Monday, November 24, 2008

Interesting Times

It keeps coming up, but this time in between the election and inauguration day was the speculated time frame in which one or two nightmare scenarios might materialize: the American Hiroshima (which I've mentioned previously) attack or an EMP attack (or both). Recently, the Wall Street Journal published the article, What a Single Nuclear Warhead Could Do. Here are a few "highlights":
Think about this scenario: An ordinary-looking freighter ship heading toward New York or Los Angeles launches a missile from its hull or from a canister lowered into the sea. It hits a densely populated area. A million people are incinerated. The ship is then sunk. No one claims responsibility. There is no firm evidence as to who sponsored the attack, and thus no one against whom to launch a counterstrike.

But as terrible as that scenario sounds, there is one that is worse. Let us say the freighter ship launches a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile off the coast of the U.S. and the missile explodes 300 miles over Chicago. The nuclear detonation in space creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Gamma rays from the explosion, through the Compton Effect, generate three classes of disruptive electromagnetic pulses, which permanently destroy consumer electronics, the electronics in some automobiles and, most importantly, the hundreds of large transformers that distribute power throughout the U.S. All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans.

This is what is referred to as an EMP attack, and such an attack would effectively throw America back technologically into the early 19th century. It would require the Iranians to be able to produce a warhead as sophisticated as we expect the Russians or the Chinese to possess. But that is certainly attainable. Common sense would suggest that, absent food and water, the number of people who could die of deprivation and as a result of social breakdown might run well into the millions.

Let us be clear. A successful EMP attack on the U.S. would have a dramatic effect on the country, to say the least. Even one that only affected part of the country would cripple the economy for years. Dropping nuclear weapons on or retaliating against whoever caused the attack would not help. And an EMP attack is not far-fetched.

Twice in the last eight years, in the Caspian Sea, the Iranians have tested their ability to launch ballistic missiles in a way to set off an EMP. The congressionally mandated EMP Commission, with some of America's finest scientists, has released its findings and issued two separate reports, the most recent in April, describing the devastating effects of such an attack on the U.S.
There was this nugget from the Daily Pundit a while ago too:

Little Congressional Interest in EMP Threat - Defense News

Once again, a congressional commission is warning that an electromagnetic pulse attack against the United States could wipe out the nation’s electronics-dependent civilization. And again, hardly anyone is listening.

Only a handful of the 60 members of the House Armed Services Committee showed up for a hearing on the EMP threat July 10, and most didn’t stick around for the whole two-hour session.

…There is “a high likelihood” than an EMP attack would damage the “electrical power systems, electronics and information systems upon which American society depends.” The effect “on critical infrastructures could be sufficient to qualify as catastrophic to the nation,” Graham said.

…In a March report to lawmakers, the Congressional Research Service said, “the threat of an EMP attack against the United States is hard to assess.” The CRS did not dispute claims about the catastrophic nature of an EMP attack.
And this one from Winds of Change:
EMP, Again

There's a lot of chatter about Iranian EMP again (it seems to come back periodically). here's Walid Phares over at the Counterterrorism Blog:
Over the past seven months I have been interacting with US Homeland Security and European defense officials and experts on a the potential next threat to the West, more particularly against mainland America. The signature of that strategic menace is EMP: Electro Magnetic Pulse; a weapon of the future, already available in design, construction and possible deployment. As eyes are focused on the Iranian nuclear threat, and as we began recently to understand that the missile advances are as important then the fissile material development, attention is now being drawn by private sector projects and some in the defense world to what can cause a wider circle of damages and thus more deterrence against US national security.
In short, and I borrow from the Project "Shield," an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack could be triggered by a nuclear warhead detonated at high altitude over America. The resulting blast would create an EMP, a shockwave that could "cripple military and civilian communications, power, transportation, water, food, and other infrastructure." Even if a high-altitude EMP kills nobody at first, it would paralyze a large section of the United States. The lingering practical and economic effects would take anywhere from hours to years to resolve: when secondary effects are considered, an EMP could be even deadlier than a direct nuclear strike against the mainland. Indeed, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has written: "Where the terrorist airliner attacks of 9/11 killed thousands, a terrorist EMP attack could indirectly kill millions and conceivably cause the permanent collapse of our entire society."
So I'm not the only one thinking about the EMP. But I also wonder what may be up with the Al Qaeda plan. I haven't heard much about it in a while.
Al Qaeda Announces Attack to Rival Hiroshima (Video)

It's a bit confusing that this story did not get more attention yesterday.
Granted it comes from Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that democrats deny is actually operating in Iraq, but the magnitude of the threat should have garnered it a few headlines in the media outlets anyway. You'd think.

FOX News reported on the story:

The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday:

AL-QAEDA leaders in Iraq are planning the first "large-scale" terrorist attacks on Britain and other western targets with the help of supporters in Iran, according to a leaked intelligence report.

Spy chiefs warn that one operative had said he was planning an attack on "a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki" in an attempt to "shake the Roman throne", a reference to the West, according to The Times newspaper in the UK.

Another plot could be timed to coincide with Tony Blair stepping down as prime minister, an event described by Al-Qaeda planners as a "change in the head of the company".

The report, produced earlier this month and seen by The Sunday Times, appears to provide evidence that Al-Qaeda is active in Iran and has ambitions far beyond the improvised attacks it has been waging against British and American soldiers in Iraq.
More on those guys who aren't supposed to be in Iraq.
Even quoting an earlier incarnation of myself, there was this:
Phantom Menace
Given that the US is the biggest problem, I revisited some topics that are apparently on the lighter side.

'Al-Qaida has nukes'

According to a report in the Arabic newspaper al-Hayat, Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network bought tactical nuclear weapons from Ukraine in 1998.

The report says the terrorists still have the "suitcase nuke" weapons and are storing them in safe places for possible use.

The newspaper said al-Qaida bought the weapons in suitcases in a deal arranged when Ukrainian scientists visited the Afghan city of Kandahar in 1998. The city was then a stronghold of the Taliban movement, which was allied with al-Qaida.

WorldNetDaily first broke the story of al-Qaida's purchase of suitcase nukes Oct. 3, 2002. Paul Williams, an FBI consultant on international terrorism said then bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network purchased 20 suitcase nuclear weapons from former KGB agents in 1998 for $30 million.

His book, "Al Qaeda: Brotherhood of Terror," also says this deal was one of at least three in the last decade in which al-Qaida purchased small nuclear weapons or weapons-grade nuclear uranium.
That same year, according to Williams, bin Laden succeeded in buying the 20 suitcase nukes from Chechen Mafia figures, including former KGB agents. The $30 million deal was partly cash and partly heroin with a street value of $700 million.
I believe I remember an interview of Dr. Paul Williams by Bob Davis back on June 18, 2007, but the podcast is no longer available. The memorable line from the Dr. Williams that has stuck with me: "I saw the check."

But at least it is comforting to know that an American Hiroshima is no big deal to Euroliberals.
Sure it's been "planned" for quite some time with nothing coming of it. But then again, so was 9/11. But what I find most salient is the current time frame. The rising of a nuclear Iran and tensions with Israel also lead folks to predict changes on the horizon:
Bolton: Israel might attack Iran between Election Day and Inauguration Day

Let’s hope he’s right at least about nothing happening before the election, as the paranoia about Israel acting at Bush’s behest to initiate a crisis that might benefit McCain would blow as sky high as Iran’s reactors after an IAF raid.
“The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increase their defences by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations.

“They’re also obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgement is they would not want to do anything before our election because there’s no telling what impact it could have on the election.”…

“An Obama victory would rule out military action by the Israelis because they would fear the consequences given the approach Obama has taken to foreign policy,” said Mr Bolton, who was Mr Bush’s ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006.

“With McCain they might still be looking at a delay. Given that time is on Iran’s side, I think the argument for military action is sooner rather than later absent some other development.”
How would Israel hitting Iran in December after Obama wins spare them the diplomatic “consequences” Bolton warns of here? Any attack after Election Day, or even before if Obama’s out to a big lead late in the race, will result in a major foreign policy crisis being foisted on him as he enters office without his having been consulted. If anything, waiting until after he’s elected but before he’s sworn in would be the supreme insult since it would look like a panic move precipitated by a total lack of confidence in the new administration to handle the Iranian threat. Which, needless to say, may be justifiable, but it’s bound to make for poisonous relations between President Obama and the Israelis. Bolton’s point, I take it, is that an Obama victory will leave Israel with the awful choice of hitting Iran at the price of (potentially) alienating the new U.S. government versus trusting the new government and risking Iran going nuclear — although if that’s true then logically they should want to act as soon as possible, election or no, since that would let them deal with the threat while also minimizing the political implications in the U.S. while we’re still four months away from the election.
Or this:
Would Obama's election mean Mideast nuclear war?

If Obama (already endorsed by Hamas) is elected President in November (instead of someone Israel could trust to support it), between Election Day 2008 and Inauguration Day 2009, Israel, with or without the aid of the United States, may deem military action against Iran essential to its national security.
Much speculation has been about the time frame in which we now find ourselves. I find it most certainly of interest the goings on in the Middle East right now. We don't really know how advanced Iran's nuclear program is, we don't really know to what extent Al Qaeda has any operational capability for its claims, we don't know what triggers might exist for America's enemies regarding Bush and Obama, and we don't know how politics in the Levant will affect things either. It rather looks like a perfect storm brewing.

Soon after 9/11 I realized my generation and those following had come to live the ancient Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times.

Update: Thanks for the link DailyPundit!

1 comment:

USpace said...

A 'Perfect Storm' indeed. People must realize that this is not a border dispute. Islamic Fundamentalists want ALL Jews dead and gone. Period.

The delusional insanity of many on the Left and a few on the Right about this is frightening. They ignore all facts and logic. Hamas, a terrorist organization killing the so-called Palestinians' hope for peace, are evil garbage, they must be eliminated. They have sent thousands, yes thousands of missiles into Israel over the past couple of years and Israel had never exercised their right of self-defense, until recently, when Hamas broke the ceasefire and started firing rockets again.

Israel is FINALLY doing the right thing. If Hamas is destroyed, then, if the rest of the 'Palestinians' really want peace they can give up their dream of destroying Israel, if not, they will never have peace.

Israel must destroy as much of Hamas as possible before the MSM and the idiots and ignorants whine loud enough for them to stop. They must only quit when they are ready.

For EVERY missile shot into Israel at least ONE missile should be returned to the area as close as possible to the shooter. Tit for tat. Every single missile should be returned. Period. Treat them like adults, if they kill, they will be killed. If they send missiles, they will receive them. That is the only way they will learn. Screw public opinion, force them to see the truth, or let them be damned.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
hope your kids grow up

to strap bombs on babies
to kill other children

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
let someone hit you

over and over again
and NEVER hit back harder

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
DO NOT defend your country

from terrorist monkeys
just let them bomb you at will

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never mock Hamas

it's just their religion
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