Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Utumno, Jun 14, 2014.
U.S. Military Warns of Threat From Chinese-Run Space Station in Argentina
Defense officials are worried about a remote compound Beijing says helped it land on the far side of the moon.
FEBRUARY 8, 2019
The main antenna of a Chinese deep space ground station in the Neuquén province, Argentina.
Senior U.S. defense officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Chinese military can monitor and potentially target U.S. and allied satellites from a new deep space ground station in the Western Hemisphere, located in the deserts of Patagonia.
In wide-ranging testimony before the U.S. Congress on Feb. 7, Adm. Craig Faller, the newly confirmed commander of U.S. Southern Command, warned lawmakers about China’s accelerated expansion into Latin America. Not only does China support the autocratic regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua and employ predatory lending practices across the region, but it is also investing in key infrastructure such as a deep-space tracking facility in Argentina, Faller told lawmakers.
U.S. military and intelligence officials have been watching the development of this particular facility with growing alarm since its inception. Over the past few years, a powerful 16-story antenna has risen from the remote, 200-hectare compound in the Neuquén province. But the station, which is surrounded by an 8-foot barbed wire fence, operates with little oversight from Argentine authorities, experts say. The ground station reportedly began operations in April 2018.
China has insisted that the aim of the facility is peaceful space exploration and observation. For example, it is said to have played a critical role in China’s landing a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon in January.
Brian Weeden, a space policy and security expert with the Secure World Foundation, noted that the United States deploys antennas similar to the one in Patagonia all around the world.
“Unless there is something specifically different about this, it’s a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black,” he said. “To me, there is no specific piece of evidence other than it happens to be Chinese that signals that it is nefarious.”
But the U.S. military is concerned that the big-dish radar could be used for another purpose: collecting information on the position and activity of U.S. military satellites.
“Beijing could be in violation of the terms of its agreement with Argentina to only conduct civilian activities and may have the ability to monitor and potentially target U.S., allied, and partner space activities,” said Faller, who until recently served in the Pentagon as the top military aide to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, said in his written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Both China and Russia have multiple ways of taking out or disabling U.S. and allied civil and military satellites, which provide critical navigation, communication, and command-and-control services around the globe, according to a report by the U.S. Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center. China has military units that have already begun training with anti-satellite missiles like the one used in a 2007 test to destroy a Chinese weather satellite, generating more than 3,000 pieces of dangerous debris that are still orbiting the Earth and endangering nearby space assets.
In addition to anti-satellite missiles, both nations have capabilities to jam U.S. and allied satellites, such as the ones that control unmanned U.S. military aircraft, according to the report. Airborne lasers can also be used to temporarily or permanently blind imagery satellites and other sensors. Cyberattacks on key infrastructure, such as ground-based space stations, also pose a threat.
The U.S. intelligence community also believes China and Russia’s space capabilities are a risk to U.S. forces, even as both countries push for international agreements on the non-weaponization of space.
In addition to the operational Chinese army missile intended to target satellites in low-Earth orbit, China likely intends to pursue additional weapons capable of destroying satellites up to “geosynchronous” Earth orbit, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in his Jan. 29 testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“China’s and Russia’s proposals for international agreements on the non-weaponization of space do not cover multiple issues connected to the [anti-satellite] weapons they are developing and deploying, which has allowed them to pursue space warfare capabilities while maintaining the position that space must remain weapons-free,” Coats said, according to his written testimony.
Experts noted that Beijing’s claim that it will use the facility only for peaceful purposes can’t be taken at face value, as the Chinese national space agency is closely linked with the People’s Liberation Army.
Frank Rose, who served as U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control from 2014 to 2017 and currently is a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, said the geographic location of the new station provides China critical space coverage in the Southern and Western Hemispheres.
“It’s a question of covering certain orbits. There’s a reason why the U.S. has satellite tracking stations around the world—it gives you global coverage,” Rose said. “You can’t get global coverage from China.”
Evan Ellis, a professor of Latin American studies at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, said the ground station’s primary purpose may in fact be for peaceful research. The general shape and size of the dish is “consistent with what the Chinese say that it is,” he said, noting that the location “does make a certain amount of sense” because scientists need facilities positioned on all sides of the Earth for deep-space observations.
The personnel who operate the facility are either active-duty or former Chinese military, but that is “not inherently nefarious” given how closely the army is tied with the Chinese space program, Ellis said.
However, Ellis noted that the facility could also be used to collect other types of data, particularly on the various sensitive commercial and military satellites that frequently pass overhead.
It is also concerning that the Argentine government “really doesn’t have physical access” to the compound, he added, noting that it is a six-hour drive from the closest government facility.
Rose applauded the Trump administration for increasing its focus on space, including the plan to re-establish U.S. Space Command, but said that one “gaping hole” in their approach is the lack of diplomatic outreach to China on this issue. The Obama administration in 2016 held two rounds of space security talks with China, one in Washington and one in Beijing, he said, noting the participation of the State and Defense Department. But the Trump administration has not continued these talks, he said.
“I will give the administration some credit, they are focused on the threat to our space systems, and I give them credit for focusing public attention,” Rose said. “However it is not just a military solution to this problem—yes we have to protect our systems in outer space, yes we need to be prepared to respond to attacks, but there has to be a role for diplomacy.”
aka it's not that they don't have accurate ICBM's already, but satnav stations in the America's give them that thread the needle precision
Of course it's not.
The screaming speed in the rise of anti jewish anti israeli anti zionist feelings in the world has almost reincarnated Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler
Iran hasn't been stomping all across the middle east because you're winners
Top US general begins farewell tour amid orders to withdraw from Syria, Afghanistan
February 10, 2019
Gen. Joseph Votel, the top US commander for the Middle East and Central Asia is embarking on what should be a two-week farewell tour as he prepares to step down after a nearly 40-year career.
But as head of US Central Command, he leaves under a different commander in chief than when he began the job, and after controversial orders from the White House to withdraw troops from Syria and begin withdrawing forces from Afghanistan.
Votel took the helm at Centcom under President Obama as the US was urgently ramping up the war against ISIS and struggling to keep the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan in check. It came at a time when Iraqi security forces were failing to fight on their own, abandoning key areas like Ramadi, and there was serious concern even Baghdad could fall.
Votel now leaves office as President Donald Trump prepares to announce a victory of sorts. The administration is expected to announce in the coming days that US-backed fighters and US-led airstrikes have succeeded in driving ISIS out of all the territory in Syria it once controlled. This now leaves Votel to carry out the President's order to remove more than 2,000 troops from Syria, even as concern grows that the SDF fighters the US has backed in northern Syria could get attacked by Turkish forces that see them as tied to Kurdish terrorist organizations.
In a comment before Congress that drew worldwide attention, Votel publicly acknowledged he had not been "consulted" about the President's drawdown decision.
"I was not aware of the specific announcement. Certainly we are aware that he had expressed a desire and intent in the past to depart Iraq, depart Syria," Votel said during a Tuesday hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"So you weren't consulted before that decision was announced?" Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, asked him.
"We were not, I was not consulted," Votel responded.
He also stated that "the fight against ISIS and violent extremists is not over, and our mission has not changed," and would not commit to a timeline for the withdrawal. "I am not under pressure to be out by a specific date," he said.
"The fact the President made a decision and we are going to execute his orders here to withdraw forces from Syria and as we do that we're going to do that in a very deliberate manner," Votel added.
He will have to find ways to reassure SDF commanders in his final weeks in office that the US is not abandoning them.
Votel's trip will focus on meeting key foreign military and government leaders across the region to thank them for their support for the US-led coalition. But it also comes at a time when many in the region are concerned the Trump Administration could be gearing up for action against Iran. Votel has been a constant voice warning against Iran's efforts to expand its influence and maintain a position in Syria that facilitates their ability to ship weapons to Hezbollah to threaten Israel.
But President Trump recently caught important Iraqi allies by surprise when he suggested the US would maintain a base inside Iraq for the purposes of keeping an eye on Iran. The comments provoked a deeply unfavorable reaction from the Iranian government which would have to agree to any Iran military mission being conducted from its sovereign territory.
Iraqi President Bahram Salih said that the US had not asked permission to have forces on the ground "watch Iran," noting that "the US presence in Iraq is a part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific task which is to combat terrorism."
"Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues," Salih said during a forum in Baghdad.
Votel is headed now for a scheduled retirement after a 39-year Army career serving in some of the highest-ranking and most sensitive assignments. Before taking charge of US Central Command, he served as head of the US Special Operations Command and before that as head of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command which oversees some of the most highly classified combat operations for US special operations units. With several tours in combat, Votel has developed critical relationships with counterparts across the Middle East that younger upcoming generals may not have as combat operations wind down.
But he also leaves with many missions still controversial and uncertain.
Following a CNN report by Nima Elbagir, Centcom is now investigating how US supplied weapons and armored vehicles were allegedly transferred in Yemen to possible Iranian backed and al Qaeda-related militias. And President Trump has made clear he also wants to draw down troops in Afghanistan, again raising concerns by some US commanders that Afghan forces will be ready to look after their own security. One positive indicator however, is the US is talking directly to the Taliban, although it has not yet brought in the Afghan government to the talks.
But perhaps most telling as Votel prepares to step down in the coming weeks is the still looming strength of terror groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. The US intelligence community has warned in recent weeks that thousands of ISIS fighters have gone to ground, in Syria and Iraq but still retain a capability to communicate, plan and carry out attacks.
At the same latest US intelligence assessment on al Qaeda concluded that senior leaders are "strengthening the network's global command structure," as part of its effort to inspire and encourage attacks against the West.
Trump Pushes Iraq to Stop Buying Energy From Iran
Feb. 11, 2019
An Iranian oil facility on Kharg Island. Iraq relies on electricity and natural gas from its neighbor.CreditAtta Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is pressuring Iraq to stop buying energy from its neighbor and sole foreign supplier, Iran, in what has become a major point of conflict between Washington and Baghdad.
Iraqi leaders, fearing that a further shortfall in power would lead to mass protests and political instability in their electricity-starved country, are pushing back on the demand, which is rooted in President Trump’s sanctions against Iran.
The dispute has frayed American diplomacy with Baghdad as Iraq tries to steady itself after the United States military withdrawal in 2011 and the campaign against the Islamic State.
Iraq’s defiance further jeopardizes Mr. Trump’s goal of getting all nations to comply with sanctions after withdrawing from the deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear program last year. Already, European nations have set up a legal financial mechanism to do business with Iran, and China and India are resisting American efforts at prodding them to cut off oil purchases.
Tensions rose after Mr. Trump said on Feb. 3 that he planned to have American troops who have returned to Iraq “watch Iran,” despite Baghdad’s need to maintain cordial ties with its fellow Shiite neighbor. Mr. Trump’s comments added momentum to proposed legislation in Iraq that would limit the movement and activities of American troops.
“The people of Iraq have suffered from the blockade and are aware of the harm done to the people by their actions,” Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq said last week after a meeting with the governor of Iran’s central bank, Abdolnaser Hemmati. He was referring to 13 years of crippling sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United States when Saddam Hussein was in power.
“Iraq will not be part of the sanctions regime against Iran and any other people,” Mr. Abdul Mahdi said.
Mr. Hemmati said he hoped Iraq and Iran would cooperate more in banking, which could also weaken American sanctions.
American officials are seeking to cut off Iraqi purchases of natural gas and electricity, even though the country relies on those for a good portion of its energy needs.
Iraq’s energy production and grid capabilities have lagged since the American-led invasion of 2003, and blackouts in cities are common, even with the current purchases. The energy shortfall is especially acute in the sweltering summers, which has led to large protests that become national crises.
Iranian natural gas is the single most critical energy import in Iraq, but American officials say purchases must end now because gas falls under the American sanctions.
And the Trump administration has told Iraq’s leaders that they have until late March to end electricity purchases, amounting to about 1.2 gigawatts. Officials in Baghdad say there is no easy substitute for either one because it would take three years or more to adequately build up Iraq’s energy infrastructure.
The Trump administration’s push on Iraq is part of its strategy of using sanctions to weaken Iran’s economy and prompt political or policy change. Administration officials aim to coerce Iranian leaders to fully dismantle their nuclear and ballistic missile programs and curb their support for Shiite Arab militias in the Middle East.
American officials say they want to get Iranian oil exports to zero, but they gave leeway to some countries when imposing sanctions in November. The State Department and Treasury granted waivers to eight countries, including China and India, Iran’s two biggest customers, to allow continued purchases for 180 days.
Iraq was given a 45-day waiver on electricity, which was extended by 90 days in December. On Jan. 9, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Iraq’s two top leaders in Baghdad about “energy independence,” a State Department spokesman said.
Iraqi officials said the American demand acknowledges neither Iraq’s energy needs nor the complex relations between Baghdad and Tehran.
Haider al-Abadi, the former prime minister, said in an interview that Iraq was in a precarious situation with the United States because “we cannot afford to make them angry.” But, he said, the Americans have failed to “look at the geopolitics of Iraq.”
“We happen to be neighbors of Iran; the U.S. is not,” Mr. al-Abadi said. “We happen to have the longest border with Iran; the U.S. does not. And we don’t have that powerful an economy.”
The defiance by Iraqi leaders underscores the lack of support among many nations for the sanctions and the American goal of crippling Iran’s government. Analysts say they do not expect China and India to stop their purchases of Iranian oil even after the 180-day waivers expire. On Jan. 31, Britain, France and Germany announced a mechanism to allow countries to do business with Iran in a way that does not violate sanctions.
This week, diplomats from dozens of countries will meet in Warsaw for what American officials originally billed as a discussion of the Iran sanctions and containment strategy. But Western European nations balked at the focus on Iran and threatened to send lower-level officials, forcing the State Department to broaden the theme to addressing instability in the Middle East.
Inside Iran, the sanctions have led to a scarcity of medicine, adding to global criticism of the American policy.
Last month, top American intelligence officials contradicted Mr. Trump by saying Iran was not currently taking steps to make a nuclear bomb. Those officials and the International Atomic Energy Agency say Iran still appears to be complying with the nuclear deal from which Mr. Trump withdrew the United States in May.
Iraq presents a special dilemma for the United States. The toppling of Hussein in 2003 allowed Iran to become the dominant foreign power in Iraq. That has continued throughout the Iraqi government’s campaign against the Islamic State, with Iran supporting Shiite Arab militias against the Sunni extremist group and sending top commanders into battle, including Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a nemesis of the Americans.
Meghan O’Sullivan, an energy scholar and Harvard Kennedy School professor who was a top National Security Council official on Iraq under President George W. Bush.
“The administration’s policy is putting Iraq in a tough position,” said Ms. O’Sullivan, who has spoken with Iraqi and American officials about the American demands. “The big transition that the Trump administration wants Iraq to make in stepping away from Iran will take a long time.”
The World’s Most Dangerous Nuclear Weapon Just Rolled Off the Assembly Line
With the creation of a new “mini-nuke” warhead, the US is making nuclear war all the more probable.
Last month, the National Nuclear Security Administration (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission) announced that the first of a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons had rolled offthe assembly line at its Pantex nuclear-weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas. That warhead, the W76-2, is designed to be fitted to a submarine-launched Trident missile, a weapon with a range of more than 7,500 miles. By September, an undisclosed number of warheads will be delivered to the Navy for deployment.
What makes this particular nuke new is the fact that it carries a far smallerdestructive payload than the thermonuclear monsters the Trident has been hosting for decades—not the equivalent of about 100 kilotons of TNT as previously, but of five kilotons. According to Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the W76-2 will yield “only” about one-third of the devastating power of the weapon that the Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber, dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Yet that very shrinkage of the power to devastate is precisely what makes this nuclear weapon potentially the most dangerous ever manufactured. Fulfilling the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility,” it isn’t designed as a deterrent against another country launching its nukes; it’s designed to be used. This is the weapon that could make the previously “unthinkable” thinkable.
There have long been “low-yield” nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, including ones on cruise missiles, “air-drop bombs” (carried by planes), and even nuclear artillery shells—weapons designated as “tactical” and intended to be used in the confines of a specific battlefield or in a regional theater of war. The vast majority of them were, however, eliminated in the nuclear-arms reductions that followed the end of the Cold War, a scaling-down by both the United States and Russia that would be quietly greeted with relief by battlefield commanders, those actually responsible for the potential use of such ordnance who understood its self-destructive absurdity.
Ranking some weapons as “low-yield” based on their destructive energy always depended on a distinction that reality made meaningless (once damage from radioactivity and atmospheric fallout was taken into account, along with the unlikelihood that only one such weapon would be used). In fact, the elimination of tactical nukes represented a hard-boiled confrontation with the iron law of escalation, another commander’s insight—that any use of such a weapon against a similarly armed adversary would likely ignite an inevitable chain of nuclear escalation whose end point was barely imaginable. One side was never going to take a hit without responding in kind, launching a process that could rapidly spiral toward an apocalyptic exchange. “Limited nuclear war,” in other words, was a fool’s fantasy and gradually came to be universally acknowledged as such. No longer, unfortunately.
Unlike tactical weapons, intercontinental strategic nukes were designed to directly target the far-off homeland of an enemy. Until now, their extreme destructive power (so many times greater than that inflicted on Hiroshima) made it impossible to imagine genuine scenarios for their use that would be practically, not to mention morally, acceptable. It was exactly to remove that practical inhibition—the moral one seemed not to count—that the Trump administration recently began the process of withdrawing from the Cold War–era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, while rolling a new “limited” weapon off the assembly line and so altering the Trident system. With these acts, there can be little question that humanity is entering a perilous second nuclear age.
That peril lies in the way a 70-year-old inhibition that undoubtedly saved the planet is potentially being shelved in a new world of supposedly “usable” nukes. Of course, a weapon with one-third the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, where as many as 150,000 died, might kill 50,000 people in a similar attack before escalation even began. Of such nukes, former secretary of state George Shultz, who was at President Ronald Reagan’s elbow when Cold War–ending arms control negotiations climaxed, said, “A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. You use a small one, then you go to a bigger one. I think nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons and we need to draw the line there.”
HOW CLOSE TO MIDNIGHT?
Until now, it’s been an anomaly of the nuclear age that some of the fiercest critics of such weaponry were drawn from among the very people who created it. The emblem of that is the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a bimonthly journal founded after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by veteran scientists from the Manhattan Project, which created the first nuclear weapons. (Today, that magazine’s sponsors include 14 Nobel Laureates.) Beginning in 1947, the Bulletin’s cover has functioned annually as a kind of nuclear alarm, featuring a so-called Doomsday Clock, its minute hand always approaching “midnight” (defined as the moment of nuclear catastrophe).
In that first year, the hand was positioned at seven minutes to midnight. In 1949, after the Soviet Union acquired its first atomic bomb, it inched up to three minutes before midnight. Over the years, it has been reset every January to register waxing and waning levels of nuclear jeopardy. In 1991, after the end of the Cold War, it was set back to 17 minutes and then, for a few hope-filled years, the clock disappeared altogether.
It came back in 2005 at seven minutes to midnight. In 2007, the scientists began factoring climate degradation into the assessment and the hands moved inexorably forward. By 2018, after a year of Donald Trump, it clocked in at two minutes to midnight, a shrill alarm meant to signal a return to the greatest peril ever: the two-minute level reached only once before, 65 years earlier. Last month, within days of the announced manufacture of the first W76-2, the Bulletin’scover for 2019 was unveiled, still at that desperate two-minute mark, aka the edge of doom.
To fully appreciate how precarious our situation is today, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists implicitly invites us to return to that other two-minutes-before-midnight moment. If the manufacture of a new low-yield nuclear weapon marks a decisive pivot back toward jeopardy, consider it an irony that the last such moment involved the manufacture of the extreme opposite sort of nuke: a “super” weapon, as it was then called, or a hydrogen bomb. That was in 1953 and what may have been the most fateful turn in the nuclear story until now had just occurred.
After the Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb in 1949, the United States embarked on a crash program to build a far more powerful nuclear weapon. Having been decommissioned after World War II, the Pantex plant was reactivated and has been the main source of American nukes ever since.
The atomic bomb is a fission weapon, meaning the nuclei of atoms are split into parts whose sum total weighs less than the original atoms, the difference having been transformed into energy. A hydrogen bomb uses the intense heat generated by that “fission” (hence thermonuclear) as a trigger for a vastly more powerful “fusion,” or combining, of elements, which results in an even larger loss of mass being transformed into explosive energy of a previously unimagined sort. One H-bomb generates explosive force 100 to 1,000 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb.
Given a kind of power that humans once only imagined in the hands of the gods, key former Manhattan Project scientists, including Enrico Fermi, James Conant, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, firmly opposed the development of such a new weapon as a potential threat to the human species. The Super Bomb would be, in Conant’s word, “genocidal.” Following the lead of those scientists, members of the Atomic Energy Commission recommended—by a vote of three to two—against developing such a fusion weapon, but President Truman ordered it done anyway.
In 1952, as the first H-bomb test approached, still-concerned atomic scientists proposed that the test be indefinitely postponed to avert a catastrophic “super” competition with the Soviets. They suggested that an approach be made to Moscow to mutually limit thermonuclear development only to research on, not actual testing of, such weaponry, especially since none of this could truly be done in secret. A fusion bomb’s test explosion would be readily detectable by the other side, which could then proceed with its own testing program. The scientists urged Moscow and Washington to draw just the sort of arms control line that the two nations would indeed agree to many years later.
At the time, the United States had the initiative. An out-of-control arms race with the potential accumulation of thousands of such weapons on both sides had not yet really begun. In 1952, the United States numbered its atomic arsenal in the low hundreds; the Soviet Union, in the dozens. (Even those numbers, of course, already offered a vision of an Armageddon-like global war.) President Truman considered the proposal to indefinitely postpone the test. It was then backed by figures like Vannevar Bush, who headed the Office of Scientific Research and Development, which had overseen the wartime Manhattan Protect. Scientists like him already grasped the lesson that would only slowly dawn on policy-makers—that every advance in the atomic capability of one of the superpowers would inexorably lead the other to match it, ad infinitum. The title of the best-selling James Jones novel of that moment caught the feeling perfectly: From Here to Eternity.
In the last days of his presidency, however, Truman decided against such an indefinite postponement of the test—against, that is, a break in the nuke-accumulation momentum that might well have changed history. On November 1, 1952, the first H-bomb—“Mike”—was detonated on an island in the Pacific. It had 500 times more lethal force than the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima. With a fireball more than three miles wide, not only did it destroy the three-story structure built to house it but also the entire island of Elugelab, as well as parts of several nearby islands.
In this way, the thermonuclear age began and the assembly line at that same Pantex plant really started to purr. Less than 10 years later, the United States had 20,000 nukes, mostly H-bombs; Moscow, fewer than 2,000. And three months after that first test, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved that hand on its still new clock to two minutes before midnight.
A MADMAN-THEORY VERSION OF THE WORLD
It may seem counterintuitive to compare the manufacture of what’s called a “mini-nuke” to the creation of the “super” almost six decades ago, but honestly, what meaning can “mini” really have when we’re talking about nuclear war? The point is that, as in 1952, so in 2019 another era-shaping threshold is being crossed at the very same weapons plant in the high-plains country of the Texas Panhandle, where so many instruments of mayhem have been created. Ironically, because the H-bomb was eventually understood to be precisely what the dissenting scientists had claimed it was—a genocidal weapon—pressures against its use proved insurmountable during almost four decades of savage East-West hostility. Today, the Trident-mounted W76-2 could well have quite a different effect—its first act of destruction potentially being the obliteration of the long-standing, post–Hiroshima and Nagasaki taboo against nuclear use. In other words, so many years after the island of Elugelab was wiped from the face of the Earth, the “absolute weapon” is finally being normalized.
With President Trump expunging the theoretical from Richard Nixon’s “madman theory”—that former president’s conviction that an opponent should fear an American leader was so unstable he might actually push the nuclear button—what is to be done? Once again, nuke-skeptical scientists, who have grasped the essential problems in the nuclear conundrum with crystal clarity for three-quarters of a century, are pointing the way. In 2017, the Union of Concerned Scientists, together with Physicians for Social Responsibility, launched Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War, “a national grassroots initiative seeking to fundamentally change U.S. nuclear weapons policy and lead us away from the dangerous path we are on.”
Engaging a broad coalition of civic organizations, municipalities, religious groups, educators, and scientists, it aims to lobby government bodies at every level, to raise the nuclear issue in every forum, and to engage an ever-wider group of citizens in pressing for change in American nuclear policy. Back From the Brink makes five demands, much needed in a world in which the United States and Russia are withdrawing from a key Cold-War–era nuclear treaty with more potentially to come, including the New START pact that expires two years from now. The five demands are:
No to first use of nukes. (Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Adam Smith only recently introduced a No First Use Act in both houses of Congress to stop Trump and future presidents from launching a nuclear war.)
End the unchecked launch authority of the president. (Last month, Senator Edward Markey and Representative Ted Lieu reintroduced a bill that would do just that.)
No to nuclear hair-triggers.
No to endlessly renewing and replacing the arsenal (as the United States is now doing to the tune of perhaps $1.6 trillion over three decades).
Yes to an abolition agreement among nuclear-armed states.
These demands range from the near-term achievable to the long-term hoped for, but as a group they define what clear-eyed realism should be in Donald Trump’s new version of our never-ending nuclear age.
In the upcoming season of presidential politics, the nuclear question belongs at the top of every candidate’s agenda. It belongs at the center of every forum and at the heart of every voter’s decision. Action is needed before the W76-2 and its successors teach a post-Hiroshima planet what nuclear war is truly all about.
American Humvee, given to Iraq's Golden Division, captured by the Islamic State, retrieved by the Syrian Army and finally taken by the Russian military to be displayed as a war trophy on a tour of 61 Russian cities.
I'm still trying to figure out why Russia is so open about selling the S-400's variants already, it's very advanced, 3 countries have the export version Turkey/China and Iran has the S-300 PMU-2 which was the basis of the S-400
This seems to be a calculated risk to get other countries who are capable enough up to speed and eliminate the US's ability to project power through the airforce in the entirety of Asia.
65 percent or so of humanity lives in Asia, it's not a place we will win a ground war on a serious scale ever
The US is telling the SDF/Kurds not to make a deal with Assad, that's an extermination sentence
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