Robert Alvarez comes up with a ballpark figure for the price tag of an average nuclear weapon.
One third of the Energy Department’s budget is allocated to nuclear weapons. (Photo: Steve Jurveston / Wikimedia Commons)
The controversial, so-called fifth generation fighter, the F-35, still in development, is slated to cost from $114 to $142 million per unit in the early stages of production. The B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber costs a min-boggling $2.2 billion. It’s capable of carrying 40,000 pounds of bombs, including nuclear.
You seldom hear the cost of one nuclear weapon itemized, perhaps because it’s difficult to do. But in his new Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists column, the Institute of Policy Study’s own Robert Alvarez attempts to do just that.
The Polish Catholic church spans the spectrum from socialism to restricting abortions.
Catholic intellectual Michael Luczewski. (Photo: John Feffer)
Poland has one of the stricter laws on abortion in Europe. Abortion is illegal except if the life of the mother is at risk, the fetus has a major defect, or the pregnancy is the result of a confirmed rape. Poland, Ireland, and Malta are the only countries in Europe that do not allow abortion on request. All three countries are also predominantly Catholic (95 percent for Malta, 91 percent for Poland, 84 percent for Ireland).
The Catholic Church is an important and powerful institution in Poland, and the abortion law is just one of the areas of social policy where it exerts influence. As a Catholic intellectual, Michal Luczewski is happy that the Church has this influence. “Poland is the only case where we overturned a very liberal abortion law that made abortion legal for everyone who used it,” he told me in an interview in Warsaw in August 2013. “We were able to overturn it and now it really works. We did research last year. More young people favor the ‘restrictive’ law — for me it’s not restrictive — than oppose it. The Church worked top down in passing the law, but in the long run it worked well with the masses.”
The unlikelihood that nuclear war will be anything less than massive will overwhelm relief organizations such as the Red Cross.
States need to acknowledge that the will receive little help recovering from a nuclear war. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The International Committee of the Red Cross president, Peter Maurer, has apparently thrown his lot in with the recent movement to attempt to achieve nuclear disarmament by focusing on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. In part, it’s a strategy for non-nuclear-weapon states to move toward disarmament without the foot-dragging or outright digging in of heels by nuclear weapon states, including signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), such as the United States. Reaching Critical Will provides some background on how the movement is gaining momentum.
Would it make any sense for those about to die at the hands of the Islamic State to resist?
Those about to be executed by the Islamic State are often broken down by physical and emotional abuse. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Anti-semites sometimes ask why Jews failed to mount greater resistance to persecution in World War II. Legitimate reasons abound, which we won’t go into here. One question they ask is why the docility when led to gas chambers? Of course, it’s far outside the bounds of decency to question anyone in such a situation. Anyone thus terrorized may have long surrendered notions of free will. Most of us would probably do the same.
You see the same docility and conformity in those waiting for or being marched to (as in the recent video of Coptic Christians) their executions. They assume the position without even fidgeting, and accept throat cutting.
If there’s a way to label the Islamic State as true to Islam without appearing Islamophobic, Graeme Wood may not have found it in his explosive Atlantic article.
The Islamic State refuses to view its early teachings through a prism of a sort of cultural — or more accurately in this case, temporal — relativism. (Photo: Edward Musiak / Flickr Commons)
In a lengthy article in the Atlantic that raises troubling questions about Islam, Graeme Wood seeks to divine What ISIS Really Wants. The short answer is that the Islamic State (the preferred terminology at FPIF Focal Points) is attempting to fulfill an end-times prophecy from early Islam as by-the-book as possible. Since we may re-visit this article, which is as enlightening as it is controversial, in a future post or two, we will focus on just one of Wood’s themes today — that the Islamic State, considered by many to be a perversion of Islam, actually hews closely to Islamic teachings (however archaic).
Like Islam, Christianity has often been perverted to justify violence.
Most Christians today are ignorant of the violence their religion has brought to bear against Muslims and Jews. Pictured: Siege of Antioch. (Photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia)
On Friday we posted about a Foreign Policy in Focus piece in which Hannah Gais wrote about how Islam is just a handy tool that militants use to battle oppression. We asked: Once and for All, Does Islam Play Too Fast and Loose With Violence?
In the New York Times, Susan Jacoby addresses another example of religious violence: the Crusades. In her article, she’s not writing about atrocities that Christians wreaked against Muslims, but just as they were starting out for Jerusalem at the beginning of the first Crusade in 1096, upon Jews.
Some claim Western colonization constituted a kind of golden age for once colonial countries.
Congolese slaves on a Belgian colonial rubber plantation. (Photo: Ultimate History Project)
As some formerly colonized countries in Sub-Saharan Africa still grapple with resource disputes and sectarian violence, it is hardly unusual to hear people wonder aloud whether 19th and 20th century colonialism was actually a solution, not a problem, for the non-Western world. Reveling in their contrarianism, some pontificators eventually conclude that, yes, “almost all of sub-Saharan Africa…[was] better governed by Europeans” and that formerly colonized countries are themselves to blame for favoring an anti-market “grievance culture” over colonialism’s free market values. Gladly promulgating this view, Daniel Kruger writes that “Africa’s problem today is not the after-effects of colonialism” but rather that many Western universities’ African alumni returned home in the mid-20th century committed to “nationalisation and big government.” And lest we worry that colonialism indefensibly violated the rights of the colonized and punctured the sanity of entire nations, Keith Windschuttle tells us to take comfort in the fact that colonialism actually imparted to colonized people another valuable gift: ideas of “liberal democratic government” and “British concepts of sovereignty and the rule of law.”
Hannah Gais holds that Islam is just a handy tool that militants use to battle oppression.
Immigrant Islamic communities often regard restrictions on public expressions of faith as forcing them to reject their heritage. (Photo: Edward Musiak / Flickr Commons)
Those in the West who think Islam provides justification for Islamist extremist violence are often not privy to the protests from mainstream Muslim. Whether due to bias against Islam or just “if it bleeds, it leads,” the issue is not given much exposure in mainstream American media. But is there actually any truth to it? To begin with, it’s frankly unnerving that Islam’s founder was, at one point in his life, a warrior.
Left organizations from all over Europe met in Barcelona to draw up a plan to battle the forces of austerity.
The Syriza government has made it clear that Greece is finished with the austerity policies that crashed its economy. (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr)
In the aftermath of last month’s Greek election that vaulted the left anti-austerity party Syriza into power, armies of supporters and detractors—from Barcelona to Berlin—are on the move. While Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble was making it clear that Berlin would brook no change in the European Union’s (EU) debt strategy that has impoverished countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, left organizations from all over Europe met in Barcelona to drew up a plan of battle.
As Schaueble was stonewalling Greek Finance Minister Yanis Karoufakis, the Party of the European Left (PEL), along with assorted Green parties, gathered for the “1st European South Forum” in Catalonia’s capital to sketch out a 10-point “Declaration of Barcelona” aimed at ending “austerity and inequality,” and promoting “democracy and solidarity.”
According to Stephen Walt, insecurity, not the urge to expand, is behind Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Ukraine troops manning a road block. (Photo: Sasha Maksymenko / Flickr Commons)
As if arming Islamist extremist rebels wasn’t bad enough, now some are urging the United States to arm Ukraine. In Foreign Policy magazine, Stephen Walt writes about a task force of NATO-friendly diplomats and foreign-policy experts established by three tanks that “wants the United States to send Ukraine $1 billion in military assistance as soon as possible, with more to come.”
These, he explains, “are the same people who have been telling us since the late 1990s that expanding NATO eastwards posed no threat to Russia and would instead create a vast and enduring zone of peace in Europe.” Even though “open-ended NATO expansion has done more to poison relations with Russia than any other single Western policy. … these experts are now doubling down to defend a policy that was questionable from the beginning and clearly taken much too far.”