Series of small quakes shake before the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6

Series of small quakes shake near South Carolina capital

The Associated PressDec 28, 2021 / 06:10 AM ESTSouth Carolina NewsPosted: / Updated: Dec 28, 2021 / 06:10 AM EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A series of mild earthquakes have shaken homes and residents in central South Carolina. 

The U.S. Geological Survey says three quakes Monday in Kershaw County near Elgin registered magnitudes of 3.3, 2.5 and 2.1. 

The first earth-shaker rattled window panes and disrupted wildlife but apparently did not cause injuries or major damage. As the earthquake rumbled, with a sound similar to a heavy construction vehicle, it shook homes, caused glass doors and windows to clatter in their frames and prompted dogs to bark. 

People reported feeling tremors throughout the Columbia area and as far away as Lexington, about 40 miles southwest of the epicenter.

The Antichrist’s alliance: An opportunity for Iraq, the US, and the region

Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance: An opportunity for Iraq, the US, and the region

Ranj Alaaldin Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The United States and its allies face a dilemma and opportunity in Iraq. The October 2022 parliamentary elections produced a winner in Muqtada al-Sadr, the traditionally anti-Western cleric who leads Iraq’s most powerful socio-political movement and one of its most dominant armed groups. Sadr has long been at odds with the West. His militia, the Peace Brigades, fought U.S. and British troops during the occupation of Iraq, and his fighters have been complicit in wide-ranging atrocities.

Nonresident Fellow – Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy

But the cleric also has historic differences with the Iranian regime and is engulfed in ongoing violent rivalries with several militia groups that Tehran controls or is closely aligned with. Since his victory, Sadr has made a ferocious push to form a majority government that excludes Iranian-backed militias and their political sponsors, a bold and unprecedented move that has been met with significant pushback. These are strange times in Iraq. Sadr, who has a support base of some 2 to 3 million mostly destitute Iraqis, represents one side of a country that has long been shackled by militias and radical Shia Islamist groups. The other side of the country is represented by a burgeoning civil-society movement that yearns for good governance and reforms.

Sadr’s victory presents less than ideal circumstances. Yet his triumph — combined with the electoral decline of Iran-aligned militias, and the alliance Sadr has forged with moderate, U.S., and Western-aligned political actors like the Kurds in an attempt to form a majority government — suggests the U.S. has a historic opportunity to support and capitalize on a credible cross-sectarian alliance. Such a partnership could reduce the space in which extremist militia groups thrive, bridge the gap between Iraq and the Arab world, and in the long-term, restore the authority of the Iraqi state.

Sadr is by no means a natural U.S. ally. His organization is complicit in a catalogue of brutalities, including sectarian violence against Arab Sunnis and the repression of activists. U.S estimates suggest the Shia militias who operated within — and later left — the once-heavily decentralized Sadrist movement were responsible for killing 600 American personnel. The most prominent of the commanders responsible for these deaths fell out with Sadr and formed their own factions after splintering from the movement with Iranian encouragement and backing.

Both the Sadrists and Iran-aligned militias operate under an ideological outlook that is underscored by Shia supremacism and combating Western imperialism. Both have opposed the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. But there are crucial distinguishing features that separate Sadr from his rivals, and these matter for the trajectory of Iraq and its relationship with the West.

First, Sadr, and other powerful figures like Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, are actively seeking to re-assert the authority of the Iraqi state against a particular group of Iranian-backed militias who are complicit in ongoing attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces and in rocket and drone attacks on civilian targets in the Kurdistan region. These militias continue to engage in widespread atrocities against Iraqi civilians.

Sadr sees it as imperative that such groups are excluded from the next government or contained. The future of the Sadrist movement depends on preventing Iran-aligned militias from extending their tentacles within the state as part of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), the umbrella militia organization that these groups control and that oversees a $2 billion budget. Iran’s proxies may have stumbled in the elections so far, but these are groups whose young leadership and cadres will politically mature. Sadr does not have an indefinite window of opportunity.

The cleric’s own militias have also yet to submit to state authority, and present long-term challenges. But the nature, scope, and scale of the daily attacks committed by Iran’s proxies makes their dominance a more immediate threat, and their containment an urgent priority beyond Iraq’s wider efforts to reform its security sector, a process that would be helped by the political containment of the PMF.

Second, Iran-aligned militias have struggled to make the transition from insurgents to viable social movements, not least because of their complicity in systemic human rights abuses and deference to Iran. Iranian-backed militias are the only political actors who use rocket and drone attacks to influence and pressure their rivals, and who deploy these measures as a negotiating tactic. By excluding the Iranian-backed PMF from the parameters of the Iraqi state, Sadr can remove the political cover the group relies on to carry out attacks with impunity. This will add to the woes of an organization that has already lost the support of the public.

The West has its own track record of working with its enemies in Iraq and elsewhere, including members of the Sunni insurgency who turned to the U.S. for support and were instrumental in defeating al-Qaida in Iraq as part of the U.S.-established Awakening Movement in 2007. The West does not have to partner with Sadr. But it should accommodate his pre-eminence as a political reality and find ways of empowering his alliance, which is the lesser of two evils.

It should not be taken lightly that Sadr has partnered with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Kurdistan’s ruling party led by Masoud Barzani, the former president of Kurdistan who led the Kurds’ historic push for independence in 2017. Sadr’s alliance with Barzani will not have been entirely popular among his Shia support base, which has derided Kurdistan’s push for independence and has echoed Sadr’s past toxic ethno-sectarian discourse towards the Kurds. Similarly, Mohammed al-Halbousi, the newly elected speaker of the Iraqi parliament who, with Barzani, completes Sadr’s tri-partite alliance, has emerged as the champion of Arab Sunnis and is popular in the Arab Gulf and Turkey, both of which have come under derision within the wider Shia community.

In other words, Sadr has passed the litmus test. Western observers should look toward his actions — like aligning with the Kurds and Halbousi — when determining whether and how to accommodate his electoral ascension. If Sadr can form such an alliance with unconventional bedfellows, then so too can the U.S. accommodate a cross-sectarian, historic, and regionally backed alliance that includes some of the West’s most ardent allies.

Iran and the PMF are doing their utmost to derail the tri-partite alliance by launching missile and drone attacks on Erbil (the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan), assassinating rivals, and exploiting divisions amongst the Kurds to force through a coalition government in Baghdad that does its bidding. In an effort to economically pressure Kurdistan, Baghdad’s Federal Supreme Court, under pressure from Iran, recently decreed that Kurdish oil exports are illegal. However, the timing of the ruling and the fact that the court has no constitutional standing has rendered its ruling dubious and politically motivated.

The court’s ruling has also failed to deter regional actors from forming closer ties to Erbil and they continue to back Sadr’s alliance. This has been notably displayed by Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani’s energy-focused visits to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar since the February ruling. Iran’s decision to attack Erbil with missiles is telling of the desperate straits in which Tehran finds itself in, but it also highlights the vulnerabilities of America’s allies. This should encourage Washington to work on maintaining the momentum generated by Barzani’s regional outreach, as well as Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s attempts to bring Iraq into the orbit of the Arab world.

The Kurdistan region, like Baghdad, must continue to reform its security sector so it can combat Iran’s proxies. But the U.S. must also stop being a bystander to Iran’s coercive tactics and find direct ways to ensure the Sadr-Barzani-Halbousi political roadmap comes to fruition. The alliance may succumb to demands for a government that includes Iran’s allies but it can still function as a buffer against these groups within the government and parliament.

However, Washington’s attempts to mobilize its allies in Iraq and the region will be made redundant if Iran is holding a gun to their heads. Tehran has been able to ensure political disputes, like Kurdish divisions over the Iraqi presidency, have a disproportionate impact on the Sadr-led alliance’s ability to push through Iraq’s post-election deadlock. Washington should consider proportionate retaliatory military responses to Tehran’s attacks on Erbil and consider supplying Kurdistan with comprehensive air-defense systems, a move that will be welcomed in the Arab world and could be premised on the vulnerabilities of U.S. personnel and strategic interests in Erbil.

Babylon the Great Has Hypersonic Nukes: Daniel 7

Air Force says it successfully tested hypersonic weapon

U.S.

Keleigh BeesonTom PalmerPosted: MAY 17, 2022 / 04:31 PM CDT | Updated: MAY 17, 2022 / 04:31 PM CDT

(NewsNation) — The U.S. Air Force said Monday that it had conducted a successful test of a hypersonic weapon, which flew at five times the speed of sound.

According to a statement from the Air Force, the test was conducted Saturday off the coast of Southern California when a B-52 bomber released an Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW.

After the weapon separated from the aircraft, its booster ignited and burned for the duration of the flight, the statement said.

The test comes as the U.S. races to develop hypersonic weapons to counter potential adversaries Russia and China.

The speed and maneuverability of hypersonic weapons make them difficult to track and intercept.Kim warns North Korea could ‘preemptively’ use nuclear weapons

The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced in early April that they were working together via the recently created security alliance known as AUKUS to develop hypersonic missiles.

Also in April, the Russian military said it successfully performed the first test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon President Vladimir Putin said would make the West “think twice” before taking any aggressive actions against Russia.

According to U.S. military officials, Russia has now used hypersonic air-to-surface missiles in its military campaign in Ukraine, in what could be the first time these missiles have been used on the battlefield.

An expert NewsNation spoke with said Russia generally use conflicts to test their latest weapons systems.Russian officer: Missile to carry several hypersonic weapons

So what does that mean for the arms race between countries?

According to a professor of international affairs, the U.S. is leading the charge in hypersonics in at least one sense.

“It’s ahead of the pack in terms of the wide range of technologies being developed in the hypersonic program,” said Dinshaw Mistry, associate professor of international affairs, University of Cincinnati. “It’s slightly behind Russia in actually fielding them. But … that does not really matter in terms of battlefield effectiveness.”

Most military analysts say China and Russia have distinctly aggressive intentions.

Their objectives require dominating their neighbors and ensuring that the U.S. encounters significant obstacles in conducting a counterattack.

The U.S., on the other hand, must be able to deter at all levels of war, and all levels of escalation.

Hypersonics are only one, albeit critical, part of a broader American strategy.

The Hill and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Iranian Horn Just Weeks From Being Nuclear: Daniel 8

Gantz: Iran ‘weeks from enough fissile material for bomb,’ adding 1,000 centrifuges

Defense minister warns cost of dealing with Iran will be higher in a year; warns Tehran against transfer of advanced weapons to proxies; says Israel’s position on Ukraine ‘ethical’

By EMANUEL FABIAN 17 May 2022, 11:06 am  

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks during a conference at Herzliya’s Reichman University, May 17, 2022. (Gilad Kvalarchik/Gilad Kvalarchik)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on Tuesday that Iran is just a “few weeks” from accumulating sufficient fissile material for a bomb. It is also working to finish the production and installation of 1,000 advanced centrifuges enriching uranium, including at a new underground site at the Natanz nuclear facility, he said.

“Iran continues to accumulate irreversible knowledge and experience in the development, research, production, and operation of advanced centrifuges,” Gantz said during a conference at Herzliya’s Reichman University.

“It stands just a few weeks away from accumulating fissile material that will be sufficient for a first bomb, holds 60 kg of enriched material at 60%, produces metallic uranium at the enrichment level of 20%, and prevents the IAEA from accessing its facilities,” he added.Keep Watching

“During these very days, Iran is making an effort to complete the production and installation of 1,000 advanced IR6 centrifuges at its nuclear facilities, including a new facility being built at an underground site near Natanz,” he said.

Last month the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency confirmed that Iran had set up a new centrifuge parts workshop at its Natanz nuclear facility.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said the machines were moved from Karaj, near Tehran, to the new location, which he said was some three floors belowground, possibly to protect it from airstrikes.

The workshop had been set up in one of the halls of Natanz’s fuel enrichment plant, where Iran has thousands of centrifuges, Grossi said.

Natanz, in Iran’s central Isfahan province, hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. (AP)

Iran’s centrifuge facility in Karaj was targeted in what Iran described as a sabotage attack in June. Natanz itself has twice been targeted in sabotage attacks, assaults that Iran has blamed on Israel.

Talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled. There is concern that Iran could be closer to being able to construct an atomic weapon if it chose to pursue one.

In this frame grab from Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, three versions of domestically-built centrifuges are shown in a live TV program from Natanz, an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, in Iran, June 6, 2018. (IRIB via AP)

The nuclear deal collapsed four years ago when former US president Donald Trump withdrew the United States and imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. In the meantime, Iran has vastly expanded its nuclear work, while insisting that it is for peaceful purposes.

“The price for tackling the Iranian challenge on a global or regional level is higher than it was a year ago and lower than it will be in a year,” Gantz said.

The defense minister also said two Iranian drones downed over Iraq in February were intended to reach terror groups in the Gaza Strip or West Bank.

“The [Islamic] Revolutionary Guard [Corps] launched a pair of drones from Iran itself, towards Israel. Among other things, based on the fact that the UAVs had parachutes attached, we estimate that the purpose of the launch was to parachute them into the Gaza Strip or Judea and Samaria and for them to be collected by terrorist organizations,” he said.

An Iranian Shahed-136 drone is launched during a military exercise in Iran, December 2021. (Screenshot: Twitter)

The Israel Defense Forces has confirmed it intercepted at least four other Iranian drones heading for Israel or the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent years.

The defense minister warned that Iran’s attempts to transfer “accurate munitions” to its proxies, including via Syria, were continuing. “Israel will continue to halt these efforts and prevent the threat to its citizens and the region,” he said, days after an airstrike in the northwestern Masyaf area of Syria was attributed to Israel.

“The quantity of this strategic weapon in the hands of Iranian emissaries has increased significantly in the past year,” Gantz said. “In Iraq, there are hundreds of [munitions]; many dozens have been added this year. In Yemen, the number of [munitions] has increased in the past year, and the Houthis hold dozens of them.”

Speaking on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Gantz said Israel was in the right place “ethically and strategically,” adding that he supports transferring additional defensive equipment to Ukraine.

Israel has avoided aligning too closely with either side since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24. It is one of the few countries that maintains relatively warm relations with both Ukraine, a fellow Western democracy, and Russia. However, the rhetoric coming from Jerusalem shifted in the wake of the reports of widespread civilian killings by the Russians and comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claiming that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood.”

While Jerusalem has increasingly shifted its tone to align more with Western powers, it has so far steadfastly declined to contribute to the Ukrainian military effort, instead sending humanitarian aid and defensive equipment to be used by emergency services.

Gantz said supporting Ukraine must not come at the cost of Israel’s “broad operational considerations, which are also an anchor for regional stability.”

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent weeks. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine, while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

Agencies contributed to this report.

The China Horn is Prepared to Use Nuclear Weapons: Daniel 7

China surrounds Taiwan for massive invasion-Warns US-Putin may go nuclear if he felt war being lost on May. 12, 2022( Dina Amelia Kalmeta/Screenshot via TheBL/Youtube)

War games predict China to launch nuclear weapons if it invades Taiwan

TheBL Staff 05/16/22

According to the latest cross-strait war game exercise, China could launch a nuclear weapon if it decides to invade Taiwan.

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, D.C., created the war scenario in response to fears of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

The original plan was for China to decapitate Taiwan’s leadership as soon as possible. It would begin by striking American bases in Japan and Guam.

According to NBC News, CNAS experts say that after the first week of the fight, neither Beijing nor Washington will have the upper hand, signaling a protracted conflict.

The war game also highlighted how quickly the battle could escalate if China and the US crossed red lines.

The Taiwan News stated that U.S. officials also believe that China using nuclear weapons is a possible scenario.

Hamas Warns Israel: ‘Destiny Is Death Outside the Temple Walls’ Revelation 11

Hamas Warns Israel: ‘Destiny Is Death If You Enter Gaza’

A Hamas military drill in the Gaza Strip in March 2018. Photo: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

JNS.org – The Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, produced a video showing its fighters preparing for war in underground tunnels its members have built to infiltrate the border with Israel.

According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the video ended with a caption in Hebrew and Arabic that reads: “Your destiny is death if you enter Gaza.”

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The video was posted on Twitter. It shows Hamas fighters in the tunnels getting ready to fire rockets.

On Saturday, Hamas called on Palestinians to go to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem the next day—Sunday, May 15, “Nakba Day,” which Palestinians mark as a “catastrophe” due to the establishment of modern-day Israel in 1948.

The terror group also warned Jews against visiting the site, which is holy to Islam and Judaism, on Sunday.

3 Scenarios for the Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Russian President Vladimir Putin surrounded by uniformed people.

3 Scenarios for How Putin Could Actually Use Nukes

Here’s how to think about the unthinkable.

Vladimir Putin looks on during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 9. | Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik via AP

By GREGG HERKEN, AVNER COHEN and GEORGE M. MOORE

05/16/2022 12:00 PM EDT

Gregg Herken is an emeritus professor of American diplomatic history at the University of California, and author of Brotherhood of the Bomb.

Avner Cohen is a professor of nonproliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the author of Israel and the Bomb.

George M. Moore, PhD, is scientist-in-residence at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey.

We know that Russian President Vladimir Putin is thinking about using nuclear weapons. He has twice warned the West not to intervene in Ukraine or face “consequences that you have never encountered in your history.” Recently, Moscow again threatened “unpredictable consequences” if the U.S. continued sending advanced armaments to Ukraine. CIA Director William Burns has said that “none of us can take lightly” the prospect that Putin might resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

While any use of a nuclear weapon is unthinkable to most of the world, under current Russian military doctrine — usually described in shorthand as “escalate to deescalate” — Putin could choose a nuclear “demonstration” as a warning to halt further American military aid to the Ukrainians. In other words, for the Russian leader, detonation of a tactical nuclear weapon by Russia is entirely thinkable. And so the West needs to do some thinking, too.

Tactical nuclear weapons are often called “battlefield” or “theater” weapons to distinguish them from much more powerful strategic nuclear weapons, but they are far more destructive than conventional weapons. During the Cold War, tactical nuclear weapons had yields ranging from tens or hundreds of tons of TNT to thousands of tons. These weapons came in many forms: gravity bombs, short-range missile warheads, anti-aircraft missiles, air-to-air and air-to ground missiles, anti-ship and anti-submarine torpedoes and even demolition devices or mines. Reportedly, the smallest tactical weapon in the Russian nuclear arsenal has a yield of about one-third the size of Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombs, or equivalent to about 5,000 tons of TNT.

There are a few ways that such a tactical nuclear weapon could be used to fire the kind of “warning shot” envisioned in Russian military doctrine. These options come with increasing degrees of risk for the U.S., Ukraine and its allies, and for Russia.

Here are three scenarios.

Scenario 1: Remote atmospheric test

Least provocative would be Putin’s resumption of above-ground nuclear testing — by detonating a low-yield nuclear warhead high above Novaya Zemlya, the old Soviet test site in the Arctic, for example. While both the actual damage on the ground and radioactive fallout would be negligible, the psychological effect could be enormous: It would be the first nuclear explosion by a superpower since nuclear testing ended in 1992, and the first bomb detonated in the atmosphere by either the U.S. or Russia after such tests were outlawed by treaty in 1963. It would also be a potent reminder that Putin has tactical nuclear weapons in abundance — about 2,000 by last count — and is prepared to use them.

Scenario 2: Atmospheric detonation above Ukraine

A more provocative demonstration would be an ultra-high-altitude explosion of a more powerful weapon over Ukraine itself. In a 1962 test, the U.S. detonated a 1.4-megaton H-bomb in the mid-Pacific, 250 miles above the Earth. The resulting electromagnetic pulse unexpectedly knocked out streetlights and disrupted telephone service in Hawaii, 900 miles distant. A similarly powerful explosion above Kyiv would not only be visually spectacular but would likely plunge the capital into prolonged darkness and silence by shorting out computers, cellphones and other electronics. EMP effects might also extend into NATO member countries. But the extent of damage from the pulse is unpredictable, and Russian communications could also be affected.

Scenario 3: Ground explosion in Ukraine

Most dangerous — and, for that reason, perhaps least likely — would be using a tactical nuclear weapon to achieve a concrete military objective such as disrupting the delivery of weapons to Ukrainians fighting in a city like Mariupol. Alternatively, Putin might detonate a tactical nuclear warhead against military or logistics targets in sparsely populated western Ukraine — in the agricultural lands between Lviv and Kyiv, for instance — after warning people in the target area to evacuate. But even the smallest nuclear weapon would set fires over a wide area if detonated in the air. Depending on the height of the explosion, it could also spread lingering radioactive fallout, possibly extending into NATO member countries and Russia itself.

If, instead of a demonstration in a remote area, Putin were to attack a Ukrainian city with a weapon one-third the Hiroshima yield, the resulting casualties and destruction of property could approach that seen in Japan, since the corresponding radii of damage would be about 70 percent of that seen in those atomic bombings.

While none of the above scenarios is currently likely, neither are they far-fetched. Barring scenarios of an imminent Russian defeat, another humiliation like the loss of the Russian flagship Moskva or growing domestic discontent in Russia at a stalemated war — Putin has no logical reason to initiate the use of nuclear weapons.

But wars are very unpredictable, and there are ample precedents in history where a nuclear demonstration has been considered, beginning with the United States.

In May 1945, weeks before the successful test of the first atomic bomb in New Mexico, former President Harry Truman’s advisers considered, briefly, the option of a harmless but spectacular demonstration of the revolutionary new weapon as an alternative to its military use, in hopes of compelling Japan to surrender. For practical reasons — there were too few bombs in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and some feared a dud — the demonstration option was never presented to Truman.

But the warning shot idea would surface again and be taken more seriously. During the 1961 Berlin crisis, former President John Kennedy was presented with the option of firing a nuclear-tipped missile at Novaya Zemlya to show American resolve. Israel has also considered a nuclear demonstration; prior to the Six-Day War, in May 1967, Shimon Peres proposed detonating a nuclear device over the Sinai desert to head off the conflict. Six years later, the Israelis again briefly entertained the notion of a high-altitude nuclear warning shot to force an end to 1973’s Yom Kippur War. In 1981, with the Cold War again heating up, Secretary of State Alexander Haig — a former NATO supreme allied commander — let slip that “there are contingency plans in the NATO doctrine to fire a nuclear weapon for demonstrative purposes …”

There is little doubt that a nuclear demonstration is an option that has been considered in the Kremlin. This opens the question of what would be the best U.S. or NATO response. It’s our view that if Putin fires a nuclear warning shot in the Ukraine war, President Joe Biden should resist pressure to respond in kind and avoid any options that could lead to an escalating nuclear exchange. Instead, the president should rally the nations of the world in a universal condemnation of Putin for breaking the nuclear taboo and taking the most dangerous first step toward a nuclear war. The U.S. and NATO could also respond by use of non-kinetic means like cyber warfare. For Biden, regardless of what Putin decides, engaging Russian forces in direct combat should only be a last resort.