A Lack Of Vigilance Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


Faults Underlying Exercise Vigilant Guard

Story by: (Author NameStaff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta – 138th Public Affairs Detachment
Dated: Thu, Nov 5, 2009
This map illustrates the earthquake fault lines in Western New York. An earthquake in the region is a likely event, says University of Buffalo Professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.
TONAWANDA, NY — An earthquake in western New York, the scenario that Exercise Vigilant Guard is built around, is not that far-fetched, according to University of Buffalo geology professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.
When asked about earthquakes in the area, Jacobi pulls out a computer-generated state map, cross-hatched with diagonal lines representing geological faults.
The faults show that past earthquakes in the state were not random, and could occur again on the same fault systems, he said.
“In western New York, 6.5 magnitude earthquakes are possible,” he said.
This possibility underlies Exercise Vigilant Guard, a joint training opportunity for National Guard and emergency response organizations to build relationships with local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.
The exercise was based on an earthquake scenario, and a rubble pile at the Spaulding Fibre site here was used to simulate a collapsed building. The scenario was chosen as a result of extensive consultations with the earthquake experts at the University of Buffalo’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), said Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of 53rd Troop Command, who visited the site on Monday.
Earthquakes of up to 7 magnitude have occurred in the Northeastern part of the continent, and this scenario was calibrated on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake which occurred in Saguenay, Quebec in 1988, said Jacobi and Professor Andre Filiatrault, MCEER director.
“A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in this area is not an unrealistic scenario,” said Filiatrault.
Closer to home, a 1.9 magnitude earthquake occurred about 2.5 miles from the Spaulding Fibre site within the last decade, Jacobi said. He and other earthquake experts impaneled by the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada in 1997 found that there’s a 40 percent chance of 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurring along the Clareden-Linden fault system, which lies about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, Jacobi added.
Jacobi and Filiatrault said the soft soil of western New York, especially in part of downtown Buffalo, would amplify tremors, causing more damage.
“It’s like jello in a bowl,” said Jacobi.
The area’s old infrastructure is vulnerable because it was built without reinforcing steel, said Filiatrault. Damage to industrial areas could release hazardous materials, he added.
“You’ll have significant damage,” Filiatrault said.
Exercise Vigilant Guard involved an earthquake’s aftermath, including infrastructure damage, injuries, deaths, displaced citizens and hazardous material incidents. All this week, more than 1,300 National Guard troops and hundreds of local and regional emergency response professionals have been training at several sites in western New York to respond these types of incidents.
Jacobi called Exercise Vigilant Guard “important and illuminating.”
“I’m proud of the National Guard for organizing and carrying out such an excellent exercise,” he said.
Training concluded Thursday.

Biden Helps the Autralian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Biden announces nuclear-powered submarines for Australia amid growing concern around China

Mar 13, 2023 1:16 PM EDT

SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Joe Biden and the leaders of Australia and the United Kingdom on Monday announced that Australia will purchase nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. to modernize its fleet amid growing concern about China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Watch Biden’s remarks in the player above.

Biden flew to San Diego for talks with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on an 18-month-old nuclear partnership given the acronym AUKUS — for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The partnership, announced in 2021, enables Australia to access nuclear-powered submarines, which are stealthier and more capable than conventionally powered vessels, as a counterweight to China’s military buildup.

Biden stressed that the submarines are “nuclear powered, not nuclear armed.”

“These boats will not have any nuclear weapons of any kind of them,” he said at an outdoor ceremony at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, where he was joined by the other leaders. At least two submarines were moored in the background.

Albanese said the agreement “represents the biggest single investment in Australia’s defense capability in all of our history.”

In a joint statement before the formal announcement, the leaders said their countries have worked for decades to sustain peace, stability and prosperity around the globe, including in the Indo-Pacific.

“We believe in a world that protects freedom and respects human rights, the rule of law, the independence of sovereign states, and the rules-based international order,” they said in the statement, released before their joint appearance in San Diego.

“The steps we are announcing today will help us to advance these mutually beneficial objectives in the decades to come,” they said.

San Diego is Biden’s first stop on a three-day trip to California and Nevada. He will discuss gun violence prevention in the community of Monterey Park, California, and his plans to lower prescription drug costs in Las Vegas. The trip will include fundraising stops as Biden steps up his political activities before an expected announcement next month that he will seek reelection in 2024.

Australia is buying up to five Virginia-class boats as part of AUKUS, said Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, who accompanied Biden to California. A future generation of submarines will be built in the U.K. and in Australia with U.S. technology and support.

The U.S. would also step up its port visits in Australia to provide the country with more familiarity with the nuclear-powered technology before it has such subs of its own.

Biden will also meet individually with Albanese and Sunak, an opportunity to coordinate strategy on Russia’s war in Ukraine, the global economy and more.

The secretly brokered AUKUS deal included the Australian government’s cancellation of a $66 billion contract for a French-built fleet of conventional submarines, which sparked a diplomatic row within the Western alliance that took months to mend.

China has argued that the AUKUS deal violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It contends that the transfer of nuclear weapons materials from a nuclear-weapon state to a non-nuclear-weapon state is a “blatant” violation of the spirit of the pact. Australian officials have pushed back against the criticism, arguing that they are working to acquire nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed, submarines.

“The question is really how does China choose to respond because Australia is not backing away from what it — what it sees to be doing in its own interests here,” said Charles Edel, a senior adviser and Australia chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I think that probably from Beijing’s perspective they’ve already counted out Australia as a wooable mid country. It seemed to have fully gone into the U.S. camp.”

Before he departed for California, Biden spoke about steps the administration is taking to safeguard depositors and protect against broader economic hardship after the second- and third-largest bank failures in U.S. history.

Biden said the nation’s financial systems are safe. He said he’d seek to hold accountable those responsible for the bank failures, called for better oversight and regulation of larger banks and promised that taxpayers would not pay the bill for any losses.

The president’s daughter Ashley Biden and granddaughter Natalie Biden also traveled with him to San Diego.

Netenyahu Blames Obama For Helping Build The Iranian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

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Portrait of Benjamin Netanyahu next to the cover of his book, “Bibi: My Story.”THOMAS COEX/GETTY; THRESHOLD EDITIONS

Netanyahu Blasts Obama on Iran in New Memoir


Benjamin Netanyahu is the longest-serving Israeli prime minister, from 1996–1999 and 2009–2021, and is now facing another election as head of the Likud party on November 1. In his new, wide-ranging autobiography, Bibi: My Story(Threshold Editions), Netanyahu shares details from his brother’s death at Entebbe; his personal and political relationships; his negotiations with Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump over the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran and the Abraham Accords; how Israel secured some of the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine; accusations of corruption and much more. Through his long career, Netanyahu’s brand of Israeli security has often brought him into conflict with others—his famously tense dealings with Obama among them. This exclusive excerpt from Netanyahu’s new autobiography offers a window into a flashpoint in their relationship—the Iran nuclear program. It shows how the red line Netanyahu drew set the stage for continued conflict between the U.S. and Israel on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—or Iranian nuclear deal—that Obama ultimately signed in 2015 and from which Donald Trump withdrew three years later.

On March 5, 2012, I met President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Reviewing the deteriorating situation in Syria under its dictator, Bashar Assad, son of the previous dictator, Hafez Assad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Apparently Bashar’s mother is telling him, ‘Your father would have done this, your father would have done that.'”

“I didn’t know Bashar had a Jewish mother,” I said, and then, looking at Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, I corrected myself: “Sorry, an Italian mother.” (Actually, except for my education, my mother never nudged me on anything.)

Everybody laughed, Leon the loudest. A former congressman, he was savvy and down-to-earth, lacking any of the ideological antipathies that animated many of his colleagues. He liked Israel, and I liked him.

The atmosphere softened, but only a little. Our conversation centered mostly on Iran. My intention was to move the U.S. to a tougher stance while maintaining our right to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Obama assured me he was building a military capacity and said that it should be given a chance to work.

“I strongly believe a preemptive strike would be a mistake,” he said. “Iran is weak. We will lose legitimacy and oil prices will spike. An Israeli attack would not achieve anything. In six to nine months, maybe the world will recognize the need for action.”

He was clearly trying to get me to kick the can forward and postpone any action until after the presidential election in November 2012.

“I am the prime minister, you are the president,” I said. “If I were in your shoes, I would probably think like you. But you are big and we are small. Acting early for me is not a question of trust in you; it’s a question of my responsibility as the leader of Israel. In matters of survival and security, Israeli prime ministers often disagree with American presidents.”

I described how Ben-Gurion disagreed with Secretary of State George Marshall on declaring Israel’s independence, Eshkol disagreed with Lyndon Johnson on the Six-Day War and Begin disagreed with Ronald Reagan on the need to destroy Saddam’s nuclear reactor.

“I’ve recently been to the Villa Wannsee near Berlin, where the Nazis held the conference to coordinate the Final Solution,” I said. “We’re not going back to the brink of annihilation. Iran says Israel is a one-bomb country. They believe that with nuclear weapons they can wipe us out. We will act if there is no choice, with or without your support. In the meantime I believe it’s important that you put forward clear demands on Iran to stop enriching uranium and to dismantle the Qom facility.”

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President Barack Obama, right, meets with Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 5, 2012.ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG/GETTY

Obama responded by saying that if we attacked, the sanctions he had orchestrated would collapse. He explained that the reason so many countries agreed to them was that the U.S. told them the alternative was Israeli military action. If Israel acted, these countries would immediately lift all sanctions.

I had heard this before. Once again Obama minimized the power of America and chose to “lead from behind.” It was clear to me that if countries had to choose between doing business with the small Iranian economy or the $20 trillion American economy they would choose the latter. If the United States maintained sanctions following an Israeli attack, other countries would maintain them, too.

“I haven’t yet decided to act militarily,” I told Obama. “But I want you to know that I reserve the full right to do so.”

“I can’t decide that for you,” he answered. “I can only tell you what I think: it would be a mistake.”

“I hear you,” I said. “But I didn’t come here to get a green light.”

In consultation with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, we postponed the decision on a potential strike by a few months.

Blinding Daylight

As the months passed by during 2012, Obama sent a string of envoys to try to convince me not to act militarily. The balance of American policy was to avoid concrete action, and even more than that, to make sure that I avoided it.

Administration spokespersons constantly briefed against the wisdom and efficacy of such an attack. On August 30, 2012, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went further, saying, “The U.S. will not be complicit in any Israeli action.”

His choice of words outraged me. It both imputed an illegitimate, even criminal, nature to a potential Israeli action and signaled to Iran that the United States did not support Israel.

This was putting blinding daylight between the U.S. and Israel. What better way to reassure Iran that it was not in any danger if it continued to pursue its nuclear program?

Worse signals of America’s passivity would soon follow. On the eve of the 11th anniversary of 9/11, I said on Bloomberg Television: “Iran will not stop unless it sees a clear determination by the democratic countries and a clear red line. They don’t see a clear red line and I think the sooner we establish one, the greater the chances that there won’t be a need for other types of action.”

Barely a few hours passed before Secretary of State Clinton, while being interviewed on Canadian television, said emphatically, clearly in response to me, “The U.S. is not setting deadlines for Iran.”

Stunned by the speed in which the American administration rushed to distance themselves from Israel and assuage Iran’s fears, we briefed the press: “Without a clear red line Iran will not cease its race toward a nuclear weapon.”

The next day, September 11, I used a press conference during a visit by the Bulgarian prime minister, Boyko Borisov, to push back with my own words.

“The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time,'” I said. “And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.


“If Iran knows that there is no red line and no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, toward obtaining nuclear bombs.”

‘Work With Me on This’

I had a challenging phone call with Obama following my speech. My agenda was clear—get tough on Iran. Obama’s agenda was centered on something else—making sure I didn’t meet with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when I came to the U.N. a few days later.

A month earlier, Ron Dermer—whom I had appointed as Israel’s ambassador to Washington in 2013—told Dan Shapiro, who had been appointed U.S. ambassador to Israel, that in my coming visit to the U.N. I would want to see Obama. Obama didn’t want to have the meeting, believing it would prompt a parallel meeting with Romney, who had asked to meet me when I came to the U.S. At the same time, Obama did not want it to look like he was snubbing me so close to the election.

He argued that meeting opposing presidential candidates so close to an election would politicize the discussions. I thought differently. I wasn’t concerned with politics but rather with Israel’s survival. I had already met with Romney in July when he visited Israel, as I had done with Obama when he visited Israel as a presidential candidate. And four years later I met with both candidate Donald Trump and candidate Hillary Clinton on the eve of the 2016 elections. I spoke to both about Iran.

But now I felt boxed in by a direct plea from the president of the United States.
“C’mon, man, work with me on this,” he said.

His plea was so direct and so candid that I was left with little choice. Would I force upon the president of the United States a meeting he didn’t want?


I instructed National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror to tell the press that we hadn’t asked for a meeting with Obama, even though Dermer had. Amidror said it was the only time he had lied in all his years of public service. I offered a lame excuse to Mitt Romney on why we couldn’t meet. He accepted it graciously.

In my September 11 phone conversation with Obama, I weighed in on the statements by Hillary and General Dempsey.

“These statements convey that the U.S. has no deadline and undermine Israel’s right to self-defense. The number one terror regime in the world calls for the annihilation of my country and my people, and most of the criticism is reserved for whether Israel should act or not act.”

Obama pushed back on this: “We’ve imposed the toughest sanctions ever on Iran. The idea that we’re spending more time convincing Israel not to act than on Iran is not true. Some of the concerns we raised were raised by your military people, too.”

Ouch! I had wondered when he would get to that one.

“We don’t need to get into the deliberations of our military but they are more nuanced than that,” I said. “At least they don’t speak out publicly, while the head of your military did speak out against us, which is extraordinary.”

But my main point was reserved for something else.

“I believe that if Iran sees a clear red line, they will not cross it,” I said to the president.

“I can’t give a red line,” he replied, “that says that if they have X amount of centrifuges on Y date, then I’d bomb a week later. The red line I gave is no nuclear weapons.”

That, I thought, would be too late.

When the conversation ended, I put the phone down and looked at my staff.

“I guess we have no choice,” I said. “We’ll have to be the ones to draw the red line. We’ll do that when I next speak at the U.N.”

Drawing the Line

We had two weeks to prepare. The most important question was, Where do you draw the line? Iran had two hundred kilograms of low-enriched uranium at the 3 percent level. If it crossed the 20 percent enrichment level we would be in the danger zone. The time it takes to enrich uranium to bomb-grade quality shrinks rapidly after 20 percent. Once there, Iran would be 90 percent of the way to having enough enriched uranium for a bomb. That is where I would draw the red line.

The next question was how to present this red line visually. Answer: by actually drawing a red line.

This suggestion came from Gary Ginsberg, an American whom I had gotten to know a few years earlier through a mutual friend. A lawyer by training, Gary had worked with both Bill Clinton and Rupert Murdoch.

He knew politics and he knew the media. Politically moderate, he would sometimes temper my words, yet at other times he could toughen them. He had an uncommon ear for language and an uncommon ability to weed out imprecision.

Gary’s first suggestion was that I physically draw the bomb while standing on the podium. After some quick trials I passed on that idea. I would have the bomb diagram prepared in advance.

I settled on a drawing of an old-style bomb topped by a caricature fuse at the top. Dermer, Gary and my spokesman Mark Regev broke out in laughter.

“That looks like the bomb that Wile E. Coyote would use against the Road Runner,” Ron said.

“Beep-beep,” I responded.

The staff got me the thickest red marker I had ever seen. I practiced drawing a line underneath the fuse while holding the diagram toward the audience. It folded in two so I could bring it unnoticed into the General Assembly, where props weren’t allowed.

What the hell, I thought. Who’s going to stop me?

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, pauses after drawing a red line on a graphic of a bomb while discussing Iran during an address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2012 in New York City.MARIO TAMA/GETTY

The U.N. speech was carried by television channels worldwide. The front page of most of the leading newspapers in the world featured a photo of me holding the diagram on the U.N. podium. A zillion memes blossomed mocking the bomb presentation. This was fine with me. As long as they got my red line right.

An especially warm response came from an avid listener of my U.N. speeches, the towering U.N. security officer Matthew Sullivan. After each speech he would offer his candid opinion. Commenting a few years later on another one of my U.N. speeches, he said, “It was okay, but I liked your red line speech better.”

While I appreciated the feedback, my most important audience was the tyrants of Tehran.

The red line held for seven years.

Who Is The Antichrist? (Revelation 13:11)

Baghdad protests

Who is Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr? The Iraqi Shia cleric making a comeback in Baghdad

By Stefano Freyr Castiglione
March 11, 2016 09:51 GMT 

Images from last Friday’s demonstrations in Baghdad, where thousands of people gathered outside the so-called Green Zone, may have reminded some observers of the protests that took place in a number of Arab countries in 2011. But during the Arab Spring people were not guided by political leadership, whereas recent demonstrations in Iraq have been promoted and led by one man in particular; Iraqi Shia leader Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr was born in 1973 to a family of high-ranking Shia clerics. Both his father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, and his father-in-law, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, were important religious authorities who enjoyed large support among their co-religionists, a key factor in why there were tensions between them and the Baathist regime.

The latter was arrested and executed in 1980, while the former was assassinated in 1999 at the hands of regime agents. Muqtada al-Sadr, a junior and unknown cleric at the time, inherited his father’s legacy and popular support (primarily among working class Shia families in the South and the now ubiquitous Sadr City in Baghdad).

While he opposed the Baathist regime, his rise to prominence came with his resistance to the Anglo-American occupation after 2003, founding a militia known as the Mahdi Army, which was involved in the post-invasion insurgency, and accused of sectarian violence. Being able to count on both large popular support and a powerful military force, he soon became one of Iraq’s leading political and religious figures.

Sadr’s stance with regards to Iraqi politics has been rather ambiguous, leading some to describe him as “a hybrid of anti-establishment positions while being part of the establishment himself.” His involvement in the country’s public life has seen him make moves and take positions which are sometimes in contrast with the Shia ruling majority’s orientations. He is a steadfast opponent of sectarian politics, although some members of his bloc, the Sadrist Movement, have held, and continue to hold, positions in governments based on quota-sharing.

Sadr’s uncompromising stances may lead to political stalemate in a country that still needs to recapture the remaining areas under Daesh control.

A common thread since 2003 has been the opposition to foreign interference in Iraq, regardless whether it comes from the West (US, UK) or the East (Iran). His disenchantment as to the possibility of pursuing an alternative to sectarian politics was one of the reasons that led him to suddenly announce his withdrawal from political life in 2014, as one of his movement’s officials stated.
Since then, things have evolved in Iraq. The rise of Islamic State (Isis) in which sectarian politics undoubtedly played a role has posed a serious threat to the stability of the country, exacerbated by the political tensions of Maliki’s government at the time. Despite enormous difficulties (the constant threat of extremism, the recent fall of oil prices), his successor Haidar al-Abadi has managed to keep the country afloat as the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU) and the Security Forces have regained territory from Daesh.

Abadi has been able to ease tensions with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to take some anti-corruption measures, and to purge the army of inefficient officials. Some issues which have taken root in Iraq have not yet been entirely solved, such as poor public services, corruption, lack of transparency, and sectarianism.

These are the plagues that Sadr has vowed to fight against, on the base of a populist vision of national unity in which religiosity and patriotism are often conflated, as the slogan “Love for one’s country is part of the faith” suggests. The Shia leader supported Abadi’s pledge to carry out a government reshuffle, aimed at installing a technocratic cabinet, as well as to fight corruption, restore services, and implement public accountability.

People in Iraq are getting more and more frustrated at Abadi-led government’s inability to move forward in the reform process — which some elements in the ruling majority actually oppose, seeing it as a threat to their interests. As talks between political factions have not led to concrete results so far, Sadr has seen an opportunity to mobilise the Iraqi masses and push for more audacious measures.
After having a member of his own political bloc, Baha al-A’raji (PM deputy), arrested on corruption and embezzlement charges, he disavowed the corrupt officers in his movement and is currently going to investigate how they have caused corruption.

Sadr urges Iraqis to oppose U.S., but peacefully
Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Reuters

Given Sadr’s huge influence both as a political and military leader — his military wing known as the Peace Brigades has participated in the liberation of the Leine area west of Samarra — his moves could turn out to be a destabilising factor, which is not the first time Sadrist intervention has disrupted the political process.

Looking at the causes that may have led Sadr to such a steadfast return to public life, it has been suggested that he hopes to prevent other Shia groups from asserting their influence in the country, on both a political and a military level. After a government reshuffle was proposed, factions have been in disagreement over how this is to be done: while one side prefers the ministries to be chosen by political parties, another side, led by Sadr, asserts that parties should not interfere.
Sadr has also threatened the current government with a vote of no-confidence if no agreement is reached within 45 days. It is also worth noting that Sadr does not oppose Abadi, but he thinks he should take the chance to promote reforms before it’s too late.

How is Sadr’s comeback to be evaluated? This week, the third demonstration led by the Shia leaexpected to be held, which threatens to storm the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital. There are mixed feelings in the Iraqi street regarding Sadr’s role. Some support his push for change, frustrated at Abadi government’s poor performance in terms of reforms.

Others, however, are afraid that if a breach in security occurs during the protests, it will undermine the rule of law and set a precedent that Sadr is taking the law into his own hands. This is why some of the Green Zone residents have allegedly left the area lest the situation gets out of control.
Despite being characterised by some clearly populist motifs, Sadr’s pledge to fight against corruption and for the sake of the most vulnerable classes of Iraqi society can function as an incentive for the large-scale reforms proposed by Abadi. At the same time, though, Sadr’s uncompromising stances may lead to political stalemate in a country that still needs to recapture the remaining areas under Daesh control.

His call for a more transparent and efficient administration, then, can be beneficial as long as his long-term vision does not hinder the current government’s activity, given the delicate stage the country is going through.

Stefano Freyr Castiglione is an Arab media analyst at Integrity UK

South Korean Horn Pivots to Conflict: Daniel 7

South Korea Pivots to Conflict

South Korea’s far-right President Yoon Suk Yeol is rushing South Korea headlong into the middle of the new Cold War that the United States is waging against China. Yoon’s aspiration to position South Korea as a “global pivotal state” is turning South Korea into a bigger cog in the US war machine and stakes South Korea’s security and economic future on a declining US-led global order. Yoon’s support of the US global order has taken him on a flurry of visits and meetings around the world from the virtual Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) summit to the NATO summit in Madrid to high-level meetings in Japan and the United States.

Most recently on his April 26 US visit, President Yoon and US President Joe Biden announced the “Washington Declaration” to deploy US nuclear-armed submarines to South Korea – reintroducing US nuclear weapons to South Korea for the first time in over 40 years. When viewed against North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons as a strategic deterrent, these weapons in South Korea will more likely fuel a nuclear arms race rather than check North Korea’s nuclear program. As former South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun observed, four out of North Korea’s six nuclear tests occurred in response to the hardline stance of conservative South Korean administrations that refused to dialogue with North Korea.

Ultimately, Yoon’s actions are putting South Korea on a dangerous path that further destabilizes inter-Korean relations and antagonizes China, its biggest trading partner. All the while, the move also forsakes the Korean government’s duty to advocate for reparations from Japan for Koreans exploited under Japanese colonialism and to prevent the discharge of radioactive waste from the Fukushima nuclear reactor, which lies upstream from South Korea.

The alarming return of US nuclear weapons to South Korea follows Yoon’s posturing to develop nuclear weapons in South Korea this past Januaryas part of his evolving extremist hardline North Korea policy. More broadly, it forms part of Yoon’s greater foreign policy agenda of inserting South Korea in the security architecture of the US’s anti-China Asia-Pacific grand strategy. The Yoon administration’s “Strategy for a Free, Peaceful and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region,” like Yoon’s recent activities, follows closely from the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, with the goal of building and enforcing a US-led “rules-based order” in the region with “like-minded allies” to contain China.

For all its declarations of fairness and playing by the rules, this US-dominated “rules-based order” is at odds with the actual multipolar world taking shape around the world as well as the multilateral nature of the internationally agreed-upon UN-based order. The United States has been leading the creation of regional minilateral bodies such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) or the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework as part of its “hybrid war against China” and engaging in unilateral aggression toward China in the form of “military, economic, information, and military warfare.”

For example, the United States is setting the stage to dispute China’s actions in the South China Sea not through the UN “Law of the Sea Convention,” which the United States has not signed onto, but rather through the Indo-Pacific security framework. This allows the United States to target China’s actions while exempting its own naval operations from the oversight of “global bureaucrats” – i.e., the UN. Furthermore, despite calling for an “open” and “free” Indo-Pacific, the United States is waging a “chip war” by pressuring its Indo-Pacific allies to impede China’s access to semiconductor chips, one of the world’s most critical high-tech resources today.

The Yoon administration has been contributing to the buildup and reinforcement of this “rules-based order” through its participation in the Indo-Pacific framework, global NATO, and by consolidating the US-Japan-South Korea trilateral military alliance. In May 2022, a few weeks into his term, Yoon participated virtually in the IPEF meeting. In December, the administration adopted its own Indo-Pacific Strategy which committed to “stabilize supply chains of strategic resources” and “seek cooperation with partners with whom we share values,” – i.e., IPEF states. South Korea is now being recruited into the US chip war against China.

In June 2022, the participation of South Korea (including Yoon’s establishment of a NATO diplomatic mission) and three other Asia-Pacific states in the NATO meeting expanded NATO’s reach from the North Atlantic into the Pacific. This year, Yoon paved the way toward consolidating the US-Japan-South Korea trilateral alliance by forgoing demands that Japan take responsibility for its colonial exploitation of Korean workers. Then, during his March visit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, he resumed the controversial 2016 General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) intelligence-sharing pact, laying the groundwork for direct military coordination between South Korea and Japan.

In April, US, Japan, and South Korean officials met and agreed to hold missile defense and anti-submarine exercises to counter North Korea and “promote peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region,” with special emphasis on “peace and security in the Taiwan Strait.” As a further show of commitment to the US global war strategy, in an April 19 Reuters interview, Yoon reversed his position on Ukraine and raised the possibility of sending weapons, and exacerbated the US’s provocations in Taiwan vis-a-vis the One China principle, to the ire of Chinese officials.

A Pivot Toward Peace

Activists in South Korea and abroad have been ceaselessly working toward peace on the peninsula, with key struggles waged along the very sites of US military installations in the Asia-Pacific region encircling China, such as the construction of the military naval base in Gangjeong village. They have also been part of long-standing transnational activism to procure a peace treaty for the Korean War. As these activists and US scholar Noam Chomsky have recently reiterated in the face of the April 26 US-South Korea nuclear weapons deal, only a peace treaty ending the Korean War would lay the basis for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, bring an end to the US military occupation of South Korea, and move toward peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

To continue building greater exchange, dialogue, and solidarity, and pivot the region toward peace, this May 16, Justice Party National Assembly members along with the International Strategy Center and other civil society organizations in South Korea, the United States, and Japan will be organizing an International Forum for Peace in Northeast Asia and Against a New Cold War Order. •

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Dae-Han Song is in charge of the networking team at the International Strategy Center and is a part of the No Cold War collective.

Alice S. Kim received her PhD from the Rhetoric Department at UC Berkeley and is a writer, researcher, and translator living in Seoul. Her publications include “The ‘Vietnamese’ Skirt and Other Wartime Myths” in The Vietnam War in the Pacific World (UNC Press, 2022) and “Left Out: People’s Solidarity for Social Progress and the Evolution of Minjung After Authoritarianism,” in South Korean Social Movements (Routledge, 2011).

Deepening Political Crisis Pushes Pakistan To The First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

A man uses his mobile phone to take pictures inside the Radio Pakistan office building after it was set afire by supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan during a protest against his arrest in Peshawar on May 10.
A man uses his mobile phone to take pictures inside the Radio Pakistan office building after it was set afire by supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan during a protest against his arrest in Peshawar on May 10.

Deepening Political Crisis Pushes Pakistan Toward The Breaking Point

Since he was ousted as prime minister, Imran Khan has waged an unprecedented campaign against Pakistan’s powerful military, accusing the institution of conspiring to oust him from power and then plotting to assassinate him.

The public tussle has fueled a yearlong political crisis that deepened when Khan was arrested on graft charges on May 9, triggering deadly protests across the South Asian nation of some 220 million people.

Experts have warned that the political turmoil could aggravate a severe economic crisis and exacerbate insecurity in Pakistan.

“Pakistan is now facing a major systemic crisis,” said Farzana Shaikh, a Pakistan expert at the Chatham House think tank in London. “Pakistan is no stranger to crisis, but the scale and the simultaneity of this one has accentuated its scope.”

Shaikh said nuclear-armed Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous country, was long considered too big to fail. But that view could be shifting, she said.

Police officers escort Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan (center) as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on May 12.
Police officers escort Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan (center) as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on May 12.

At least 10 people have been killed in clashes between supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party and government security forces. Protesters have also attacked military installations and burned government buildings, prompting the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to call in the army to help restore order.

Pakistan’s army, which has an oversized role in the country’s domestic and foreign affairs, issued a warning on May 11, saying it would take action against those it said were looking to push the country toward a “civil war.”

Khan on May 12 was granted release on bail for two weeks by judges in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, a day after the Supreme Court ruled that his arrest was unlawful.

But the former cricket star-turned-Islamist politician faces more than 100 legal cases and could be rearrested by the authorities, a move that could trigger more unrest.

Police use tear gas to disperse PTI supporters during a protest against the arrest of their leader in the eastern city of Lahore on May 10.
Police use tear gas to disperse PTI supporters during a protest against the arrest of their leader in the eastern city of Lahore on May 10.

The political turmoil is likely to worsen the deepening economic crisis in Pakistan, which is grappling with soaring inflation as well as rising poverty and unemployment.

The cash-strapped nation is at risk of a default. The International Monitory Fund has delayed a loan to Islamabad for months, demanding immediate reforms.

Pakistan is also struggling to contain attacks by militant and separatist groups. The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) extremist group has intensified its insurgency against Islamabad in recent years, carrying out deadly attacks in major cities.

Underscoring the deteriorating security situation, two Pakistani soldiers were killed and three wounded on May 12 when suspected militants attacked a security post in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan.

‘Divided Institutions’

Since Khan lost a no-conference vote in April 2022, he has agitated for early elections, which the ruling government has rejected.

The 70-year-old’s ouster came after he fell out with the military, which was widely accused of bringing Khan to power through a rigged general election in 2018, an allegation denied by both parties.

Observers say the army has since thrown its support behind Sharif and his coalition government, which includes figures from the major political parties. Known as an effective administrator and a pragmatist, Sharif has amicable ties with the military.

Senior government leaders have accused the judiciary of siding with Khan, who still retains significant support inside the country.

“Divided institutions will [only] weaken Pakistan,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, a Pakistan security expert at the University of London.

Siddiqa said the immediate collapse of the country is unlikely, although she foresees a gradual deterioration.

Military chief General Asim Munir
Military chief General Asim Munir

“People are more skeptical of the state, and there will be less faith in it in the future,” she said.

There has been speculation that the military could impose martial law. The army has staged three coups in the country’s 76-year history. Even during civilian rule, the military has often assumed the role of kingmaker.

But observers say the current army chief, General Asim Munir, is unlikely to impose military rule given divisions in the institution. Some within the military are believed to support Khan.

Siddiqa says Pakistan is currently ruled by a weak civilian government overshadowed by the military. In the future, she said, the army could take full control, in an arrangement she describes as a “hybrid regime on steroids.”

Given the fractured political landscape, further turmoil in the country is likely in the future.

“I don’t see Pakistan jelling together,” Siddiqa said.

Abubakar Siddique, a journalist for RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi, specializes in the coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author of The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key To The Future Of Pakistan And Afghanistan. He is also one of the authors of the Azadi Briefing, a weekly newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan.

Israel Is Now Fighting ‘Palestinian Islamic Jihad’ Outside The Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Palestine Gaza strip - AP

Not Hamas, Israel Is Now Fighting ‘Palestinian Islamic Jihad’ In Gaza; Everything About The Militant Group You Need To Know – EXPLAINED

Hamas is not involved in the rocket strikes and counter-airstrikes that Gaza witnessed recently. There is a militant group that functions in Gaza Strip with the sole mission of military action against Israel. Here is what you need to know about the Tehran-backed group, which is the second biggest anti-Zionist organisaton in the Gaza Strip.

Updated May 12, 2023 | 07:14 AM IST

Palestinian relatives mourn for Islamic Jihad commander Ali Ghali and his brother, Mohammed Ghali, both killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Photo : AP

Jerusalem: The story of bloodshed over the Palestinian land continues. Over the last few days, Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed at least 28 people. The casualties included senior Palestinian militants, as well as children as young as 4 years.

Meanwhile, Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired over 600 rockets toward Israel, killing one person, setting off warning sirens as far north as the coastal city of Tel Aviv and sending tens of thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters. But Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, has sat this one out.

Gaza’s most violent confrontation in months has pitted the Israeli military against ‘Islamic Jihad’, the Strip’s second-largest militant group after Hamas.

Here’s a look at the group that has been exchanging blows with Israel:

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad: What is it?

Like the larger and stronger Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad was formed in the 1980s as a radical Islamist movement to resist Israel’s occupation of Gaza. The founder, Fathi Shikaki, a Palestinian inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran, sought to attract Palestinian nationalists disillusioned by secularism and Islamists disillusioned with what they saw as moderation by the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood movement, reported the Associated Press.

Palestine Gaza strip - AP 1Palestinians carry the bodies of Islamic Jihad commander Ali Ghali and his brother Mohammed Ghali.Photo : AP

After the first Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s and early 90s, the Palestine Liberation Organization began peace talks with Israel that led to the formation of the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority in parts of the West Bank and Gaza. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad rejected the idea of peace talks and instead remained sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Badly weakened in Israel’s brutal crackdown in the first uprising, Islamic Jihad later resurged during the second Palestinian uprising in 2000-5 and orchestrated suicide bombings in Tel Aviv night clubs among other attacks.

Rather than engage in Palestinian elections or concern itself with social welfare as Hamas has done, Islamic Jihad has kept a singular focus on fighting Israel. The group also maintains a presence in the occupied West Bank, where its militants have attacked Israeli civilians and battled soldiers as violence in the territory surges to heights unseen in two decades.

How is Palestinian Islamic Jihad Different From Hamas?

Although Hamas and Islamic Jihad have the shared goal of fighting Israel, key differences have stirred tensions. Islamic Jihad — focused solely on military confrontations — has the most to gain from violence with Israel. Hamas, as the de facto civilian government, increasingly has the most to lose. In the past, escalations between Israel and the Islamic Jihad have dragged in Hamas, jeopardizing its cash flow from ally Qatar, cutting off supplies to the territory and decimating public services and vital infrastructure.

An 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021 killed over 260 Palestinians and devastated the territory. Sensitive to public opinion, the ruling militant group has sought to keep a lid on conflict with Israel. They are bothered about sparking popular anger. However, no such strings hold Islamic Jihad. 

Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Who are its allies?

Iran, the archenemy of Israel in the Middle East, heavily funds Islamic Jihad. Over the years, Iran has sent rockets, anti-tank weapons and mortar shells to Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency assesses. 

Some parts have been smuggled through tunnels along Gaza’s southern border and other weapons are locally produced.

Hamas ruptured relations with Iran over its support for President Bashar Assad in the devastating Syrian civil war. Although it has begun to repair those ties, it also has worked to improve relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, has cultivated closer ties with Iran.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad & Israel

The Israeli military described its targeted killings of Islamic Jihad commanders earlier this week as an effort to eliminate a dangerous wild card from the territory. Israel alleged one had been trying to establish a rocket-manufacturing operation in the West Bank. Soon after its first strikes, Israel declared its mission accomplished and has been careful not to attack Hamas sites in the ensuing exchange of fire.

Palestine Gaza strip - AP_Israeli rescue workers assist a woman after a rocket strike from the Gaza Strip.Photo : AP

Involving Hamas would significantly escalate the conflict, increasing the likelihood of Israeli casualties and pushing up the Palestinian death toll. That could intensify international scrutiny of the country’s military — already accused of possible war crimes in previous Gaza wars.