Antichrist Lectures Trump and Assad

Muqtada al-Sadr calls on US to stop meddling, Assad to resign

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr speaks to a gathering of supporters in Baghdad. AP photo

Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The firebrand Shiite leader in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, says the Syrian people are the only victims of the United States’ meddling in the country’s affairs, and describes the US role in the region as negative. Sadr also called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign and external parties and forces to withdraw.

“The US should stay away from the crossfire of war in Syria,” said Sadr.

Sadr issued a statement on the US attack on the Syrian government’s Shayrat air base in central Syria from where warplanes allegedly carrying chemicals weapons had taken off and later dropped on the city of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province.

“All the external parties and their forces must withdraw from Syria,” he reiterated. “I also call on Bashar al-Assad to resign.”

He also said Syria would turn to another Vietnam for the US if it continues to act militarily.

In part of the message, he said the US on the one hand kills civilians in Mosul, while on the other hand, it condemns chemical attacks in Syria.

The United States struck the Syrian base with 59 cruise missiles launched from the USS Ross and USS Porter in the Mediterranean Sea early Friday morning in retaliation to suspected gruesome chemical weapons attack on Tuesday.

The White Helmets, a Syrian Civil Defense volunteer group which goes into areas immediately after they’ve been attacked stated in a press release on Friday that 89 people, including 33 children and 18 women, had been killed and 541 injured in Khan Sheikhun.

The World Health Organization stated that the cases are consistent with nerve agent exposures.

President Donald Trump cast the US assault as vital to deter future use of poison gas and called on other nations to join in seeking “to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.”

It was the first direct US assault on the Syrian government and Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president just over two months ago. The strikes also risk thrusting the US deeper into an intractable conflict that his predecessor spent years trying to avoid.

Trump said there was no doubt Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for the chemical attack.

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump declared.

The move drew condemnation from Russia and Iran and praise from many western countries including France, Britain and Germany.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria to in a telephone call with US Vice President Mike Pence, according to a readout from the office of the PM.

“[The] Prime Minister assured [Pence] that Iraq considered the use of the chemical weapons in Syria is a convicted crime and condemned them,” the statement read.

“We stand with the Syrian people who are victims just like Iraqi were victims of ousted regime’s chemical strikes,” it added. “For that we call for urgent and precise international investigation and condemn any side made such an act.”

USGS Evidence Shows Power of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances

Did You Feel the Virginia 2011 Earthquake?

Did You Feel the Virginia 2011 Earthquake?

Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM

USGS.gov

Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.

“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”

“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”

This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.

This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.

The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.

“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”

It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.

In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.

“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”

The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.

Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

Nuclear Terrorism (Revelation 15)

5721e5bbc3618833538b45b1Inside the Uranium Underworld: Dark Secrets, Dirty Bombs

Simon Shuster / Tbilisi, Georgia
Apr 06, 2017

One night last spring, Amiran Chaduneli, a flea-market trader in the ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia, met with two strangers on a bridge at the edge of Kobuleti, a small town on the country’s Black Sea coast.

Over the phone, the men had introduced themselves as foreigners—one Turkish, the other Russian—and they were looking for an item so rare on the black market that it tends to be worth more, ounce for ounce, than gold. Chaduneli knew where to get it. He didn’t know that his clients were undercover cops.

From the bridge, he took them to inspect the merchandise at a nearby apartment where his acquaintance had been storing it: a lead box about the size of a smartphone, containing a few pounds of radioactive uranium, including small amounts of the weapons-grade material known as uranium-235. The stash wasn’t nearly enough to make a nuclear weapon. But if packed together with high explosives, these metallic lumps could produce what’s known as a dirty bomb—one that could poison the area around the blast zone with toxic levels of radiation.

In the popular culture, the dealers who traffic in such cargo are usually cast as lords of war with tailored suits and access to submarines. The reality is much less cinematic. According to police records reviewed by TIME in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, Chaduneli’s associates in the attempted uranium sale last spring included construction workers and scrap-metal traders. Looking at the sunken cheeks and lazy left eye in his mug shot, it seems improbable that lousy capers like this one could rise to the level of a national-security threat. But the ease of acquiring ingredients for a dirty bomb is precisely what makes them so worrying.

As the number of nuclear-armed countries has grown from at least five to as many as nine since the 1970s, the danger of World War III has been joined by a host of secondary nuclear threats. The possibility that a warhead, or the material to build one, could fall into the hands of a rogue state or terrorist helped drive President Barack Obama’s deal to temporarily halt Iran’s alleged weapons program. North Korea, which is now believed to have more than a dozen warheads and has been busily testing intercontinental missiles to carry them, has also been the world’s most active seller of nuclear know-how. Pakistan is developing battlefield tactical nuclear weapons, which are smaller and more portable than strategic ones, even as its domestic extremist threat grows.

The danger from dirty bombs is spreading even faster. For starters, they pose none of the technical challenges of splitting an atom. Chaduneli’s type of uranium was particularly hard to come by, but many hospitals and other industries use highly radioactive materials for medical imaging and other purposes. If these toxic substances are packed around conventional explosives, a device no bigger than a suitcase could contaminate several city blocks—and potentially much more if the wind helps the fallout to spread. The force of the initial blast would be only as deadly as that of a regular bomb, but those nearby could be stricken with radiation poisoning if they rushed to help the injured or breathed in tainted dust. Entire neighborhoods, airports or subway stations might need to be sealed off for months after such an attack.

The lasting effects of a dirty bomb make this weapon especially attractive to terrorists. Fear of contamination would drive away tourists and customers, and cleanup would be costly: the economic impact could be worse than that of the attacks of 9/11, according to a study conducted in 2004 by the National Defense University. “It would change our world,” President Obama said of a potential dirty bomb in April 2016. “Wecannot be complacent.”

Obama’s successor is certainly alive to the nuclear threat. In a Republican primary debate in December 2015, Donald Trump said the risk of “some maniac” getting a nuclear weapon is “the single biggest problem” the country faces. But he suggested that the world would be safer if more countries acquired nukes. His Administration has yet to set out a policy for countering the danger of a dirty bomb; the position Trump takes could be crucial. By training and equipping foreign governments to stop nuclear traffickers, the U.S. has played a central role in fragile or unstable areas of the world where highly dangerous materials can fall into the wrong hands. The goal, according to Simon Limage, who led the State Department’s nonproliferation efforts during the last five years of the Obama Administration, is “to push the threat away from U.S. shores.”

Georgia is one of the best examples of how these efforts have worked on the ground. Over the past 12 years, the U.S. government has provided more than $50 million in aid to help the former Soviet republic, a nation of only 3.7 million people, in combatting the trade in nuclear materials. Though it possesses no nuclear fuel of its own, Georgia sits in the middle of what atomic-energy experts sometimes refer to as the “nuclear highway”—a smuggling route that runs from Russia down through the Caucasus Mountains to Iran, Turkey and, from there, to the territory that ISIS still controls in Syria and Iraq.

All along that route, the U.S. has helped install nuclear detectors at borders, trained police units to intercept traffickers and provided intelligence and equipment to local regulators of nuclear material. “The Americans brought all the technology,” says Vasil Gedevanishvili, director of Georgia’s Agency of Nuclear and Radiation Safety. “They secured every border around Georgia.”

The payoff was clear in 2016, when Georgian police busted three separate groups of smugglers for attempting to traffic in nuclear materials—a spike in arrests the region hadn’t seen in at least a decade. They foiled an attempt in January to smuggle cesium-137—a nasty form of nuclear waste that could be used in a dirty bomb—across the border into Turkey. Three months later, on April 17, Georgian police caught a group of traffickers trying to sell a consignment of uranium for $200 million.

At the end of that month, Chaduneli and four of his associates were arrested in Kobuleti by a team devoted to countering nuclear trafficking that has received training, equipment and intelligence from various arms of the U.S. government. “So in some sense this was a success story,” says Limage, who met the team during a visit to Georgia in December, less than two months before he resigned from his post as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. “But none of the gains we’ve made with these partnerships are permanent. They’re all reversible.”

And they’re becoming even more essential to international security. Over roughly the past three years, as the U.S.-led coalition has advanced against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group has been shifting tactics. Rather than urging its followers to come join the fight in Syria, ISIS recruiters now call for attacks against the West using whatever weapons are available. The continued erosion of the group’s territory may not make it any less dangerous. “It may make them more desperate,” says Andrew Bieniawski, vice president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a U.S. nonprofit that works to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons and materials. “And they may try to raise the stakes.”

There have already been plenty of signs that ISIS would like to go nuclear. After the series of ISIS-linked bombings in Brussels killed at least 32 people in March 2016, Belgian authorities revealed that a suspected member of a terrorist cell had surveillance footage of a Belgian nuclear official with access to radioactive materials. The country’s nuclear-safety agency then said there were “concrete indications” that the cell intended “to do something involving one of our four nuclear sites.” About a year earlier, in May 2015, ISIS suggested in an issue of its propaganda magazine that it was wealthy enough to purchase a nuclear device on the black market—and to “pull off something truly epic.”
Though the group is unlikely to possess the technical skill to build an actual nuclear weapon, there are indications it could already possess nuclear materials. After the group’s fighters took control of the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, they seized about 40 kg of uranium compounds that were stored at a university, according to a letter an Iraqi diplomat sent to the U.N. in July of that year. But the U.N.’s nuclear agency said the material was likely “low grade” and not potentially harmful. “In a sense we’ve been lucky so far,” says Sharon Squassoni, who heads the program to stop nuclear proliferation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. “I honestly think it is only a matter of time before we see one of these dirty-bomb attacks.”

Obtaining ingredients for such a weapon is not, it turns out, the hard part. According to Chaduneli’s lawyer, Tamila Kutateladze, his associates found the box of uranium in one of the scrapyards where he would find old bric-a-brac to sell. His co-defendant in the case, Mikheil Jincharadze, told police that “unknown persons” had delivered the box inside a sack of scrap iron, according to interrogation records and other court documents obtained by TIME in Georgia.

That version of the story did not convince investigators, and even Chaduneli’s lawyer wondered how such a thing could turn up in a pile of trash. “A mere mortal cannot just get his hands on this stuff,” Kutateladze told TIME in her office in Tbilisi. “You have to have a source.”
File photo shows Russian citizen Oleg Khintsagov who was arrested on charges of smuggling weapons grade uranium in Tbilisi

But the Georgian authorities have so far been unable to determine that source with any certainty. Similar investigations in the past, most recently in 2010 and 2011, have traced the nuclear material back to reactors in Russia. Among the most famous cases involved a small-time Russian smuggler named Oleg Khintsagov, who tried to sell a sample of highly enriched uranium in 2006 to a Georgian police officer posing as a wealthy Turkish trafficker. “He said he could get much larger quantities from his sources in Siberia,” recalls Shota Utiashvili, who oversaw that case as Georgia’s Deputy Interior Minister at the time. “We think it’s from an old stockpile of this stuff that’s been laying around and periodically looking for a buyer.”

During the chaos that followed the Soviet collapse in the early 1990s, radioactive material was frequently stolen from poorly guarded reactors and nuclear facilities in Russia and its former satellite states. Police intercepted shipments of it transiting through cities as faraway as Munich and Prague in those years, and nuclear experts believe that large batches of Soviet nuclear fuel are still unaccounted for and most likely accessible for well-connected traders on the black market.

The potential source that most concerns investigators in Georgia is the region of Abkhazia, a Russian protectorate that broke away from Georgian control in the early 1990s. It is one of several unrecognized pseudo states—often referred to as frozen conflict zones—that Russia has helped maintain in the former Soviet space. With no internationally acknowledged borders, these regions often function as way stations for smugglers, allowing everything from guns and cigarettes to contraband caviar to be trafficked under the radar of international law. “These spaces are ungoverned,” says Squassoni of CSIS. “So what we risk when we look at these conflict-torn regions is that people will try to make a living any way they can, and they may not have any scruples about what they’re smuggling across these borders.”
On the border between Moldova and Ukraine is the pro-Russian enclave of Trans-Dniestr, where Moscow has stationed about a thousand troops since the region’s violent split from Moldova in the early 1990s. This sliver of land along the Dniestr River was a base for one of the world’s most notorious nuclear smugglers, Alexandr Agheenco, a dual Russian-Ukrainian citizen nicknamed the Colonel, who is wanted by U.S. and Moldovan authorities for attempting to sell weapons-grade uranium to Islamist terrorist groups in 2011. One of his middlemen was caught that year in a Moldovan sting operation; police reportedly found the blueprints for a dirty bomb in his home. But the Colonel remains at large.
More recently, Russia has carved a fresh pair of conflict zones out of eastern Ukraine, where separatist rebels used weapons and fighters from Russia in 2014 to seize territory around the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. According to research compiled by CSIS, the war has destroyed 29 of the radiation detectors that would normally monitor the movement of nuclear material along the border between Russia and Ukraine.
But Abkhazia is the only one of these conflict zones that has ever possessed its own nuclear facilities. Physicists recruited from Germany after World War II set up the first Soviet centrifuges at the Sukhumi Institute of Physics and Technology, which remained a key pillar in the Soviet nuclear program through the Cold War. After the fall of Soviet Union, the newly independent Georgian government fought separatists who wanted to keep Abkhazia within Moscow’s orbit.

When the civil war reached Sukhumi in 1992, its scientists set up patrols to protect their stores of radioactive material from looters and paramilitaries. The war ended the following year with Abkhazia’s de facto secession from the rest of Georgia, and the fate of its nuclear stockpiles has been something of a mystery for international observers ever since.

Officials in Russia say there is no longer any nuclear material in Abkhazia. But Georgia disputes this. Gedevanishvili, the head of the country’s nuclear-safety agency, says the Sukhumi Institute still conducts experiments using radioactive sources. “We don’t know what security measures they take. We know nothing about their work.”

Russia has its own reasons to worry about dirty bombs. The explosion that killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens of others in the St. Petersburg metro on April 3 was just the latest of dozens of terrorist attacks since the early 1990s. Over that time, Moscow has worked to secure nuclear stockpiles throughout the former Soviet Union, often with help and funding from the U.S. But as relations with Washington have eroded, Moscow has cut off cooperation, insisting it no longer needs American assistance.

Whether he wants to or not, President Trump will play a key role in determining the danger from dirty bombs in coming years. Since his election, Trump has denounced the work of the U.N. as a “waste of time and money,” even though U.N. organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency are responsible for monitoring nuclear stockpiles and advising countries on keeping them safe. Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Energy, former Texas governor Rick Perry, previously called for its dissolution, but defended its mission during nomination hearings; the department oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal and safety at nuclear sites.

Trump’s new budget proposal, which the White House published on March 16 under the title “America First,” would slash programs that contribute to U.S. security in ways subtler than guns and walls. It would cut foreign aid, diplomacy and development programs—all of which have helped the U.S. forge a global network of alliances against nuclear trafficking. “This isn’t rocket science,” says Limage, the former State Department official. “A lot of the nonproliferation progress that has been made around the world has been through patient, careful diplomacy.” Countries that would otherwise not have the means or the motivation to target smugglers of nuclear material have received regular encouragement, training and aid from the U.S. in these efforts.

The Trump Administration says it takes the threat “extremely seriously,” a White House official tells TIME. “We have active programs within the U.S. government and with international partners to reduce the risks of such an attack and to mitigate the effects if one should occur. The prospect of terrorists using WMD is one of many reasons we need to remain vigilant in pursuing our counterterrorism strategy around the globe,” the official says.

In Georgia, there are obvious risks to letting partnerships lapse. From the bridge where Chaduneli went to meet his buyers, it would take just a couple hours for a dirty bomb’s ingredients to reach Turkey by car or boat, and only days more to reach Syria or Iraq. His family home stands within view of the border with Azerbaijan, a notoriously corrupt dictatorship with links to Iran. Local kids often ride their bikes next to the border crossing, a barbed-wire fence guarded by a few lethargic soldiers.

They are a thin line of defense in an era when nuclear threats emerge not only from military and rogue regimes, but from the hard economic reality of some of the world’s most forgotten places. An honest job in this region brings in a few hundred dollars per month. So the lure of trafficking across these borders is constant, says Chaduneli’s mother Tamila.

The undercover agents who arrested him offered to pay $3 million for that box of uranium. At the end of their trial in December, all of the suspects in Chaduneli’s case took a plea deal in exchange for lighter sentences; Chaduneli got three years in prison. In his one-story home, which has an outdoor kitchen with a wood-burning stove and gets intermittent electricity, his mother says she has no idea how his friends got their hands on a batch of nuclear material—or why her son joined a plot to sell it. “The money,” she says, “might have clouded his eyes.”

—With reporting by ZEKE J. MILLER/WASHINGTON

The Reason For Korean Nukes

North Korea Nuclear MissilesNorth Korea Has Nuclear Weapons So It Won’t End Up Like Libya

North Korea has learned from the Qaddafi regime the importance of maintaining its nukes.

Edward Chang
April 6, 2017

As many experts have predicted, North Korea is trending to become the Trump administration’s first major foreign-policy crisis. The latest developments continue to reinforce that trend.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Donald Trump threatened to take unilateral action to stop the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear program unless China stepped in to address the issue. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, echoed that stance not long after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis indicated that he views the DPRK as the gravest threat to America. The week prior to that, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that the Obama-era strategy of “strategic patience” was over and warned that military action was an option if North Korea did not unilaterally disarm.

While the early post-war time period occasionally involved troubling acts of violence that resulted in the deaths of Americans, the United States and North Korea have since avoided such encounters (the same cannot be said for South Korea). And while no American president ever dismissed force as an option, Trump is unique in the blunt and direct manner he has used to challenge the reclusive regime. Which begs the question—has a clash between the United States and North Korea become inevitable?

And should the confrontation come to blows, what will it look like? While the escalating war of words is reminiscent of George W. Bush and his approach towards Iraq early last decade, it also brings back memories of the first foreign-policy challenge handled by America’s fortieth president over three decades ago.

During the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan’s foreign-policy platform focused on confronting and, ultimately, defeating the Soviet Union. Yet the new president’s first foreign-policy challenge was not laid out by Moscow. Instead, it was Third World Libya, led by notorious dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, that first clashed with Reagan. It was surprising, given the North African nation received no mention in the 1980 Republican Party platform. While North Korea received mention, it was also overshadowed by the Middle East in the Trump campaign’s foreign-policy platform.

Like U.S.-North Korea relations, U.S.-Libyan relations were fraught with tension from the beginning, following the 1969 coup that brought Qaddafi to power. Like North Korea, Libya earned the reputation of “rogue state,” defying international norms and engaging in destabilizing behavior in the region. And, like the North Korean dictatorial dynasty, Qaddafi dabbled in his own unique brand of socialism, ruled with a cult of personality, and was viewed by many as megalomaniacal.

Washington initially avoided confrontation with Tripoli, but the United States grew increasingly intolerant of Qaddafi’s behavior, which included an assassination attempt on the American ambassador to Egypt. Eventually, Qaddafi earned a spot on the state sponsor of terrorism list in 1979. As Reagan went on watch in 1981, tensions escalated. “The Ronald” zeroed his sights on the man he referred to as the “mad dog of the Middle East,” owing to his hostility towards Israel, a series of assassinations, support for terrorism and indications that he was seeking nuclear weapons.

In 1973, Libya had laid an illegitimate claim to the Gulf of Sidra, the body of water immediately bordering the Libyan coast. In August 1981, Reagan ordered a Freedom of Navigation (FoN) operation to be executed by a naval task force centered on two aircraft carriers. The group was immediately challenged; on August 19, two Libyan fighter jets headed towards the group and were intercepted by two U.S. Navy fighters. The Libyans shot first, but missed; the Americans responded by downing both enemy aircraft. The incident proved to Libya and the world the Reagan administration was serious about its confrontational posture.

The remainder of Reagan’s first term saw no further clashes between U.S. and Libyan military forces, but the hostility persisted. The United States applied sanctions against Libya and multiple terrorist attacks in the mid-1980s were attributed to Qaddafi by Washington. The rhetoric on both sides was equally heated, with the “Mad Dog” also anointed as “public enemy number one.” It seemed only a matter of time before tensions flared into fighting once again.

Then, in 1986, the feud reached a fever pitch. After terrorist attacks in late-December 1985 in Rome and Vienna, the White House responded with a series of new FoN operations in the early part of the new year. January and February passed without incident, but that changed in March. On March 23, an American armada even larger than the one deployed in 1981 crossed the so-called “Line of Death” into the Gulf of Sidra and all hell broke loose.

The next day, Libyan air and naval forces engaged U.S. forces in battle. By sundown, two Libyan vessels were at the bottom of the Gulf, two others damaged, air defenses destroyed, thirty-five people were dead, but there were no losses on the American side. The little-remembered Operation Attain Document ran the whole gamut of modern air/naval warfare, from air-to-air dogfighting to surface warfare to strikes on land targets.

But Qaddafi had an answer. Unable to effectively challenge America on the battlefield, he opted for more subversive methods. On April 5, 1986, the La Belle nightclub in West Berlin was bombed, killing three people and injuring 230 more. The club was frequented by U.S. service members stationed in the city; two of the dead and many of the injured were American personnel.

After incriminating messages from Tripoli to its embassy in East Germany were intercepted, President Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes. During Operation El Dorado Canyon on April 15, multiple targets were struck in a joint U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps air attack. Air defenses, airfields and troop facilities were destroyed. Success came at the cost of one American aircraft and its two pilots lost to enemy fire.

The strikes did little to change Libya’s behavior, as it continued to partake in acts of terror. As before, direct skirmishes between the United States and Libya ceased temporarily. The closing chapters of the saga were marked by the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988, and the shootdown of two more Libyan fighters over the Gulf of Sidra on January 4, 1989. After Reagan left office, the two countries would not clash again until over twenty years later.

“Reagan’s undeclared war” against Libya hints at one possible future in Trump-era relations with North Korea. Both presidents have assumed unambiguously confrontational postures, employing rhetoric that previous presidents have attempted to avoid. Much like Reagan singled-out Qaddafi after focusing elsewhere during the election, Trump has now focused most of his attention on Kim Jong-un, after initially emphasizing threats like ISIL as the more pressing issue. Like Qaddafi, Kim has both the personality and portfolio to assume the mantle of “public enemy number one.” Finally, Kim’s past and recent actions show, like Qaddafi, he is not afraid of going to the edge and back, even when it comes to dealing with the world’s lone superpower.

So far, Trump’s approach to North Korea has consisted of harsh words and routine military exercises with South Korean forces. But having drawn the proverbial “red line” with the infamous “It won’t happen!” tweet, what if Pyongyang fails to capitulate?

Conventional wisdom holds that Trump will behave in a manner consistent with his predecessors for one simple reason—the stakes are too high. Unlike Libya, the Korean Peninsula has always been a flashpoint for the next world war, due to its proximity to China and Russia, both countries with interests on the peninsula. And while Qaddafi aspired to attain nuclear power, the Kim dynasty attained it. Interestingly, analysts have noted that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions were partly motivated by the fate of the Qaddafi regime; Libya dismantled its weapons of mass destruction programs in 2003, only to see the Qaddafi regime terminated by a U.S.-backed rebellion in 2011. Nukes offer the ultimate insurance policy for regimes like that of Kim Jong-un.

But even prior to Pyongyang achieving nuclear status, the United States has never used force to respond to North Korean aggression, even when American lives were lost. While El Dorado Canyon–type operations have been peddled as options, the unique characteristics of the situation on the Korean Peninsula make even limited war–type scenarios difficult in ways the Libyan situation was not.

There is one play Trump could adopt from Reagan, however—lean forward. The FoN operations of the 1980s were carried out knowing full well they could provoke a Libyan reaction. Pre-emptive action against the North would generate controversy and draw opposition from countries like China. But by “leaning in,” the United States could provoke an incident that would legitimize U.S. military action. Still, the usual risks rear their ugly heads. The United States has not fought North Korea since 1953 and has no clue how they would react to even a constrained American response. Having an idea of how one’s adversary will behave is a key consideration in planning any military action.

On the other hand, with regime survival being top priority, it is possible Kim may react much the way Qaddafi did—hunker down, retaliate unconventionally and attempt to ride out the storm until the next direct engagement. Depending on if and how Trump uses force against Kim, we could see a series of small, limited battles unfold over a period of years as opposed to the full-scale resumption of the Korean War that both sides would prefer to avoid. It would be consistent with DPRK behavior in the past, at least with regards to its relations with its southern counterpart—Pyongyang’s failure to recognize the Northern Limit Line has led to numerous naval clashes over the decades. In other words, Kim Jong-un could declare his own “Line of Death.” If America and North Korea resume shooting at each other, skirmishes may very well take place primarily in the air and at sea, as it did with Libya in the 1980s.

Like Qaddafi, Kim need not respond conventionally to American action. Pyongyang has engaged in terrorism in the past and is not above assassinating individuals who oppose the regime. The most recent example is Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of the North Korean leader, who was killed in Malaysia by DPRK agents using the VX nerve gas. North Korea has also demonstrated competency in cyber-warfare, notably in the 2014 computer attack on Sony Pictures. In fact, it appears Kim may possess a broader array of unconventional warfare abilities than Qaddafi did. Fears of unconventional warfare both motivated and likely restrained the Reagan administration’s approach to dealing with Libya; it would be prudent for the Trump team to make similar considerations.

Perhaps the most useful lesson to learn from Reagan’s war with Qaddafi is that it was ultimately inconclusive. The Libyan problem spanned the entirety of Reagan’s two terms; by the administration’s end, Qaddafi was still in power. Nearly a full decade of sanctions and overwhelming force notwithstanding, the U.S.-Libya saga demonstrated decisive actions do not necessarily lead to decisive results. Reagan learned this the hard way, as he was said to have become frustrated by the limited impact his confrontational policies were having. It would take over two additional decades and four administrations more before the “Mad Dog” was finally put down.

As his national security staff completes its North Korea review, it is hoped that “the Donald” will learn the hard line leads to uncharted territory. More importantly, the forty-fifth president would do well to accept there are no obvious solutions to this crisis; using force does not always lead to the desired outcome. Regardless of which path he takes, Trump may very well be dealing with Kim through the totality of his presidency. Sobering as it may be, it is a reality worth contemplating now rather than later, for as the old song goes, “we’ve only just begun.”

Edward Chang is a contractor-mariner for Military Sealift Command. When not at sea, he is writes on military history and national security-related topics. Any thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not represent the official position of any government agency.

Creating The Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

pakistan_terror_mainExtremism in Pakistan outcome of Afghan war: Nasser Janjua

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The National Security Adviser Lt General Nasser Janjua on Friday said extremism in Pakistan was an outcome of the Afghan war.

While addressing Leaders in Islamabad Business Summit held in Islamabad, the adviser said it was a wrong and baseless propaganda that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could go in hands of extremists.

“Pakistan is land of beauty and its inhabitants are talented,” he said.

The adviser said it was a wrong perception that Pakistan was playing double-game in Afghanistan. Had Pakistan on side of Taliban then why they would have been fighting against Pakistan?

Nasser Janjua pointed out that there existed 108 exit and entry points between Afghanistan and Pakistan which were being used by people of both the nations as land routes.

The security adviser said if Pakistan had not stood against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) then today Afghanistan would have not been existed on the world map. He said the United States was the sole power in the world and this was due to the countless sacrifices rendered by Pakistan.

Referring to the ‘Farari’ movement in Balochistan, he said this all was brainchild of those having nefarious motives. He said this can be overcome by boosting economic activity in the province.

On the Islamic forces block, the adviser said this was founded solely by Saudi Arabia and selection of countries in the fold was again sole choice of the founder.

“Our decision not to send our forces to Yemen was meant to maintain the equilibrium in the region,” he said.

The national security adviser said if General (retd) Raheel Sharif was assuming as head of the Islamic forces block he never will represent any specific sect or sects.

“Pakistan will remain neutral and will not take side of Saudi Arabia or Iran,” he added.