like any other matter, quickly moves to the back-burner.
The Siachen dispute is in essence a territorial dispute, one that has simmered in the earlier part of the 1980’s. It was when India launched ‘Operation Megahdoot’ and gained control of the glacier by beating the Pakistani counter-offensive within a margin of a week. The Indian side coined a new term known as ‘Oropolitics’ that refer to the political use of mountaineering and mountains. What had started as an oropolitical stunt remains an unresolved dispute for nearly five decades. The Siachen conflict is unique as the men face an unseen, unheard enemy. Although on paper, this war is being fought by the two South Asian militaries, in reality, the nature of the conflict is much more complex. Men on both sides are struggling for every breath, day in and day out. The ruthless temperature and huge piles of snow covered mountains makes it both a difficult terrain to fight in and an almost impossible environment to survive in. High altitudes and subsequent low levels of oxygen leave the solider breathless which in turn can lead to several medical and psychological disorders. Both, India and Pakistan had lost nearly 2,400 precious lives of soldiers since 2014 and the numbers increase with each passing day. Rising environmental hazards further add on to the expense of this dispute.US, Russian defense chief hold talks to avert accidental war
Even viewing the dispute through a realist lens does not qualify it as sustainable. The financial cost of this unique warfare is considerably high, leaving policymakers on both sides in a dilemma. How can one justify an armed conflict that costs more than $600,000 per day (almost 95 million Pakistani Rupees) on just one side? Especially when both Pakistan and India have faced economic crises during the 2021 pandemic. The whopping figure does not account for the additional cost of highly sophisticated mountaineering equipment and imported clothing.
India’s strategic understanding of Siachen glacier, apart from the territorial claims, is less realistic as proved by the recent India-China standoff of 2020 in the Ladakh region. Firstly, China does not need Karakoram Pass in order to pose a threat to India. Secondly, the mountainous terrain acts as a natural defence for India and it will never favour any joint aggression of Pakistan and China. India must understand that such false insecurities are creating tremendous issues for both states. The settlement of these alarming issues are in the hands of the two governments. The solution to this dispute may not be simple but it is surely achievable. India and Pakistan have, in the past, come to the in attempt to resolve this standoff. The answer lies in the 1992 negotiation between the two defence secretaries; an understanding that was soon to be turned into an agreement but failed due to silence from India. Simply put, the triangle in tussle, Indira Koli—point NJ 9842—Karakoram Pass, must be demilitarised and forces from both sides must withdraw to the status as mentioned in Shimla Agreement, in the south of point NJ 9842. Advance technology and satellite system can provide efficient surveillance of this triangle. Thus, both states must not engage their men but should utilise modern equipment. The idea of converting this triangle into a ‘Peace Park’ can prove helpful in order to deter future aggression from either sides.Powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake rattles Philippines, triggers Tsunami warning
Talks on this standoff is the need of the hour. Kashmir has remained the underlining dispute between India and Pakistan since the very beginning. Owing to hard-hand policies of the Modi-led government, a resolution of Kashmir in the foreseeable future seems unlikely. Pakistan and India would do well to raise peace constitutions and Siachen can prove to be the first step towards easing tensions. A settlement of this dispute will not only provide relief to the two states, economically and militarily, but will also set the ground for normalisation of relations and lead to an agreement of new confident building measures. It is time for both sides, especially India, to think out of their insecurities and give peace a chance.