Like the Pakistan military and ISI, Assad may be aiding jihadists who operate on his own soil.
In an article at Foreign Policy titled The Disappeared, James Traub reports on journalists who have been kidnapped in Syria, either by Islamist extremist rebels or by forces for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. At one point he was introduced to (emphasis added):
… Hamza Ghadban, a Syrian journalist. … He was convinced, as many rebel sympathizers are, that the regime has subterranean connections with the foreign jihadists. Continue reading
Their perception that they’ve been relegated to an armed-forces version of Siberia is only the tip of the iceberg.
Robert Burns of the Associated Press has been the point man on the ongoing story of the U.S. nuclear launch force’s shortcomings. In one recent development, “missileers” at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana are alleged to have cheated on a proficiency exam. Subsequently, reports Global Security Newswire, about half of them
… have had their launch certifications taken away and been pulled off alert duty.… Of the more than 90 launch officers currently implicated in the cheating scandal, 40 missileers were believed directly involved in the misconduct, which involved sharing exam answers by text message. Others allegedly tolerated or facilitated the incidents. Continue reading
Hint: it’s not just the Israel lobby.
Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, c. 1968. Image Wikimedia Commons
In a piece titled The truth about Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal at the Guardian, Julian Borger writes about how Israel began its nuclear-weapons program.
The list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise to make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft [more on that down-post ― RW], include today’s staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US, France, Germany, Britain and even Norway. Continue reading
The United States nuclear missile force has been beset by a series of issues that Robert Burns of the Associated Press, who has been the lead dog on this ongoing story, describes as the “deliberate violations of safety rules, failures of inspections,” and “breakdowns in training.” The latest, as you may have heard, is cheating by the “missileers” on proficiency exams. There’s been much handwringing on the part of the command, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who wondered aloud: “Do they get bored?” he asked. No doubt; also, as Burns explains:
Nuclear missile duty has lost its luster in an era dominated by other security threats. It’s rarely the career path of first choice for young officers.
They can see the writing on the wall. Nuclear weapons may be a century away from being abolished. But in this year’s Omnibus Spending Bill, six percent of funding was cut from what the National Nuclear Security Administration asked for warhead research, development, production, and related activities. Continue reading
To some in the U.S. missile launch force, their command is the Air Force’s Siberia.
On January 17, I posted:
For the past couple of years, Robert Burns of the Associated Press has been chronicling what he describes as the “deliberate violations of safety rules, failures of inspections,” and “breakdowns in training” of the United States nuclear missile force. He’s also found “evidence that the men and women who operate the missiles from underground command posts are suffering burnout.” Continue reading
Gareth Porter reveals how Western intelligence believed the procurements of an Iranian university were proof of nuclear-weapons research.
Arak nuclear facility. Image Wikimedia Commons
The sources of enmity between Iran and the United States are legion. In 1953, when Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh (also spelled Mossadegh) sought to make Iran a democracy and nationalize the oil industry, which was owned by British corporations, the United States helped plan and execute a coup. Then, in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter allowed the just-deposed Shah into the United States for medical treatment, Iranian revolutionaries took U.S. embassy staff hostage. But, after 9/11, in a gesture of good will, Iran collected hundreds of Arabs who crossed the border from Afghanistan, deported them, and supplied copies of their passports to the United States. Iran also provided assistance overthrowing the Taliban and establishing the Karzai government in Afghanistan. Continue reading
One shudders at the phrases “systematic” and “industrial-scale” killing used by the three lawyers who prepared a report on torture and killing of detainees by the Assad regime. (Yet another huge story broken by the Guardian.) A military policeman secretly working with a Syrian opposition group smuggled out 55,000 images of 11,000 bodies tortured and/or starved to death. It gets worse.
Many other photographers are attached to security units elsewhere in the country and are likely to have been asked to provide visual evidence of deaths.
Even just trying to imagine the suffering is unimaginable. One can only hope it will put Syria on the defensive at the upcoming Geneva II peace talks. Continue reading
U.S. Marines react to loss of Falluja to al Qaeda affiliate ISIS.
Image Wikipedia Commons
After the fall of Falluja to al Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, disappointment was expressed by many U.S. Marines who fought to wrest it from Iraqi insurgents. In a New York Times article on January 9, Richard Oppel quoted Kael Weston, who he described as “a former State Department political adviser who worked with the Marines for nearly three years in Falluja and the surrounding Anbar Province.”
Though he would not send troops back, Mr. Weston, the former State Department official, said it was “almost immoral for us to say, ‘It’s all up to them now, we’re out of there.’ ” Continue reading
Pakistan has contracted with China to build two nuclear reactors ― except they’re untested.
As if Karachi didn’t have enough problems. Already, it’s “far and away the world’s most dangerous megacity,” writes Taimur Khan in Foreign Policy. Due, in large part to Sunni attacks on Shiites, its homicide rate is “25 percent higher than any other major city.” Now it’s broken ground on two new nuclear power plants. All together now: What could possibly go wrong?
In fact, even more than you think and for a reason outside the bounds of nuclear energy’s attendant risks. Continue reading
Both U.S. members of Congress calling for new Iran sanctions and hard-liners in Iran assault President Rouhani from each side.
Arak heavy water plant in Iran
In light of how much it has invested in uranium enrichment, it’s unrealistic to expect Iran to abandon the process. At the National Interest, Colin Kahl explains.
Given the significant financial investment—estimated to be at least $100 billion—and political capital the regime has expended to master uranium enrichment, the supreme leader will not agree to completely dismantle Iran’s program as many in Congress demand. … If Khamenei senses [President] Rouhani and [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Zarif are headed in that direction, he will likely pull the rug out from under continued negotiations, regardless of U.S. threats to escalate the pressure further. Continue reading
Civilians are the innocent victims of U.S. use of an unproven product ― drones.
In a moving testimony at the Guardian, Heather Linebaugh, a former drone analyst for the United States, writes:
Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I’d start with: “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?” And: “How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?” Continue reading
Iran’s Arak nuclear enrichment facility
It was only supposed to be Iran’s uranium enrichment progress that was frozen after talks with Iran last month. But now, acting in bad faith by violating the spirit of the Geneva deal between the G5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) and Iran, the United States seems to be doing its level best to re-freeze the recent thaw in relations between the G5+1 and Iran. If you’ll bear with me for a final sub-Arctic-temperature metaphor, the United States has frozen the assets of (reports the Jerusalem Post) “companies and individuals engaged in transactions on behalf of other companies that the United States previously designated under the sanctions.” Continue reading
They alternately disdain and demand them.
In a new report for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Usha Sahay and Kingston Reif cite President Obama’s June 19 speech in Berlin. The President announced his intentions to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal an additional 1,000 or more warheads below the level required by the New START treaty. When he stated that these cuts could either be “pursued through formal agreements” ― treaties ― or “parallel voluntary measures,” 24 Republican senators immediately wrote him to the effect that “any further reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal should only be conducted through a treaty subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.” Continue reading
A prominent psychiatrist and author unearthed yet another flaw in the principle of nuclear deterrence.
I posted recently about a 1985 article in Political Psychology titled “Toward a Collective Psychopathology of the Nuclear Arms Competition” by John E. Mack, the American psychiatrist and Harvard Medical professor.* Another insight of his runs something like this.
To make “the intention to kill off the bulk of the population” of the enemy in nuclear war morally able, the enemy that’s “created” (or demonized, as we might call it today) by the acceptable, the United States must be ― drum roll, please ― “monstrous to a degree virtually not experienced among the peoples of the human race.” Whether or not deterrence worked in preventing another world war, it’s apparent that many in the Soviet Union perceived the United States as ready and able to launch a first strike as it had in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Continue reading
One of these days the nuclear odds will no longer work in our favor.
As I posted recently, nuclear-weapons advocates forget to factor human error into their national-security equation. Command and Control, the new book by Eric Schlosser (Penguin Press) about nuclear close-calls (which I have not read) illustrates this clearly. A new example of sloppiness in the command and control of nuclear weapons has recently arisen regarding the Permissive Action Link (PAL), a security device for nuclear weapons intended to prevent unauthorized detonation. At Gizmodo, Karl Smallwood revisits a 2004 article by Bruce Blair, co-founder of Global Zero. Continue reading
At Bloomberg, Tony Capaccio reports the new long-range bomber planned by the Air Force may cost 50 percent more than it had projected. The figure thrown around is $810 million for one, up from $737,000,000 for the B-2. Bear in mind that, during World War II, a number quoted for B-17s ― one of its predecessors ― was 12,731 manufactured. Let’s see how many of previous generations of bombers you could buy with the money spent on one of the new bomber (figures from Wikipedia). Continue reading
Apparently Hitler seems to have forgotten that eliminating Jews would cause a crippling brain drain from Germany.
Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project.
There are many parallels between Hitler and Stalin. On the personal level, they both liked to conduct all-night meetings. On a more critical level, the purge of the Red Army command that Stalin carried out before World War II in order to consolidate his hold on power left the Red Army ill equipped to handle Hitler’s invasion.
While Hitler didn’t order his army command, aside from those who tried to assassinate him, executed, he regularly demoted generals (only later to often promote them again). Continue reading
We’re worried about the safety and security of everyone else’s nuclear weapons. What about ours?
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Robert Burns of the Associated Press has been the lead dog on stories about “rot” in the U.S. nuclear force. Earlier in the year, he reported that the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota “earned the equivalent of a ‘D’ grade when tested on their mastery of [nuclear missile] launch operations using a simulator.” Subsequently, 17 officers and a commander were removed from duty.
By way of back story, Burns writes:
The trouble at Minot was the latest in a longer series of setbacks for the Air Force’s nuclear mission [which included] the inadvertent transport of six nuclear-tipped missiles on a B-52 bomber … from Minot to Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Continue reading
Courtesy DIA Historical Collection
Nuclear war hawks forget to factor human error into their national-security equation.
In a blog post for his site Defusing the Nuclear Threat, Martin Hellman quoted from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s recent speech honoring Gen. Robert Kehler, the outgoing chief of STRATCOM, the military command in charge of nuclear weapons, and cyber- and space warfare. “Perfection must be the standard for our nuclear forces,” Hagel said at one point. At another: “there is no room for error.”
Hellman is a professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford and one of the inventors of the technology that secures credit card transactions on the Internet. Continue reading
The Chilcot Inquiry into the lessons to be drawn from Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War (or invasion, to be more accurate), gripped the nation for a while there. It actually appeared as if there was a good faith effort to determine how Britain ended up going to war with a country that had not attacked it, based on, well, what, exactly? Daily testimony to a group of apparent wise men (and one woman) drew strong attention, even television ratings, especially when that old poseur Tony Blair gave his excruciating and self-justifying testimony. So for a while there it looked as if there might actually be some answers to some issues that had long remained obscure—especially the behavior of Blair and some of his ministers prior to the invasion, particularly whether the military had been advised in sufficient time to actually prepare for one (apparently not.) This was a hot topic. Continue reading