The Nuclear Truth (Revelation 15)

Nuclear reality: Former U.S. chief scientific officer gives his take on world’s nukes

Ashley Collins | ashley.collins@naplesnews.com; 239-213-60292:44 p.m. ET March 8, 2017

Nuclear weapons can wipe out an entire city and kill millions. That power shouldn’t be taken lightly. Yet, several countries, including Iran, Pakistan and North Korea, continue to actively engage in creating and testing nuclear weapons. North Korea just test-launched four ballistic missiles into the sea near Japan Monday.

According to Dr. John Psaras, former chief scientific officer with the U.S. Department of Energy, the threat isn’t something to ignore. He spoke to more than 150 curious individuals at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples late last month during the annual “Progressive Voices Speak Out” lecture series.

His lecture — the fourth in the series — honed in on, “Nuclear Weapons in the Wrong Hands – Terrorism, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.” Other lectures in the series touched on the new presidential administration, rise in sea levels and the 2016 presidential election.

Psaras, now retired, dedicated more than 25 years to the U.S. Department of Energy.

In order to explain the current nuclear weapons situation, Psaras started off with its origin.

The nuclear age began in 1945; the year the U.S. tested a nuclear bomb in New Mexico, and dropped a uranium bomb over Japan’s Hiroshima, and a plutonium bomb over Nagasaki towards the end of World War II.

“Plutonium, to give you an idea, is roughly about, pound for pound, three times more vile than uranium,” Psaras said to the audience.

Ashley Collins

During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union engaged in a nuclear arms race. At the peak of the war, the U.S. had more than 30,000 nuclear device units, Psaras added.

“Russia had almost double that amount. So we could have blown the world 100 times over with that power,” he said.

In order to quell the use and testing of nuclear weapons, an international treaty called Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was born in 1968, and was extended indefinitely in 1995.

The treaty recognized the U.S., Russia, United Kingdom, France and China as nuclear-weapon states, and according to the Arms Control Association, legitimized those states’ arsenals. However, not all states’ agreeing to the treaty have stuck by the treaty’s rules. North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and has tested nuclear devices since. Iran engages in secret nuclear activities in violation of the treaty’s terms.

To date, there are still about 15,000 nuclear warheads worldwide, with more than 90 percent belonging to the U.S. and Russia, according to Psaras.

However, he added, all eyes should be on countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.

Pakistan not only has a weak government, but is the Islamic world’s sole nuclear weapons state.​

“In those instances you could have a situation where somebody may be able to steal a nuclear device… In the event that they do try to actually hit anybody, either ourselves or alternately our allies, we are ready, having anti-ballistic missiles located strategically in both Southeast Asia as well as Europe and the Middle East,” Psaras said.

He added that while he isn’t sure what the new presidential administration plans to do against nuclear weapons, it should be placed in high priority.

In a February interview with the Reuters news agency, President Donald Trump said he wants a world free of nuclear weapons, but if it can’t be, the United States should be “at the top of the pack.”

The lecture series concluded March 8 with Brendan Fischer, associate counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, speaking on the role of gerrymandering and voter suppression during the 2016 presidential election.

The congregation’s Rev. Tony Fisher hopes participants take action based on the information learned from the series.

“What we learn in these lectures hopefully just doesn’t sit in our brains and make us feel good that we’ve heard it. But that it motivates us to turn around and go out and do something in the wider world,” Fisher said to the audience.

Russia Prepares For Nuclear War

Russia NATO War: Moscow Deploys Nuclear Missiles In Europe, Subsonic Weapons At Sea

BY TOM O’CONNOR @SHAOLINTOM ON

03/08/17 AT 4:06 PM

A top U.S. military official accused Russia of breaking its commitment to a decades-old arms treaty Wednesday by deploying a new land-based, nuclear-capable cruise missile in Europe. The remarks came days after the Russian military announced it was arming its nuclear submarine fleet with new supersonic cruise missiles to modernize its naval forces.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva said Russia’s SSC-8 cruise missile threatens Washington’s allies in NATO and warned Moscow intentionally is using it to put pressure on its neighboring foes. He echoed sentiments raised last month by U.S. officials who called Russia’s developing and testing of the weapon a violation of the “spirit and intent” of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union to eliminate such short- and intermediate-range missiles. Selva said the renewed missile activity could threaten regional stability at an already tense period in relations between NATO and Russia.

“The system itself presents a risk to most of our facilities in Europe and we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility,” Selva said, without mentioning whether the missile was armed with a nuclear warhead or not, Reuters reported.

The news came two days after Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yori Borisov announced Monday that Moscow’s navy would be equipping its Project 949A Oscar II-class nuclear-powered guided missile submarines with 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles, the Diplomat reported. The move was reportedly part of a greater effort to update the country’s naval capabilities, something Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu pledged to do last month.

Both NATO and Russia have undergone massive military escalations in recent months with each side accusing the other of provocation. Since Moscow annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014, Russia’s European neighbors increasingly have become concerned about their national sovereignty and have looked toward the U.S. to bolster NATO’s military forces, which it did under former President Barack Obama. Since taking office in January, President Donald Trump has expressed less enthusiastic views toward the U.S. commitment to NATO as well as the 2010 New START agreement through which Russia and the U.S. agreed to limit their nuclear weapon arsenals.

Trump Pushes For More Nukes

Trump: U.S. will remain at ‘top of the pack’ on nuclear weapons

David Jackson | USA TODAYUpdated 8:15 p.m. ET Feb. 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump pledged Thursday to keep the United States at thetop of the pack” in terms of nuclear weapons, expanding the nation’s nuclear arsenal if necessary and suggesting that changes to a treaty with Russia could be possible.

“I am the first one that would like to see everybody — nobody — have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “We’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.”

In December, after Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about enhancing his country’s nuclear capability, Trump responded with a tweet: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

The current strategic arms limitation treaty, called New START, calls for limits on U.S. and Russian arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons.

In the Reuters interview, Trump described new START as a “one-sided” agreement.

Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal ... We’re going to start making good deals,” Trump said.

Trump also said: “It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

Asked about Trump’s statements about nuclear weapons, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was responding to a question about other countries increasing their nuclear arms. “The United States will not yield its supremacy in this area to anybody,” Spicer said.

Trump made the comments during an interview with Reuters that also touched on issues involving Russia, China and North Korea.

In his interview with Reuters, Trump also:

• Said Russian deployment of a new type of cruise missile violates an arms control treaty, and he will raise the subject with Putin “if and when we meet;” no such meeting is yet scheduled. Trump has been criticized by Democrats who say he has been too friendly toward the Russian leader.

• Sought to pressure China over the nuclear challenge from North Korea, saying the Beijing government could solve it “very easily if they want to.” Trump said he personally is “very angry” at North Korea over recent ballistic missile tests and may accelerate a missile defense system to protect Japan and South Korea. China, however, has said it would ban all imports of coal from North Korea, which depends on its trade with China for a large chunk of its income.

• Spoke favorably of some kind of tax on goods flowing across the border but did not endorse a specific plan. “I certainly support a form of tax on the border,” he told Reuters. “What is going to happen is companies are going to come back here, they’re going to build their factories and they’re going to create a lot of jobs and there’s no tax.”

• Said the administration will take up tax reform after a plan to change the Affordable Care Act, former president Barack Obama’s health care plan.

The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Living on the Fault LineRamapo_Fault_Line

A major earthquake isn’t likely here, but if it comes, watch out.

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.

The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.

After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.

Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.

During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.

“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”

Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.

Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.

After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.

But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.

Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.

Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.

The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.

For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.

Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”

The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.

The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.

This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”

Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”

But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.

Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.

All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.

For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.

Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.

To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.

In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.

As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)

In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.

The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (state.nj.us/dep/njgs/enviroed/hazus.htm).

Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.

Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.

This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.

“Any vulnerable structure on these weak soils would have a higher failure hazard,” Stanford says. And the scary truth is that many structures in New Jersey’s largest cities, not to mention New York City, would be vulnerable, since they’re older and built before anyone gave much thought to earthquake-related engineering and construction codes.

For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at nycem.org.)

All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.

Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”

***********************

Planning for the Big One

For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.

In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.

Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”

Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.

This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”

A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.

“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”

Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

The Beast Returns (Revelation 13:1)

 

The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush, War Criminal

Photo Credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

By Vijay Prashad / AlterNet

March 7, 2017

So, he’s back. George W. Bush leaves his Dallas attic and his paintbrushes to visit the television studios. He has a book to flog—Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.

Since he left the White House, Bush has taken refuge in his canvases, on which he has painted the faces of about 100 of the veterans he sent to war. “I was thinking of their stories, their troubles, their joys,” he told Sandra Sobieraj Westfall of People magazine in one of the many fluff pieces that have come out on his book tour.

On Ellen DeGeneres’ television show, Bush spoke with evident sentimentality about his close relationship with Michelle Obama. “She likes my sense of humor,” said the ex-president. Pictures of Obama hugging Bush are not uncommon on social media. It is as if her hug is a sign of his rehabilitation.

Bush has been reticent to talk politics, but seems to have made an exception in the Trump years. This is personal. Trump not only belittled Bush’s brother, Jeb, but also his mother, Barbara, and Trump suggested that Bush’s war on Iraq was a fiasco. George W. Bush came out of retirement to stump for Jeb in South Carolina. He intimated that he would not vote for Trump. During his book tour, Bush made critical noises about Trump’s immigration policies and his attack on the press. “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account,” Bush told Matt Lauer with a smirk.

Dismay at Trump’s presidency is allowing for the rehabilitation of George W. Bush. It is now a cliché for people to say that they look back longingly at the Bush years as an antidote to the harshness of Trump. In November 2016, Mehdi Hasan of al-Jazeera wrote an op-ed in the New York Times called “Why I miss George W. Bush.” Hasan considered Bush’s statements after 9/11 where he distinguished between Islam and terrorism. The “miasma of anti-Muslim hate and fear-mongering” of the present, Hasan suggested, made Bush admirable.

Certainly, Bush made favorable noises after 9/11 about the difference between Islam and terrorism. But Bush’s policies of war in West Asia, notably Iraq, and his rhetoric of warfare collapsed any possible distinctions. One forgets that on October 6, 2005, Bush gave a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy where he discussed the “murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals,” which he called the “greatest challenge of our century.” Such language dovetailed with the gurgle in the sewers of American fascism, which had incubated the term “radical Islamic extremism” (preferred by Donald Trump), and with the snarls in the Republican Party, which used the term “radical Islam” as an explanation for all the world’s ills.

Bush’s Iraq War

It is one thing to curl one’s lip in disgust at ISIS and to sneer at the Eastern maladies of dictatorship and religion that seem to curdle the social worlds of West Asia. It is another to acknowledge the authorship of the United States in the destruction of nations in the region, and its role in the incubation of groups like ISIS. How does one even begin to consider that Bush—the instigator of the destruction of Iraq—is now considered to be an avuncular figure among liberals?

It is a sign of his own anxiety that Bush decided to paint veterans. Perched in his study, he must ponder the cost of the war on those who wear the uniform of the United States. But there are no paintings of Iraqis, civilians, or soldiers. There is no mention of the million Iraqis who died as a consequence of Bush’s decision to conduct what the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called an “illegal war.” Not one of the profiles in courage includes the Iraqis who collaborated with the U.S. occupation and now find themselves unable to enter the United States as a consequence of Trump’s Muslim ban.

Illegal war: On 15 February 2003, 15 million people marched across the countries of the world to protest the anticipated U.S. war against Iraq. This was the largest known protest in world history. Our slogans warned not only that the war was illegal, but that it would have a catastrophic impact on West Asia. We were ignored. When asked about this protest on March 6 by Fox News’ Jim Angle, Bush brushed aside any warnings. “We will respect innocent life in Iraq,” he said with a straight face. At that time, UN Secretary General Annan was silent about the illegality of the war. A year later, on BBC, Annan said, “I have indicated that it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.”

Horrendous war: The U.S. opening salvo against Iraq followed the “shock and awe” doctrine. Harlan K. Uliman, who developed the theory, told CBS’ David Martin, “You take the city down. You get rid of their power, water. In two, three, four, five days, they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted.” A Pentagon official said at that time, “There will not be a safe place in Baghdad. The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before.” Hundreds of cruise missiles rained on Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, 400 on the first day and a comparable number on the second. UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday said at the time, “The United States and Britain are proceeding with plans to annihilate Iraqi society, a catastrophe that would be heightened by the threatened use of tactical nuclear weaponry.” In fact, the U.S. used depleted uranium shells, which in Fallujah produced cancer rates higher than in Hiroshima after the nuclear bomb.

Destruction of the State: When the United States occupied Iraq, it systematically—and against the Geneva Conventions—dismantled the state. Bureaucrats of the ministries and officers of the military were fired, and U.S. officials arrived to privatize Iraq to the benefit of multinational corporations. On May 27, 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfled wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Bush wanted to “favor market systems” and “encourage moves to privatize state-owned enterprises.” There was to be no Iraqi vote on these moves. They were to be dictated by the United States, which would also deliver a Constitution for Iraq. As Rajiv Chandrasekharan’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City documents, the White House sent “loyalists” from the Republican Party to help privatize Iraq and hand it over for profit. The country was to be gutted. And it was.

Torture Occupation: When the Iraqi insurgency broke out against the occupation, the United States found itself ill-prepared to tackle the rise of Iraqi patriotism. Harsh torture, as at Abu Ghraib, and massive violence, as against the city of Fallujah, defined the U.S. reaction. A defeated and captured Saddam asked to negotiate. If he had been treated with some dignity and allowed to bring in his followers, the insurgency might have been quelled. It would have been possible, at that time in December 2003, to allow the various sections of Iraq to come together. But instead the U.S. occupation used sectarian divisions to consolidate its fading power, breaking Muqtada al-Sadr’s attempt at Shia-Sunni unity, building up the most sectarian forces against each other and delivering Saddam’s loyalists to the more hardened extremists who would appear (such as later, ISIS). Iraqi society, fragile during the sanctions years of the 1990s, broke under the pressure of the U.S. occupation.

Producing ISIS: The U.S. occupation forces decided to cut agricultural subsidies, which tore into the livelihood of farmers in northern Iraq. In Diyala province, farmers hastened to the insurgency. “Americans will be kicked out,” said Saad Adnan, one of the farmers. It was in Diyala and Anbar that the farmers would later join the Islamic State of Iraq, which was formed in 2006. This is the parent of ISIS. It is convenient for the U.S. to claim that ISIS is a Syrian group. Its Iraqi history links it too closely to Bush’s illegal war. Part of the rehabilitation of Bush and his war is to avoid this connection.

When Bush went to Iraq in 2008, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at him and yelled, “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog.” In Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown, Laith al-Amari designed a statue of a shoe to honor al-Zaidi’s message. It had to be taken down almost immediately. The Iraqis have a greater right to define how Bush is remembered. Their art is sharper than his. Their message more moral.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.