It’s sometimes called the Boston Earthquake and sometimes the Cape Ann Earthquake. Its epicenter is thought to have been in the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles east of Gloucester. Estimates say that it would have registered between 6.0 and 6.3 on the modern Richter scale. It was an occasion to remember as chronicled by John E. Ebel, director of the Weston observatory of Boston College:
“At about 4:30 in the morning on 18 November, 1755, a strong earthquake rocked the New England area. Observers reported damage to chimneys, brick buildings and stone walls in coastal communities from Portland, Maine to south of Boston … Chimneys were also damaged as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. The earthquake was felt at Halifax, Nova Scotia to the northeast, Lake Champlain to the northwest, and Winyah, South Carolina to the southwest. The crew of a ship in deep water about 70 leagues east of Boston thought it had run aground and only realized it had felt an earthquake after it arrived at Boston later that same day.
“The 1755 earthquake rocked Boston, with the shaking lasting more than a minute. According to contemporary reports, as many as 1,500 chimneys were shattered or thrown down in part, the gable ends of about 15 brick buildings were broken out, and some church steeples ended up tilted due to the shaking. Falling chimney bricks created holes in the roofs of some houses. Some streets, particularly those on manmade ground along the water, were so covered with bricks and debris that passage by horse-drawn carriage was impossible. Many homes lost china and glassware that was thrown from shelves and shattered. A distiller’s cistern filled with liquor broke apart and lost its contents.”
We don’t have many details of the earthquake’s impact here, there being no newspaper in Worcester County at that time. We do know that one man, Christian Angel, working in a “silver” mine in Sterling, was buried alive when the ground shook. He is the only known fatality in these parts. We can assume that, if the quake shook down chimneys in Springfield and New Haven, it did even more damage hereabouts. We can imagine the cries of alarm and the feeling of panic as trees swayed violently, fields and meadows trembled underfoot and pottery fell off shelves and crashed below.
The Boston Earthquake was an aftershock from the gigantic Lisbon Earthquake that had leveled Lisbon, Portugal, a few days before. That cataclysm, estimated as an 8 or 9 on the modern Richter scale, was the most devastating natural catastrophe to hit western Europe since Roman times. The first shock struck on Nov. 1, at about 9 in the morning.
According to one account: ”Suddenly the city began to shudder violently, its tall medieval spires waving like a cornfield in the breeze … In the ancient cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria, the nave rocked and the massive chandeliers began swinging crazily. . . . Then came a second, even more powerful shock. And with it, the ornate façade of every great building in the square … broke away and cascaded forward.”
Until that moment, Lisbon had been one of the leading cities in western Europe, right up there with London and Paris. With 250,000 people, it was a center of culture, financial activity and exploration. Within minutes it was reduced to smoky, dusty rubble punctuated by human groans and screams. An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 lost their lives.
Since then, New England has been mildly shaken by quakes from time to time. One series of tremors on March 1, 1925, was felt throughout Worcester County, from Fitchburg to Worcester, and caused a lot of speculation.
What if another quake like that in 1755 hit New England today? What would happen? That question was studied 15 years ago by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Its report is sobering:
“The occurrence of a Richter magnitude 6.25 earthquake off Cape Ann, Massachusetts … would cause damage in the range of 2 to 10 billion dollars … in the Boston metropolitan area (within Route 128) due to ground shaking, with significant additional losses due to secondary effects such as soil liquefaction failures, fires and economic interruptions. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of major and minor injuries would be expected … Thousands of people could be displaced from their homes … Additional damage may also be experienced outside the 128 area, especially closer to the earthquake epicenter.”
So even if we don’t worry much about volcanoes, we know that hurricanes and tornadoes are always possible. As for earthquakes, they may not happen in this century or even in this millennium, but it is sobering to think that if the tectonic plates under Boston and Gloucester shift again, we could see a repeat of 1755.
March 30, 2022 – 8:50 AM News Code : 1242916 Source : Al Ahed newsLink:
Palestinian resistance movement Hamas warned that any confrontation with the Tel Aviv regime in defense of the al-Aqsa mosque compound and other sacred sites in the occupied al-Quds will be “a game-changer” that will “open up gates of hell” to the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Palestinian resistance movement Hamas warned that any confrontation with the Tel Aviv regime in defense of the al-Aqsa mosque compound and other sacred sites in the occupied al-Quds will be “a game-changer” that will “open up gates of hell” to the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity.
“The 11-day Operation Sword of al-Quds between the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance groups and the Zionist regime [in May 2021] was a prelude to a longer fighting, for which we were prepared,” Hamas deputy political chief Saleh al-Arouri told al-Mayadeen network on Monday evening.
“The next confrontation with the ‘Israeli’ occupation for the defense of al-Quds will be much broader and more popular. It will be a game-changer in the history of the conflict with the Tel Aviv regime,” he added.
Arouri underscored that “any ‘Israeli’ aggression against Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque compound will escalate the ongoing tension.”
“Restrictions on the worshipers and preventing them from reaching the al-Aqsa mosque compound during the holy fasting month of Ramadan will open up the gates of hell to the occupying ‘Israeli’ regime,” the top Hamas official noted.
Commenting on Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike, he said, “We have informed relevant parties that there will inevitably [lead to the] explosion of the status quo in the occupied territories as we enter Ramadan and the detainees continue their strike.”
Arouri then pointed to the latest operations in the southern occupied city of Bir Sabe’ and the northern city of Hadera, stating that they “represent an outright rejection of attempts aimed at the obliteration of the Palestinian cause and the nation’s identity. Our resistance fighters are constantly engaged in the struggle against the ‘Israeli’ occupation.”
He also highlighted that there are “constant, declared, and undeclared meetings” between officials from Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.
“Not only there exists serious dialogs and responsible cooperation between Hamas with Hezbollah, but the Palestinian group also has interactions with other movements, countries, and peoples as well,” Arouri said.
Arouri added, “Unfortunately, ‘Israel’ is turning into an ally of certain Arab regimes. Any rapprochement between ‘Israel’ and an Arab or Muslim state, whether Turkey or Qatar, is rejected.”
The remarks came as the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco – three Arab countries that normalized relations with the Tel Aviv regime in 2020 – as well as Egypt came together for a meeting with the ‘Israelis’ in occupied Palestine, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also in attendance.
China is reportedly eyeing up the prospect of high-speed “doomsday trains” capable of zooming around the country with high-powered missiles onboard.
The grand plan is still very much in its blueprint stage, but it’s the subject of a national research project funded by the central Chinese government led by Yin Zihong, associate professor of civil engineering with Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
They’ve reportedly just published a new peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Southwest Jiaotong University looking into the pros and cons of this plan.
“Compared with heavy-haul railways, high-speed railways operate faster and more smoothly. This means that on high-speed rails, the mobility, safety and concealment of military vehicles would be greater,” the researchers wrote in the study, per the SCMP.
China is one of nine countries confirmed to possess nuclear weapons, alongside the US, Russia, France, the UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. After successfully testing nuclear bombs in the 1960s, China has since maintained an arsenal of an estimated 350 warheads, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. This nuclear stockpile is comparatively modest compared to the US and Russia, which possess around 5,500 and 6,300 nuclear warheads respectively.
China became the first nation to propose and pledge a “no first use” nuclear policy, keeping most nuclear warheads detached from their missiles during peacetime. Conversely, most states with nuclear weapons – including the US and Russia – maintain policies that would permit their first use in a conflict.
While their nuclear stocks are comparatively “minimal” to other geopolitical giants, China is almost certainly a world leader in the domain of high-speed rail. The country is home to the biggest high-speed railway network in the world, with a total length of 40,000 kilometers (24,854.8 miles) of track capable of zipping trains at speeds of 200 to 350 kilometers per hour (120 to 220 miles per hour).
Perhaps with a little bit more research, this well-oiled system of high-tech railways could be hurtling ICBMs across the country at unbelievable speeds too.
Does this make any sense? The world may be more dangerous than it seemed a few months, much less a few years, ago. But have its dangers grown so much in the past year that they warrant spending an extra $60 billion—and so much in the past few weeks that they demand $30 billion or $40 billion more? (For anyone wondering, these increases go beyond what’s necessary for the military budget to keep up with inflation.) Finally, does Biden’s budget spend this extra money in a way that actually deals with the growing threats from Russia or anyplace else?
In other words, it is time to ask the vital question: How much do we really need to spend on defense?
It’s a question that remarkably few in official or congressional circles ask. Or, to the extent they do, their answer is alwaysone word: more. They think that a dollar sign backed by a very high number sends a signal of our serious intent to our friends and foes. They focus on how much to spend—not on what to buy.
Some of Biden’s budget hikes do go to counter the new Russian threat. For instance, it increases funding for the European Deterrence Initiative—a program that enables the movement of U.S. troops and equipment into NATO’s eastern nations, such as Poland, Romania, and the Baltics—from $3.7 billion to $6.9 billion.
But that only accounts for about 5 percent of Biden’s $60 billion increase. What about the rest? Much of it will fund more combat planes and warships; research and development into 5G, A.I., and hypersonic missiles; and improvements in the communications tools that link commanders and their weapons. There are legitimate cases to be made for these upgrades, quite aside from Russia’s invasion and the subsequent anxieties of NATO allies on the western border of Ukraine.
But the most visible, and surprising, share of Biden’s defense budget is the enormous sum for nuclear weapons—$50.9 billion, a 17 percent increase over this year’s (already considerable) $43.2 billion. About a third of this outlay is for the Energy Department’s nuclear complex—including its weapons labs, plutonium pits, and the production and testing of warheads and bombs. The other two-thirds, controlled by the Defense Department, goes to the major defense contractors.
A debate has raged for years among defense analysts over whether to revamp all three “legs” of America’s “strategic nuclear triad”—the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-missile-carrying submarines, and long-range bomber aircraft. Some argue that all three elements of the arsenal are on the verge of obsolescence and need to be replaced. Others contend that, while this will be true for the submarines in the next decade or so, the missiles and bombers can be merely modified (as they have been a few times already); still others add that the land-based missiles should be eliminated or drastically reduced in number (say, from their current 400 to maybe 40). I’m among this last group.
The Pentagon’s fact sheet on the budget makes clear that Biden has decided to replace all legs and build a new long-range air-launched cruise missile, to boot. These new weapons, and their associated gear, consume $34.3 billion of his proposal—a 24 percent increase over what the administration devoted to them in this year’s budget. All of these new missiles, bombers, and submarines are in the research-and-development phase, meaning that, as they move into production, their costs will grow. In other words, starting in a few years, the budget for nuclear weapons will skyrocket.
This decision is surprising because, in his years as senator and vice president, Biden was never enamored of the “nuclear priesthood.” As president, some of his appointments to key positions in the Pentagon, the State Department, and the National Security Council staff were equally skeptical specialists. Two things happened between Inauguration Day and now.
First, Russia and China kept building new nuclear weapons (not more nuclear weapons, but upgrades to existing models). Some analysts argue that, objectively, this shouldn’t affect our decisions; as long as we’re able to carry out our nuclear war plans—as long as we can deter Russia and China from attacking us and, to some extent, limit damage if nuclear war breaks out anyway—no need for us to follow Russia’s or China’s wasteful practices. But politically, this is a hard argument to make, especially given the influence of a bipartisan group of legislators whose home districts manufacture missiles, bombers, or submarines.
Second, back when Biden was vice president, he and President Barack Obama got snookered by a particularly agile group of these legislators. In 2010, Obama needed two-thirds of the Senate to ratify the New START arms reduction treaty, which he had signed with Russia’s then-president, Dmitry Medvedev. Several senators threatened not to ratify unless Obama spent more on the nuclear stockpile and agreed to build new missiles, bombers, and submarines. Hawks have pulled this ploy ever since the first U.S.-Soviet arms control treaty back in 1972. Almost every new American nuclear weapon since then has been funded as a bribe for ratification or as a “bargaining chip” for future arms negotiations—except that, once nuclear weapons enter production, they’re almost never bargained away.
Obama tried to be clever under this pressure, pledging to “modernize or replace” all three legs of the triad. He did not regard this as a promise to buy any new weapons. To “modernize” a missile could mean upgrading its software or installing new communications gear.
But in response, the congressional critics rolled out a grand list of new weapons, which carried a 30-year price tag of $1.3 trillion (it has since grown), and claimed that Obama had signed on to the whole package as part of the deal to ratify New START. When Trump was elected, key Pentagon officials—some of whom had worked for Senate Republicans—labeled this package as “the Obama plan of record.” The message was clear: Obama (who was viewed by Republicans and several centrist Democrats as a weak-on-defense dove) approved these weapons; therefore, you’re an even weaker-on-defense dove if you try to cancel them.
And so from that point on, these weapons—which won’t be fielded for several years—have been presented as part of the U.S. arsenal’s status quo. To oppose their funding is seen as an act not of restraint but of unilateral disarmament.
Last year, Biden raised defense spending and retained the plan to build new nukes, in part because he needed a few moderates to support his extravagant domestic spending plan—and he wouldn’t get them unless he supported extravagant Pentagon spending. Now this year, as the political mood has shifted and as midterms loom ahead, Biden has scaled back his domestic ambitions even while pushing the defense budget upward and onward.
And what will we get for this massive military spending binge? Mostly theater. Nobody has come up with a persuasive scenario in which the U.S., armed with its current nuclear arsenal, is unable to deter Russia or China (or North Korea or some other foe) from aggression, but would be able to deter them, if we only had all these new missiles, bombers, and submarines now.
The war in Ukraine illustrates the point. Biden (properly) refuses to send U.S. troops or pilots into the battle directly, for fear that Russia would see such intervention as an existential threat and respond with nuclear weapons. Some think Biden is excessively cautious. But none of his critics has claimed that we could gain the upper hand over Russia—that we could intervene and stare down Putin’s threat to respond with nukes—if only we had all these new missiles and bombers and submarines today.
The course of the war in Ukraine calls into question the broader claim that we need to spend a lot more money on defense in order to counter Russia’s new threat in Europe. Russia’s military is doing poorly against Ukraine’s army and civilian resistance forces. Russian tanks are running out of fuel and food as Ukrainians cut their supply lines; these same tanks and other vehicles are getting blown up by easy-to-operate anti-tank missiles that cost not millions but thousands of dollars apiece; Russian planes and helicopters are getting shot out of the sky by similarly inexpensive, shoulder-fired Stinger missiles.
Yes, NATO’s new Eastern European front lines need to be strengthened, because they were barely manned at all before Putin’s move against Ukraine. But do they need to be strengthened so much? It may be smarter—and would certainly be cheaper—to rethink what we need for defense before we start spending a lot more money in the same old ways. We’ve overrated Russia’s military power; let’s not underrate our own.
Washington — The United States sanctioned Iranian defense companies Wednesday after a spate of ballistic missile attacks on targets in Iraq and the Gulf.
The U.S. and Iran’s neighbors blame that country for a March 13 strike on Irbil, Iraq, and for repeated missile strikes into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen.
On Friday, a Houthi missile strike set ablaze a Saudi Aramco oil storage site, prompting warnings from angry Saudi leaders that the attacks threatened the stability of the world oil market.
“We will also work with other partners in the region to hold Iran accountable for its actions, including gross violations of the sovereignty of its neighbors,” Nelson said in a statement.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday’s sanctions target an Iran-based procurement agent and his companies, which helped acquire propellant-related materials for the missile research program of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard; an Iranian defense company; and an Iranian intermediary who also helped in the development of missile propellant.
The sanctions were authorized under an existing executive order targeting producers and supporters of weapons of mass destruction. The penalties allow the U.S. to block the assets of the sanctioned people and entities, and to prosecute others who do business with them.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been at war against Iranian-backed Houthi fighters who have seized much of northern Yemen. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility for the March 13 strike on Erbil, and alleged it was targeting an Israeli strategic center there
An all-out nuclear war would likely involve more than 3,000 warheads used by both sides, killing well over 100 million Americans and Russians.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is already one of the most destructive and lethal wars in recent memory, from the shelling of cities to the use of thermobaric “vacuum weapons.” That’s led experts and civilians, alike, to wonder what—if NATO and the U.S. become directly involved in the conflict—a nuclear war between Washington and Moscow might look like.
Here, Popular Mechanics examines two classic nuclear attack scenarios: a counterforce strike and a countervalue strike. The counterforce scenario examines what might happen if Russia attacked America’s nuclear arsenal with its own in an attempt to neutralize America’s nuclear-capable bombers, submarines, and land-based missiles. The second, more devastating countervalue scenario involves an all-out use of nukes to destroy the United States’ ability to wage war, with the side effect of reducing American society to a pre-industrial level of development.
Before we begin, we should note that neither of the scenarios are likely to occur in our lifetimes. Unlike conventional war, a nuclear war is not something that happens out of the blue. Both the United States and Russia believe that a nuclear war is not winnable and should never be fought. Both countries also subscribe to a policy of “assured destruction,” meaning any attack on either nation would result in the attacker’s destruction. Assured destruction is a powerful disincentive to using even just one nuclear weapon, let alone using hundreds in an apocalyptic attack. Still, a nuclear war is not impossible.
In the scenario, U.S. forces, including those of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade pictured here, intervene to stop Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Agustín Montañez
The United States has been steadfast in its refusal to become directly involved in the Russo-Ukrainian War … and for good reason. Under Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, Washington has extended the protection of its “nuclear umbrella” to NATO nations, which means the U.S. would treat a nuclear attack on those countries in the same way it would an attack on American soil; in other words, it protects them by promising to retaliate in kind to any nuclear strikes on their territory.
However, the U.S. does not have the same security relationship with Ukraine as it does with NATO member nations and allies such as South Korea and Japan. As a result, Ukraine has found itself with no country willing to actively defend it against nuclear-armed Russia for fear of entering into a nuclear war. Putin’s Russia, seeing Ukraine as alone and vulnerable, decided to attack.
In our scenario, the President of the United States has ordered the U.S. military to intervene on Ukraine’s behalf, destroying Russian Ground Forces units in the field and downing Russian fighter jets. Five U.S. Army brigades—backed up by fighters, bombers, and cruise missiles—drive from Poland to Kyiv, then on to Donetsk. The intervention threatens to upset Putin’s chessboard and injects a new force into the conflict that could beat Russia’s army in the field.
While this might result in a conventional victory, things could rapidly take a sinister turn. If U.S. forces routed their Russian counterparts and neared the Ukrainian-Russian border, Russia might target them with tactical nuclear weapons (typically 20,000 tons of TNT or less) to stop their advance.
Once that happens, all bets are off. The United States might choose not to retaliate, in order to avoid escalating, or it might well decide to retaliate with tactical nuclear weapons of its own. At that point, either side could opt to massively escalate, reasoning that the first side to use larger, more powerful strategic nuclear weapons could gain a survival advantage over the other, launching a first strike so devastating it destroys most of the enemy’s strategic arsenal.
A Russian Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile test-launched from a missile silo at Plesetsk Cosmodrome, September 2019.
Russian Defence MinistryGetty Images
In our scenario, we’ll look at a surprise nuclear first strike that leads to all-out war. One country decides it has exhausted all other options and must destroy enemy nuclear forces before it can use them.
Moments later, Russia launches its entire force of 304 land-based ICBMs carrying a total of approximately 1,183 thermonuclear warheads. The ICBMs would target America’s nukes, including the 400 ICBM silos sprinkled across the western United States, nuclear bomber bases in Missouri and Louisiana, and missile submarine bases at Kings Bay, Georgia, and Kitsap, Washington. Each location would likely receive a minimum of two nukes in case the first weapon fails to detonate.
The nuclear surprise attack, known as a “first strike,” would primarily target America’s land-based nuclear arsenal. Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota would receive at least 800 nuclear strikes between them. Cities like Seattle, uncomfortably close to Joint Base Kitsap, the home of the Pacific Fleet’s ballistic missile submarines, would likely take some damage.
The strike, known as a counterforce strike, would be concentrated away from major population and industrial centers. Places like New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, and entire regions of the U.S. would be spared. Such an attack would likely kill no more than 20 million Americans and leave much of the country intact.
Most importantly, the strike would preserve Washington’s ability to communicate with its nuclear forces. Moscow would then open a dialogue with Washington, stating that the bulk of American nuclear weapons—land-based missiles and bombers—have been destroyed, but America’s infrastructure and cities are still intact. Russia’s leadership would then warn that any attempt to retaliate would unleash the rest of the country’s nuclear weapons, killing millions more and destroying the U.S. as a military, political, and economic entity.
U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidons would hunt Russian missile submarines in an attempt to sink them before they could launch their missiles.
SOPA ImagesGetty Images
At this point, the United States could surrender and face an uncertain future, or it could fight back. Fighting back would mean launching what remained of its ICBMs and any bombers that survived, using them to hunt down remaining Russian nuclear weapons. Bombers are particularly useful in this situation, as they could be used to actively hunt down what remained of Russia’s ICBMs, particularly those like the SS-27 mounted on 16-wheeled missile transport trucks. The Navy would begin hunting Russian missile submarines, including those that might be parked off the East and West Coasts of the U.S., armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
Would a nuclear counterattack achieve anything? In our scenario, the Joint Chiefs of Staff argue that the United States has nothing to lose by trying, and in doing so, could attempt to reduce the overall damage of an inevitable second strike. After all, there is little reason to trust Russia at this point. The United States launches a counterstrike, but it is seriously hobbled by a lack of forces, with most of the U.S. Strategic Command’s Minuteman III ICBMs and B-2 and B-52 bombers destroyed in the first strike.
“An attack on just one city in the U.S. could cause fatalities in the hundreds of thousands and just as many injuries.”
Russia launches the remainder of its nukes, this time with an eye toward destruction of anything that could contribute to the war effort. The strike targets America’s remaining military bases, industry, energy, communications, and transportation facilities—practically anything that makes 21st-century life worth living. Cities are not targeted as population centers, but buildings, complexes, and other facilities inside them would be destroyed without mercy.
The result would be near-total devastation with global consequences. “An attack on just one city in the U.S. could cause fatalities in the hundreds of thousands and just as many injuries,” Tara Drozdenko, director of the Global Security Programat the Union of Concerned Scientists, tells Popular Mechanics. “Fires generating soot could block sunlight, possibly for decades, causing global cooling and shortening growing seasons, causing worldwide food insecurity.”
According to a recent open-source study (not published in a peer-reviewed journal), such an all-out attack would kill as many as 104,241,000 Americans. Millions more injured in the attacks and unable to reach a hospital would likely succumb to their injuries. Still more, living downwind from blast zones, would be at risk of illness or death from radioactive fallout. Those that survive would be left without power, medical care, communications, and viable food and fuel distribution networks. The following winter would be particularly harsh, sparing only those reasonably healthy and with access to food and the ability to warm themselves.
How badly would Russia suffer? It really doesn’t make much difference, because there would be hardly anyone left in the United States in a position to notice. Russia has a population of 144 million people with a larger percentage of its population in rural areas away from the direct effects of nuclear attack. Russia itself would certainly suffer deaths in the tens of millions, but in this scenario, a death count seems like a futile means of keeping score. In this scenario, both sides have lost.
Even in the event of surprise nuclear attack, an adversary would have to contend with America’s fleet of ballistic missile submarines, including USS Kentucky, pictured here. Each carries 20 Trident D-5 ballistic missiles with a total of more than 100 thermonuclear warheads.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda R. Gray
A nuclear war is extremely unlikely. All nuclear powers implicitly operate by the principle of assured destruction—a nuclear attack on them guarantees a devastating response. If Chinaattacks Russia, it can be assured it will suffer a devastating counter strike. The instinct for survival in all rational human beings causes them to make decisions that steer them away from really horrific outcomes like nuclear war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that he understands the peril of nuclear weapons. “U.S. and Russian leaders understand that a full-scale nuclear war would be a civilization-ending event,” Drozdenko explains. “That is why just last month, leaders of five nuclear weapons states, including the United States and Russia, called the avoidance of war between nuclear powers their ‘foremost responsibilities,’ and affirmed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
In the current situation, lacking a direct U.S. and Russian confrontation, the likelihood of nuclear war is somewhere near zero. Having said that, accidents can happen and disagreements between two seemingly rational parties can and do quickly spiral out of control. Mad men, unbound by reality and a survival instinct, might also choose nuclear war. In any case, all of human civilization would be bound to their choices. The lesson is that as long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a possibility they could be used.
Hiroshima after the atomic bombing of August 6, 1945. The 20-kiloton nuclear bomb killed up to 126,000 people. Most Soviet ICBM warheads are in the 800-kiloton range and would cause exponentially more casualties and damage to populated areas.
Universal History ArchiveGetty Images
The scenario outlined above is an outlier, but one still within the realm of possibility. In our scenario, both sides are devastated with no winners.
“Because of the dire consequences of a nuclear conflict, it is incumbent on nuclear states to seek diplomatic solutions,” Drozdenko says. “The current situation in Ukraine carries some risk of nuclear escalation from misunderstanding or miscalculation. But it is encouraging that the U.S. has not responded to Putin’s threats by raising its own alert status. It is important for cooler heads to prevail and to provide diplomatic off-ramps for this conflict.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will almost certainly not start an all-out nuclear war. Yet the tension between the U.S. and Russia over the war is a reminder that as long as both sides have nuclear weapons, the possibility of a nuclear war happening is not zero. It’s not a situation where more nuclear weapons will make either side safer. Diplomacy could ensure that both sides, though they want very different things, can work together to avoid the one thing everyone doesn’t want—nuclear war.
Kyle Mizokami Writer on Defense and Security issues, lives in San Francisco.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday said that he will not reach an agreement with political parties calling for a consensus government, claiming that a consensus would mean the end of the country.
“I will not have an agreement with you … for a consensus means the end of the country… no to any form of consensus,” said Sadr in a tweet after the Iraqi parliament failed to meet the legal quorum to elect a new president yet again at least six months after Iraq held early elections.
The Iraqi parliament was scheduled to elect a president on Wednesday. Over a third of MPs boycotted the session, leading to the legislature’s inability to elect a president.
According to information obtained by Rudaw, only 176 MPs attended the Wednesday parliamentary session, falling short of the required 220 MPs.
Footages from Telegram channels affiliated with pro-Iran political parties showed leaders of the Coordination Framework and MPs gathering at the residence of Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Shiite Fatih Alliance, instead of attending the parliamentary session.
MPs of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Azm Alliance, New Generation Movement, and various independents also boycotted the session.
In an address to local media outlets, Amiri called on the tripartite alliance consisting of the Sadrist bloc, KDP, and the Sunni Sovereignty Alliance to shift to dialogue in order to remove Iraq from the current political crisis.
“Our hearts are open and hands are extended to everyone in order to reach a solution for Iraq’s problem,” Amiri said, adding that “there is a good opportunity in front of the tripartite alliance to shift to dialogue in order to solve the current crisis.”
However Sadr refused Amiri’s offer of dialogue.
“What you call a political gridlock, is more moderate than an agreement with you and better than sharing the cake with you, for there is no good in a quota-based consensus government,” Sadr said.
The primary candidates for the presidency are the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) Reber Ahmed, backed by the tripartite alliance, and PUK’s incumbent Barham Salih backed by the Coordination Framework.
While the political stalemate in Iraq is seen to be because of the PUK and the KDP’s disagreement on having a mutual candidate, Shiite parties are also broken into two with the Sadrists calling for a national majority government that would exclude the Coordination Framework, and the framework insisting on a consensus government, a system that Iraq has abided by for years following the US invasion of the country in 2003.
Leader of the State of Law Coalition and key member of the Coordination Framework Nouri al-Maliki released a statement of his own after the parliament failed to convene on Wednesday. Maliki stated that the Coordination Framework and its allies have affirmed the power of “the guaranteed third,” adding that they have prepared an initiative to end the political stalemate and discussions to grow the initiative will begin on Wednesday and Thursday.