The Risk of Nuclear War Under Trump (Revelation 15)

Chinese President Xi Jinping never warmed to Barack Obama, whom he found too spartan, principled, and imperious. It was hardly an accident that the Chinese failed to provide a stairway capable of reaching the front door of Air Force One when Obama arrived at the APEC summit in 2016, forcing the sitting president to humiliatingly exit through a fold-down rear service door. And while the Chinese now may be bewildered by how an ostensible great power like the United States could have heaved up a leader as base as Donald Trump, they also comprehend an important aspect of him. After experiencing the garish glitziness of Mar-a-Lago, Xi Jinping immediately understood his guest’s weakness for the affectations of wealth and power.

Trump’s recent trip to China, the highlight of his 12-day tour of Asia last November, was so grand as to be considered a “state-visit plus.” As Air Force One touched down in Beijing, the president and Melania Trump were greeted not only by a proper staircase, but were treated to a full measure of Chinese pomp and ceremony, including a special banquet in the Forbidden City. At a welcome reception at the Great Hall of the People, a Stalinist relic from the era of Sino-society amity in the 1950s, Xi officially greeted his guest with a brace of antiphonal buglers; acres of red carpeting; a sword-wielding drillmaster; two military bands; a goose-stepping honor guard; a phalanx of rouge-cheeked, flag- and flower-waving elementary-school students; and a 21-gun salute from artillery pieces lined up in Tiananmen Square, right where demonstrating students had camped out in 1989.

As Trump and Xi proceeded along the maze of red carpeting, there was no greater visual emblem of the U.S.-China divide than the contrast between Trump’s cotton-candy hair (whose carotene-orange hue appeared to have been color corrected to off-white for the occasion) and the shoe-polish black, lacquered helmet that is Xi Jinping’s tonsorial signature. Always obsessed with appearances, Trump strode, with jaw jutting forward, like a prizefighter trying to play the part of the tough guy as he marches to the ring. As they progressed, Trump made occasional nervous comments, and Xi gave no hint of what was within, allowing only his signature Mona Lisa smile to cross his impassive face. But, then, he and the Chinese government are to transparency what anti-matter is to matter: the very antithesis of the self-indulgent, histrionic, and tweet-crazed Trump. If the latter is the product of American reality-TV kultur, the former is a product of ruthless Leninism and the ancient Chinese legalist philosophical tradition of Han Feizi, who counseled rulers of old: “Be empty, still, and idle, and from your place of darkness observe the defects of others.”

A press briefing unfolded in an ornate salon inside the Great Hall behind two matching lecterns festooned with funereal-like bouquets of flowers arrayed before a frieze of American and Chinese flags. Xi’s remarks included American-style “win-win cooperation” platitudes that took little account of the myriad thorny issues actually dividing the two countries. Trump, too, indulged in similar bromides about how “respective success serves the common interests of both.” It was as if neither leader wanted to publicly touch the hot rails of all that actually divided them.

But what Trump really wanted was assurance from Xi that China would help keep North Korea and its errant leader in check. “The entire civilized world must unite to confront the North Korean menace,” he said in his remarks, stressing it would “require collective action, collective strength, and collective devotion” to solve this intractable challenge. Nowhere did he note that over the past few decades, China has been the Kim dynasty’s greatest enabler.

Donald and Melania Trump visit the Forbidden City with Xi Jinping in Beijing, November 8, 2017; Trump gestures toward Xi as Melania and Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan look on in the Great Hall of the People, November 9, 2017.

Top, by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters; Bottom, by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images.

It was a remarkable moment to witness firsthand, having accompanied Trump on his trip. I have covered China summits with presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, when they all sallied forth to Beijing armored with policy studies, cadres of expert advisers, and, crucially, commitments to pursuing democratic principles. But what seemed to animate Trump most was not policy, but the theatrics of the popularity contest he felt thrust upon him, in which his top priority was winning over counterparts to make them like him. “It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received,” he warbled towards the end of his trip, clearly ego-gratified by all the superficial pageantry, as if it was the majesty of his being that had precipitated such honors.

It was clear from the moment Trump touched down that the Chinese had recognized in him a man of supreme vanity who would be easily manipulated. It is a psychological syndrome with which they, too, have had no small amount of historical experience. And it is one that makes it possible to understand Trump, even when his actions seem incompressible. In Beijing, as in Washington, Trump’s January 2 tweet taunting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the size of his “nuclear button” was variously interpreted as Trumpian umbrage at the imputation that the manhood of an overweight, Oriental potentate had trumped his own. It was also a crass repudiation of that U.S. tradition of presidents refusing to stoop to the same rhetorical level as Pyongyang; another sign of Trump’s propensity to personalize everything; and a demonstration of the shameless way Republican loyalists excuse the president as “Trump being Trump.” But there is another interpretation, one that should trouble Trump’s detractors and supporters alike: Our president’s chest beating is a recognition that his plan to isolate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has failed, and that he and his administration now find themselves backed into a corner with just two options: A) Eat crow. B) Launch a pre-emptive strike.

Xi Jinping, who was once naïvely seen by Trump as the kind of fellow plutocrat he could beguile into squeezing Kim into submission, has proven a less-than-pliable partner. Making matters worse, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, is now set to engage in direct talks with the North and has committed to marching together with the North at the Olympic parade, moves that further strain Washington’s already tense relationship with Seoul. (Nonetheless, even as he has charged Moon with trying to appease North Korea, Trump wasted little time in claiming credit for bringing the two sides to the table.)

With his trip to China having produced limited returns and his isolation strategy flailing, Trump now seems to have no choice but to boast of his nuclear arsenal and raise the specter of war. The more ominous danger, however, is that a spurned Trump may feel his manhood so imperiled that he will opt for a pre-emptive military strike. It’s an option that most Washington policy hands understand would be catastrophic. In August, Trump’s now-cashiered strategic adviser, Steve Bannon, blurted out what others within the administration surely recognized, but dared not say: “Forget it,” he told American Prospect. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about! There’s no military solution here! They got us!”

But Bannon is now an affront to Trump and, in recent talks with Washington officials and cognoscenti, one gets the sense that despite President Moon’s efforts to halt the spiral of rising tensions on the 38th parallel, military options are still far from off the table.

As I watched Trump woo his way across Asia, the biggest question was whether his inexperience would lead him to mistake the pageantry that invariably accompanies such diplomatic visits (no matter whom you are!) as special deference—even as a unique sign of friendship. For what seemed most important to this callow man was to imagine that where all his predecessors had struggled, he alone could seduce other heads of state with his divine deal-making powers—especially Xi on critical issues such as trade, rule of law, and, yes, North Korea. Indeed, his courtship was so ardent, it did not even seem to occur to him that perhaps he himself would end up being taken for a ride. Or, worse, that a shrewd politician like Xi might run the table on him entirely.

Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Koreas Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland and Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea’s unification minister, shake hands during a meeting at the Peace House in the village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, January 9, 2018.

From KPPA/Pool/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

Because Xi had already long since nixed taking questions from the press in the Great Hall of the People, once the two leaders had unburdened themselves of their prepared statements, they simply shook hands, turned away from the hundreds of attending journalists, and left. “This is a milestone!” fumed an American correspondent. Trump hadn’t strenuously protested the absence of a Q&A period, and why would he? Not only did Xi deliver the ritual adoration Trump craved, but he eliminated the insubordinate questions from the press that he loathes. Relieved of the confrontational media, raucous demonstrators, tenacious investigators, and the need to constantly defend himself, Trump did seem more composed—even more presidential. How ironic that the leader of the U.S., the most durable democracy on the planet, seemed to feel more at home in the People’s Republic, where the press is largely the megaphone of a Communist Party, than in the free world!

Indeed, Trump’s embrace of Xi, and his unwillingness to engage with Beijing on democratic issues such as human rights, was not surprising, but nonetheless disorienting for anyone accustomed to American presidents in China. When Clinton held his summit in Beijing less than a decade after the 1989 Beijing massacre, he publicly raised the issue of Tiananmen Square with President Jiang Zemin. “I believe, and the American people believe, that the use of force and the tragic loss of life was wrong,” Clinton candidly proclaimed. “If you are so afraid of personal freedom because of the abuse that you limit people’s freedom too much, then you pay.”

Some citizens, who’ve seen the fallout from Trump’s tweets, may be wondering: What damage has a Trump presidency done to the U.S.’s diplomatic aims in China, which go far beyond promoting American values? One could argue that he missed an opportunity to advocate on behalf of the U.S. business community—a key constituency—for the loosening of protectionist measures that shut U.S. investors out of whole sectors of the Chinese economy. He seems unlikely to use his bully pulpit to challenge China’s excessive maritime claims in the South and East China Seas. And now, increasingly petulant that his bromance with Xi hasn’t gone as planned, Trump seems poised to launch a trade war with China, a move that could hurt some sectors of American business, notably agriculture and airlines, as much as it would help others.

No one denies that the U.S.-China playing field is out of level and needs to be re-balanced. But with Trump daily eroding American influence, our ability to counterbalance growing Chinese wealth and power is melting away like a block of ice in the hot sun. The question isn’t simply whether Trump has changed the U.S.-China dynamic (though he has not helped it), but how is China going to re-write the rules? When Xi first ascended to the top of China’s leadership pyramid, in 2012, one of the first things he did was declare “the China Dream,” an expression of his own deep desire to see China restored to greatness. It was also an invitation for China to take a much more active, even aggressive, stance in the world, sometimes even to economically browbeat neighbors or provoke the U.S. and its allies. Xi’s quest for greatness has also led to aggressive expansionism (see the aforementioned South and East China Seas), and a more unyielding posture toward the U.S. and everything for which it has traditionally stood. It has tarred the Western media, civil society, academic freedom, and other liberal ideas as “hostile foreign forces” while unapologetically denying visas to American scholars, journalists, and others whom it finds politically unsavory.

Xi is unabashed in his belief that China will emerge not only as the world’s biggest economy, but as its de facto leader. At his recent 19th Party Congress, he proudly declared that China was globally moving ever “closer to center stage.” While Beijing is selective in its battles and did join in another round of United Nations sanctions against North Korea just before Christmas, Xi is unwilling—and perhaps even unable—to exert the kind of pressure that might actually bring North Korea to heel.

Can the U.S.-China relationship be saved? Sadly, the one area where the two countries were once actively cooperating, namely on climate change, has now been unceremoniously abandoned by Washington, leaving the U.S.-China arch deprived of any keystone feature emphasizing cooperation. Perversely, North Korea’s nuclearization has long presented a perfect joint project for the U.S. and China because we are both manifestly threatened by North Korean nuclear weapons.

These global challenges and others—terrorism and cybercrime, to name a few others—are only worsening, and the world would benefit tremendously if the U.S. and China could find a way to be more collaborative. Alas, Trump’s unpredictability and Xi’s authoritarianism render hope of such collaboration increasingly unlikely. When it comes to formulating sensible policy with this most crucial of nations, the U.S. not only has a China problem, it has a Trump problem. Beleaguered U.S. diplomats now confront a paradox: the impediments to finding a workable China policy remain as much in Washington as Beijing.

The Ramapo Fault Of The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

Earthquake activity in the New York City area

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although the eastern United States is not as seismically active as regions near plate boundaries, large and damaging earthquakes do occur there. Furthermore, when these rare eastern U.S. earthquakes occur, the areas affected by them are much larger than for western U.S. earthquakes of the same magnitude.[1] Thus, earthquakes represent at least a moderate hazard to East Coast cities, including New York City and adjacent areas of very high population density.

As can be seen in the maps of earthquake activity in this region, seismicity is scattered throughout most of the New York City area, with some hint of a concentration of earthquakes in the area surrounding Manhattan Island. The largest known earthquake in this region occurred in 1884 and had a magnitude of approximately 5. For this earthquake, observations of fallen bricks and cracked plaster were reported from eastern Pennsylvania to central Connecticut, and the maximum intensity reported was at two sites in western Long Island (Jamaica, New York and Amityville, New York). Two other earthquakes of approximately magnitude 5 occurred in this region in 1737 and 1783.[2][3][4] The figure on the right shows maps of the distribution of earthquakes of magnitude 3 and greater that occurred in this region from 1924 to 2010, along with locations of the larger earthquakes that occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884.

Background

The NYC area is part of the geologically complex structure of the Northern Appalachian Mountains. This complex structure was formed during the past half billion years when the Earth’s crust underlying the Northern Appalachians was the site of two major geological episodes, each of which has left its imprint on the NYC area bedrock.[5][6] Between about 450 million years ago and about 250 million years ago, the Northern Appalachian region was affected by a continental collision, in which the ancient African continent collided with the ancient North American continent to form the supercontinent Pangaea. Beginning about 200 million years ago, the present-day Atlantic ocean began to form as plate tectonic forces began to rift apart the continent of Pangaea. The last major episode of geological activity to affect the bedrock in the New York area occurred about 100 million years ago, during the Mesozoic era, when continental rifting that led to the opening of the present-day Atlantic ocean formed the Hartford and Newark Mesozoic rift basins.

Earthquake rates in the northeastern United States are about 50 to 200 times lower than in California, but the earthquakes that do occur in the northeastern U.S. are typically felt over a much broader region than earthquakes of the same magnitude in the western U.S.[1] This means the area of damage from an earthquake in the northeastern U.S. could be larger than the area of damage caused by an earthquake of the same magnitude in the western U.S.[7] The cooler rocks in the northeastern U.S. contribute to the seismic energy propagating as much as ten times further than in the warmer rocks of California. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt as far as 100 km (60 mi) from its epicenter, but it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake, although uncommon, can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from its epicenter, and can cause damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi) from its epicenter. Earthquakes stronger than about magnitude 5.0 generate ground motions that are strong enough to be damaging in the epicentral area.

At well-studied plate boundaries like the San Andreas fault system in California, scientists can often make observations that allow them to identify the specific fault on which an earthquake took place. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case.[8] The NYC area is far from the boundaries of the North American plate, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean Sea, and along the west coast of North America. The seismicity of the northeastern U.S. is generally considered to be due to ancient zones of weakness that are being reactivated in the present-day stress field. In this model, pre-existing faults that were formed during ancient geological episodes persist in the intraplate crust, and the earthquakes occur when the present-day stress is released along these zones of weakness. The stress that causes the earthquakes is generally considered to be derived from present-day rifting at the Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Earthquakes and geologically mapped faults in the Northeastern U.S.

The northeastern U.S. has many known faults, but virtually all of the known faults have not been active for perhaps 90 million years or more. Also, the locations of the known faults are not well determined at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few (if any) earthquakes in the region can be unambiguously linked to known faults. Given the current geological and seismological data, it is difficult to determine if a known fault in this region is still active today and could produce a modern earthquake. As in most other areas east of the Rocky Mountains, the best guide to earthquake hazard in the northeastern U.S. is probably the locations of the past earthquakes themselves.[9]

The Ramapo fault and other New York City area faults

The Ramapo Fault, which marks the western boundary of the Newark rift basin, has been argued to be a major seismically active feature of this region,[10] but it is difficult to discern the extent to which the Ramapo fault (or any other specific mapped fault in the area) might be any more of a source of future earthquakes than any other parts of the region.[11] The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east.[12] This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.

There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.[13]

A 2008 study argued that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake might originate from the Ramapo fault zone,[3] which would almost definitely spawn hundreds or even thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage.[14] Studying around 400 earthquakes over the past 300 years, the study also argued that there was an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault zone into southwestern Connecticut. As can be seen in the above figure of seismicity, earthquakes are scattered throughout this region, with no particular concentration of activity along the Ramapo fault, or along the hypothesized fault zone extending into southwestern Connecticut.[2][11][15]

Just off the northern terminus of the Ramapo fault is the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, built between 1956 and 1960 by Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.[11]

Babylon the Great’s Scary Nuclear Policy

Pentagon’s proposed nuclear strategy elevates cyberattacks to a terrifying new realm

By Sasha Lekach

Image: shutterstock/Macrovector

It’s the fall of 2019 and America is paralyzed.

A wave of cyberattacks have crippled America’s banks, sent a blackout rolling across the East Coast, and disabled almost all U.S. internet infrastructure.

America’s response is nuclear. A submarine off the coast of North Korea launches ballistic missiles at the tiny, reclusive country, marking the first use of nuclear weapons in battle since 1945. In response, China and Russia prepare for war, and the world watches as an all-out nuclear exchange is suddenly a very real proposition.

This scenario, previously impossible, would be just one of the many that the U.S. government would have to prepare for under the Pentagon’s new proposals for how to respond to cyberattacks.

The recently released draft of the Pentagon’s proposed nuclear strategy shows an administration bullish on nuclear weapons — even for “non-nuclear” attacks like a cyberattack or hack. This is the first time a U.S. administration has sought to enshrine in policy that cyberattacks against America could result in nuclear war.

This is the first time a U.S. administration has sought to enshrine in policy that cyberattacks against America could result in nuclear war.
Experts warn this is a dangerous, slippery slope toward a nuclear exchange that, once started, is difficult to limit or stop.

Richard A. Clarke, former national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counter-terrorism under President George W. Bush, said the proposed policy is, in a word, insane.

“I think it’s cavalier to expand the concept of nuclear weapons use,” he said. “It’s insane, actually.”

Clarke was quick to point out that cyberattacks can never match the potential fatalities of a nuclear bomb.

“I think there is a very dangerous policy move to expand the scope of things that would allow us to use nuclear weapons,” he said. “Nuclear weapons is a last resort — not something we should contemplate doing unless we absolutely have to.”

On a strategic level it’s also flawed, he said. It’s too dangerous — the effects of nuclear winter are no joke — and it’s not credible to believe the U.S. would respond to something like an infrastructure attack with nukes.

“It just makes no sense whatsoever,” Clarke said.

Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshare Fund, called the proposed strategy plans “absurd.” In a phone call, the anti-nuclear advocate said a nuclear response would be disproportionate to the threat of a cyberattack.

“Under this policy, the Trump administration would feel justified in using nuclear weapons on (Russia meddling in the election),” he said.

One part that stood out of the draft report, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, first published in a non-classified form on The Huffington Post, was the mention of “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks.” This seems to imply that the U.S. could retaliate with nukes against an attack on U.S. infrastructure, such as the power system.

Other methods of retaliation would still be considered, but this is the first time cyberattacks would trigger a nuclear response, as The NewYork Times reported.

The prospect of using nuclear weapons against a cyberattack appears extreme but also highlights just how seriously some experts are taking the prospect of modern cyberwar.

Cirincione said cyberattacks can be extremely dangerous, but hacks on systems controlling trains, dams or power supplies don’t warrant this response. He sees the plan as an attempt to justify more use of nuclear weapons.

“If the only tool you have is a nuclear weapon, every mission is a massive threat,” he said.

Jeffrey Knopf, professor of nonproliferation and terrorism studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, said in a phone call the proposal is a terrible idea that’s “an excuse to keep and build new nuclear weapons.”

“Nuclear taboo” has kept nations from nuking each other for decades, but with this plan the U.S. is willing to break that over something like a cyberattack, Knopf said.

This proposal is also telling about the administration’s struggles to deter cyberwarfare. The Pentagon is essentially “throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks,” Knopf said.

The White House is still reviewing the strategy and a final version isn’t expected for several weeks. The leaked version may change in coming weeks, and ultimately the review is a “wish list,” as Knopf called it. For real policy changes to actually come from the updated nuclear guidance, Congress would need to pass budgets and funding. It’s not a quick path to implementation.

Clarke, the former White House cybersecurity czar, can’t fathom how the Trump administration is using cybersecurity for nuclear justification. He says over the years this type of policy has been “rejected by everyone except the lunatic fringe.”

Maybe so, but like on many policy issues these days, it seems the lunatic fringe has crept into mainstream thinking.

Military Escalations Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Four killed as India, Pakistan trade fire along LoC

The Nation

SRINAGAR: Tensions escalated along LoC Saturday as a soldier and three civilians were killed in cross-border firing by the Indian and Pakistani armies, officials from the two countries said.

The latest wave of violence this week has left at least 21 dead, including soldiers, suspected militants and civilians on both sides of the heavily-militarised border that divides the disputed Himalayan region.

Indian Army spokesman Colonel N.N. Joshi said one of their soldiers was killed Saturday by Pakistani fire in Poonch sector along the de facto border, the Line of Control (LoC).

Two civilians, including a 15-year-old boy, were killed in a separate cross border assault along a stretch of uncontested frontier between Kashmir and Sialkot, director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid told AFP.

Pakistan ‘s foreign office in a statement said Saturday a 60-year-old civilian was killed and two others including a six-year-old were injured in firing by Indian soldiers.

Four civilians had died in the firing during the previous two days, the statement added.

Both sides regularly trade fire along the border, parts of which are disputed, and civilian casualties are common.

But this week has been particularly bloody.

Pakistan said four of its soldiers were martyred in Indian firing on Monday.

Earlier this week Indian soldiers also killed five suspected militants who they said were trying to infiltrate from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The latest deaths come a day after two Indian soldiers and two civilians were killed Friday when mortars fired by Pakistani soldiers landed in populated areas along the border in R S Pura area.

India and Pakistan on Friday summoned each other’s diplomats to register protests over the killings with both accusing the other of initiating the cross-border fire.

The Pakistani and Iranian Horns Align (Daniel 8:8)

SURPRISE! The United States Lacks A Strategy For Iran’s Marriage Of Convenience With Pakistan

Lawrence Sellin

Shutterstock/Sutagon Rodruangrid, Shuttetstock/esfera

Sometimes it is the small, unreported events that provide interesting signs of a larger agenda in play.

In recent days, on-the-ground sources claim that an Iranian of the Baloch ethnic group, who had been previously arrested by Iranian authorities, was abducted in the Jiwani area of Pakistan and presumably returned to Iran.

On January 12, Iran lauded the seizure of explosives and communications equipment allegedly belonging to a splinter group of the virulently anti-Shia Jundallah for whom Pakistan has allegedly been a safe haven.

The public affairs department of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force’s Quds Base claimed: “The brave combatants of IRGC Ground Forces and other security and law enforcement personnel, with intelligence superiority and all-encompassing preparation in border regions, will monitor and foil all plots by terrorist groups and the mercenaries of the Iranian nation’s enemies.”

That operation, which took place in the Saravan region, a known cross-border transit point, may have been less brilliant than advertised, being a consequence of information supplied by Pakistan.

In December, an Iranian diplomat said, “that military and intelligence cooperation have deepened greatly in the past few months as officials from the security establishments on either side of the border speak to each other more often,” confirming secret security-related meetings between Iran and Pakistan, which occurred earlier in 2017 along their common border.

In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of official announcements regarding Iran-Pakistan rapprochement in trade, defense, weapons development, counterterrorism, banking, train service and parliamentary cooperation.

The larger agenda was described this week by Pakistan’s Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani while addressing 13th session of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries in Tehran:

“There is a changing world scenario in which a nexus among the US, Israeli and India is emerging and the Ummah (Muslim world) needs unity to deal with this because today it is Pakistan and Iran tomorrow it can be any other country.”

Pakistan sees China as the rising global superpower and now feels comfortable discarding any pretense regarding its faux cooperation with the United States.

“We do not have any alliance,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, according to a January 5 Wall Street Journal article.

In Afghanistan, American and Pakistani interests have always collided. Pakistan doesn’t want the U.S. to win in Afghanistan; instead, it wants a client state as strategic depth against its archrival, India. The U.S., on the other hand, wants a stable, independent, democratic and terrorist-free Afghanistan.

The Iranian regime, under pressure both internally and externally and desperately seeking friends, has decided to play the “Islam card,” with Pakistan. Iran seeks means of opposing U.S. and Saudi moves in the Middle East, to eliminate any Saudi-funded anti-Shia insurgents on its eastern border and work with Pakistan to suppress Baloch ethnic separatism in its southeastern province.

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami recently said that by enhancing regional cooperation Pakistan and Iran could “counter interfering policies of certain trans-regional powers,” undoubtedly meaning the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan seeks Iranian assistance to help ease the U.S. out of Afghanistan and, thereby, permanently block any Indian influence in that country. The narrative buttressing that effort was just previewed by former Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbini Khar in a CNN interview:

“I am increasingly starting to believe that the presence of the USA in Afghanistan is not for peace and stability…but to create chaos in this region so that Russia and China and many other Central Asian republics, together with Iran perhaps, can be contained…the more I see how the Afghan war is being fought, the more I believe this is happening.”

Not surprisingly, China has offered to mediate peace in Afghanistan and invited the Afghans to join the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, both of which would contribute to its aim of regional hegemony.

Iranian-Pakistani collaboration is not a new phenomenon. Pakistan transferred nuclear technology to Iran in the 1980s. Although we have been down this road before, the U.S. does not appear to have a strategy to address a major ongoing geopolitical shift.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.

Authorities Expecting The Sixth Seal? (Revelation 6:12)

https://betanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/2012.jpgUS Raises Threat of Quake but Lowers Risk for Towers

New York Times

By SAM ROBERTS JULY 17, 2014

Here is another reason to buy a mega-million-dollar apartment in a Manhattan high-rise: Earthquake forecast maps for New York City that a federal agency issued on Thursday indicate “a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought.”

The agency, the United States Geodetic Survey, tempered its latest quake prediction with a big caveat.

“The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,” the agency said, citing the magnitude 5.8 quake that struck Virginia in 2011.

Federal seismologists based their projections of a lower hazard for tall buildings — “but still a hazard nonetheless,” they cautioned — on a lower likelihood of slow shaking from an earthquake occurring near the city, the type of shaking that typically causes more damage to taller structures.

“The tall buildings in Manhattan are not where you should be focusing,” said John Armbruster, a seismologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “They resonate with long period waves. They are designed and engineered to ride out an earthquake. Where you should really be worried in New York City is the common brownstone and apartment building and buildings that are poorly maintained.”

Mr. Armbruster was not involved in the federal forecast, but was an author of an earlier study that suggested that “a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed.”

He noted that barely a day goes by without a New York City building’s being declared unsafe, without an earthquake. “If you had 30, 40, 50 at one time, responders would be overloaded,” he said.

The city does have an earthquake building code that went into effect in 1996, and that applies primarily to new construction.

A well-maintained building would probably survive a magnitude 5 earthquake fairly well, he said. The last magnitude 5 earthquake in the city struck in 1884. Another is not necessarily inevitable; faults are more random and move more slowly than they do in, say, California. But he said the latest federal estimate was probably raised because of the magnitude of the Virginia quake.

“Could there be a magnitude 6 in New York?” Mr. Armbruster said. “In Virginia, in a 300 year history, 4.8 was the biggest, and then you have a 5.8. So in New York, I wouldn’t say a 6 is impossible.”

Mr. Armbruster said the Geodetic Survey forecast would not affect his daily lifestyle. “I live in a wood-frame building with a brick chimney and I’m not alarmed sitting up at night worried about it,” he said. “But society’s leaders need to take some responsibility.”