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

New York earthquake: City at risk of ‚dangerous shaking from far away‘
Joshua Nevett
Published 30th April 2018
SOME of New York City’s tallest skyscrapers are at risk of being shaken by seismic waves triggered by powerful earthquakes from miles outside the city, a natural disaster expert has warned.
Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.
A series of large fault lines that run underneath NYC’s five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, are capable of triggering large earthquakes.
Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.
The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.
Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.
EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors
But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.
The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.
What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.
The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.

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

USGS
RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS
“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher
This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.
“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.
Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.
But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.
“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.
In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.
“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.
On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.

USGS
FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.
“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.
“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

Babylon the Great flouts international law by ignoring nuclear weapons prohibition treaty

U.S. flouts international law by ignoring nuclear weapons prohibition treaty

Voices / Letters from readers

The writer serves as pastor of Centre Congregational Church (United Church of Christ).

On Aug. 13, I stood on Main Street, Brattleboro, with my two friends, Daniel Sicken and Bill Pearson, to protest the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Here is what I learned while standing in solidarity with them: Nuclear weapons are against international law, and the United States (legally) violates that law.

How can this conclusion be made?

The United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons outlaws the development, manufacture, testing, possession, transfer, acquisition, stockpiling, use or threat of use, control or receipt, stationing, or deploying of nuclear weapons. This treaty renders nuclear weapons under the same prohibitive category as land mines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons, and poison gas.

The treaty entered into force when the respective legislatures of 50 countries ratified it (October 2020). 

Under its terms, those nations that do not ratify it are not bound by its requirements.The United States and all of the remaining nations that possess/deploy nuclear weapons neither signed or ratified the treaty.

The treaty is an expression by those nations that signed it (86) and ratified it (53) of their frustration with those many nations that have not sufficiently abided by its goal to pursue disarmament “in good faith.” It has been over 50 years!

As of September 2020, the United States has the most deployed nuclear weapons in the world: 1,750.

Russia has 1,572 deployed weapons.

China possesses only 320 nuclear weapons (total).

France has 200 deployed nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom has 60 deployed nuclear weapons.

Pakistan has 160; India, 150; Israel, 90; and North Korea, 35 nuclear weapons (total).

As a student of international relations at the American University’s School for International Service, I studied nuclear brinkmanship. I suppose that if one’s highest allegiance is not faith, the study of the worthiness, morality, and effectiveness of nuclear weapons is debatable, and their possession and use are even justifiable.

But, if the paradigm to which one is ultimately accountable is theological and not geopolitical, is spiritual and not militaristic, is Christocentric and not nationalist — is the morality and, thus, legality of nuclear weapons even debatable?

I strive to think primarily as a Christian and secondarily as a United States citizen. Yet, this proves difficult because since I began to attend school I was told to pledge allegiance to the flag, and even singing the national anthem before every professional sports match has somehow become a cultic ritual.

Many still hail the United States as a “Christian nation.” Yet, as the famous theologian H. Richard Niebuhr once stated, “Christendom has often achieved apparent success by ignoring the precepts of its founder.”

And what is a precept of our Lord and Savior? “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-44).

To that, I respond, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Thank you, Daniel and Bill, for your witnesses.

Rev. Dr. Scott Couper
Brattleboro

The new power of the Australian nuclear horn: Daniel 7

uncaptioned

Australia’s Huge New Weapons Buy Will Give It Long-Range Strike Ability For First Time Since F-111 Bombers

08:00am EDTAerospace & Defense

I write about ships, planes, tanks, drones, missiles and satellites.

Australia’s abrupt decision to cancel a $66 billion deal with France to acquire a dozen new conventional submarines—and swap in eight British or American nuclear subs, instead—has sparked a minor diplomatic crisis.

The French government predictably is upset at losing the revenue and influence the sub deal represented. The Chinese government meanwhile objects to Australia acquiring a powerful new undersea capability that could pose a serious threat to the Chinese fleet.

But the sub swap is the just the most public aspect of a wide-ranging, multibillion-dollar initiative that, over the span of a decade or more, could transform Australia’s military. 

Where before Australian forces suffered serious constraints owing to their limited range and the huge distances between Australia and its likeliest foe, in coming years the Australians might deploy long-range missiles that can hold at risk enemy forces many thousands of miles away.

“These capabilities … will enhance Australia’s ability to deter and respond to potential security challenges,” the government stated.

It’s a big deal. But as portentous as the political and industrial moves are for Australia, its allies and its rivals, arguably all the new policies achieve is to reset Australian strike capabilities to where they were around 2010, right before the Royal Australian Air Force retired its F-111 bombers.

Today the Australian military’s long-range striking power resides mostly with the RAAF. The air force’s 93 F/A-18 fighters are compatible with Joint Air-to-Surface Strike Munitions that Canberra acquired from the United States starting in 2014.

An F-18 can range around 450 miles with weapons and without aerial refueling. A JASSM travels as far as 230 miles. Unrefueled, an RAAF F-18 can strike a target no farther away than 680 miles. 

That’s a problem. Australia is really, really far from its biggest potential enemy, China. A Royal Australian Navy submarine sailing from the RAN’s sub base on the country’s west coast would have to travel 3,500 milesto reach the South China Sea, where a clash between China and its rivals is likeliest to occur.

An RAAF plane flying from the air force’s base in Darwin, on the north coast, has a somewhat shorter journey. The South China Sea is just 2,500 miles away. That’s still much farther than an RAAF F-18 or one of the air force’s three-dozen F-35s can fly without aerial refueling. 

Yes, the air force possesses seven highly capable KC-30 tankers, but all seven tankers working together could project just a handful of fighters over long range. One 2019 analysis concluded that the RAAF’s entire refueling fleet is adequate to keep just a pair of fighters over the maritime choke-points around Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. Still many hundreds of miles from the China seas.

A host of new weapons buys the Australian government announced last week could extend the military’s striking range—by a lot.

In addition to a new flotilla of up to eight nuclear-powered submarines, Canberra announced it would buy, for its warplanes, the extended-range variant of the JASSM plus a new JASSM-based anti-ship missile and any new hypersonic strike missile that Australian and U.S. industry manage to co-develop. 

The RAN’s three Hobart-class destroyers would get Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Tomahawk can hit land targets at a distance of around a thousand miles, potentially allowing the destroyers to strike Chinese forces from positions outside the China seas.

The new aerial munitions afford Canberra the most flexibility. The JASSM-Extended Range has a 560-mile range. An F-18 with JASSM-ERs and without mid-air refueling could hit a target a thousand miles from its base. 

That’s an improvement over the current, 680-mile limit to unrefueled RAAF strike ops. But it’s still at least a hundred miles short of the range of the air force’s long-retired F-111Cs. 

Sensitive to the tyranny of distance that defines Australian war strategy, the RAAF in the 1960s initiated a controversial program to acquire a custom version of the U.S. Air Force’s supersonic, swing-wing F-111 bomber. 

The RAAF ultimately operated 28 F-111Cs as well as 15 ex-USAF F-111Gs, mostly armed with bombs—although they also could carry Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The last of the aging bombers left service in 2010 after 42 years of service.

In giving up the F-111, the government knew it was also giving up its long-range firepower. “The F-111 is a unique asset in the region,” said Dennis Jensen, a member of parliament at the time. “With the loss of this capability, our competitive edge will be lost.”

A decade later, Australia finally is moving to restore that edge.Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a journalist, author and filmmaker based in Columbia, South Carolina

The Antichrist seizes the moment ahead of Iraq elections

Moqtada al-Sadr seizes the moment ahead of Iraq elections

Populist cleric viewed in west as potential buffer against Iran determined to cement power

For a brief window this summer, Moqtada al-Sadr, the former US foe who is now one of Iraq’s most influential political figures, withdrew his party from next month’s parliamentary elections. But in a sign of both his erratic nature and the political theatrics in which he frequently indulges, the leader of the largest bloc in parliament reversed the decision two months later. Far from turning away from politics, he hopes to double his share of seats and name the next prime minister. Sadr “announced that we want the position of the prime minister”, said Dhiaa al-Asadi, a senior member of the Sadrist movement, referring to a position typically agreed through parliamentary negotiation in the absence of a majority.

Sadr’s group has, in recent years, emerged as one of the biggest political forces in Iraq and he is determined to use October’s election to cement this growth. For some western policymakers worried about Iranian influence in Iraq, the man once dubbed the most dangerous in Iraq by US news media may prove an attractive alternative to more pro-Iran groups. “The relationship between Sadr and the west has improved significantly over the last few years,” said Lahib Higel, senior Iraq analyst at Crisis Group. “Sadr is increasingly being seen as a nationalist alternative and a potential buffer against the more Iran-leaning parties.” Illustrating how much the group has changed, Sadrists working in the Iraqi government have met western diplomats. “The orientation of the Sadrist movement is to open up to the world,” Asadi said. This should be on the basis of mutual interest, he added. “No country should have the right to intervene in the Iraqi business.” From militia to parliament In the early days of the US-led occupation in 2003, Sadr, the fourth son of a famous Iraqi Shia cleric killed by the country’s former dictator Saddam Hussein, mobilised supporters to lead an unwieldy paramilitary in armed resistance. Members of his Mahdi Army were accused of atrocities against Sunnis in the sectarian civil war that engulfed Iraq after the US invasion. But over the past decade, Sadr has reinvented himself as an anti-establishment defender of the downtrodden and has a broad following among working-class Shia Iraqis.

In 2018 a Sadr-led coalition won more seats than any other bloc in the 329-seat parliament. Helped by a low turnout, the group almost doubled its share from 2014, securing 54 seats, making it the biggest parliamentary bloc. Another low turnout could favour Sadr again this time. “Even if [Sadrists] are not going to score as much as the expected 100 seats,” said Asadi, “I think the number will increase.” Under the political system established after the ousting of Saddam, no single group has been able to secure a majority and rival factions have had to share power

While Sadr did not take a government position in 2018, his influence increased under Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who relied on Sadr to balance the power of more pro-Iran lawmakers, some of whom are linked to militias. Iraq has long been an arena for proxy conflict between Iran and the US, whose 2,500 troops help Iraqi soldiers flush out Sunni extremists Isis, which once controlled swaths of the country. These foreign troops are often the target of Shia militias linked to Iran, a source of huge frustration to the US. ‘Is he really anti-Iranian?’ In the early days of the Mahdi Army, Sadr was viewed by many as an Iranian proxy, but that once close relationship has soured. Sadr now makes clear that his opposition to foreign involvement in Iraq includes Iran, which is welcome news to western ears. “They’re like, tell us more about Sadr, is he really anti-Iranian, what’s his position on the US, what’s the room for co-operation with him,” said Marsin Alshamary, a Baghdad-based fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. “No one really buys that he doesn’t have ties to Iran, or that he wouldn’t shift towards an Iranian alliance,” added Alshamary. “But at this moment in time . . . he can point out the [pro-Iran militias] and say look, they’re the ones who are hurling rockets at the American embassy . . . we must be the rational, reliable actors who have Iraq’s best interest in mind.”

One western diplomat said that in the past year, Sadrists “made a deliberate decision to reach out to the UK and the US”, recognising that if they take a more prominent role in government, tentative relations with western powers would be beneficial. However, a US embassy spokesperson denied contact from Sadrists. The UK declined to comment. Grip on power Not everyone is convinced Sadr will win big again. His erratic behaviour and the thuggery of his supporters could lose him voters. Crisis Group’s Higel said his withdrawal of support for popular protests that broke out across southern and central Iraq in October 2019 may have backfired. While he appeared before 2018 to have a “reformist agenda . . . much of this image was shattered”, Higel said, when he withdrew support. “It will be difficult for him to secure the same amount of seats or increase them.” In any case, his grip on power is already evident in the control his allies have over large parts of the graft-riddled Iraqi state, including the health and electricity ministries. Research published by Chatham House in June suggested Sadrists had the greatest share of “special grade” positions, powerful civil service posts that are shared out between political parties. A Sadrist also heads the secretariat of the cabinet. Although operating under the radar, Sadrists have “been equally destructive as any of the other players in undermining the fabric of the Iraqi state through corruption and asset stripping”, according to Toby Dodge, professor at the London School of Economics and co-author of the Chatham House research. If anything, the rise of the Sadrists reveals the evolution of Iraqi politics since the 2003 invasion, as factions that previously wielded power through violence have been integrated into the state. “The Sadrists today are no longer the Sadrists of 2004, their methodology is different,” said Farhad Alaaldin, chair of the Iraq Advisory Council. Despite positioning themselves as outsiders, he said, “this movement strongly believes their survival is to be in government and part of the system”. This story has been corrected to make clear that a Sadrist heads the secretariat of the cabinet, not the prime minister’s office.

The Iranian Horn enriches uranium as the West watches on: Daniel 8

Iran's former President Hassan Rouhani visiting a facility for uranium enrichment on April 10, 2021

Iran enriches uranium as the West watches on

By Kersten Knipp

While Iran continues to make progress enriching uranium, nuclear diplomacy seems to be stalled. Experts say the ball is clearly in the West’s court.

Iran may now be capable of producing enough weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear warhead within just a month. That’s according to US experts who were quoted in The New York Times last Wednesday after reviewing classified new data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The experts weren’t permitted to speak in an official capacity, but told the newspaper off the record they think Iran could have the necessary materials to arm a warhead in the foreseeable future. But they think it will be some time before Tehran will have a deployable nuclear device.

Iran Atomabkommen Gespräche | Wien, Österrecih
High-level negotiations in Vienna have produced more talk than substance 

The NYT also cited a study that was published a few days earlier by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington. It contends that because of Iran’s “race to 60% uranium enrichment over the summer” it may now be able to produce a second batch of weapons-grade uranium in less than three months, and a third batch in less than five months.

Weapons-grade uranium is defined as having an enrichment level of 90%, meaning that it consists of 90% of the fissile isotope uranium-235. According to the latest IAEA report, Iran now has about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of uranium at 60% enrichment and about 84 kilograms at 20%. Under the 2015 nuclear agreement, it is allowed to enrich uranium only to a maximum level of 3.67%.

ISIS’s calculations have proven to be for the most part accurate, says political scientist Oliver Meier from the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at Hamburg University. “In this respect, it is quite possible that Iran now has enough fissile material and centrifuges to fuel a nuclear warhead within one to two months. But that does not mean it is already nuclear weapons capable. It takes much more than that.”

“There are no indications so far that Iran has resumed its military nuclear program, which it stopped about 15 years ago,” he told DW. “Presumably, Iran currently wants above all to increase its negotiating leverage and put more pressure on the Europeans and Americans.”

Österreich Gebäude des Hauptsitzes der Internationalen Atomenergie-Organisation (IAEA)
Iran is enriching uranium as the International Atomic Energy Agency watches on 

Meanwhile, Iran has announced that Abbas Araghchi will no longer be its chief negotiator at the IAEA talks in Vienna on reviving the nuclear deal. He will remain as part of the negotiating delegation, but only in an advisory capacity. Replacing him is Ali Bagheri, a hard-liner and a close confidant of Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi. Bagheri, who is known in the West for his intransigent positions, will also replace Araghchi as deputy foreign minister.

The personnel change is part of a general reshuffling at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, according to political scientist Hamidreza Azizi from the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs. He says that although swapping out a deputy minister is quite normal when there are changes at the top, the choice of the hard-liner Bagheri could indicate a new confrontational course. “Overall, however, the switch is a bureaucratic matter and should not necessarily be seen as a change in Iran’s nuclear policy,” Azizi told DW.

Rafael Grossi in Iran, Einigung
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi (l.) met recently with Mohammad Islami, head of Iran’s nuclear agency

Last weekend, during a visit to Tehran by IAEA director general Rafael Grossi, Iran’s leaders said they would permit international inspectors to install new memory cards in surveillance cameras at relevant nuclear sites. This marked at least a partial end to a months-long blockade of IAEA monitoring activities and indicates that Iran still wants to pursue diplomacy, Azizi said.

But he thinks the country’s leaders have hardened their stance on a number of critical issues, including Tehran’s demand for guarantees that the United States not withdraw once again from the agreement.

So what will be the next chapter look like? It is important that the talks be resumed as quickly as possible, says Oliver Meier. The West needs to push for this, he thinks. “But it is also clear that it was the US that first violated the agreement and Iran responded to it. For this reason, it would be appropriate to send a clear signal that there is a readiness to lift all of the sanctions that were imposed under Trump.”  Generally speaking, he says, concrete commitments should be made toward Iran to make it clear that the benefits of returning to the deal outweigh those of any further violation on its part.

According to Hamidreza Azizi, Iran still seems interested in an agreement. But the experience of the last three years seems to have taught Tehran to be more assertive and less flexible. “I think an agreement is still possible”, he said. “But the road in that direction is quite bumpy.”

This article was translated from German.

New Arms and Nuclear Risks Spells and End to this World: Revelation 16

New Arms and Nuclear Risks Could Spell End to the Asian Century

Sep 21, 2021

Since 1945, the only successful economic modernization worldwide has occurred in Asia, with focus on economic development. After a decade of US pivot to the region, arms races and nuclear risks are rising.

According to the new trilateral security pact (AUKUS) between the United States, the UK and Australia, Washington and London will “help” Canberra to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

The $66 billion deal effectively killed Australia’s $90 billion conventional sub deal with France, thereby causing a major ruckus with Washington’s NATO partner. 

Stunningly, US and Australian officials had been in secret talks for months over the plan that was hatched more than a year ago by the far-right Trump administration. Yet, it was both embraced and accelerated by the Biden White House, which claimed to offer an “alternative” to four years of Trump devastation.

The pact will escalate regional arms races and nuclear proliferation, which is strongly opposed by China and casts a dark shadow over the aims of the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ, 1995). 

Asia at nuclear edge, twice within a year 

Without a decisive and coordinated opposition in Asia, disruptive escalation will not only derail economic development but could result in major catastrophe in the region – as evidenced by last week’s disclosures in Washington.

During the U.S. 2016 election and the subsequent Capitol riot, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, America’s highest military authority, had reason to be concerned about President Trump’s possible use of war to distract attention from domestic turmoil.

According to The Peril, the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, President Trump’s top military adviser General Mark Milley took secret action to limit Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons. Moreover, Milley called Chinese General Li Zuochen to “convey reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.” 

Milley was concerned that “Trump might spark war.” No Demonstrating great restraint and foresight, he did whatever he could, relying on the protocol, to neutralize the risks. But what about the next time?

This is neither the first nor the last of nuclear crises to come. But it is a prelude to what’s ahead in Asia. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon seems to be effectively in charge anymore. Defense contractors are.

New Cold Wars 

In the 2018 Shangri-La Summit in Singapore, General Dynamics (GD), the global defense giant expressed its concern that sales in the Asian market remained behind those in the Middle East.

However, GD CEO Phebe Novakovic, who has served both in the CIA and the Pentagon, believed US defense contractors could double their revenues. To win over “unsophisticated buying authorities,” she believed it was necessary to discourage national efforts to build indigenous capabilities. 

At the time, I predicted that the Shangri-la Summit heralded arms races in Asia; ones that would be legitimized in terms of real, perceived or manufactured conflicts. 

These powerful economic forces are driven by revolving-door politics among the White House, the Pentagon and defense contractors. As U.S. government watchdogs and journalists have reported in the past few months, President Biden’s foreign and defense experts are compromised by alleged conflicts of interests. 

The list includes Biden’s Asia tsar Kurt Campbell, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, foreign affairs secretary Antony Blinken; and defense secretary Lloyd Austin. 

Each and all have longstanding economic ties with defense contractors. 

Contractors pivot from Middle East to Asia 

In 2016-20, Asia and Oceania (42% of world total) led arms imports, leaving behind even the Middle East (33%), according to the Sweden-based SIPRI.

In 2020, US spent $778 billion in military expenditure, as opposed to $252 billion by China. At per capita level, Chinese spending is less than 8 percent relative to the US level.

Today, the biggest arms importers worldwide are India (9.5% of total), Australia (5.1%), and Japan (2.2%), the key US allies in Asia. Together, they are importing over three times more arms than China (4.7%). 

The largest arms exporter worldwide remains the U.S. (37% of all arms exports), whose share is seven times higher than that of China.

Then, there’s the question of the costs. Over the past two decades, China has waged no major wars. 

By contrast, U.S. spending in the post-9/11 wars amounts to $8 trillion in cumulative current dollars, as well as 1 million lost lives in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan, while millions have been forcibly displaced. 

Fading Asian Century?

The economic development that has been so successful in Asia in the past few decades is premised on the kind of peace and stability that these arms races and nuclear proliferation will inevitably complicate, undermine or collapse over time. 

In 2011, the Asian Development Bank projected that 3 billion Asians could enjoy living standards similar to those in Europe, and the region could account for over half of global output by 2050. 

That can be realized only if peaceful conditions prevail in Asia, the region can focus on economic development, and arms races and nuclear proliferation can be preempted. 

And that’s no longer assured.

Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognized strategist of the multipolar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has served at the India, China and America Institute (USA), Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more, see https://www.differencegroup.net

Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet

The US and Pakistani horns clash: Daniel

US-Pak relationship moves downhill

22/09/2021

Harsha Kakar
In a recent interview on CNN, Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan,when asked on reasons for the trust deficit between the West and Pakistan, stated, ‘It is complete ignorance (of the US).’ He added that ‘Americans did not understand what the Haqqani network was (Imran claimed it to be a tribe, not a terrorist group, a fact which was disputed by all).’ In other words, Imran implied that the US was ignorant on Afghanistan and did not heed to his advice to engage in dialogue and meet conditions laid down by the Taliban, including dismantling the elected Ashraf Ghani Government.
He also denied that Pak supported the Taliban and Haqqanis. Defending his army for not acting against the Taliban and Haqqanis, Imran stated, ‘The Afghan Taliban weren’t attacking us.’ He had in an earlier interview mentioned that the Taliban comprises of normal civilians and hence cannot be militarily suppressed.
Simultaneously, Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan’s national security advisor, addressing the media, last week, stated that Washington, ‘should take note and listen to Islamabad’s advice on now ramping up engagement with the new Taliban government.’ He added, ‘If there has to be a reassessment, the reassessment has to conclude that what Pakistan was saying made sense.’ The entire Pak establishment is seeking to prove that the US was ignorant about Afghanistan, while Pakistan was most knowledgeable. It is desperate to project that only Pakistan understood Afghanistan and can lead the global community on engaging with it.
In his address to the recently concluded Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, Imran mentioned, ‘That all this (Taliban takeover) happened without bloodshed, without civil war, and without a mass exodus of refugees, should be a matter of relief.’ He stressed that preventing a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown were equally urgent priorities. The fact remains that the current government in Afghanistan, which is neither inclusive nor has women, was formed at Pakistan’s behest, post the visit to the country by their DG ISI, General Faiz Hameed, and the responsibility of sustaining it is falling on Pakistan.
Meanwhile in the US, Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken in a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan, stated, ‘we’re going to be looking in the days and weeks ahead: the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years but also the role that we would want to see it play in the coming years, and what it will take for it to do that.’ Members urged the administration to remove Pakistan from its status as a major non-NATO ally. They also accused Pakistan of supporting the Haqqani Network and the Taliban with the US taxpayers’ money leading to loss of US lives.
Pakistan’s immediate response was to criticize comments of the US Secretary of state. Its foreign office spokesperson termed these comments as a ‘surprise’ adding that these were ‘not in line with the close cooperation’ between the two countries. He claimed that it was Pakistan which played a ‘critical role’ in helping the US degrade al Qaeda’s capabilities in Pak, ignoring the fact that Osama Bin Laden was a state guest in Pakistan, residing under the nose of the Pak army in Abbottabad. The current head of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is also suspected to be in Pakistan.
Pakistan had been an unreliable ally to the US from the outset. The US was compelled, due to geographical limitations of Afghanistan, to depend on Pakistan throughout its deployment in Afghanistan. It paid Pakistan for use of its territory, bases and ports.This was subsequently funnelled to the Taliban. The US was aware of this, though it hoped that bribing Pakistan’s senior military and political officials could change its behaviour. It was also aware that members of Taliban and Haqqani network came from the same Madrassas in erstwhile FATA. Their leadership resided in Quetta, Peshawar and Miran Sahib.
As early as Mar 2016, Pakistan’s advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz had stated in Washington that Pakistan has influence over the Taliban as its leadership resides in his country. Similar comments are currently being made on a daily basis by Pakistan’s political leadership to convey the message that Pakistan holds the key to Afghanistan. Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid stated, ‘All top Taliban leaders were born and brought up in Pakistan. This has been our ‘service’ that we trained them and many more might be studying.’ Treatment of injured Taliban fighters was undertaken in Pakistan’s hospitals.
Is the US now seeking to blame Pakistan for its failure in Afghanistan in a similar manner as it blamed Cambodia for its failure in Vietnam or was Pakistan playing a double game of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds? The facts prove that Pakistan, apart from scuttling peace, was directly backing the Taliban and Haqqanis in targeting the US.
Pakistan arrested Mullah Baradar, the current deputy PM of Afghanistan in 2010, when he began talks for peace with the Hamid Karzai government, mainly to stall talks and prevent peace unless it met Pakistan’s strategic aims. Pakistan ensured that the new government in Kabul was dominated by pro-Pakistan Haqqani network and sidelined moderates, Doha mediators and pro-Iran elements. Its forces physically supported the Taliban in its battle in Panjshir, a claim even backed by the EU. Evidently, Pakistan ensured that the US gameplan in the country was not achieved. Hence, US anger is justified.
In all likelihood, the US is waiting for completing withdrawal of its supporters from Afghanistan before it begins to hold Pak accountable for forming a government which would only support rise of terrorist groups in the region. With the US shifting focus to the Indo-Pacific, with strengthening the QUAD and forming the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) alliance, Afghanistan and Pakistan may remain only on the periphery of its radar. Pakistan’s importance as a frontline state has receded to the level that it can be ignored and allowed to fail. This would serve another strategic purpose of placing pressure on China to sustain two failing nations, Pakistan and Afghanistan, apart from North Korea, which it already is doing.
The only concern which the US may have will be security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and further proliferation of nuclear weapon technology.
The author is a Major General (Retd)