Perhaps these well-known lines from Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, when Hamlet contemplates life and death—and suicide, also apply when considering today’s existential threat to America and all of Western Civilization posed by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event. Shall America, like Hamlet, experience an untimely death? Or shall we avert a possible end to all we hold dear?
In our recent Weekly Updates and Flash Messages, we have sought to connect a number of dots about all too real conditions that in combination pose a truly existential threat to the very existence of our republic. The evidence exposes this threat, if only we would assimilate a few facts and draw obvious conclusions, some of which are at least creeping their way into the consciousness of a public that prefers to look away from unpleasant realities.
Jihadi Threats are Alive and Well.
For example, we now know that al Qaeda is not defeated or even in retreat, as has been claimed by our highest authorities—it is alive and well, as demonstrated by the growing revelations of the attack on U.S. sovereign territory in Benghazi, causing the death of our Ambassador and three others—as if new revelations were needed to reveal the obvious to all but the mainstream media. (We now know it was obvious to the CIA immediately after the event, if not during it.) Also obvious is the wrongheaded claim of isolated “self-radicalized” Islamists who now are advertised to be our current Jihadi threat, of which the Boston Marathon terrorism is a purported example.
But the same Muslim Brotherhood that now controls Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations also is aligned with the Islamic Society of Boston, which has links to the brothers Tsarnaev—and they were known to have links to Jihadists in Chechnya, even if our Intelligence Community ignored warnings from the Russians. The Islamic Society of Boston’s associated mosque in Cambridge has hosted known terrorists. At one time Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, was a trustee. Among other things, he reportedly has preached that Muslims should acquire nuclear weapons to “terrorize their enemies”—read the Little Satan Israel and the Great Satan America.
Iran is a Big Problem.
Enter our concerns about Iran and its well-known aspirations to obtain nuclear weapons that can be delivered to kill Israelis and Americans, as Iran’s leaders have openly stated is their goal. And what better way to “terrorize their enemies” than to kill hundreds of millions of Americans, as is possible in an EMP attack involving only a single nuclear weapon detonated a couple of hundred miles over the center of the United States?
We have emphasized that there are two apparent ways Iran could accomplish this dastardly deed—once they obtain a “miniaturized” nuclear weapon (that their partner North Korea claims already to have mastered) and mate it to a ballistic missile:
- First, they could, either themselves or through a surrogate Jihadi terrorist cell, place the weapon and its launcher on a seafaring vessel and launch it from off our coasts to detonate over the U.S.—the optimum place from their perspective might be from the Gulf of Mexico, since we have absolutely no defense located there to shoot down such an attack. Over a decade ago, Iran practiced such launches from vessels in the Caspian Sea.
- Second, they could deploy their weapon on a satellite launched, as Iran also has practiced, over the South Polar region to attack the U.S. from the south—circumventing our current homeland missile defense systems that are focused on shooting down ballistic missiles launched over the North Polar region; i.e., to come at us through our unprotected “back door.”
Thinking about the Unthinkable in Small Towns.
Several times, we have previously discussed these two scenarios and what can be done to counter them. Here, consider the consequences of either scenario, if successfully executed.
The non-partisan congressionally appointed EMP Commission reported in 2006 on the seriousness of this threat and elaborated it in 2008 by making public previously classified information from our Cold War efforts to assure the survivability of our strategic forces. Let there be no doubt that this threat is real—and well known to our enemies, including North Korea, Iran and numerous terrorists.
Bill Forstchen, a member of our Independent Working Group, wrote a New York Times best seller novel—One Second After, describing in very graphic terms what might happen following such an EMP attack from the perspective of residents in the small North Carolina town in the Great Smoky Mountains near Ashville, where he is a University Professor of History. Click here for a graphic 10 minute YouTube interview with Bill—still timely even though the interview was in 2009, because nothing has been done to deal with this existential EMP threat.
Bad news, but the folks in Bill’s novel actually were pretty well off in this small town, by comparison to their big city cousins. Imagine what it might be like in a big city to lose all electric power. Consider just a few facts that distinguish life between these cousins.
So, What About the Big City Problem?
If the electric power grid fails, practically everything in our just-in-time economy fails to operate in a nanosecond, literally. Airplanes won’t fly, and the FAA won’t direct the paths of any that do. Unprotected trains grind to a stop and clutter up the tracks, and trucks come to a screeching halt—but only if the brakes work. Lights go out all over town—everything dependent on the power grid ceases to work—elevators in the tall buildings; electricity for operating rooms and other time-urgent life supporting facilities; communications systems; fire stations and other emergency support facilities and operations; banking and financial systems; and on and on.
And consider some secondary effects—what happens if nothing or very little counters the natural forces of nature? We have become so accustomed to some obvious luxuries that we forget how dependent we are upon them.
For example, pumps cease to function to provide water to all manner of important essential activities, including for drinking and essential hygiene. Gravity will take over if there are no means to pump sewage in tall buildings—and with no windows to open think of the stench. Fire storms reminiscent of World War II bombings could occur if there are no modern means (nor old ones either—even for the bucket brigade, water is required) to fight fires, which regularly occur in large urban areas—not to mention those that might be initiated by electrical arcing from the EMP attack. Whatever traffic that might be possible will inevitably stall with a breakdown of traffic control systems and jams of mass movements by whatever means are available—even if folks have bicycles.
What happens when the food and water on the shelves runs out? And think of the mortuary problems . . . Not a pretty picture—Bill might want to write a sequel.
Our previous suggestions that U.S. society would be reduced to at best a 19th century existence may be optimistic, except for those who do not live in our urban areas. Massive deaths in urban areas could occur much more rapidly than the already horrifying pace of Bill Forschen’s One Second After, which we’d recommend you read if you haven’t already done so.
What to do?
These matters are well known and beyond serious dispute, and still the powers that be do nothing—or very little—to deal with the obvious existential threat. Key initiatives that should be undertaken immediately are:
- Strengthen our ability to shoot down satellites from Iran (or North Korea) that might be launched over the South Polar regions to attack the U.S. from the South—and demonstrate that capability for all to see.
- Be prepared to destroy the Iranian rockets intended to put satellites in orbit on the launch pad if there is any doubt that we can shoot them down after they are launched—unless the Iranians permit credible on-site inspection of all payloads before they are launched.
- Deploy as soon as possible on military bases around the Gulf of Mexico the same Aegis Ashore capabilities the Pentagon is funded to build in Romania and Poland to protect our European allies from Iranian ballistic missiles—such sites can defend against ballistic missiles launched from vessels off the Gulf Coast.
- Harden the electric power grid—immediately, at least the major transformers that are not manufactured in the U.S. and for which we have few if any spares.
- Provide in appropriately shielded storage sites spares for key components of our critical electrical infrastructure.
Collectively, we are on a path to committing societal suicide, whether by design or not. And we haven’t even mentioned the companion natural threat associated with a major solar storm—the so-called Carrington Event that will happen, we just don’t, and won’t, know when.
“To be or not to be: That is the question.” Indeed! Will the USA fare better than Hamlet?
We will watch closely and report back on the steps that Dr. Ernest Moniz takes when he is sworn in as Secretary of Energy. He stated in his confirmation hearing that he intended to look into the EMP effects from both natural and manmade causes and take appropriate action assure the “robustness and resilience” of the electric power grid. Hopefully, we will see early initiatives from him.
We are making plans to visit friends in the Panama City, Florida area to discuss the apparent EMP threat that could be launched from a vessel off their coast and how large test ranges at nearby Air Force bases (Tyndall and Eglin) could enable an Aegis Ashore deployment. We will also be following up on initiatives begun last year related to the utility of a possible Aegis Ashore deployment in Pascagoula, Mississippi where our Aegis ships are built.
And we will continue to follow Maine Representative Andrea Boland’s efforts to protect against major solar storm geomagnetic effects as new transmission lines are to be installed under the $1.4 billion Maine Power Reliability Program. And we look forward to seeing the related study that the full legislature has agreed to accomplish, thanks to her efforts.
And what can you do?
Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public to the existential threats posed by both man-made and natural EMP events—and what can be done about these threats.
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!
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