Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman . . . Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 130521
About that “Red Line”. . .
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
May 21, 2013
U.S. media outlets and political discourse are dominated by discussions of the IRS and AP scandals and Benghazigate questions about who knew what, where and when. These are important matters, but meanwhile major threats to our national security are being ignored—a fact not widely reported.
To be sure, folks like Bill Gertz remind us of China’s continuing and growing threat to our space systems (See the figure below illustrating China’s 2007 antisatellite (ASAT) test.) and the Obama policies of appeasement, especially as a legacy of the President’s pre-election promise of “flexibility” on limiting our ballistic missile defenses, most recently Russia’s President Putin’s two-faced concerns about our efforts to protect ourselves and our allies from ballistic missile attack while modernizing Russia’s missile defenses (and offensive strategic forces as well. And the New York Times reports on Chinese hackers’ growing threat to U.S. defense and civil interests.
These concerns are quite serious. For example, the March 4, 2013 Space Review summary of a forum on Chinese ASAT and related missile defense issues observed that multiple Chinese military journal articles emphasize American reliance on upon space, implying to one participant that “If we do not want the Chinese to go and develop ASATs, then we need to not rely on space.” Fat chance . . . what is our alternative?
Peter Huessy and Mark Schneider provide a comprehensive description of Russia’s challenge in their May 20, 2013 review of Future Russian Strategic Challenges . . . again, the cards are stacked against us as our strategic forces atrophy and Russia is modernizing theirs with a new mobile ICBM called the Yars-M that can carry 10 warheads with a range of up to 6,835 miles; a new rail-mobile ICBM to be deployed by 2020; new submarines being deployed with new submarine-launched Bulava missiles; a new strategic bomber to be deployed by 2020; a new Kh-102 air-launched cruise missile to be deployed by 2013; and a new Kaliber submarine-launched cruise missile in development.
But I would argue that these threats, as dangerous as they are, do not pose our greatest existential threat.
Our Greatest Existential Threat . . . From Iran.
I find myself in tune with Thomas Sowell’s May 15 article comparing today’s milieu to that of a century ago, when the 20th century began to unravel, with subsequent major disasters. Furthermore, he noted that concerns such as those listed above, coupled with the President’s foreign policies re. Libya, Egypt and Syria, are distracting attention from his biggest test to come: A nuclear armed Iran—and what to do about it, while our time for possible action is fleeting.
Click here for the full Investor’s Business Daily article, from which the excerpt below emphasizes Sowell’s concerns about Iran. Based upon High Frontier’s recent emails, you would rightly conclude that I whole heartedly agree. In fact, I believe that Sowell understates the concern.
Sowell refers to New York and Los Angeles being bombed into radioactive ruins—and this is a daunting possibility that we should take seriously. But as argued in our recent emails, a single high-altitude nuclear explosion could kill 10 times as many Americans without creating blast or radioactive damage.
The EMP Threat.
A nuclear detonation 300 miles over the center of the United States would be above the earth’s atmosphere and cause neither blast damage nor radiation effects. But it would create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could shut down our electric power grid and “fry” the tiny computers that manage most of our critical infrastructure—without which our “just in time economy” would instantaneously stop in its tracks. No lights, no communication, no transportation, no banking, no water and sewage, no refills for life-sustaining medicine, etc. Imagine the chaos that would result—turning the United States into a nineteenth century horse and buggy agrarian society without the horse and buggy, locally grown food, etc.
Unless we are prepared for this contingency, repairs could be impossible. Key transformers in our electric power plants would be difficult if not impossible to replace. Each is tailor made for its associated power plant; we have few if any spares; we don’t build them anymore; and getting them from overseas would be problematic to say the least. Without these transformers, the grid would be down indefinitely.
As we have emphasized in several recent emails, North Korea and Iran could be able to achieve this threatening capability shortly—by launching a nuclear weapon on a satellite headed toward us over the South Pole. But our defenses are postured to defend against ballistic missiles that approach us over the North Pole. We have “left our back door open while locking the front door”—an incomplete security plan, to say the least.
Iran going nuclear really is the Red Line.
Of the two, I am more concerned about Iran because they have declared their intention to kill as many Americans as possible as a “theological mandate”—and this way of attacking us could lead to the death of hundreds of millions of Americans. Please understand that it makes no difference who is elected Iran’s next president so long as the mullahs are in charge and they dub us the “Great Satan.”
Thus, we have as much at stake as does Israel (the “Little Satan”). Israeli President Netanyahu is right to say there is a Red Line that Iran should not be permitted to cross. Ditto, for us! But what are we doing toward that end? Not much, I would argue.
What To Do and Who Should Do It?
Three needed initiatives:
- As argued previously, give the U.S. Navy the mission and resources to enable our Aegis ships to shoot down satellites from Iran and North Korea—hopefully within the next 2-3 years.
- As a longer term response, revive programs to build space-based defense, patterned after the Brilliant Pebbles concept of the late 1980s—with a target for an operational system within five years.
- Harden the Electric Power grid to assure the survival of the electronic grid should the defense fail.
The first two missions belong to the Defense Department, with the Missile Defense Agency as the primary lead.
Accomplishing the last mission is more complicated, largely because no one seems to be in charge—and those who could be helpful seem dysfunctional. The Defense Department can help but does not have the overall mission to lead—indeed, no one seems to be charged with leading.
Hopefully, Dr. Ernest Moniz will live up to the promise he made during his confirmation hearing to become Secretary of Energy (4 minutes and 40 seconds in on this link), and familiarize himself with the EMP threat to the energy power grid and lead the Department of Energy with initiatives to harden the grid. Work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions should be closely coordinated, especially since the NRC produces about 20-percent of the nation’s electric power—and we don’t want a repeat of Japan’s experience when an earthquake/tsunami caused wide area radiation leaks following a loss of power and reactor cooling capability.
The Department of Homeland Security should draft appropriate planning scenarios and assure that all government agencies are prepared in the event of an EMP attack.
Finally, Congress should pay attention and assure that the executive branch follows through to “provide for the common defense.”
And what can you do?
As is always important, better inform yourself on these important issues, and help us get the message to the grass roots that truly effective space-based ballistic missile defenses are feasible and quite affordable.
Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public to the existential threats posed by both manmade and natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events—and what can be done about them.
We can use your help in spreading the word to grass roots and local authorities to press the powers that be to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Will you do your part?
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!