U.S. Military Drills Stoke Politics Of Suspicion In Texas
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command exercise, called Jade Helm 15, has brought these fears to a crescendo, particularly in Bastrop. Some of the exercises, scheduled from July 15 to Sept. 15, will be held in this city located east of Austin.
At an April town hall meeting in Bastrop, attendees peppered a military spokesman with pointed questions, including: “Are you planning on detaining or rounding up any American citizens?”
Rosalie Howerton, a 74-year-old retired nurse from Tyler, Texas, wrote the governor to say she was worried about the drills.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t trust my government,” she said. “I don’t trust Obama. I think he is looking toward calling martial law to stop the next election from taking place.”
In an online comment about Jade Helm, Bastrop resident Josh Munyon wrote: “It’s something that the rest of the country should be worried about. They already have FEMA trains that oddly enough look like the trains that the Nazis used in ww2.”
One particular sticking point has been an Army map that lists Texas as “hostile” territory.
“Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become suspicious of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border,” Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman from Texas, said recently in a statement.
The Texas Republican Party platform has long reflected concerns over federal and international overreach, with calls for a U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations and the elimination of the Federal Reserve.
When a U.N. agency named the Alamo, the location of a famed 1836 battle in the fight for Texas Independence, a World Heritage Site earlier this month, some Texans saw the move as a prelude to an international takeover.
FRIENDS ON THE FRINGE
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command has categorically denied there is anything nefarious about the drills, saying they are training exercises, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc said there was no truth to the rumors of a tunnel network being built under its stores.
Jade Helm will be held on public and private land, with the permission of landowners. The military said Army Special Operations Forces will train in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, with the terrain intended to replicate areas where soldiers find themselves operating overseas.
Fears from constituents, however, have drawn a response from politicians eager not to alienate right-wing voters. In a move a Dallas Morning News editorial called “cringe-worthy,” Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said he would dispatch the Texas State Guard to monitor Jade Helm to make sure it does not impinge on Texans’ freedom.
Placating such views could pay off for Republicans, who dominate state politics and often fight their most difficult battles in primaries where campaigns typically take a hard turn to the right.
A poll from the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas showed that 39 percent of registered voters and 85 percent of the right-wing Tea Party group supported Abbott’s move on Jade Helm.
“Republican leaders don’t want to do something that antagonizes these groups to such as extent that they rally around an opponent in the Republican primary,” said Mark Jones, who chairs the Department of Political Sciences at Rice University in Houston.
“The conspiracy theories tend to get amplified in Texas because we are a large state, with very active groups.”
Despite the predictions of doom, many Bastrop residents are wary but not overly concerned.
“We support our military, and they have to train somewhere,” said Pam Ferguson, owner of the High Cotton antique store. “It might as well be here.”
And while suspicion of the drills has run rampant among customers of Crosshairs Texas, the town’s only gun store, sales there have not increased, said owner Troy Michalik.
“I don’t think we are going to wake up next week and find tanks and roadblocks and martial law,” he said. “But at the same time, that does not mean that we should not be diligent and vigilant and keep an eye about what is going on.” (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Patrick Enright and Lisa Von Ahn)
Kurtz wants to see world leaders eradicate all nuclear weapons. With over 16,000 nuclear warheads scattered around the globe, the risks of human error and cybercrime detonating a nuclear device are astronomical.
“After the Cold War, most people stopped worrying about nuclear weapons. But this is fundamentally wrong,” said Kurz.
Kurz is right: We still do need to worry about the likelihood of nuclear war.
“Tensions between nuclear-armed states and alliances in the Euro-Atlantic area and in both South and East Asia remain ripe with the potential for military miscalculation and escalation,” they noted in a letter to the Austrian foreign minister.In the lead-up to the conference, more than 120 senior political, military and diplomatic figures urged world leaders to minimize the risk of nuclear war by taking immediate action. They expressed that a potential nuclear conflict is “underestimated or insufficiently understood” by world leaders.
The dignitaries also stated, “Stockpiles of the world’s nuclear weapons and materials to produce them are insufficiently secure, making them possible targets for terrorism.” Similar to the Austrian foreign minister, these dignitaries called for the world to eliminate its nuclear weapons. They see this as the only solution to preventing a nuclear war.
Yet some nuclear nations around the world are doing the opposite.
These nations believe building up their nuclear arsenals is necessary to prevent a future war. Some national leaders believe mutually assured destruction will prevent any nation from contemplating nuclear war. And there are some nations that likely have more aggressive ambitions with such devastating weapons.
South Asian nations are the “most at risk of a breakdown in strategic stability due to an explosive mixture of unresolved territorial disputes, cross-border terrorism, and growing nuclear arsenals,” according to Gregory Koblentz, an arms control and non-proliferation expert. Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. By 2020, Pakistan could produce 200 nuclear weapons, roughly equal to the United Kingdom’s arsenal. Pakistan’s nuclear stockpiles are far from secure.
North Korea is another volatile nation stockpiling nuclear weapons. “North Korea is presumed to have the capability of producing some four nuclear bombs per year, and it appears that the North will possess some 20 nuclear bombs by 2016,” said Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford University research professor who visited North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility in 2010.
Then there is China.
What would happen if a terrorist got his hands on such a weapon? There are already claims that the Islamic State has a dirty bomb in Europe.
The reality is that one day a nuclear bomb will go off. And a whole bunch will follow. It is just a matter of when—not because a bunch of experts warn that it is a possibility, but because Bible prophecy clearly indicates it will happen.
Shortly after the end of World War ii, Herbert W. Armstrong warned about the reality of a coming nuclear war.
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive—Moffatt translation]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).Today, it is just as Christ said it would be:
But Christ will intervene to save mankind from himself and bring an end to man’s misrule over man. Christ will usher in a time of peace—a time world leaders can only dream about. Soon, nuclear weapons will be extinct—but not before this world has learned some very painful lessons. Nuclear war is coming. ▪
Islamic State Coming to Pakistan
In Pakistan, support for the Islamic State is growing more visible. Elements of the Taliban, which all but controls small areas of the country, are openly giving a nod to their ideological kinship with the terrorist organization that has cut a path of destruction across large areas of Iraq and Syria. A spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban, Shahidullah Shahid, recently stated “I pledge allegiance to the Caliph of Muslims, [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” The statement highlights a measure of internal strife, however; Shahid, it has been reported, was not speaking for the Taliban as a whole and the organization had apparently disowned him, following the remarks. An unnamed Taliban commander told Reuters “He used our name and tried to make it big news in the media.” As military operations against the Taliban in Pakistan continue to weaken the organization, there are growing fears that it could be vulnerable to a takeover by ISIS.
The swift gains made by the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq – and the rapid swelling of its ranks – caught western nations off guard. Afghanistan, a barely functioning state, and Pakistan, are both vulnerable to the spreading influence of ISIS. Speaking to the AFP news agency, security analyst Amir Rana said “ISIS is becoming the major inspiration force for both violent and non-violent religious groups in the region.”
Pro-ISIS propaganda leaflets have surfaced in the northwest of Pakistan and slogans supporting the Islamic State have been spray-painted on walls even in Karachi. Taliban leaders both in Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan have signaled their support for the Islamic State, although they appear to have broken ranks in order to do so. A loose federation of radical Islamist organizations in Pakistan, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has sent large numbers of fighters to Syria and it is feared that those who return may spread the Islamic State’s message and provide inspiration for further radicalization. According to Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst writing in The Express Tribune, some radical factions in Pakistan have even taken to using the name ‘Islamic State Movement.’
In Afghanistan, the black flag adopted by the Islamic State was raised recently in the Ghazni province as fighters identified with ISIS joined a Taliban offensive against several villages.
Although authorities in Pakistan have struck an optimistic note on operations against the Taliban and other radical groups, the country’s United Nations Ambassador sounded the alarm in an address to the UN Security Council on October 21. “We must all, collectively, oppose and defeat its evil ideology of ‘hate, murder and destroy’,” said Masood Khan. “We must remain united in our fight against this new face of terrorism and violent extremism.” Other Pakistani officials, however, believe that the Taliban’s attempt to create a ‘merger’ with ISIS is little more than an attempt to remain relevant, as Pakistan’s security forces continue to weaken Taliban control in the tribal northwest.
Pakistan has an arsenal of nuclear weapons, making it a potentially tempting target for the Islamic State. Whether the Taliban would welcome the presence of ISIS or resist it continues to be a subject for speculation.