Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

      By WILLIAM K. STEVENSPublished: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.
For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California.Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California,  said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more  vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.
New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

The Pakistani Horn is Incapable of Protecting Citizens

A nation Incapable of Protecting Citizens

The minorities of the country perpetually face viciousness and oppression without anyone in the system being held accountable

Pakistan is synonymous with state failure. A country that is dysfunctional in its economy and internal administration. Their political leadership is often known for its lackadaisical demeanour and uninformed about relevant world affairs. This singular country is responsible for most of the terror outfits that pose looming danger to world stability and security. The state system is broken in all aspects and seems incapable of suppressing or eliminating insurgents in their own country, the reason for the same draws backs to many decades of corruption.
Pakistan is a contradiction by itself, it is allies with the world powers to counter global terrorism but yet provides safe havens to the most wanted and dangerous terrorists. It has the perfect recipe for disaster – radicalization on the basis of religion, nuclear capable weapons, a long-standing history of internal turmoil and military rule and a failed political leadership. It has had witnessed four resignations of president’s rule which by itself is a red flag of a failed state.
The failing state of Pakistan is known for its weak economy and social conditions in addition to its crumbling infrastructure. In the past year the Pakistan government is infamous for harassing human rights guardians and other societal groups. Pakistan has used draconian laws to shun lawyers and activists that opposed government polices to stifle dissent among the local populace.
The minorities of the country like the transgender society perpetually face viciousness and oppression without anyone in the system being held accountable. The attacks by the local militants threaten the people to voice their opinion the against the defunct machinery.
In order to define what a failed state truly means that a county has lost total control over its terrority and governance as defined by Noam Chomsky in his book ‘Failed States: Abuse of power & assault on democracy’ first published in 2006. The trust deficit with other nations on the international forum is prominent that other countries have no ability to interact with Pakistan with sheer trust. State failure indicates that the country is incapable of protecting its own citizens from malevolence and internal aggression. In addition, these internal aggressions have trans-border impacts that monopolizes the use of kinetic power in a disturbed area that shares a boundary with a failed nation. Pakistan in its true sense suffers from a democratic deficit that is incapable of maintaining a trust equilibrium within its own people.
The US based magazine ‘Foreign Policy’ since 2005 is well renowned for publishing its ‘Failed States Index’. The index depicts five types of intensity levels based on 12 indicators. For each indicator, the rankings are placed on a scale of 0 (low intensity) to 10 (high intensity). Therein, the aggregate sum of all indicators is 120.
Pakistan with 90.5 points, is ranked 29th in Fragile States Index. The unique ranking compiled by the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine is topped by African countries Yemen (111.7 points), Somalia (110.9), Syria (110.7), South Sudan (109.4) and Congo (108.4). Afghanistan with 102 points is ranked at number 9, followed by Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Haiti.
The above graph cities various reasons for a failed state and it is clearly evident that year after year, with no genuine efforts for improvement, Pakistan continues to follow a downward trend in the Failing States Index scores. The results of the data visibly manifest on ground as the world observes its recurrent failure.
Pakistan has no freedom of expression in its society. A cloud of fear shrouds the media houses and local journalists that criticizes the government authorities. The television operators in Pakistan operate in fear of the judiciary. In 2020 alone, there were numerous cases of Pakistani journalists being charged with sedition for remarks being made on various social media platforms.
Domestic violence against young girls and women, marriage by coercions remains prevalent in Pakistan. Over 1500 honour killings were registered in 2020 alone which indicates a 200 % increase in domestic violence which further deteriorates during the pandemic era. The data during the lockdown period clearly indicates that the abuses against the fairer sex has increased manifold during the lockdown. All these are visible red flags and clear indicators of failing state into an abyss.
The trans-border ramifications are far too many in the event of an absolute failure in Pakistan. It will provide a safe haven to terrorist groups and provide them with nuclear weapons within an arm’s reach. They will have access to the latest technology that is meant solely for the purpose of defense establishments. Refugee outflow from failed state will bolster in insurgency in Kashmir.
The failure of Pakistan is a result of an absence of institutions. State failure can be fixed in time with good government reforms and by garnering international trust. This should give up the religious angle to evoke radicalized thoughts in their people and focus more on improving the state of affairs in their country. The political ambitions of the Pakistani army generals should be curbed and nipped in the bud. The world should demand new reforms in Pakistan’s government to accept it on an international forum for trade and commerce. Pakistani should take responsibility for its actions and take control of prevent further failing of the already the failed state.

Israel announces completion of security barrier outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel announces completion of security barrier around Gaza

Dec 8, 08:13 AM

JERUSALEM — Israel on Tuesday announced the completion of an enhanced security barrier around the Gaza Strip designed to prevent militants from sneaking into the country.

The 65-kilometer (40-mile) barrier includes radar systems, maritime sensors and a network of underground sensors to detect militant tunnels. Existing fencing was replaced with a 6-meter-high (6.5-yard-high) “smart fence” with sensors and cameras. 

Israel has fought four wars with Hamas since the Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza nearly 15 years ago, most recently in May. During a 2014 war, Palestinian militants tunneled into Israel and clashed with Israeli troops.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced the completion of the barrier after more than three years of construction, saying it places an “iron wall” between Hamas and residents of southern Israel.

During May’s fighting, Hamas used a sophisticated tunnel system within Gaza but did not infiltrate fighters into Israel. The group fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel in 11 days, with large volleys that occasionally overwhelmed Israel’s sophisticated missile defenses.

Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes during the conflict and brought down several multistory buildings. The war killed over 250 people in Gaza, including at least 129 civilians, according to the U.N., while 13 people died on the Israeli side.

Since Hamas seized power, Israel and Egypt have imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza that has severely restricted travel for the territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents and strangled the economy. Israel says the closures are needed to prevent Hamas from expanding its military capabilities, while the Palestinians and rights groups view it as a form of collective punishment.

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas organized violent mass protests along the frontier in order to pressure Israel to ease the blockade. More than 200 Palestinians were killed and thousands were wounded. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Rights groups recently accused Israel of failing to hold its forces accountable for the deaths and serious injuries. Israel says its forces prevented the mass infiltration of Hamas operatives. It says allegations of wrongdoing were fully investigated and soldiers were held to account.

Babylon the Great could ‘rain destruction’ on Russia with nuclear weapons

Senator Roger Wicker (pictured) said he wants all options on the table in defending Ukraine from Russia
Senator Roger Wicker (pictured) said he wants all options on the table in defending Ukraine from RussiaCredit: PA

US could ‘rain destruction’ on Russia with nuclear weapons if Putin invades Ukraine, senator warns

14:34 ET,

THE US could “rain destruction” on Russia with nuclear weapons if Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine, a senator has warned. 

Senator Roger Wicker said he supports sending troops to the region and suggested a ground war with Russia was possible in comments to Fox News on Tuesday.

The Republican, who sits on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, was discussing defending Ukraine as Russian troops gather near the country’s border.

“Military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the Black Sea and we rain destruction on Russian military capability,” Wicker said.

The Mississippi senator was sharing his thoughts on a two-hour call between President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin, during which Biden threatened sanctions over the situation with Ukraine.

“I hope there was a show of resolve,” Wicker said. “That we think this would be a game-changer for free Europe and something the United States and our allies cannot tolerate.”

Tens of thousands of Russian troops have reportedly descended near the Ukraineborder, sparking fears of a potential conflict.

Wicker brought up the idea of a nuclear strikeagainst Russian military power, saying, “We don’t rule out first-use nuclear action.”

He said while he doesn’t think a nuclear attackwould happen, he wants all options to remain under consideration.

“There are certain things in negotiations, if you’re going to be tough, that you don’t take off the table.”

Wicker warned that Russia has “surprised the West twice,” during the 2008 invasion of Georgia, then again in 2014 with Ukraine.

“He could very well surprise us again,” Wicker said. 

Newsweek reports a senior Biden official said on Monday that the US does not want a military conflict with Russia over Ukraine and hopes to deescalate the situation.

Wicker’s comments about raining destruction on Russian military capabilities came after the Fox News host asked about his Republican colleagues’ desire to see troops on the ground in the region.

A National Security Adviser said measures could include the deployment of troops to eastern European NATO allies, a move Wicker said he supports.Russia could turn US into ‘radioactive ash’, warns Kremlin TV amid Ukraine crisis

Countering the Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Chinese Hypersonic Weapons Developments Must Be Countered

Report December 8, 2021  8 min read Download Report

Summary

China’s development of hypersonic weapons (HSWs) should seriously concern the U.S., as well as allies and partners. Washington must address this capability gap now—before the imbalance undermines stability in the Indo–Pacific and provides China with an operational edge in a future conflict with the U.S. The United States could—and should—quickly catch up with Chinese (and Russian) advances in HSWs for the purposes of both conventional and strategic stability, especially at a time when there are growing questions about U.S. global leadership. China’s summer launch may not exactly have been a near-Sputnik moment, but it was definitely a hypersonic shot across the bow of the American ship of state.

Key Takeaways

China is now outpacing the United States in hypersonic weapons development.

This dynamic has the potential to undermine strategic and conventional stability and deterrence in the Indo–Pacific.

The United States must address this challenge, developing and/or improving both hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities.

This summer, a Chinese civilian Long March space launch vehicle (SLV) shot through the atmosphere into low-Earth orbit, carrying a hypersonic weapon (HSW).1 The SLV reportedly orbited the Earth for some distance before releasing a possibly dual-capable hypersonic weapon.2

The HSW, in this case a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and was guided to a terrestrial target within China.3 Although the HGV reportedly missed its designated target by nearly 25 miles, the Chinese test of a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS)4 using an HGV is largely considered a success in national security circles.

This summer’s test is without question a significant military milestone in the U.S. great-power competition with the People’s Republic of China.

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China’s development of HSWs (such as this one, as part of a FOBS) should seriously concern the U.S., as well as allies and partners—especially taking into account other recent, troubling developments surrounding China’s strategic programs that were revealed this earlier year.5 Washington must address this hypersonic capability gap now, before the imbalance undermines strategic stability in the Indo–Pacific and provides China with an operational military edge in a possible future crisis or conflict with the United States.

Hypersonic Weapons

Hypersonic weapons are those capable of speeds in excess of Mach 5 (i.e., five times the speed of sound)—or roughly one mile per second. Rockets have flown at hypersonic speeds in space since the 1950s, but the technology that allows missiles to fly significant distances in or near the earth’s atmosphere and maneuver around threats at hypersonic speed is relatively new.

The U.S. recognized the need for and the advantages that HSWs provide almost two decades ago with an initiative called the global strike program, which directed the development of these systems. This new class of hypersonic weapons include two basic types: boost-glide weapons (BGWs) and hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs). BGWs are carried into space on rockets that accelerate to hypersonic speed before releasing them to glide along the edge of the atmosphere until they are within range of a specified target. HCMs are rocket-powered to hypersonic speed until a scramjet engine can ignite using onboard fuel and atmospheric oxygen to achieve hypersonic cruise through target impact. With no need to carry their own oxygen, HCMs can fly for long distances, even at very low altitudes.

These new weapons provide attacking forces with some significant offensive military capabilities and advantages. To wit:

  • With speeds that can exceed Mach 17 (i.e., three miles per second), HSWs reduce a defender’s attack warning and response times;
  • These weapons can be armed with a conventional warhead, a nuclear warhead, or use its own high kinetic energy (derived from its hypersonic speed) to destroy a target, providing significant flexibility to an attacker;
  • HSWs are maneuverable, enabling them to evade defenses and create difficulties for a defender to determine the weapon’s final target;
  • Depending on the size of the initial boost vehicle, HSWs can have a variety of ranges, from short-range to intercontinental-range capability, meaning that no target is out of reach; and
  • With the potential to fly at very low altitudes up through the atmosphere and into space and with the ability to approach from any direction, HSWs are difficult to acquire and track due to a variety of limitations, including physics, geography, and the location of U.S. strategic radars and other available sensors.

China’s Hypersonic Weapons

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has several HSW programs—and may have conducted a significant number of tests of these novel weapons.6 The most prominent of the Chinese HSWs is the DF-17 medium-range ballistic missile paired with the DF-ZF HGV.7This system is believed to be operational and capable of ranging many U.S. forces in Asia.8

Besides the FOBS tested this summer, the PLA is also working on a scramjet-powered HCM and possibly modifying the DF-41 ICBM to carry an HSW.9 The PLA will also likely field other missiles of various ranges that will launch with HSWs.

The PLA and its civilian counterparts are investing heavily in testing facilities for HSWs and are also reportedly interested in Russian HSW programs, which, either through espionage or technology-sharing, could diversify and expand China’s hypersonic programs quickly.10

Chinese HSW Program Implications

Beijing is increasingly assertive in its foreign policy, and its ties with the United States are tense because of a number of security issues in the Indo–Pacific and globally. China is developing a world-class military to challenge the United States and to support China’s perceived regional and global interests and aspirations. China’s HSW program, with its unique capabilities, is part of China’s unprecedented conventional and nuclear military build-up—developments which increasingly threaten U.S. vital national interests in East Asia and beyond.

Like Russia, which also has an advanced HSW program, the U.S. should expect that China will eventually provide HSW capabilities to its air, ground, naval, and strategic rocket forces, diversifying the hypersonic threat across the warfare domains. Though not impossible to defend against using available U.S. “point” defensive systems,11 hypersonic weapons dopose a tremendous challenge to current U.S. missile defense systems and sensors, including the fact that the number of potential American and allied targets vastly outnumber these limited defenses.

HSWs have both tactical and strategic ramifications. The asymmetric operational deployment of these weapons in significant numbers by the PLA could affect both conventional and strategic deterrence and stability, undermining political and security stability in the Indo–Pacific.

U.S. geopolitical missteps in 2021, such as the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, have emboldened our strategic adversaries, and the U.S. must be willing to retake the lead in hypersonic weapons to put China’s recent advances in check and to reassure allied and partner nations’ confidence in their political–military ties with the U.S.

Recommendations for Washington

The late summer test of the fractional orbital bombardment system with an HGV serves as the latest in a series of wake-up calls for U.S. policymakers about the political and military challenges presented by the People’s Republic of China and the PLA. In response, Washington must act to protect and advance U.S. interests, as well as maintain strategic and conventional deterrence.

As such, Washington should:

  • Continue to prioritize the development of HSWs. Until 2014, the U.S. led the world in HSW research, development, test, and evaluation, when defense sequestration budgetary measures forced funding cuts. The U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Army are working on HSW programs, and these programs should continue to be fully funded, not merely to counter Chinese (and Russian) advances in HSWs, but to accelerate past them. When mutually beneficial, the United States should engage and work with allies on developing these capabilities.
  • Develop and deploy a comprehensive, layered missile defense system.Alongside offensive hypersonic capabilities, the U.S. must continue to develop and deploy a comprehensive, layered missile defense system to counter Russian and Chinese offensive HSWs. This should include the development of a space-based sensor layer to improve the capability to acquire, track, and destroy these weapons. Once again, when mutually beneficial, the United States should engage and work with allies on developing these capabilities.
  • Continue to recapitalize and modernize U.S. conventional forces for great-power competition with China. The goal is to enhance U.S. conventional deterrence in the Indo–Pacific region, especially on issues involving Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, the South China Sea, and other regional territorial disputes, thus reducing the likelihood of any conflict that could escalate from the conventional to the strategic warfare domain.
  • Modernize strategic forces by adequately funding U.S. nuclear weapons modernization programs and the infrastructure supporting them.Washington must accept the fact that a modern and flexible nuclear force structure is the best way to deter nuclear attack on the United States.
  • Seek strategic stability talks with China with the purpose of more fully understanding Chinese intentions and doctrine. This is particularly important with regard to hypersonics and China’s unprecedented nuclear enterprise growth. Diplomacy and dialogue are critical elements involved in avoiding the chance for misperceptions, miscommunications, and mistakes that could have dire consequences for both sides.

Conclusion

The United States could—and should—quickly catch up with Chinese and Russian advances in offensive hypersonic weapons. It is an important undertaking for both conventional and strategic stability in a time when there are growing questions about U.S. leadership in the world.

China’s launch this summer may not be exactly a near-Sputnik moment, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently suggested,12 but it is certainly a hypersonic shot across the bow of the American ship of state.

Peter Brookes is Senior Research Fellow for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Counter Proliferation in the Center for National Defense, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute, at The Heritage Foundation. John Venable is Senior Research Fellow for Defense Policy in the Center for National Defense.

The children who paid in blood outside the temple walls: Revelation 11

Collateral damage: the children who paid in blood when Israel and Hamas went to war in Gaza

When airstrikes kill children and other civilians, politicians absolve themselves of blame. All loss of life is regretted, they say in often uniform statements, and best efforts are made to avoid non-combatant casualties.

But new and detailed research on one “small war”, between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza in May this year, has revealed big differences in how many civilian deaths are deemed acceptable in conflict. Backed up by interviews with Israeli and Palestinian spokesmen and former officials, it showed that hugely different calculations determine how many civilians can be killed, depending on the war and the enemy.

The study, by the London-based monitor Airwars, reported that in Gaza, where it said that between 151 and 192 civilians were killed by Israeli strikes in 11

The Antichrist uses personal diplomacy in search of Iraqi deal

Iraq Sadr

Muqtada Sadr uses personal diplomacy in search of Iraqi deal

ALI NAJAFI/AFP via Getty ImagesDecember 8, 2021

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The United Nation special representative in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, met today, Dec. 7, with the Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, whose party won the largest numbers of seats in the recent parliamentary elections.

The UN is trying to help form the next government, following the deadlock among Iraqi political leaders. The Oct. 10 elections led to a remarkable victory for Sadr with 72 seats, which pushed Fatah block (affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Units) to form an alliance with Nouri Maliki’s State of Law. The two groups together have 59 seats.

Now, the Shiite political scene is divided into two main groups: Sadrists and the alliance between PMU and Maliki, which is called the Coordination Framework.

Sadr is looking for a majority government, meaning that he would ally with Kurds and Sunnis, leaving the Coordination Framework as the parliamentary opposition. But the Coordination Framework is looking for consensual government, which means all participate in the next government.

On Nov. 30, the Independent High Electoral Commission announced the final results of the legislative elections, showing the loss of the political parties allied with Iraq’s Shiite factions.

A few hours later, the Shiite Coordination Framework, which includes armed parties and factions, declared its rejection of the results. Meanwhile, Sadr confirmed that the elections were “fair,” calling on the “losing” parties not to allow the results to be the end of democracy in Iraq.

Shiite factions known for being close to Iran have been demonstrating for over a month now, denouncing the election results and threatening the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadimi, accusing it of “election fraud.”

On Dec.2, Sadrist movement leaders met with the leaders of the Coordination Framework, including the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq faction, Qais Khazali; the head of State of Law Coalition, Nuri al-Maliki; and the head of Fatah bloc, Hadi Ameri. The meeting was a bid to break the deadlock between the two sides. 

The head of the Iraqi Consultative Council, Farhad Alaeddin, told Al-Monitor, “Sadr is looking for a political solution that would lead to the cabinet formation [where] those opposing the election’s results might get a greater share of power in next cabinet in a way that satisfies them.”

“Sadr will, at a later stage, discuss with them the naming of the prime minister, and may agree with them that choice of premier would be done in agreement with them,” he added. 

Rahmah al-Jubouri, a former senior researcher at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, said, “The Shiite Coordination Framework may have accepted the election results,” but they want a cabinet similar to previous ones rather than a Sadr-controlled government.

“Should Sadr takes control of the government and the state in general, he will likely face a dangerous confrontation with the armed factions — something that he does not want,” he added.

Sadr does not wish to miss this opportunity, but at the same time he is not willing to comply with all of the Shiite Coordination Framework’s demands, which is why he is carefully trying  to win the opposing parties over.

Observers believe that the factions affiliated with Iran are likely to escalate against the United States’ interests in Iraq. However, they believe that the real intention is to make gains in the upcoming government.

Informal discussions between Sadr and the Shiite Coordination Framework have yet to reveal any agreement on cabinet formation. But according to information obtained by Al-Monitor, “parties close to Iran will not be affected much in the next government formation, that is, they will not lose their influence in the executive branch.”

Sources who spoke to Al-Monitor said, “The parties are not as interested in the election results or the name of the new prime minister, as much as they are in preserving their power in the coming cabinet. They spoke of ‘threatening the communal peace.’” 

Sadr is trying to take advantage of the differences within the Shiite Coordination Framework in a bid to form his own cabinet, which is what Iran’s allies fear.

Ihsan al-Shammari, head of the Iraqi Centre for Political Thought, told Al-Monitor, “Sadr is seeking to secure the half plus one of the cabinet quorum in order to pass the laws he wants. Meanwhile, the Shiite Coordination Framework, especially Nouri al-Maliki, do not want that, which means that there won’t be full agreement on the cabinet formation.”

Shammari continued, “Sadr’s meeting with the factions’ heads came to alleviate the tension, but this does not suggest there has been a final agreement on everything.”

Sadr is seeking “consensus’ with major forces within the Shiite Coordination Framework, such as the State of Law; the National Wisdom Movement led by Ammar Hakim (who will not be part of the next cabinet according to information to Al-Monitor); as well as the Fatah Alliance, led by Hadi al-Amiri, the Ataa Movement led by Faleh al-Fayyad, and the Islamic Virture Party led by cleric Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.

Sadr, however, does not appear to be interested in an agreement with the Hezbollah Brigades, or other armed groups that rejected the election results, which suggests that he is seeking a rapprochement with parties with political rather than armed influence, to form a cabinet and defuse the political tension. This seems particularly true even if the armed factions escalate military action against diplomatic missions or US military bases.

According to sources within the Shiite Coordination Framework who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The framework somewhat accepted the election results, but does not wish to give up the gains it had made in previous governments.” 

“The Shiite Coordination Framework wants to keep heading the same parliamentary committees as it previously did, even if its number of seats does not qualify for this. It is seeking the same thing in the executive branch,” the sources added.

It appears that tension between Sadr and the armed factions is likely to persist, but it is unlikely that things would degenerate into a full-on clash.