The science behind the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

The science behind the earthquake that shook Southern New England

Did you feel it? At 9:10 am EST Sunday morning, a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck just south of Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, which is a census-designated place in Dartmouth. If you felt it, report it!

While minor earthquakes do happen from time to time in New England, tremors that are felt by a large number of people and that cause damage are rare.

Earthquake Report

The earthquake was originally measured as a magnitude 4.2 on the Richter scale by the United States Geological Surgey (USGS) before changing to a 3.6.

Earthquakes in New England and most places east of the Rocky Mountains are much different than the ones that occur along well-known fault lines in California and along the West Coast.

Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts fall nearly in the center of the North American Plate, one of 15 (seven primary, eight secondary) that cover the Earth.

Earth’s tectonic plates

Tectonic plates move ever-so-slowly, and as they either push into each other, pull apart, or slide side-by-side, earthquakes are possible within the bedrock, usually miles deep.

Most of New England’s and Long Island’s bedrock was assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent 500-300 million years ago, raising the northern Appalachian Mountains.

Plate tectonics (Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Fault lines left over from the creation of the Appalachian Mountains can still lead to earthquakes locally, and many faults remain undetected. According to the USGS, few, if any, earthquakes in New England can be linked to named faults.

While earthquakes in New England are generally much weaker compared to those on defined fault lines, their reach is still impressive. Sunday’s 3.6 was felt in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire.

USGS Community Internet Intensity Map

While M 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause damage, some minor cracks were reported on social media from the shaking.

According to the USGS, moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year.

The largest known New England earthquakes occurred in 1638 (magnitude 6.5) in Vermont or New Hampshire, and in 1755 (magnitude 5.8) offshore from Cape Ann northeast of Boston.

The most recent New England earthquake to cause moderate damage occurred in 1940 (magnitude 5.6) in central New Hampshire.

Israeli forces kill Palestinian attacker outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli forces kill Palestinian attacker; third victim dies

JERUSALEM (AP) — A third Israeli has died following the attack by a Palestinian man who opened fire into a crowded bar in central Tel Aviv. Israeli security forces said they hunted down and killed the attacker early Friday. 

The shooting on Thursday evening in a downtown area packed with people in bars and restaurants caused scenes of mass panic in the heart of the bustling city. Two people were instantly killed and over 10 people were wounded. 

A Tel Aviv hospital on Friday afternoon announced that Barak Lufan, 35, who was wounded in the shooting had succumbed to his injuries.

It was the fourth deadly attack in Israel by Palestinians in three weeks, and came at a time of heightened tensions around the start of Ramadan. Tens of thousands of Palestinians attended the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month in Jerusalem amid a heavy Israeli security presence, with no immediate reports of unrest. 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with top security officials and announced that a major crossing in the northern West Bank near the attacker’s hometown would be closed indefinitely.

“Every murderer will know that we’ll get to him, and anyone who helps terrorists should know that the price he will pay will be unbearable,” Bennett said in a statement.

Israel proceeded with plans to allow Palestinian women, children and older men from the occupied West Bank to enter Jerusalem for prayers. Protests and clashes in the holy city during Ramadan last year eventually ignited an 11-day Gaza war.

Thursday’s shooting took place in a crowded bar on Dizengoff Street, a central thoroughfare that has seen other attacks over the years. Thursday night is the beginning of the Israeli weekend, and the area was busy.

In videos spread on social media, dozens of terrified people were seen running through the streets as police searched for the attacker and ordered people to stay indoors. The two killed on the spot were identified as Tomer Morad and Eytam Magini, childhood friends in their late 20s from Kfar Saba, a town just north of Tel Aviv.

Hundreds of Israeli police officers, canine units, and army special forces, had conducted a massive manhunt throughout the night across Tel Aviv, searching building by building through densely populated residential neighborhoods.

Early Friday, authorities said they found the attacker hiding near a mosque in Jaffa, an Arab neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv, and killed him in a shootout.

The Shin Bet internal security service identified the attacker as Raad Hazem, a 28-year-old Palestinian from Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. It said he did not belong to an organized militant group and had no prior record. It said he had entered Israel illegally without a permit. 

The Jenin refugee camp was the scene of one of the deadliest battles of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, 20 years ago. In April 2002, Israeli forces fought Palestinian militants in the camp for nearly three weeks. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers and at least 52 Palestinians, including civilians, were killed, according to the United Nations.

The Israeli military frequently conducts arrest raids in Jenin, often coming under fire. The Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and coordinates with Israel on security matters, appears to have little control over the area. 

After Thursday’s attack, 13 Israelis have been killed in recent weeks, making this one of the worst waves of violence in years.

The militant Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip praised the attack but did not claim responsibility. President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the PA, condemned the attack, saying the killing of civilians on either side “can only lead to a further deterioration of the situation.”

All of the attackers appear to have acted individually or with minimal support from a small cell. Three of them are believed to have identified with the extremist group Islamic State. But militant groups do not appear to have trained them or organized the attacks.

Seeking to avoid a repeat of last year’s war, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian leaders have held a flurry of meetings in recent weeks to discuss ways to maintain calm. 

Israel has taken a number of steps aimed at calming tensions, including issuing thousands of additional work permits for Palestinians from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. But the attacks have set off growing calls in Israel for a tougher crackdown.

Israel allowed Palestinian women, children and men over 40 from the occupied West Bank to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in east Jerusalem on Friday. The Muslim body that oversees the site said 80,000 people attended the weekly prayers. 

Police mobilized thousands of forces in and around the Old City, home to Al-Aqsa and other holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and sits on a hilltop that is the most sacred site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. The holy site has long been a flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Israel has worked to sideline the Palestinian issue in recent years, instead focusing on forging alliances with Arab states against Iran. But the century-old conflict remains as intractable as ever.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state. The last substantive peace talks broke down more than a decade ago, and Bennett is opposed to Palestinian statehood, though he supports steps to improve their economy and quality of life.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and considers the entire city to be its capital. It is building and expanding Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which most of the international community considers illegal.

Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005. But along with neighboring Egypt, it imposed a crippling blockade on the territory after the militant Hamas group seized power from rival Palestinian forces two years later. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars since then.

Israel says the conflict stems from the Palestinians’ refusal to accept its right to exist as a Jewish state and blames attacks in part on incitement on social media. Palestinians say such attacks are the inevitable result of a nearly 55-year military occupation that shows no sign of ending.

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Six scenarios Iraqi politics facing after Antichrist’s deadline

Analysis: Six scenarios Iraqi politics facing after Al-Sadr’s deadline

The National Salvation Coalition that includes Sadrist Movement, Kurdistan Democratic Party, and the Sunni Sovereignty bloc and was formed on March 23 seems to have admitted its failure to form a new cabinet way sooner than expected. 

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The National Salvation Coalition that includes Sadrist Movement, Kurdistan Democratic Party, and the Sunni Sovereignty bloc and was formed on March 23 seems to have admitted its failure to form a new cabinet way sooner than expected. 

Following the failure of the coalition to reach the quorum of the parliament on March 23 and 30 sessions, Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadr Movement, in a Twitter message said that because of critical security, economic, and public services conditions the opposition that boycotted the parliamentary sessions are given 40 days from the first day of the holy month of Ramadan (April 3) to May 10 to consult for a majority bloc in order to form a new government without the Sadrist Movement. He also called his fellow party members not to enter the issue either positively or negatively.

Here is a question: What scenarios does al-Sadr’s deadline to Shiite Coordination Framework (SCF) bring to the Iraqi politics and governance? 

Six scenarios are possible. 

National majority government more unreachable than before 

Despite al-Sadr’s 40-day deadline to the SCF, which he called “one-third minority” in parliament, the scenario of forming a national majority government through al-Sadr’s coalition with Kurds and Sunnis remains possible. Al-Sadr has strongly supported the formation of a “national majority” government in all the days since the announcement of the results of the October 10, 2021 elections, and has so far not backed down from his initial positions to form a majority government. Even in his deadline statement, he boasts of being the first Iraqi to form a national majority coalition and name an acceptable figure to the list of the prime minister. 

After the suspension of the last two sessions of the parliament due to failure to meet the official session threshold (two thirds of the representatives are required for an official session), it became clear to what extent al-Sadr has been wrong in his analysis and assessment of the situation. This scenario of national majority cabinet is practically on the verge of complete collapse as the SCF absence drops from officiality the parliament sessions, and it is possible to succeed only in the event of a major turnaround of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) or another party within the Shiite framework. Indeed, such a possibility seems highly unreachable.

SCF cabinet formation, a substantially difficult path 

Another possible scenario is the formation of a new government by the SCF driven by al-Sadr deadline. In such a case, ex-PM Nouri al-Maliki would hold the post again, and the Shiite-backed figure for the presidency, the current present Barham Saleh, will retain the post. A necessary and sufficient condition for the realization of such a scenario is a deal of Sovereignty bloc led by former parliament speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi and Sunni businessman Khamis Khanjar and the KDP led by Massoud Barzani with the SCF.

Under this scenario, an agreement with the Shiite coalition would give birth to a new government after months, with the Sadrist Movement shifting to opposition role. This scenario is, however, excessively optimistic because reaching a 220-seat threshold for the SCF that is required to form a majority bloc is, to a large extent, impossible given the current circumstances and the alliances formed among political parties. 

Returning to the traditional national unity government, rational but… 

Undoubtedly, the most appropriate and logical scenario for the future of the formation of the government in Iraq is a return to the traditional formula of national unity government with the participation of all political blocs. Despite the availability of this scenario and its rationality, the scale of tension and rivalry between al-Sadr and SCF has moved so high that it is so difficult to achieve such a scenario. Still, this scenario is the most likely one should the current situation prevail. 

Continuation of legal and political suspension

The recent parliament session suspensions revealed the fact that the conditions for a new government are way tougher that al-Sadr and his allies expected. Basically, the election of a new president will be the second stage in the formation of a new government after the election of the speaker of parliament. Because according to Article 76 of the Iraqi constitution, the new president has to nominate the candidate of the majority faction within 15 days. This means that al-Sadr coalition has to first install its president candidate, Rebar Ahmad Khaled of KDP, and then move to conclude PM choice and government formation. 

The new session of parliament on March 26, however, showed that it would be very difficult to convene 220 lawmakers for the session to elect a new president. Such a situation, with al-Sadr’s insistence on monopolization of the formation of the cabinet, will essentially bring the political process to a broad legal vacuum. Because, on the one hand, the presence of two-thirds or 220 lawmakers is necessary, and on the other hand, both rival factions have the ability to deactivate the parliamentary session to elect a new president by their absence. If a new president is not elected, it will be virtually impossible to pick a new PM and form a new cabinet, which would mean Iraq entering a period of political stalemate with potentially major consequences. 

Win-win formula: Sadrist-led government under a parliament with strong opposition

Another probable scenario helping exit the current situation in Iraq is a reference to the initiative presented by independent bloc Ishraqa Kanon, which suggests that al-Sadr-led coalition would be given full freedom of action to form a government, and in return the SCF as opposition in parliament is given a leeway to chair most of the parliamentary commissions. The key point of this initiative is that the opposition is enabled to perform its duty of monitoring and holding the government accountable in the parliament, and in return, the al-Sadr-led government must respond for possible weakness and incompetence. 

Hadi al-Amiri, the head of Fatah bloc, as a member of SCF, at a meeting on March 31 explicitly welcomed the proposal. 

“It is impossible that a bloc monopolizes all the parliamentary and administrative posts and expect the opposition to perform its duty of supervising the government work,” al-Amiri told the meeting. 

For the SCF, this is a win-win formula. However, this initiative is unlikely to meet materialization despite being rational because al-Sadr is not inclined to enter a game in which a government led by his movement shoulders all responsibility. 

Holding early election: a choice won’t do much to solve the problems

Snap elections is another choice for Iraq to step out of the current limbo. This scenario is, however, strongly opposed to by al-Sadr and his Kurdish and Sunni allies. But under continued political suspension this choice can be entertained. In a recent article, the head of the Supreme Judicial Faiq Zaidan reminded of the need for adherence to legal timing for president election and government formation. Acting like a sword of Damocles, the Supreme Judicial Court maintains over the head of the political factions the threat of dissolution of the parliament and announcement of early elections as a bitter choice to exit the current dead end if they continue to fail to agree on a solution. Though this scenario is of high likelihood and the Shiite framework is keen to see it happening, it essentially does not provide a solution to the present quandary because the suspension is an accessible choice to the rival factions, meaning the crisis will continue to unfold in the country.

War With the Iranian Nuclear Horn is on the Horizon: Daniel

Trita Parsi: War Could Be on Horizon If Iran Nuclear Deal Is Not Restored Soon


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Will the U.S. and Iran revive the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by the Trump administration? President Biden is facing heat from lawmakers in both parties who oppose the deal, which would relax U.S. sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. At the crux of the debate is the Iranian request for Biden to lift the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, which would have a high political cost for the administration. With threats between the two nations mounting, a deal becomes more urgent to avoid the situation spiraling into military confrontation, says Trita Parsi, author of multiple books on U.S.-Iran relations.

  • Trita Parsiexecutive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

This week marks one year since talks resumed with Iran over reviving the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, which was abandoned by Donald Trump. In an interview with MSNBC, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said he’s not certain a deal can be reached.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN:I’m not overly optimistic at the prospects of actually getting an agreement to conclusion, despite all the efforts we put into it and despite the fact that I believe we would be — our security would be better off. We’re not there. We’ll have to see if we can close —

ANDREA MITCHELL: Is time running out?

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN:Time is getting extremely short.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this week, Iran said the United States is responsible for the delay in talks with world powers aimed at restoring the deal. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday talks in Vienna are deadlocked over a few outstanding issues, including Washington’s designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

SAEED KHATIBZADEH: [translated] Mr. Biden and the White House have not made their decision, and, unfortunately, they have held an entire agreement hostage to partisan and international U.S. matters. They are taking the same approach that has caused the failure of many international agreements. … We are at a point where the United States must decide whether it wants to uphold Trump’s legacy, just as it has done so far, or if it wants to act as a semi-responsible, if not a fully responsible, government and have the agreement happen.

AMY GOODMAN: President Biden is facing pressure from Republican lawmakers, as well as some Democrats, who oppose his efforts to restore the deal. Eighteen House Democrats came out against a potential deal earlier this week.

We’re joined now by Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, author of the book Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy, as well as A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran. Trita recently wrote an article headlined “Without the Iran nuclear deal, war is on the horizon.”

Trita, talk about what happened this week and if you do see a deal in sight.

TRITA PARSI: I certainly do see a deal in sight. In fact, almost all of the issues have been resolved. The key remaining sticking point is the Iranian demand that the IRGC be taken off of one of the United States’s terrorist lists, that it was added on by the Trump administration in a deliberate effort to make it more difficult for a future U.S. president to come back into the deal. We have to be quite frank. This request by the Iranians is rather meaningless, in the sense that it doesn’t carry much substance. Even if they’re taken off that list, they still remain on other U.S. terrorist lists. It will still be treated as such by the United States, as well as by international businesses. So, you know, for the Iranians, they’re not gaining much. The thing for the U.S. is that it will be a high political cost doing so in Washington. There will be protests from hawkish lawmakers in Congress, as well as some centrists, as well.

So, the issue here, at the end of this, is that they’re more or less done, but this one last thing could actually cause the whole thing to collapse. And if it does so, I think it really speaks to the mistake of the Biden administration to pursue a negotiated return to the JCPOA, which has now taken more than a year, rather than just going back into the deal through an executive order in the first week or first days of Biden taking office back in 2021.

AMY GOODMAN: Why is it so — why is it so important, this Iran nuclear deal? I mean, even some Israeli officials — you know, Israel was famously so opposed to this deal — said they made a mistake.

TRITA PARSI: Well, this deal, back in 2015, ensured not only that the Iranians had no pathway to a nuclear weapon, but also that there would not be a military confrontation between the United States and Iran. I think right now there has — a belief has been created that if this deal is not struck, well, we’ll just continue to be in the same situation as we are in today, mindful of the fact that the deal currently is not fully in place. But that is a fallacy. The current status quo cannot survive a collapse of these negotiations. The only reason why we don’t have an escalation right now is precisely because of the fact that there is still some hope that the deal can be secured. If it isn’t, we’re going to see escalation from both sides. And though I don’t believe either of them actually want a war, there’s nothing to say that this escalation that will follow the collapse of the deal will not bring about some form of a military confrontation in the region.

AMY GOODMAN: Trita, how has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine impacted the peace deal negotiations, the nuclear deal negotiations?

TRITA PARSI: Well, first of all, the Russians made a request about two or three weeks ago in which they wanted all sanctions that Russia would be affected by to be lifted. And that was a demand that was rejected by the United States. The only thing the U.S. and the others agreed to is that whatever activities the Russians would have as part of the JCPOA would not be sanctioned by the United States and the West, but it has to be part of the JCPOA. That issue caused a delay of a roughly a week or so, and it was ultimately resolved. Right now the biggest problem is, I think, that mindful of the war in Ukraine and Russia’s aggression there, the political cost yet again has risen for the Biden administration to strike this deal, because Republicans are making the accusations that this is a deal that is dependent on Putin. It certainly is not. The Russians have a role in it, but this is ultimately a negotiation between the United States and Iran themselves.

AMY GOODMAN: What about these fears you have of war on the horizon? Why? And also, while Republicans are opposed to the deal, what about this group of Democrats who are opposing the deal, and how significant is this? Also, very interesting in this week, when Obama for the first time returned to the White House — in that case, he was celebrating Obamacare, but it was this week.

TRITA PARSI: Well, first of all, regarding the Democrats who have come out in opposition, I think it’s very important to keep in mind they’re tremendously small numbers. At first, they were going to have 15 people at a press conference. Only five of them showed up. It shows that, mindful of the support that does exist in the country amongst the public for a renewal of the JCPOA, losing five or 15 members of the Democratic Party, while not good, they’re still a very, very significant minority. I think it’s been a bit overstated in the media. The headlines give the impression that this is a deal that splits the Democrats. It certainly does not.

But in regards to the escalatory risk, if there isn’t deal, the Iranians are going to continue to enrich at 60% levels. They may even escalate further. They will further expand their nuclear program. And pressure on the United States will increase to take action. And reality is that, by and large, the United States has run out of sanctions to impose on Iran.

One of the things the United States may do is that it may start targeting Iranian oil tankers on the high seas. The Iranians have roughly 25 million barrels of oil just sitting on tankers. They cannot really sell them, so they’re storaging them there. The United States may take those tankers, confiscate them, sell the oil, keep the money. The United States has already done this twice so far.

If that starts happening on a larger scale, there’s a significant risk that the Iranians will start retaliating militarily in Iraq against U.S. troops, for instance. That would be one possible outcome. If that happens, the United States has already made it clear that any such attack on U.S. troops will be treated as a declaration of war. That is just one out of many ways in which the two sides escalating in an effort to put pressure on each other can completely lose control of the situation and find themselves in a military confrontation.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Biden has the political will to push forward with this, that he has been different than Trump on the Iran nuclear deal?

TRITA PARSI: In the sense of push forward of striking a deal or going to war?

AMY GOODMAN: Striking a deal.

TRITA PARSI: I think the Biden administration wants to get a deal. I do believe that the political will in the White House has not been anywhere near as strong as it was during Obama’s term. In fact, Biden has not treated this as a priority. This is actually part of the reason why the Biden administration did not go back into the deal during his first days in office through executive order, out of a fear that the political cost would be too high.

AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.

TRITA PARSI: Now, a year later, we see that that strategy backfired, because the political cost is even higher today.

AMY GOODMAN: Trita Parsi, I want to thank you for being with us, with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. I’m Amy Goodman. Stay safe.

Hamas is looking for battles with Israel outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

 MEMBERS OF The Palestinian Islamic Jihad take part in a military parade, in Rafah in the Southern Gaza Strip, last week.  (photo credit: Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

Hamas is looking for battles with Israel away from Gaza


Published: APRIL 7, 2022 20:58

MEMBERS OF The Palestinian Islamic Jihad take part in a military parade, in Rafah in the Southern Gaza Strip, last week. 

(photo credit: Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

While Hamas and Gazan Palestinians don’t want another round of fighting with Israel, Hamas is planning the next war elsewhere.

Since the May 2021 war with Israel, Hamas’s main goal has been to make sure that the flames do not spread to the Gaza Strip. That’s why it has been focusing its efforts on instigating and encouraging violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and among the Israeli-Arabs, while maintaining calm with Israel on the Gaza Strip front.

Nuclear powers are on a deadly path to the bowls of wrath: Revelation 16

Russia-Ukraine war: catch up on this week’s must-read news and analysis

Nuclear powers are on a deadly path to more conflict

Frank Jackson says world leaders must look to peaceful solutions, not more weapons

Truly, the human race has a death wish. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock has been set at 100 seconds to midnight – the latest it has ever been – for the past two years. Yet even more expenditure is planned on the means of death and destruction (Aukus pact extended to development of hypersonic weapons, 5 April).

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In January, the five primary nuclear weapon powers, the US, Russia, France, China and the UK, made a joint statement, echoing the original declaration by Reagan and Gorbachev in 1985, that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. Just months later, the response to the carnage in Ukraine, and the threat to use nuclear weapons, is not to draw back from the precipice, but to accelerate the drive to the cliff edge.

When are the (mis)leaders of the world going to recognise that the only answer to the many existential threats that face us is cooperation at all levels to find peaceful solutions to potential, and actual, conflicts?
Frank Jackson
Former co-chair, World Disarmament Campaign

Putin might turn to weapons of mass destruction

Putin might turn to weapons of mass destruction if Russia doesn’t win in eastern Ukraine, historian Ferguson says


Chelsea Ong


  • Russian President Vladimir Putin might resort to weapons of mass destruction, like chemical and tactical nuclear weapons, if he fails to achieve a “conventional forces victory” in eastern Ukraine, says Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
  • “Those are very serious risks the Biden administration seems to be discounting rather too casually,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.
  • The U.S. strategy seems to be to let the war go on to “bleed Russia dry” and hope for a regime change in Moscow, but Ferguson said this is a “very hazardous” strategy.

“Those are very serious risks the Biden administration seems to be discounting rather too casually,” Ferguson, who was also a history professor at Harvard University, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.null

U.S. is discounting ‘too casually’ the risk of Putin using WMDs: Niall Ferguson

Russian President Vladimir Putin might resort to weapons of mass destruction, like chemical and tactical nuclear weapons, if he fails to achieve a “conventional forces victory” in eastern Ukraine, says Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

The U.S. strategy seems to be to let the war go on to “bleed Russia dry” and hope for a regime change in Moscow, but Ferguson said this is a “very hazardous” strategy.

Over the past week, Russian forces have pulled back from areas around Ukrainian capital Kyiv as Moscow shifts its focus to what Sergei Rudskoy, deputy chief of staff of Russia’s Armed Forces, called the “complete liberation” of the Donbas region.

The Donbas in eastern Ukraine is the site of two breakaway regions where Ukrainian forces and Moscow-backed separatists have fought since Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.

If it becomes clear over the next few weeks that Russian forces are too weary to pull off a decisive victory in the Donbas, Ferguson said Putin might find himself in an “extremely difficult” situation without an obvious offramp.

He noted Putin has already shown himself willing to perpetrate “horrific destruction” with conventional forces like cruise missiles. Russia holds the largest nuclear warhead arsenal in the world, with the U.S. coming in second.WATCH NOWVIDEO02:12Professor discusses whether Putin may escalate the Ukraine warHowever, Phillips O’Brien of the University of St. Andrews thinks it is “unlikely, if not impossible” for Putin to resort to WMDs.Using WMDs could lead to even greater support for Ukraine internationally, in terms of weapons and sanctions against Russia, O’Brien said, adding it is also not clear how such weapons would help Russia achieve its political objectives.“They might kill people in some cities — but how does that help them win the war?” he added.O’Brien also said there is a “good chance” Moscow will fail to take and hold the south and east of Ukraine.Ferguson said, however, that Putin’s goal is not necessarily the annexation of Ukraine, but instead to ensure that the country’s attempt to become a “viable Western-oriented democracy” is a failure.Western responsePolicymakers in Washington and Europe, who have insisted they will not take military action against Russia, will face a “huge dilemma” if Putin does escalate with nuclear or chemical weapons, Ferguson said, which he thinks is “really quite likely.”They are thus faced with two “very awful” choices, he said.“One, doing nothing more than continuing to supply conventional weapons when a nuclear weapon has been used, or alternatively, taking military action and risking an escalation,” he said.“This is the fundamental problem of strategy,” Ferguson added. “If you keep saying that you’re not going to take military action, then you, in effect, encourage the other side to escalate in the belief that you will always back away.”WATCH NOWVIDEO04:23Growing pressure to supply offensive weaponry to Ukraine, RUSI fellow saysOn Thursday, G-7 foreign ministers warned against “any threat or use” of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.“Any use by Russia of such a weapon would be unacceptable and result in severe consequences,” ministers said in a statement.With heavily armed nuclear powers on the brink of conflict, and with Russia saying it is at war with the West, Ferguson said this is a “much more dangerous” situation than most people appreciate.“That’s why although I think we’re not on the bring of World War III, we can’t rule that scenario out completely,” Ferguson said.