Trump needs to watch what he asks for: Revelation 18:10

Trump says US will retaliate with attacks ‘1000 times greater’ if Iran planned vengeance

Trump threatened Iranian leader Rouhani about report of vengeance, saying, that any attack by Iran in any form will be dealt with attacks of tenfold intensity.

On September 14, the US President Donald Trump vowed that the United States would retaliate with attacks “1000 times greater” in magnitude if Iran planned vengeance for the killing of its top general Qasem Soleimani in January 2020. Taking to his official Twitter handle, Trump threatened Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani, saying, that any attack by Iran in any form will be dealt with attacks of tenfold intensity. Trump’s threats came in the backdrop of the reports of an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks.

Earlier, Iran’s President had warned the US of the consequences of Soleimani’s death, saying, that the Americans weren’t aware of the disaster that they had made. Further, he stated, that the Americans will pay the price for this act, not today, but in time to come. Moreover, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had threatened the US of “harsh revenge waiting” and had observed a 3-day of national mourning after an airstrike ordered by US President Trump assassinated the senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, who, he called, an international “face of resistance.” The killing of Iran’s elite Quds Force leader had also since exacerbated tensions between Iran and the US, as only last month, Iran reminded the US that “it isn’t over yet” in state-run media reports.

Read: Saudi Coalition Launches Airstrikes On Iran Backed Houthi Barracks And Military Sites

Read: Pro-reform Iranian Religious Leader Dies Aged 83

According to a report by the Washington based news broadcaster Politico, Iran was considering assassination attempts on the US ambassador to avenge the killing of Soleimani. The report cited US government officials saying, on condition of anonymity, that the Iranian embassy in the South African city of Pretoria was involved in a plot to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa. It said that the intelligence about the vengeance for the Iranian military commander’s death “became more specific in recent weeks”. The officials revealed that Marks has been made aware of the threat. According to Politico’s report, while the American intelligence community wasn’t sure about why the Iranian leader would target Marks, they speculated her ties with Trump’s family for over 23 years as the reason.

[Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, in Tehran, Iran. Credit: AP]

Key figure to Iranian regime

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)’s elite Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani was killed on January 3, 2020, after an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport was instructed by Trump. A key figure to the Iranian regime and an integral driver of Iran’s foreign policy strategy known for the creation of the proxy networks from Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen all across the Middle East, Soleimani was an important leader to Iran. US President Donald Trump, however, called  Soleimani a “monster” and accused him of “planning a big attack” immediately after he was killed by a US drone strike.

“He was a monster. And he’s no longer a monster. He’s dead,” Trump said in an AP report, adding, “he was planning a big attack and bad attack for the US”. “I don’t think anyone can complain about it,” Trump said.

Trump accused Soleimani of “travelling with the head of Hezbollah” and killing many. In a statement published by the state-run Iranian Fars news agency, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that “cruelest people on earth (Trump)” assassinated the “honourable” Iranian commander who “courageously fought against evils and bandits of the world.”

The Impending First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

outer space

Nuclear deterrence in South Asia hangs in the balance as India militarizes outer space: report

India’s erratic expansion of its space program could leave Pakistan at a disadvantage in terms of defence capabilities.News Desk -September 9, 2020

India has a long-held desire to be recognized as one of the greatest military powers at the global level. In pursuit of this objective, over the last few years, India has been carrying out extensive outer space and military modernization programs.

Sher Bano writing for Modern Diplomacy writes about the rising threat that the Indian space program presents to Pakistan’s defence capabilities.

Maintaining military presence in outer space key focus of India

Along with all the other components of its ongoing military modernization, maintaining a military presence in outer space has been the key focus of the Indian strategic elite. India had also recently launched a mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2.

The lander was about 2.1km (1.3 miles) from the lunar surface when it lost contact with scientists, dashing hopes that India would become only the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon. Chandrayaan-2 was the most complex mission ever attempted by India’s space agency

India’s space militarization primarily comprises of indigenously developed satellites such as GSAT-6 and GSAT-7 (Geostationary Satellites), and RISAT-2BR1 (Radar Imaging Satellite). India has also acquired ASAT (Anti-satellite weapon) capability after a successful test in early 2019.

Sher Bano talked about how India’s space-based ISR satellites would enhance its counterforce capabilities vis-à-vis Pakistan. Likewise, this would provide India’s Command and Control centres with quantifiable and discernable data.

These acquired space capabilities are likely to enable India’s NC2 (Nuclear Command and Control) with more liberty to take decisions. Such a security dilemma would annihilate the South Asian nuclear deterrence equation by providing India with an incentive to launch a counterforce pre-emptive strike against Pakistan.

In March 2019, India had successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon by destroying one of its own satellites in outer space. By doing so, India has become the fourth country in the world after the US, Russia, and China that possess the ASAT capability. Similarly, with this capability, the likelihood of India’s space weaponization is more evident as India would be in a strong position to kinetically destroy any incoming satellite.

ASAT capability would be huge advantage to India 

This would be a significant military advantage, especially in a crisis, as India would be in a position to use its ASAT capability to disturb the satellite communications and intelligence gathering of its opponent states. Along with this, India would be able to destroy the targets of its adversary’s missiles.

India has also enhanced the observation, reconnaissance, and surveillance capabilities of its GSAT series with 0.35m resolution, and RISAT/Cartosat series with1-meter resolution.

Moreover, India aspires to integrate its BMD systems (Ballistic Missile Defenses) with its satellites. This expected integration would further strengthen India’s BMD as satellite networks in space would provide early information regarding the incoming missiles.

In the same vein, India’s overall BMD capabilities would also enhance with the incorporation of space-based detection along with the S-400 missile system.

Pakistan lags behind in outer space program

India’s enhanced space capabilities have further enhanced the security concerns of Pakistan. Since Pakistan does not aspire to militarize space, there exists a visible qualitative gap between Pakistan’s and India’s space programs.

But in the space arena, the competitive cascade does not travel all the way to Pakistan because Pakistan’s space programme is underdeveloped. While Pakistan has expended considerable national wealth in keeping pace with India in its nuclear and missile capabilities, it has not done so with regard to outer space.

On the other hand, there might be a security incentive for Pakistan to demonstrate that it also has an ASAT capability.

Pakistan could also develop other counter-space capabilities, including cyber and electronic means to target India’s space assets. While this remains speculative so far, the history of India-Pakistan competition suggests that this remains a possibility.

To penetrate the space-based precision targeting capability of India, at the least Pakistan can use high energy lasers.

These lasers are ground-based ASAT weapons that can damage and disturb the other satellites with its sensors. Furthermore, the MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle) capabilities of Pakistan can easily infiltrate India’s enhanced Missile Defence shield integrated with satellites.

Pakistan’s premier space agency SUPARCO needs to further counter the emerging Indian space threat by developing indigenous observation and surveillance capability that could detect Indian space assets.

At the international level, Pakistan should further urge the international community to pressurize India against militarizing outer space. In this regard, PAROS (Proposed Prevention of an Arms Race in Space), though an agreement neglected by the international community needs to be agreed upon.

Besides this, the previous multilateral agreements like the 1972 liability convention (Prevention of damage by space objects), 1979 Moon Agreement (Prevention of activities on celestial bodies and moon) and others are needed to be further enforced.

This would likely highlight the militarization of space by India as a threat to international security. Pakistan further needs to draw its red lines vis-a-vis space militarization to deter India from any adventurous intrusion.

India had long maintained a rather doctrinaire approach toward space security, emphasising the peaceful uses of outer space and opposing the weaponization and militarization of space. Thus, India had opposed the US Strategic Defense Initiative programme and other efforts to build ballistic missile defences, let alone deploying ASAT systems. The reasons for such an approach was fairly clear: India did not house these capabilities

But by the early 2000s, India’s position had begun to change as Pakistan began acquiring long-range missiles. India felt the need to build ballistic missile defences, leading New Delhi to take a sympathetic view of the George W. Bush administration’s decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in late 2001. By the end of the decade, as India’s own capabilities increased, it was clear that India was becoming more discriminating in its attitude towards space security.

Regional politics at play

China’s ASAT test in 2007 helped advance India’s process of revaluating its space strategy. India realised that its growing investments in outer space – until then largely civilian in nature – were now under threat from China’s new security capabilities. India also started thinking more about how to manage outer space for security purposes. As a result, India established a space cell under its Integrated Defence Headquarters shortly after China’s ASAT test.

What occurs in space can be the result of a geopolitical chain reaction. For instance, consider the US-China-India relationship: China often takes action because of its strategic competition with the United States.

This has an impact on India, forcing India to respond. But India’s response to China has an effect on Pakistan, which then responds to India.

This cascade can be seen on land, and at times, in space. For example, China’s first successful anti-satellite (ASAT) test in January 2007 was to demonstrate a catch-up effort with the United States. But once China tested its ASAT in 2007, India had little choice but to develop its own ASAT because of the need of deterrence.

The space-based ISR capability has provided India a technical advantage to carry out a counter force pre-emptive strike against Pakistan. The technical abilities provided by space-based ISR when fused provide an ability called F2T2EA (Fix, Find, Track, Target, Engage, Assess).

This would give discernable data along with the exact target to attack. To counter such a pre-emptive strike by India, Pakistan must focus on the enhancement of its assured second-strike capability. Furthermore, Pakistan needs to further enhance the research and development of space-based ISR capability to retain the strategic balance in South Asia.

GVS News Desk

The Arsenal for the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

Missiles (Nukes) in ‘Conflict Region’: So. Asia, Mideast

September 9, 2020 DP2020

Pakistan’s missile arsenal forms an important part of its defense strategy for offsetting the significant conventional military advantages of its main rival, India. The country’s combined strategic forces allows it to target almost any point in India, and is now working more advanced technology to complicate developing Indian missile defense efforts.

“Our defensive capability is meant to take care of our immediate concerns. The birds can fly long distances though, but a conscious restraint has been the policy to avoid ruffling unnecessary feathers,” says a senior military official on condition of anonymity as he’s not authorized to comment officially.

India’s ballistic missile arsenal is a means to deliver nuclear weapons to deter both Pakistan and China. This has pushed India to develop longer range missiles and to diversify its delivery platforms beyond mobile land-based missiles. As their missile arsenal develops, doubts grow about how firmly they will hew to the minimum deterrence doctrine.

Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, –a potent tool for Iranian power projection and a credible threat to U.S. and partner military forces in the region.

The entire Middle East is a conflict zone, several regional experts say. This is fueling arms race in the region, a Pakistani defense official based in the Middle East told DesPardes earlier.

According to reports, arms sales have increased dramatically under President Trump’s watch, with Saudi Arabia as a top customer. Exports of major arms from the US grew by 23% in comparing the periods 2010–14 and 2015–19.

President Trump on Monday accused military leadership of perpetuating wars to boost profits for arms manufacturers, but his administration has made expanding arms sales a top priority throughout his tenure — exacerbating devastating conflicts in the process. 

In 2019, global defense spending saw its biggest jump in a decade. Rivalries and conflicts are stoking military investment in the region and worldwide.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said the four percent rise, compared to a year earlier, was fueled by competition between major powers, new military technologies and rumbling warfare.

Israel has one of the most technologically advanced missile arsenals in the Middle East. Despite not officially acknowledging any nuclear program, it is widely believed that Israel does possess nuclear weapons.

With Iraq’s and Syria’s nuke installations struck and destroyed secretively by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), who else in the wider region is a threat to its security?

IDF wants to “ensure the military maintains a constant and significant edge over its foes, notably Iran and Hezbollah”.

Israel now has new fifth-generation planes, namely the F-35 stealth fighter jet, which it purchased from the United States –to make its military better equipped to operate in the types of operations that it is expected to face in the coming years.

Israel wants to maintain qualitative military edge in the region.

Commenting on Israel’s threat perception, a senior Pakistani defense official said earlier, “Israeli threat of military action against all such facilities deemed detrimental to its security will remain real”.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment officially.

Pakistan does not recognize Israel. It stands for Palestinians’ rights to be recognized and settled first. The country’s main rival, India recognizes Israel –both are US allies.

Commenting on US-Israel relations and latter’s military and nuclear capabilities, an Asia-Pacific based geopolitical analyst tells DesPardes that Israel is effectively an autonomous 51st state of the USA. According to the analyst, “Israel’s ability to shape US regional policy exceeds that of any other allies”.

Under US law, any arms sales in the Middle East must take Israel’s qualitative military edge into account.

The protection afforded by the USA renders Israel an untouchable actor on world stage, says the analyst. “Its nukes and missiles are the spearheads of that symbiotic relationship.”

Pakistan lawmaker warns of the first nuclear war (Revelation 8 )

Pakistan lawmaker warns of nuclear war over Kashmir

KARACHI, Pakistan

A Pakistani lawmaker on Monday urged the international community, including the UN, to swiftly act to sop “genocide” of Kashmiris by Indian security forces, warning the world against a “brewing” nuclear conflict on the long-smoldering Kashmir dispute.

Addressing a seminar in the capital Islamabad, Shehryar Khan Afridi, chairman of the parliament’s Kashmir committee, claimed New Delhi was using backdoor channels to resume talks to Pakistan. However, he said his country would not talk to India unless Kashmir issue was on the agenda.

Kashmir, he further said, became a key issue in the global digital space and that Pakistan would not allow India to mislead the world on the ongoing “genocide” there.

“We are reaching out to all the global platforms to raise Kashmir [issue],” he said adding that the parliament’s committee was engaging with 22 global forums to sensitize the world on the lingering dispute.

Sardar Masood Khan, president of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, also known as Azad Kashmir, charged that extrajudicial killings have become a norm in disputed Jammu and Kashmir.

Indian forces, Khan went on to argue, arrest youth and later gun them down in fake police “encounters.”

“The world knows well about the Indian atrocities being committed by the occupational forces in occupied Kashmir but commercial interests are major hurdle in taking action against India,” he added.

Apart from issuing half a million domiciles to non-Kashmiris, he said, India was planning to award citizenship rights to 1.7 million migrant workers as well.

Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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India’s New Hypersonic Nuclear Capability

What’s a hypersonic missile India is building and how it is different from other missiles

8 September, 2020

New Delhi: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Monday successfully test-fired the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), making India the fourth country in the world after the US, China and Russia to develop such technology.

Monday’s test, carried out from Abdul Kalam Island (formerly Wheeler Island) off the coast of Odisha, came a year after the DRDO had first tested the futuristic technology. But it had not met all the parameters then.

The successful test Monday will pave the way for missiles that can travel at six times the speed of sound. India will reportedly make its first hypersonic missile in the next five years.

ThePrint delves into what the HSTDV means for India, and which hypersonic and other missiles are available to major militaries across the world.

What does test firing of HSTDV mean for India? 

The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic speed flight. Hypersonic flight means a speed greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5).

Apart from being used as a vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles, the HSTDV is a dual-use technology that will have multiple civilian applications, including the launch of small satellites at low cost.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted that the HSTDV used the indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system, which is an improvement over the Ramjet engines which work efficiently at supersonic speeds of around Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound).

The DRDO said Monday’s test also demonstrated capabilities for highly complex technology that will serve as the building block for NextGen Hypersonic vehicles in partnership with industry.

Hypersonic nuclear missiles

Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds faster than 3,800 miles per hour or 6,115 km per hour, much faster than other ballistic and cruise missiles. They can deliver conventional or nuclear payloads within minutes.

They are highly manoeuvrable and do not follow a predictable arc as they travel. They are said to combine the speed of ballistic missiles with the manoeuvring capabilities of cruise missiles. The speed makes them hard to track compared to traditional missile tech.

In March this year, the United States announced it had successfully tested an unarmed prototype of a hypersonic missile.

According to reports, China and Russia are also vigorously pursuing hypersonic weapons, though Russia is reportedly not developing or considering them for use with a nuclear warhead.

In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country’s Navy vessels would be armed with hypersonic nuclear strike weapons and underwater nuclear drones, which, he said, are in the final phase of testing

Cruise and ballistic missiles

A cruise missile either locates its target or has a preset target. It navigates using a guidance system — such as inertial or beyond visual range satellite GPS guidance — and comprises a payload and aircraft propulsion system.

Cruise missiles can be launched from land, sea or air for land attacks and anti-shipping purposes, and can travel at subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic speeds.

Since they stay relatively close to the surface of the earth, they cannot be detected easily by anti-missile systems, and are designed to carry large payloads with high precision.

Ballistic missiles, meanwhile, are launched directly into the upper layers of the earth’s atmosphere. They travel outside the atmosphere, where the warhead detaches from the missile and falls towards a predetermined target. They are rocket-propelled self-guided weapons systems which can carry conventional or nuclear munitions. They can be launched from aircraft, ships and submarines, and land.

ICBMs

Intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs are guided missiles which can deliver nuclear and other payloads.

The Federation of American Scientists is quoted as saying that ICBMs have a minimum range of 5,500 km, with maximum ranges varying from 7,000 to 16,000 km.

Only a handful of countries, including Russia, United States, China, France, India and North Korea, have ICBM capabilities.

In 2018, India successfully test-fired nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V, with a strike range of 5,000 km, from the Abdul Kalam Island.

Anti-satellite missiles

Anti-satellite missiles (ASAT) can incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Several nations possess operational ASAT systems.

Other anti-satellite weapons include ground-based jammers to disrupt the signal from navigation and communications satellites.

The United States, Russia, and China are among countries pursuing anti-satellite weapons.

India had successfully test fired an ASAT on 27 March last year, knocking off one of its own satellites 300 km in space.

DRDO chairman G. Satheesh Reddy had ruled out future ASAT missile tests in the lower Earth orbit, but hinted at keeping the options open for possible experiments in higher orbits.

Why India Will Be Destroyed At The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

India’s options when faced with a collusive two-front threat

The China-India military stand-off continues and is likely to be a long haul. Meanwhile, there is contemplation that China and Pakistan could pose a collusive two-front threat to India. The strategic nexus between the “iron brothers” is old, deep and broad-based. Both symbiotically support each other to complicate India’s security. Pakistan is assured of Chinese weaponry, economic assistance for infrastructure development, intelligence inputs, diplomatic support and psychological backing. China can bank on Pakistan for tactical actions to impose pressure on India by opening new fronts using its regular army or terrorist infrastructure.

Placed in the middle, India faces China, which enjoys numerical conventional superiority, and Pakistan whose nuclear weapons negate India’s conventional edge. To address them individually or jointly, some opine that India should adopt a more offensive nuclear posture by projecting first use of nuclear weapons, building “tactical” nuclear weapons (TNWs) and threatening their use with impunity, a la Pakistan.

Before India rushes to this conclusion, some questions should be answered. Pakistan may project use of nuclear weapons, but can it really use them in a manner that brings benefits? Does India believe Pakistan’s nuclear use threat? Has that stopped a resolute India from undertaking conventional punitive actions? Notwithstanding all the nuclear noise, Pakistan understands that unless its first use is able to disarm India’s nuclear arsenal, it is sure to suffer nuclear retaliation, worsening its situation. How, then, is the threat of first use credible?

India will face the same credibility issues when it signals the first use of nuclear weapons. In fact, laying down artificial redlines for nuclear use in conventional scenarios is not helpful. It can place national leaderships in a commitment trap or a credibility crisis. India has wisely circumvented this problem by adopting the no-first-use doctrine. The only redline here is nuclear use by the adversary. Short of that, there should be little reason for India to use nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the assumptions that use of low-yield TNWs is more credible, or that their controlled use would be condoned for fear of nuclear escalation, are both questionable. A 75-year old taboo against nuclear use makes any decision to use them, even the low-yield variety, extremely difficult and not easily condoned. Also, no such use can guarantee a controlled conflict since the response from the other side will always be unknown. India, for instance, promises massive retaliation against any use of nuclear weapons. Pakistan can never safely presume that India would act otherwise. The assuredness of retaliation ensured by secure second-strike capabilities makes the weapon non-usable. The Superpowers could not use them despite building thousands of TNWs. Neither has Pakistan been able to do so despite professedly deploying such weapons.  India will not be able to do so either.

The answer to dealing with a collusive two-front situation lies not in projection of first nuclear use, but in exploiting arrows in the diplomatic, information, military and economic (DIME) quiver.

In the diplomatic domain, India’s stature as a responsible country that respects international rules and values is far ahead of China and Pakistan. Individually and jointly, their disruptive behaviour is well recognised. India has the opportunity to team up with like-minded nations to pose credible dilemmas to both. For example, India’s efforts at engaging West Asia or exposing state support to terrorism have been fruitful against Pakistan. China’s non-transparency on the pandemic, debt diplomacy, expansionist behaviour has already created an anti-China sentiment that India can exploit to great effect.

Utilisation of the information spectrum is critical for this. India’s success at blocking Pakistan’s ability to play a victim of terrorism is one illustration of effective use of this sphere. In case of China too, India needs to amplify Beijing’s aggressive tendencies and duplicity, facts that already have a resonance. Further, India can find and fuel fissures in the collusion. Beijing and Islamabad have no civilisational, ideological, socio-cultural, or religious affinities. China is apprehensive of Pakistan’s radical Islam and its appeal with the Uighurs; this could be exploited. China should also be reminded that any Pakistani nuclear use would result in socio-environmental consequences that it will not be able to escape either. Other points of friction can be found and exploited.

On the military front, the answer lies in building usable capability in the conventional realm. Chief of Defence Staff has expectedly underscored India’s ability to take on a collusive threat. More thoughtful build-up and use of numerous rungs on the conventional spectrum, including newer realms of space and cyber, can provide important leverages. Indeed, conventional capability is the only instrument that can credibly deter and punish.

Lastly, India’s trade, markets and resources are its strength. Denial of these allows India to wage “economic warfare”. This has persisted with Pakistan for some years now. India has also managed further economic heat from the Financial Action Task Force. China, meanwhile, has squandered a good economic relationship worth $100 billion owing to the current crisis. Some steps taken by India have also reverberated with other countries and the collective impact on China will be felt if these policies are sustained.

India’s security challenges are complex. But a change in nuclear doctrine to deal with tactical, sub-conventional or even conventional concerns would be meaningless. A shift to nuclear pre-emption would only heighten risks of inadvertent nuclear escalation. As instruments of deterrence, nuclear weapons are most credible when threatened against an existential crisis. India’s DIME actions can ensure that China and Pakistan, individually or collusively, cannot pose such a risk to the country. India must focus on options that lie between fisticuffs and nuclear use.

Manpreet Sethi is Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies.

Babylon the Great Must Still Pat For Her Sins (Revelation 18:10)

Why the Surrender of Imperial Japan Still Matters

Wednesday will be the seventy-fifty anniversary of Imperial Japan’s formal surrender, thus ending the year’s annual debates over the tragedies preceding President Harry Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The tragic lessons tied to these events remain central to peace and stability in the world.

This year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to send one of the largest cabinet delegations in recent history to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for Japan’s war dead. This annual event, which coincides with the anniversary, was punctuated by his official statement, which quickly displeased most of Asia, evoking strong denunciations by China and South Korea.

In his statement, Abe resurrected the morally flawed and historically dishonest “Japan as victim” trope by focusing in detail on Japan’s pain, but no one else’s pain, with no mention of why the war happened and who was responsible for it. This, unfortunately, ignored the heart of his well-received remarks to a Joint Session of Congress in 2015.

More significantly, his statement went against today’s broad consensus in Japan that the Imperial government bore some responsibility for the war, what the war engendered, and what might be described as “militant pacificism.”  In practice, this consistently restrains Abe’s goal of a more militant national defense posture and weaponry. While understandable, the traumas of 1945 underwrite Japan’s reluctance to assume the full responsibilities of a modern military power despite growing regional challenges.

Visits to the Yasunkuni Shrine have long endured criticism due to its enshrined convicted war criminals, which is why the Emperor Naruhito has refused to visit it. This year’s remembrances of the war have prompted an outpouring of thoughtful discussions of the key questions still resonating in policy debates today: why did Truman decide to be the first—and so far only—national leader to use nuclear weapons and how should history judge him as multiple nations seek to ensure that there is never again a nuclear attack.

Truman’s controversial decision to use nuclear weapons has often been questioned, which isn’t just about historic judgments and moral considerations. Those questions center around geostrategic policy concerns given the rising tensions between the United States and its major nuclear weapons rivals, Russia and China. They also center around the long-time threats of North Korea, consistent squabbles between India and Pakistan, the Trump administration’s various attacks on all U.S. alliances, and the currently imperiled arms control agreements which also have helped maintain peace.

That’s why it’s really important to be careful about using history in broad, essentially moralistic ways, but especially when past events are contorted by political leaders seeking to reshape “history” to their own ends. One clear lesson of history still playing out in both Europe and Asia: nationalism as state policy is a cancer that has often proven to be fatal.

Since the dawn of the nuclear age, arguments against any use of nuclear weapons, however well-intentioned, underscore the risks of projecting back new information and current values that persistently ignore context such as the Howard Baker classic “what did they know and when did they know it.”

Today, it’s impossible for any of us to escape the “nuclear terror” of the Cold War years. But Truman and his associates couldn’t possibly have felt any of that, especially after all that they had seen and all that the American people endured. Their “context” unavoidably included years of mass civilian bombings throughout Europe and Asia, carried out by every country involved, including Imperial Japan.

In 1945, despite the Potsdam Conference’s discussion over the Emperor’s fate, virulent Imperial Military opposition to the peace feelers being offered via Moscow stalemated the small, if highly-placed “peace faction.” So when totaling up the horrifying human cost of the possible impact of nuclear weapons on Joseph Stalin’s machinations, critics must examine whether a surrender delay would have produced what happened next in Germany. Would we today have a North Japan and South Japan akin to the ongoing North Korea and South Korea tragedy?

Giving credibility to Stalin’s contemplated involvement springs the trap of ignoring other, all-too-plausible outcomes, such as the possibility that there would be no quick surrender, that the mass starvation Japan already had endured would be further exacerbated, that deaths would have approached genocidal levels if the Imperial Generals had carried out their intent to fight to the last schoolchild.

Impelled by our own, modern-day anxieties, we’re often left with a moral lecture that touches base with a terrible war in which the aggressors, such as Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, did unspeakable things. Yet many critics now seem more interested in denouncing Truman and colleagues based on value-laden assertions grounded in our very real nuclear anxieties.

Factual misstatements remain an obstacle to accurate assessment. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson’s “one million U.S. casualties” projection is often presented as an after-the-fact rationalization, rather than associated with its origin: the then-current facts about Iwo Jima, Okinawa, et al on both Japanese and U.S. casualties, which are the very rock of the foundation for Stimson’s argument, and Truman’s duty to consider.

Recently, some critics have tried to argue that Truman was wrong not to risk U.S. lives in order to save Japanese civilians from the nuclear holocaust, even though the context for the bombings encompassed the multiple-millions of civilian dead world-wide and a rising awareness of the Holocaust.

After all, the horrific Allied bombings of Germany and Japan failed to bring the then-projected benefits, but the Strategic Bombing Survey didn’t exist until well after the war and can’t be projected back in time.

Similarly, the world correctly now condemns civilian bombings from Kosovo to Syria, and it is true that U.S. military lives have been lost in Afghanistan and Iraq in an effort to avoid incurring civilian casualties. But again, critics cannot project the present back to 1945. As Truman once said in a run-up debate, with over four hundred thousand dead already, how can I tell another American family their loved one died to protect a Japanese?

Finally, speaking from a cultural perspective, even if we ignore the Bible’s litany of revenge, we can’t ignore the moral dilemma of, for lack of a better way to put it, “societal guilt.” Are critics prepared to argue that the Soviet Army shouldn’t have pressed on to Berlin because so many German civilians were killed and raped before the surrender? The average German we now know had a lot to do with the Holocaust. And have you ever talked to a Russian about how many family members are buried outside Stalingrad? Have you ever spoken to the Chinese, Koreans, Southeast Asians, Filipino, Australian families about their horrific treatment and losses at the hands of Imperial Japan?

Among the traps or risks in not doing so is to justify claims the War Crimes Trials were “victor’s justice,” the explicit theme of the museum at Yakusuni. And most reprehensibly, it underwrites the inexcusable “poor Japan as victim” trope implicit in Abe’s recent remarks.

Despite that, there is now broad acceptance in Japan that of course actions have consequences, and that the weight of history is not easily lifted, hence the agonizing heart of Abe’s statement. A current American example: The “Black Lives Matter” movement is forcing the country to deal with the blood-drenched history of racism and the moral and political price it has yet to fully pay.

If it’s true that the moral arc of history bends toward justice, then its definition of war is likely to be harsh. Abraham Lincoln put it best in his second inaugural address:

“If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God [means war] must needs come . . . [and] if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”

Whether or not a person can accept Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or the Russian rape of Germany, as the “harsh arc of justice,” in looking back on 1945 they owe it to themselves and the dead to accurately and honestly discuss why it happened, not just how truly awful it was. That is the only way that we, as a society, can ever hope to achieve “never again.”

Christopher Nelson recently retired from a long career as a journalist and Asia policy analyst, including The Nelson Report. He has written two books on the American Civil War.

Image: Reuters

Nuclear War Makes a Comeback (Revelation 16)

Nuclear War Makes a Comeback | Sierra Club

On websites where policymakers, scholars, and military leaders gather, concern about the possibility of nuclear war has been rising sharply in recent months as China, the United States, and Russia develop new weapons and new ways of using old ones.

On War on the Rocks, an online platform for national security articles and podcasts, Tong Zhao, a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, reported August 11 on public calls in China “to quickly and massively build up its nuclear forces” on the theory that only a “more robust nuclear posture” would prevent war with the United States.

The biggest nuclear arms budget ever is nearing approval in the US Congress, and the Trump administration has raised the possibility of resuming nuclear tests. President Trump has pulled the United States out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, while the New Start Treaty capping Russian and US nuclear warheads and delivery systems is set to expire next February if the two countries don’t agree to extend it.

For its part, Russia appears poised to equip its navy with hypersonic nuclear strike weapons, and according to the British newspaper The Independent, “The Russian premier has repeatedly spoken of his wish to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons that can be targeted anywhere on the planet.”

Meanwhile, momentum to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons has faltered. Nine nations now hold nuclear arms in an increasingly unsettled international scene. Recent research has shown that a nuclear exchange between just two of those with lesser arsenals—India and Pakistan—“could directly kill about 2.5 times as many as died worldwide in WWII, and in this nuclear war, the fatalities could occur in a single week.” Burning cities would throw so much soot into the upper atmosphere that temperatures and precipitation levels would fall across much of the earth—bringing widespread drought, famine, and death.

Clashes between India, Pakistan, and other nuclear-armed states have become frequent enough that the International Red Cross marked the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a warning: “[T]he risk of use of nuclear weapons has risen to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War.”

For 75 years, the nuclear Sword of Damocles has dangled over the earth. There is widespread agreement among analysts that the long lull may soon be over—owing, in part, to the end of the Cold War. During those decades, the United States and the USSR cooperated not only to avoid bombing each other into oblivion but also to discourage other nations from gaining their own nuclear arms, in part by spreading their nuclear umbrellas over their allies.

That international system has dissolved. In addition to the United States, Russia, and China, other nations have nuclear weapons and more are likely to soon acquire them. And a new possibility has appeared on the horizon: the increased likelihood that nuclear weapons could be introduced into conventional warfare in regional wars.

In a monograph published by Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, US defense policy and strategy analyst John K. Warden writes that “in the capitals of potential adversary countries,” the idea is taking hold “that nuclear wars can be won because they can be kept limited, and thus can be fought—even against the United States.”

What can the United States do to convince adversaries not to introduce nuclear weapons into a conventional war—to make clear, in advance, that taking such a step would lead to fatal consequences for the country that took it?

The answer from the US national security establishment, as the fiscal 2021 defense budget suggests, is a readiness to fight fire with fire: If the “adversaries” of the United States hold out the threat of introducing nuclear weapons in a conventional war, then (the argument goes) they should expect that the United States will respond in kind.

How many weapons and delivery systems would that require? A lot, according to the nuclear budget for the Departments of Defense and Energy now going through Congress. At a time when COVID-19 has shaken the foundations of the federal budget, Congress is close to approving $44.5 billion for fiscal 2021 to modernize nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and the infrastructure that supports them.

Sierra Club nuclear policy director John Coequyt has called on Congress “to resist the current renewal of the nuclear arms race and to ban the use of nuclear weapons,” and Sierra Club members have mobilized to try to stop funding for nuclear war projects in their neighborhoods.

In South Carolina, for instance, Tom Clements, Sierra Club member and director of Savannah River Site Watch, has joined other groups in challenging plans for expanded plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site. And the Ohio Sierra Club’s Nuclear Free Committee has opposed production at the Portsmouth Nuclear Site in Piketon of “high-assay low-enriched uranium” that could be upgraded for weapons use, in the United States or elsewhere.

While such efforts often focus on local effects of nuclear weapons production, they also manifest a larger concern. Says the Club’s Nuclear Free Core Team’s Mark Muhich, the renewed nuclear arms race is “an existential threat both to human civilization and to the earth.”

Join the conversation in the Nuclear Free Campaign room of the Sierra Club Grassroots Network.

Read the Sierra Club’s policy statements on nuclear weapons here.

India Bulks Up For The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

India Bulking-Up Military Hardware In Ladakh As A Tactic To Negotiate With China – Analyst

By EurAsian Times DeskAugust 30, 2020

Calling India’s claims of taking a military resolve against its neighbours China a bluff, Beijing believes that PM Narendra Modi is fearful of the immense nuclear arsenal at Xi Jinping’s disposal and is only accumulating military hardware as a tactic of negotiating with Beijing. 

Yesterday, India decided to withdraw from a multilateral war game in Russia, a week after confirming its participation in the exercise that is also expected to be attended by the Chinese and Pakistani troops. The defence ministry spokesperson said India has decided not to send its contingent to the exercise in view of the coronavirus pandemic and “consequent difficulties”.

According to a paper published by Chinese Military expert, Wei Dongxu, India, which has been embroiled in a stand-off with China ever since the Galwan Valley clash, should be wary of picking up fights with its nuclear powered eastern neighbour.

“India is aware of China’s national strength and will not take risks to confront a nuclear power rashly,” said Wei

T-90 Tanks

As reported earlier by the Eurasian Times, China has reportedly placed some of its nuclear weapons close to the Indian border in Kashgar. The People Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly bolstered its nuclear plans after successfully conducting a missile attack early warning system, which gives them the power to detect hostile nuclear missiles and counterattack using nuclear weapons within minutes before they hit mainland China.

Wei, who writes columns for Global Times, a daily newspaper under the auspices of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also believes that while India is ramping up efforts to deploy additional troops and weaponry, which include shoulder-fired missiles like the origin Igla air defence system, in key areas of Ladakh, it is only a tactic to attain leverage in negotiations.

The Indian Army has remarkably ramped up its deployment of troops and weaponry, including tanks and artillery, into various sensitive areas. However, in fact, Indian senior military officials must be clearly aware of the gap of military capability between China and India. So they will not unilaterally launch a large-scale attack. The Indian military may expect to use such rhetoric and moves as leverage in its negotiations with China.”

His comments come on the back of warnings made by India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, who stated that India will take the military option if peace talks with the Chinese continued to fail.

Rawat had stated – “Transgressions along the LAC occur due to differing perceptions about its alignment. Defence services are tasked to monitor and carry out surveillance and prevent such transgressions from turning into intrusions. The whole of government approach is adopted to peacefully resolve any such activity and prevent intrusions. Defence services always remain prepared for military actions should all efforts to restore status quo along the LAC do not succeed”

Meanwhile, under the initiation of Rawat, India announced the setting up of a new Air Defence Command (ADC), to enhance military cooperation of its Air Force, Army and Navy protect its military assets from enemies’ aerial threats like fighter jets, missiles and drones.

The newly acquired advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile defence system from Russia, once delivered, will come under the command of the ADC, which will already have indigenous Akash, the Israeli SpyDer, and Soviet-origin Pechora, OSA-AK and the shoulder-fired Igla, at its disposal.

US nuclear weapons budget will skyrocket when Russia treaty ends

US nuclear weapons budget could skyrocket if Russia treaty ends

Joe Gould

WASHINGTON ― The New START nuclear pact’s demise could cost the Department of Defense as much as $439 billion for modernization, plus $28 billion in annual maintenance costs, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report published Tuesday.

That price estimate, as the United States and Russia remain at odds over the treaty, reflects a threefold increase in weapons production costs. With Washington and Moscow’s responses to the expiration of New START unclear, CBO explored several possible paths, including other less expensive options.

“If the New START treaty expired, the United States could choose to make no changes to its current plans for nuclear forces, in which case it would incur no additional costs,” the CBO study found. “If the United States chose to increase its forces in response to the expiration of the treaty, modest expansions could be relatively inexpensive and could be done quickly. Larger expansions could be quite costly, however, and could take several decades to accomplish.”

The New START treaty limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. Signed in 2010 by then-U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the pact would expire Feb. 5, but includes an option to extend it for another five years without needing the approval of either country’s legislature.

The analysis comes amid predictions of flattening defense budgets and as the United States and Russia concluded two days of arms control talks in Vienna last week with some signs of a possible willingness to extend the existing New START deal. A key sticking point is the U.S. demand to include China in any new treaty, even as China has repeatedly refused.

U.S. government leaders argue that any new nuclear arms limitation treaty should cover all types of warheads, include better verification protocols and transparency measures, and extend to include China, which has been increasing its own arsenal.

Russia has offered an extension without any conditions. U.S. negotiator Marshall Billingslea indicated the U.S. was willing to talk about an extension but only if there were a politically binding framework for making changes to New START, which he called “deeply flawed.”

Arms control advocates have warned against the U.S. allowing the treaty to lapse with no limits on their nuclear arsenals, after both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year.

“Ever-increasing spending on nuclear weapons without an arms control framework that bounds U.S. and Russian nuclear forces is a recipe for budget chaos, undermining strategic stability, and damaging the health of the global nonproliferation regime,” said the Arms Control Association’s director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, Kingston Reif.

“Such an approach also flies in the face of longstanding bipartisan Congressional support for the pursuit of modernization and arms control in tandem.”

An expansion in nuclear weapons spending would likely place pressure on other parts of the national defense budget. CBO previously concluded the U.S. will spend $1.2 trillion over the next three decades on nuclear-weapons. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is not budgeting for New START’s expiration, according to a recent GAO report.

U.S. lawmakers of both parties are pressuring the White House to extend the pact. The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel, and ranking Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul, sponsored legislation last year calling for a treaty extension until 2026.

New START is the latest in a series of strategic nuclear arms control treaties—following START I, START II, and the Moscow Treaty—between the United States and Russia (or the Soviet Union). CBO offered estimates of the cost of expanding to the limits under each of those previous treaties, but did not consider decreasing any components of the nuclear triad.

An expansion from the current 1,550 warhead cap to 2002 Moscow Treaty cap of 2,200, would not exceed the cost of current plans, CBO found. That and remaining on the current course were least expensive options.

Expanding to 1993 START II Treaty limits, for forces that would carry up to 3,500 warheads, would either upload warheads on existing and next-generation forces at $100 million, while a more flexible approach would purchase enough additional next-generation delivery vehicles to reach START II limits using current warhead loadings at more than $114 billion and $3 billion annually.

Expanding to 1991 START I Treaty limits would require even more delivery systems and warheads. Minimizing delivery systems, it would cost more than $88 billion and more than $4 billion annually. Maintaining the current number of warheads on new delivery systems would cost as much as $439 billion and $28 billion annually.

CBO did not estimate the cost to produce, sustain and store new warheads under each treaty but said it could range from $15 million to $20 million each, which equates to $45 billion to $60 billion to reach the START I limit of 6,000 warheads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.