What would it take to get American men into the streets to protest rape? It has happened in other countries.

(TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault)

A little over two years ago, a young couple in India went to see a movie. They were celebrating the young woman’s completion of her exams to get into medical school. On the bus they took to get home at 8:30 P.M., the male passengers raped the young woman, raped her so badly that her intestines actually came out through her vagina. Continue reading

Would Pakistan respond to India’s use of conventional weapons with nukes?

Theoretically Pakistan is poised to respond to Indian military retaliation for a terrorist strike with tactical nukes.

It’s debatable how much nuclear weapons add to national security. But what’s undeniable is that they add layer upon layer of complexity, sprinkled with convoluted and even counterintuitive thinking (such as how missile defense systems are seen as an offensive act), to national defense. By way of example, on April 30, in the Times of India, Indrani Bagchi, wrote:

India will retaliate massively even if Pakistan uses tactical nuclear weapons against it. [It] will protect its security interests by retaliating to a “smaller” tactical attack in exactly the same manner as it would respond to a “big” strategic attack.

Two questions immediately arise.

1. Why did Pakistan develop tactical nuclear weapons?

2. Why would India respond disproportionately to the use of what’s often referred to as “battlefield” nuclear weapons? (Not to diminish their power or, by any means, condone a state’s possession of them.)

First, we’ll quote Ms. Bagchi, who quotes Shyam Saran, the convener of India’s National Security Advisory Board. Speaking for nuclear-weapons policymakers in New Delhi, Mr. Saran “placed India’s nuclear posture in perspective in the context of recent developments, notably the ‘jihadist edge’ that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability have acquired.” (No, jihadis haven’t – yet anyway – insinuated themselves inside Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program.)

Answering question one, Saran said that Pakistan hopes (according to Indian policymakers), by developing tactical nuclear weapons,

“ … to dissuade India from contemplating conventional punitive retaliation to … cross-border terrorist strikes such as the horrific 26/11 attack on Mumbai. What Pakistan is signalling to India and to the world is that India should not contemplate retaliation even if there is another Mumbai because Pakistan has lowered the threshold of nuclear use to the theatre level. … This is nothing short of nuclear blackmail.”

You can see how nuclear weapons have the power to cloud men’s minds. Pakistan (if the Indian policymakers are correct) thinks that it can keep India from retaliating to yet another terrorist attack. With the same dearth of commonsense that Pakistan exhibits in the above passage (if true), India then declares that it won’t just retaliate with tactical nukes, but with strategic nuclear weapons.

Never mind that the best way to keep India from retaliating is, obviously, to refrain from attacking. Of course, that beggars the question of whether Pakistan can keep its militants from attacking India (except for when it wants them, too).

Providing an answer to question two, Saran says (emphasis added):

“India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, but if it is attacked with such weapons, it would engage in nuclear retaliation which will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage on its adversary. The label on a nuclear weapon used for attacking India, strategic or tactical, is irrelevant from the Indian perspective.”

Re what’s emphasized: ever notice how often bravado and black humor intersect? To buttress his argument, Saran claims:

“A limited nuclear war is a contradiction in terms. Any nuclear exchange, once initiated, would swiftly and inexorably escalate to the strategic level.”

In any event, another answer to question one may exist. Ms. Bagchi writes that Pakistan may – also? primarily? – have developed tactical nuclear weapons

… to keep its weapons from being confiscated or neutralized by the US, a fear that has grown in the Pakistani establishment in the wake of the operation against Osama bin Laden.

Western policymakers might be inclined to shoot down this line of thinking as a conspiracy theory. But, as historian Agha Humayun Amin, a former major in the Pakistani Tank Corps, writes in a recent ebook

The Pakistani military perception right from 2001 was that the USA was a threat for Pakistan’s nuclear program and US arrival in Afghanistan had more to do with Pakistan and less with the Taliban. Therefore the Taliban had to be supported. As long as the Americans were busy with the Taliban, Pakistan or Pakistani nuclear assets were safe.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

Will Pakistan counter India's "water bomb" with a nuclear bomb?

“Every now and again, one reads an editorial that stops the reader in his tracks,” writes John Daly at Oil Price. He’s referring to a story titled “War Inevitable To Tackle Indian Water Aggression” on Pakistan’s Urdu-language widely read daily newspaper Nawa-e Waqt, which “bluntly commented on India’s Kashmiri water polices and Islamabad’s failure up to now to stop New Delhi’s efforts to construct hydroelectric dams in Kashmir.”

First some background  on the tug of the war over the Indus, a prime water source for Pakistan. Almost 2,000 miles long, its wellspring is in the Tibetan plateau, which incorporates the Himalayas. The Indus runs through Kashmir (and Jammu) and flows south through Pakistan to Karachi where it empties into the Arabian Sea. But the dams that India builds across rivers feeding into the Indus not only decrease the share of water for Pakistan but can be used to deprive Pakistan of even more water in the event of war. Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #111: Mmmmm… Beeeeeer

Sorry for the long absence. Let’s carry on, shall we? “If you listen to the guys up in the stands, pretty soon you’ll be up there sitting with them.” Who said it? Continue reading

U.S.-Indian nuke transactions go from bad to worse

From poisoning disarmament protocols to thwarting development in India to even threatening corporate profits.

THE DEPROLIFERATOR — “The United States has made new concessions as part of its civilian nuclear agreement with India,” reports Nicholas Kravlev in the Washington Times . . .

. . . while New Delhi has yet to make it possible for U.S. companies to benefit from the unprecedented deal. … Washington agreed to Indian demands to increase the number of plants allowed to reprocess U.S.-supplied nuclear fuel from one to two [in order to] avoid long-distance transportation of dangerous materials. Arms control experts denounced the new deal saying it adds to the “damage” done by the original agreement.

For those unfamiliar with how damaging that was, Kralev reminds us that “the Bush administration went against established norms and allowed a country that has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to use U.S.-supplied fuel to make plutonium, though for strictly civilian purposes.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #110: WEHT SWK?

“In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #103: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

“To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker—that’s like an aberration. I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some ‘actor’ who’s been created.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #102: Dancing Limbaughs

“What they really want to see is, they want you to chop your fucking arm off, hold up your arm, wave it around spewing blood, and believe me, if you did that, the crowd would go fucking ballistic. You only get four good shows like that, though. Four good shows, and then you’re just a torso and a head, trying to get one of your band mates to give you one last hurrah and chop your head off. Which they probably wouldn’t do, which would really be hell.” Who said it? Continue reading

Oh Noes!!11! Glacirs not meltin. Mak IPCC bad!

In case you haven’t heard, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is dead, done in by the nefarious failure to check a single reference in a 3000 page report. Or rather, that’s what climate disruption deniers want you to think. Here’s what’s really going on.

Back in 2007, Working Group 2 (WG2) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) put together a large list of what climate disruption was likely to impact around the world. One of the impacts was reduced availability of fresh water due to rapidly melting glaciers around the world, and especially in the Himalayas. One of the specific claims was that all Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, an amazingly and likely unrealistically fast rate of melting. After an Indian government minister questioned this claim, scientists looked into it and found that the date was incorrect and that internal procedures for vetting references weren’t followed in this particular case. As as result, the IPCC has issued a formal statement of apology for the error.

And if this were about any other topic except climate disruption, that would be the end of it. Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #96: Saturn's Hexagon and the Bulava Spiral

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #95: STFU

Gonna try something different Continue reading

Nota Bene #92: Echoblowcation

A few things for you NB readers: Continue reading

Happy Birthday to The Commonwealth: could this be Britain's future?

I was surprised to learn that 2009 is the 60th anniversary of The Commonwealth—the association of former British colonies that still, amazingly, continue to work with each and talk to each other on a variety of issues. This would be a cause for celebration, one would think. And it appears there have been some. But I only learned about it when we visited Marlborough House, which is where the Commonwealth members meet from time to time to have their pictures taken, and who knows what else. It’s actually difficult to know, because the UK government has made no effort to publicise this event, which one would think would be a cause for celebration. The entertaining but not hugely informative Commonwealth website is here–there’s certainly a lot of stuff going on.
Continue reading

Free the markets

. . .or, why can’t we be more like the savage socialists across the pond?

Marion Nestle recently pointed out that in Europe food must be labeled as containing GMO’s. The system isn’t new, and it springs from a general distrust of GM agriculture in much of the world. Nothing, however, stops a company from using GM ingredients or consumers from purchasing GM products. Their presence is labeled with the allergens. Looks like a free market where the informed consumer can make choices, promote competition and generally play a part in the all important invisible hand mechanism. But, no, you can’t have it.

Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: U.S. Chamber of Commerce files for EPA climate disruption trial (update #2)

carboholic

Scopes

Earlier this week, the LATimes reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (hereafter “the Chamber”) has petitioned the EPA to hold a trial-like hearing on the science of climate disruption. According to the article, officials for the Chamber want to make it “‘the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century.'”

EPA officials interviewed for the LATimes article are dismissive of the Chamber’s petition, referring to it in the article as “frivolous” and a “waste of time.” However, given that the Chamber has threatened to take the EPA to federal court to force them to hold this trial-like hearing, it’s unlikely that the Chamber considers their petition “frivolous.” Continue reading

Has a college degree become a bad investment? Better question: is conservative rhetoric the worst investment in history?

Yesterday over at Future Majority, Kevin Bondelli responded to Jack Hough’s New York Post column “Don’t Get That College Degree!” Bondelli’s take led with one of the more terrifying titles I’ve seen lately: “Has College Become a Bad Investment?” Yow. When you dig the hole so deep that you can even use that kind of question as a rhetorical device, you know you’re in some deep, deep kim-chee. Seriously. That one ranks right up there with “Is breathing really a good idea?” and “What are the lasting benefits of a howitzer shot to the balls?”

Snark aside, Bondelli does a nice job of addressing Hough, who “argues that the increase in lifetime wages for graduates no longer makes up for the financial burden of university education and the ensuing student loan burden.” He also takes on one of the GOP’s most successful and devastating canards, explaining that Continue reading