Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Can you say "nightmare scenario?"

Have you ever wargamed out certain scenarios? I love to do it. There are times where I just can't stop wargaming out this scenario or that one. It's fun to do, and it provides an interesting insight into the world we live in. Brian Kennedy wrote of an interesting scenario in today's Wall Street Journal and he makes the case for a defense against it. Will a President Obama heed his warnings? Doubtful because Obama has said he won't weaponize space:

Consider Iran. For the past decade, Iran -- with the assistance of Russia, China and North Korea -- has been developing missile technology. Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani announced in 2004 their ability to mass produce the Shahab-3 missile capable of carrying a lethal payload to Israel or -- if launched from a ship -- to an American city.

The current controversy over Iran's nuclear production is really about whether it is capable of producing nuclear warheads. This possibility is made more urgent by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement in 2005: "Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved."

Mr. Ahmadinejad takes seriously, even if the average Iranian does not, radical Islam's goal of converting, subjugating or destroying the infidel peoples -- first and foremost the citizens of the U.S. and Israel. Even after 9/11, we appear not to take that threat seriously. We should.

Think about this scenario: An ordinary-looking freighter ship heading toward New York or Los Angeles launches a missile from its hull or from a canister lowered into the sea. It hits a densely populated area. A million people are incinerated. The ship is then sunk. No one claims responsibility. There is no firm evidence as to who sponsored the attack, and thus no one against whom to launch a counterstrike.

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

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

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

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

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

The only solution to this problem is a robust, multilayered missile-defense system. The most effective layer in this system is in space, using space-based interceptors that destroy an enemy warhead in its ascent phase when it is easily identifiable, slower, and has not yet deployed decoys. We know it can work from tests conducted in the early 1990s. We have the technology. What we lack is the political will to make it a reality.

An EMP attack is not one from which America could recover as we did after Pearl Harbor. Such an attack might mean the end of the United States and most likely the Free World. It is of the highest priority to have a president and policy makers not merely acknowledge the problem, but also make comprehensive missile defense a reality as soon as possible.

Mr. Kennedy isn't the first one to talk about EMP attacks. Frank Gaffney's been talking about it for years and he has written extensively about it. One could possibly discern that he's the one who first sounded the warning about this sort of an attack. Both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Gaffney are quite correct: We're not prepared for this sort of an attack. For that matter, we're not prepared for any sort of unconventional nuclear attack. (If anyone is a fan of Joel C. Rosenbergs political thrillers, read "Dead Heat" which has four US cities hit by ship-launched nuclear weapons. We see the 21st Century as the beginning of possible unconventional nuclear attacks.)

This is a threat to our nation in the coming years. We're not prepared for attacks like the ones posited by Mr. Kennedy. All we can hope is that a President Obama will surround himself with people who can see these sorts of threats, and warn him to take steps to prevent such attacks on the US. But to do that, he's going to have to break his promise to not weaponize space. We're not talking about building warships for space. But a space-based missile platform could go a long way in protecting this nation from such unconventional attacks. As a matter of fact, a few space-based missile platforms could really help protect us. It's an idea that we'd hope a President Obama would consider, and if it's feasible, implement it.

Publius II


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