Nuclear War At The End (Revelation 15)

Debate about a nuclear arms race may be missing a moral dimension, and these debates should include all nuclear powers.

By Paul Bracken*

The second nuclear age takes place in a post-Christian world. New atomic missiles come from North Korea, Pakistan, India, China – with diverse religious and nonreligious traditions. The United States, set to start its own nuclear modernization, now too is a post-Christian nation.

“Post-Christian” here means the decline in primacy of a Christian worldview in politics, especially in the United States and Europe. During the first nuclear age and Cold War, both were Christian societies by this definition. And while Christianity still has many adherents, it lacks the authority it had during the years of the Cold War. This decline of authority means that calculations of self-interest in international politics bear almost all of the weight for restraint and shaping world order. Questions that drove debate about the Cold War arms race are no longer asked with the same passion. Yet these questions haven’t vanished. Who, for example, determines the national interest? Who does the calculations on which self-interest is founded and that determine nuclear armaments buildup?

Any framework that overlooks these moral issues misses a critical dimension of strategic analysis.

That our world is post-Christian, despite nearly a third of the population being Christian, should give us pause, especially about nuclear weapons. As a practical matter the national interest is now decided by politicians and strategy specialists. If the Cold War had been conducted this way it would have been a more dangerous experience, perhaps intolerably so. But it wasn’t. A larger Christian context surrounded the debate over the arms race. It didn’t prevent this arms race, but capped it in important ways. Many people don’t realize that most nuclear weapons proposed during the Cold War were never built. Neutron and cobalt bombs, tsunami makers with bombs on the ocean floor and nuclear weapons in space – all proposed and never built.

One reason was the backlash in the United States over how such matters were decided. Debate started by Christians thinkers and activists raised the moral level of discussion on nuclear war and peace. The United States wasn’t only playing a chess game of grand strategy, but taking a stand against a “vast evil,” in the words of prominent theologian John Courtney Murray. For this Jesuit and adviser to President John Kennedy, terrible things – like nuclear deterrence – had to be faced to stop Communism. This led to his reluctant support for deterrence since he saw no alternative. His arguments were subtle and sophisticated, the hallmark of Jesuit thinking then and now.

Thomas Merton – Trappist monk, pacifist and bestselling author – came to a different view. His first book, The Seven Story Mountain appeared in 1948 just as the Cold War and nuclear conflict were entering public consciousness. By the late 1950s Merton argued the arms race was becoming a greater danger than the Soviets, because it couldn’t be controlled in the long run. Strategists, Merton said, offered arguments about the national interest with detached, icy rationality based on narrow self-interest. This surface rationality masked the reality that they couldn’t control the arms race and were only fooling themselves behind abstractions of deterrence and containment.

Merton is especially relevant for a second nuclear age, with nuclear weapons today spread among nine countries. He wrote a book in the early 1960s that called for Christian resistance to the arms race and foresaw that the United States was itself becoming a post-Christian nation. Church authorities bottled up his Peace in the Post-Christian Era at the time. Merton died in 1968, and the book appeared in print in 2004, posthumously.

Merton held that some actions are just wrong, immoral, and we should say so – a view overlapping with some strategic thinking of the era, including Herman Kahn’s doomsday machine. A weapon that destroys all life on earth is after all the ultimate deterrent and the logical, absurd conclusion of the deterrence strategy supported by most politicians and technocrats. But by carrying strategic thinking to a ludicrous conclusion, Kahn insisted such a weapon shouldn’t be built. And as he predicted, no one did.

The moral debate of Murray and Merton widened pubic discussions on nuclear war and peace, reaching campuses, think tanks, and inspired many activists including Dorothy Day and Father Daniel and Philip Berrigan. And this is the point. They disagreed with each other, but their disagreement broke the narrow straitjacket of thinking about the arms race.

This disagreement eventually reached the Pentagon. In the early 1980s, the arms race was heating up under President Ronald Reagan. Back then, it looked theoretically possible to combine expansion in the number of nuclear warheads with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, increased missile accuracy, and missile defense into a first-strike capability against the Soviet Union. On paper, there was no doubt that such a system gave a first-strike advantage to the United States. By 1983 a huge nuclear buildup by the superpowers was underway.

Against this background, the US Catholic Bishop’s Conference in May 1983 issued their Pastoral Letter on War and Peace – in essence, maintaining that nuclear deterrence, not warfighting, was provisionally morally acceptable. But there were grave reservations. Deterrence was only provisionally morally acceptable as a temporary alternative and not a reliable system of world order for the long term. The letter reflected the influence of Merton 15 years after his death and Murray, who died in 1967. Unlike many proclamations put out by anti-war and anti-nuclear groups, the pastoral letter did not say “nuclear weapons are evil, the United States should disarm at once.” Instead, the letter acknowledged real dangers that couldn’t be ignored or simplified.

The letter came out just as the United States was starting a nuclear buildup. Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger was deciding on size of nuclear force and a strategy, and Moscow was becoming paranoid.

The year 1983 was more dangerous than anyone at the time realized. The Soviets, it turns out, were loosening the nuclear trigger with multiple nuclear false alarms. Soviet warning satellites mistakenly detected American missile launches, and Moscow regarded a NATO exercise called Able Archer as preparation for a first strike. In the context of the extreme mistrust of the time, it made for an explosive cocktail. Years later, the CIA published details of Soviet fears.

In June 1983 the Pentagon ran the most realistic nuclear war game of the Cold War. Called Proud Prophet, the actual secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff played their roles and relied on actual top-secret war plans of the Strategic Air Command and the Navy. The roles of secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs were concealed from other players. A cutout used to play the president had no authority. Instead Weinberger and Chairman John Vessey Jr were briefed daily and consulted over a top-secret telephone line. They made decisions and passed them to the cutout.

The mechanics of Proud Prophet are described elsewhere, including my book The Second Nuclear Age. Suffice it to say, the game escalated, with hundreds of millions killed and the end of life on earth as we know it. One cannot prove it, but the game and larger context of the era, including the Pastoral Letter on War and Peace, deeply affected US leaders. Afterward, there was less loose talk about a US nuclear attack on the Soviets, a shift that came at a critical time.

Much has changed since the Cold War. But need for an enlarged framework that goes beyond calculated self-interest has not changed. The arms race has been left to politicians and specialists. Yet there’s a legacy of Christianity and the arms race that is noble, moral and useful.

Debate is needed to energize broad segments of society – beyond the groups that engaged during the Cold War because we now live in a multipolar nuclear world. The moral debate about the arms race must include Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India and China. That won’t be easy, but is a necessity, even while overlooked in many intellectual and academic circles.

One doesn’t have to be a Christian to see the dangers of the arms race. This recognition must be used to reframe the debate about nuclear war and peace.

*Paul Bracken is professor of management and political science at Yale University

North Korea Simulates Attack on US

A nuclear bomb strikes an American city, sending a huge fiery mushroom cloud soaring into the sky in a chilling World War 3 simulation aired in North Korea.The worrying propaganda video was released as tensions continued to rise between Kim Jong-un’s secretive country and the US.The despot used the ‘Day of the Sun’ festival – marking the birthday of his late grandfather and tha nation’s founder, Kim Il-Sung, to show off the strength of the North Korean army.

Credits: YouTube

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: YouTube

The disturbing footage shows a rocket, believed to be an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), wiping out an unspecified American city.

The sickening video – performance of the Korean State Merited Chorus – also shows the American Stars and Stripes in flames overlapped with an image of a cemetery.

The choir unveiled a new song about the country’s missiles which include the words “our proud Hwasong rocket blasts off” and “it flies as quickly as a flash of lightning to challenge imperialism”.

Credits: YouTube

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: YouTube North Korea attempted but failed to launch a missile on Sunday, the day after the military parade where what appeared to be new ballistic missiles were displayed.

“The North attempted to launch an unidentified missile from near the Sinpo region this morning but it is suspected to have failed,” the South’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The US also confirmed the missile test.

Credits: YouTube

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: YouTube Kim Jong-un released a similar propaganda video earlier this year.

Grainy footage sees a submarine launch the killer missile from the ocean before a fireball slams into Washington sending a mushroom cloud into the sky.

The bizarre four-minute video, titled ‘Last Chance’, was produced by top military officials in North Korea before being uploaded to Government website DPRK.

Credits: Reuters

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Reuters It starts with a backdrop of cheesy 90s techno music showing a montage of clips from the Korean War.

A message on the screen in Korean translates as: “If US imperialists move an inch toward us, we will immediately hit them with nukes.”

A digitally altered missile is then launched and soars through the sky before hitting the US capital, with the US flag bursting into flames.

Trump Reviews Iran Deal

The Trump administration is reviewing the Obama-era nuclear weapons agreement with Iran to determine whether they will stop the deal’s suspension of U.S. sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today.

Tillerson said administration officials would review the deal despite also announcing that Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 agreement reached under President Obama.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson wrote in a Tuesday night letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The terms of the nuclear agreement require the State Department to update Congress on Iran’s compliance every 90 days. Tillerson’s letter noted that Iran is meeting the deal’s requirements.

Tillerson wrote that Trump has directed an inter-agency review of the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to “evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran … is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

What’s the Iran deal again?

In 2015, the United States and five other nations — the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany — lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran drastically limiting its nuclear activities.

Around $100 million worth of Iranian oil money and other assets were frozen prior to the agreement. In order to unfreeze that money, Iran agreed to several terms, including:

  • Dropping nearly 75 percent of its uranium centrifuges — equipment used to produce nuclear fuel for power plants or weapons.
  • Reducing its uranium stockpile by 98 percent for 15 years and keeping its level of uranium enrichment low enough to only fuel nuclear power plants, not weapons.
  • Redesigning its existing heavy-water reactor so it can’t make weapons-grade plutonium and pledging not to build more reactors for 15 years.
  • Complying with regular monitoring from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the international watchdog for nuclear power.
  • Allowing IAEA inspectors access to any site within 24 days of an inspection request.

These sanctions don’t eliminate Iran’s access to nuclear energy, but it does significantly reduce the country’s “breakout time” — the time needed to build a nuclear weapon. According to the Brookings Institution, the deal increased Iran’s breakout time to at least one year.

What does the Trump administration think about it?

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal for years, calling it a “disaster” throughout his presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016.

Since he has come into office, he has continued to blast the deal.

In July last year, Trump told CNN that the Iranians “are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making on nuclear. We should double up and triple up the sanctions and have them come to us. They are making an amazing deal.”

Trump’s Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, has also criticized the deal and Iran’s actions in the Middle East. At a press conference this morning, speaking on Iran’s support of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, Mattis said “everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region you find Iran.”

What comes next?

At today’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump may believe that Iran is cheating on the deal.

“That’s why he’s asking for this review,” Spicer said. “If he didn’t, if he thought everything was fine, he would have allowed this to move forward. I think he’s doing the prudent thing by asking for a review of the current deal and what’s happening.”

Spicer said the administration will be conducting the review over the next 90 days, and will have more to report at the end of that period.

At a press conference this afternoon, Tillerson suggested that the current nuclear agreement “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran and only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.”

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it,” Tillerson said. He went on to say that the Iran deal “is another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions, we buy them off for a short period of time and then someone has to deal with it later. We just don’t see that that’s a credible way to be dealing with Iran.”

Earlier this week, a senior White House official told Foreign Policy that the Trump administration is considering taking a harder stance on the deal — implementing the agreements in an “incredibly strict” way — or expanding sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is an Iranian military branch intended to protect the country’s Islamic system.

There is some speculation that the Trump administration may expand sanctions in response to Iran’s ballistic missile testing and it’s funding for terrorist acts. The administration already implemented new sanctions on Iran in early February for testing a missile.

Additional sanctions wouldn’t necessarily violate the terms of the Iran deal, but it is possible that they could push Iran to drop out of the agreement and begin to develop nuclear weapons.

Spicer said sanctions have been “an effective tool,” but added that the administration recognized the possible consequences of increasing sanctions.

“Obviously we’re well aware of any potential negative impacts that an action could have,” Spicer said. “So regardless of whether it’s an economic, political or military action, you always weigh all those kind of options.”

The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan

The Sixth Seal

The Sixth Seal

By Brooklyn Eagle

New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale. Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.

But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.

Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate boundaries, while Brooklyn is inside the North American plate, far from its boundary.

“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.

While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.

“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”

Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”

While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

The Odds of Nuclear War: 100 Percent (Revelation 15)

Nuclear-war-forcetoknow.com_Scientists and Strategists Contemplate the Increasing Odds of Nuclear War

04.18.2017 / BY Mark Wolverton

At a ‘nuclear weapons summit’ in Santa Fe, experts counted the ways catastrophe could be unleashed — and the many fewer ways it can be prevented.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, is less than an hour’s drive from Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was conceived, and only a few hours from Alamogordo, where it burst into life on July 16, 1945. That makes the history of nuclear weapons as much as part of the culture and identity of Santa Fe as the Palace of the Governors, turquoise jewelry, and the scent of piñon on the cool mountain air. This past December, an unusual group of people came together for a few days for an event called the Santa Fe Nuclear Weapons Summit. Their purpose was to consider what remains the fundamental issue of our age: What should we do about nuclear weapons?

One reason that question is so difficult to answer is that, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nukes became something of an abstraction, the stuff of nightmares and apocalyptic scenarios, not something that affected our day-to-day lives. And for those born after the Cold War, they’re ancient history, a plot device for TV shows and Hollywood thrillers, not a real and present threat. In his 2012 book “The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb,” the journalist Philip Taubman quoted former Secretary of State George Shultz: “I think to a certain extent after the end of the Cold War the subject went to sleep.”

But out there in the night, the nukes sleep on as well, ever ready to awaken at the slightest nudge, whether through direct intention or miscalculation. And though the Cold War and the Soviet Union have faded into history, the danger has not. In the months since the summit, that hard fact has been made sharply and freshly clear, as President Trump promises vast expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal while North Korea conducts new missile tests.

During the first minutes of the summit at Santa Fe’s historic Lensic Theater, Eric Schlosser, author of the book “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety,” asked former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry: “Right now as we sit here, given your decades of public service in this realm, how great do you think the threat of nuclear weapons is today?”

Perry answered, “I’m sorry to report to you that the likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

“I don’t like that answer,” Schlosser responded wryly, to nervous laughter from the audience.

“I don’t like it at all,” Perry said. “But I’m afraid it’s the truth.”

To dead silence from the Lensic audience, Perry went on to recount his own Cold War experiences, from helping to interpret U-2 photography of Russian missile sites during the Cuban crisis to a memorable night as Secretary of Defense: “I was called [at] 3 o’clock in the morning once, telling me that 200 missiles were on their way from the Soviet Union to the United States. I will never forget that moment.”

That turned out to be a computer glitch, one of many that transpired during the Cold War years, as Schlosser details in “Command and Control.” Although in those days, the main threat was military — the nuclear Pearl Harbor that strategists called a “BOOB” (“bolt out of the blue”) attack — the possibility of catastrophic accident or miscalculation also always lurked.

Yet just as that danger receded with the end of the Cold War, another appeared: nuclear terrorism. For decades, the tight control of nuclear weapons and their possession by only a handful of sovereign nations essentially guaranteed that if they were ever used, it would be as an act of national will, not a spasm of ideological violence. That guarantee is gone.

In a stark video, Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry contemplates the consequences of a nuclear attack by terrorists on Washington, D.C.

Perry showed the Lensic audience a short video dramatizing the consequences of a single terrorist nuke detonating in Washington, D.C. Beyond the immediate catastrophic loss of life, the political, social, and cultural fallout of such a disaster would vastly surpass the physical fallout of the bomb — making the world’s response to 9/11 seem calm and rational by comparison.

Such dangers led Perry to join with George Shultz, Sam Nunn, and Henry Kissinger in publishing a joint editorial in January 2007 in the Wall Street Journal arguing for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. For many world leaders, including then soon-to-be-President Barack Obama, their words transformed the concept of a nuclear-free world from a radical peacenik fantasy to a realistic, achievable goal. Yet the goal remains elusive. While Perry takes justifiable pride in participating in the dismantling of about 8,000 U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons during his career, “the bad news is there’s still 15,000 left,” he notes candidly, adding, “whatever the numbers, it’s the end of civilization” if they’re ever unleashed.

Trained as an engineer and mathematician, Perry still approaches questions of Armageddon with a scientist’s precise clarity of thought, as he did throughout his Washington years. Which raises another issue that was among the many questions addressed by Perry in the Q&A that followed his interview with Schlosser: Given that it was a group of brilliant and gentle scientists who first brought the nuclear demon into the world back in 1945, what can science do now to leash that demon?

In an ideal world, the answer would be obvious: Uninvent the Bomb. Since that’s impossible, politicians and diplomats must find ways to control the nukes, and that’s where science is indispensable. “The treaties are always subject to the issue of, can they be verified, and verification is a very difficult issue,” Perry said. “Scientists in the past have come up with techniques which have given enough confidence in verification that we’ve been able to go ahead with the treaties. So I think at least one thing that scientists can do in this area is work on ways of improving verification.” As an example, Perry cited the global monitoring network of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which proved sensitive enough to detect the partial fizzle of North Korea’s first failed nuclear test in 2006. “The final estimate was only about a half a kiloton yield, which was a very low-yield nuclear bomb, and yet our seismic network detected it with very high reliability,” Perry said. With North Korea threatening to conduct new underground nuclear tests, such capability is even more vital.

Not only scientists, but students, artists, writers, businesspeople, futurists, and other innovators participated in the summit over the next three days. They traveled to tour Los Alamos National Laboratory, participated in discussions with experts including the former CIA officer Valerie Plame and the former U.S. diplomat Robert Gallucci, and immersed themselves in intensive workshops to develop brief multimedia presentations envisioning the world in 2045 — a century after the Bomb’s debut — and possible futures in a world with and without nuclear weapons.

The summit finale, in which several teams presented imaginative if brief scenarios, raised some intriguing perspectives and led to a spirited discussion with the audience, but offered no final answers — which was not surprising. No one was expecting the most complex existential dilemma of our age to be resolved in a four-day meeting in a picturesque corner of New Mexico.

“My generation was responsible for building up this fearsome nuclear arsenal,” says former Defense Secretary William J. Perry.

Visual by Department of Defense

For William Perry, now 89 years old, such activities are more than just a way to kill time in retirement. “I have basically devoted the rest of my life to educating the public on nuclear dangers and what might be done to lessen those dangers,” he told the Lensic audience. As he explained in Philip Taubman’s book, “My generation was responsible for building up this fearsome nuclear arsenal. And my generation has now started the task of dismantling it. But we will not be able to finish this task. So we will have to pass the baton on to your generation.”

It might be easy to dismiss such efforts merely as the forlorn quest of old Cold Warriors for some sense of atonement in the twilight of their lives. And it’s all too easy to feel completely hopeless about the entire issue, and that trying to change it is merely an exercise in futility. As David Kaiser, science historian and physicist at MIT, notes, “I do think that present uncertainties raise the threat level in a way that hasn’t been true for a long time.” He adds that he wasn’t surprised when The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided to move their clock closer to midnight.

Kaiser is referring to the Bulletin’s famous “Doomsday Clock,” which since its inception in 1947 has served as an unofficial cultural indicator of impending Armageddon. “Midnight” on the Clock represents global nuclear war. As the new presidential administration took office in January 2017, the Bulletin moved the hands of the Clock to two and a half minutes to midnight — the closest ever to Doomsday except when it stood at two minutes during the 1950s, after both the U.S. and the USSR acquired the hydrogen bomb.

Other experts are equally uneasy. Peter Galison, professor of history of science and physics at Harvard, notes that the current State Department is in “dire shape,” and that foreign policy has “shifted away from professionals with the linguistic and statecraft skills needed to help guard the peace and toward the White House.” Galison also observes “an increasing and worrisome volatility to Executive Office discussion of increasing nuclear armaments and disparaging accords to build down the current arsenals.” Together, he says, these “present us precisely with a real and worrisome danger.”

Yet it would be a tragic mistake to surrender wholly to fear. The summit demonstrated convincingly that even though the old Cold Warriors such as William Perry must eventually relinquish their crusades, passionate and vigorous people from the generations that follow are more than ready to take up their baton. In the public discussion that closed the summit, several of them summed up the main take-home lesson of the past few days: “Don’t assume [nuclear catastrophe] is inevitable, inescapable, or that you don’t have agency.”

Considering that the new president of the United States is a man who seems to believe that nuclear weapons are nothing more than particularly noisy firecrackers, the cause has never been more timely.

Mark Wolverton, a 2016-17 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, is a science writer, author, and playwright whose articles have appeared in Wired, Scientific American, Popular Science, Air & Space Smithsonian, and American Heritage, among other publications. His most recent book is “A Life in Twilight: The Final Years of J. Robert Oppenheimer.”