Focal Points Blog

When It Comes to Global Warming, Godwin’s Law May Actually Apply

Global warming can lead to wars for resources similar to the one that Hitler waged on Russia. Pictured: Water distribution in Darfur. (Photo: UNAMID / Flickr Commons)

Global warming can lead to wars for resources similar to the one that Hitler waged on Russia. Pictured: Water distribution in Darfur. (Photo: UNAMID / Flickr Commons)

As global warming worsens, the world may see states or other groups warring over diminishing resources, especially food and water. But first allow us to interject the definition of Godwin’s Law, of which you may have heard. It holds: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” What does global warming have to do with Hitler?
Read More

The Nuclear Mushroom Cloud Foretold

The Pleiades, written about by Walt Whitman in his poem “On the Beach at Night.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Pleiades, written about by Walt Whitman in his poem “On the Beach at Night.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The 2000 remake of the film On the Beach, based on the 1957 novel by Nevil Shute, ends with a quote from an 1871 poem by Walt Whitman titled On the Beach at Night. I haven’t seen either film or read the book about an impending nuclear holocaust. But I would venture a guess that the  intent in using the quote was to compare “the ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading” to a nuclear mushroom cloud.
Read More

While Making Peace With It, U.S. Enables Israel to Attack Iran

Some Americans opposed to the Iran nuclear deal calls for the United States to sell the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator to Israel. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Some Americans opposed to the Iran nuclear deal calls for the United States to sell the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator to Israel. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Last Tuesday at FPIF Rob Prince wrote that congressional hawks — Democrats, as well as Republicans — were seeking to neuter the Iran nuclear deal by creating legislation allowing the United States to sell Israel weapons for attacking Iran. At one point, he quoted Asia Times’s M K Bhadrakumar from his blog.

Tehran has every reason to be concerned that in its efforts to placate the Israelis who are hopping mad at the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration may begin supplying Israel with the means to attack Iran on its own, without US direct involvement. The prevailing assessment of experts is that while Israel may succeed in penetrating the Iranian air defence system (at a high cost, of course), it needs very large bombs or so-called Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOPs) and very large aircraft to carry them to destroy the Iranian nuclear sites some of which are buried deeply underground.

Pressure is indeed building up in Washington on the US supplying the MOPs and the legendary B52 bombers to Israel. In a joint article in WaPo recently, two hugely influential pro-Israeli voices in the US Dennis Ross (formerly special assistant to Obama for the Middle East) and David Petraeus (formerly director of the CIA) made precisely such a recommendation.

Read More

Why Are So Many Weapons Either “Strategic” or “Systems”?

The B-52H Stratofortress: a “strategic system” in itself. (Photo: U.S. Air Force / Mike Dey)

The B-52H Stratofortress: a “strategic system” in itself. (Photo: U.S. Air Force / Mike Dey)

Two of the most overused words in the defense world are “strategic” and “systems.” The latter, of course, is omnipresent in the culture, especially in business programs and consumer goods. (Try looking it up on Google shopping.) I’m currently reading the third edition of Sir Lawrence Freedman’s seminal —  hey, at least I didn’t use that old standby of reviewers and blurbers: “magisterial” — book The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy. He provides some much-needed perspective on both terms.
Read More

Will Russia Become the “Main Engine” of the Destruction of the Islamic State?

Russia was the decisive force in defeating Nazi Germany. Will it serve the same role in the war against the Islamic State? (Photo: WorldWar02.com)

Russia was the decisive force in defeating Nazi Germany. Will it serve the same role in the war against the Islamic State? (Photo: WorldWar02.com)

Last week, at the Daily Beast, Michael Weiss wrote of Syria v. the Islamic State and other rebel forces it’s fighting :

Much discussed in U.S. defense circles is what the Israeli news portal YNet reported Monday, that a new “expeditionary force” of the Russian military has arrived in Damascus and converted a Syrian air force installation into its own forward-operating base. Russian pilots will also apparently start flying their own combat missions.

… The goal is said to be purely counterterrorist in nature and conforms to a new period of bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in salvaging a common ally—Assad—while also amplifying the fight against ISIS.

Read More

The Variety of Early Nuclear Weapons an Example of Human Ingenuity Run Amok

A nuclear air-to-air missile, to be launched by jet fighters. (Photo: Wikipedia)

A nuclear air-to-air missile, to be launched by jet fighters. (Photo: Wikipedia)

In the early years of nuclear weapons, it was still thought that smaller nuclear weapons (called tactical) could fall under the aegis of conventional weapons. Before military planners disabused themselves of that notion and conceded that, with regards to tactical nukes, if it looks like a nuke … , various species of nuclear weapons were developed. Though it wasn’t publicized at the time, you may have heard of the suitcase bomb — a miniaturized nuclear weapon that fit inside a sort of backpack. The smallest, the Mk-54 SADM (Special Atomic Demolition Munition), weighed only around 50 pounds.
Read More

Cardin and Bennet’s Iran Nuclear Deal Duplicity

Some Americans opposed to the Iran nuclear deal calls for the United States to sell the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator to Israel. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Some Americans opposed to the Iran nuclear deal calls for the United States to sell the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator to Israel. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Cross-posted from View from the Left Bank.

“What fools we are.”
(Quote from an old friend concerning the machinations described below)

The more one actually studies  what Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) has done concerning the international agreement concluded between the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1) and Iran, the more it seems like the basketball move that he faked left while moving right. Classic Bennet, I might add. At the time when his vote no longer was critical to the outcome, Colorado’s U.S. Senator Michael Bennet finally came out and endorsed the nuclear agreement with Iran. By all indications, he is determined to find a way to deep-six the agreement, days prior, Bennet endorsed.
Read More

Marcus Raskin: Nuclear Watchdog

President John F. Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara tried to create a nuclear policy more flexible than the initial U.S. policy of massive retaliation. (Photo: AlternateHistory.com)

President John F. Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara tried to create a nuclear policy more flexible than the initial U.S. policy of massive retaliation. (Photo: AlternateHistory.com)

Prior to founding the Institute for Policy Studies along with Richard Barnet, Marcus Raskin was a member of the special staff of the National Security Council in President Kennedy’s administration. I recently re-read Fred Kaplan’s 1983 book, The Wizards of Armageddon, a history of how the Rand Corporation developed and drove U.S. nuclear weapons strategy for decades. In case you’re wondering, yes, there is definitely something wrong with people who can spend their days for years on end contemplating the deaths of tens of millions.
Read More

Daniel Ellsberg Was a Hero Long Before the Pentagon Papers

Ellsberg, Daniel TruthinMedia.com

Most of us know Daniel Ellsberg because he copied and released the top-secret Pentagon studies of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg actually ran the documents by the Institute of Policy Studies before sharing them with the New York Times. As you know, Watergate ensued and American politics has never been the same.
Read More

Opposition to Iran Deal Fueled by Hatred of Hezbollah and Hamas

To a certain extent Hezbollah and Hamas have gone legit. Pictured: Hezbollah flag and signage. (Photo: Yeowatzup / Wikimedia Commons)

To a certain extent Hezbollah and Hamas have gone legit. Pictured: Hezbollah flag and signage. (Photo: Yeowatzup / Wikimedia Commons)

The effort by Israeli leaders and their American supporters to scuttle the nuclear agreement with Iran was not, as they often claimed, based on the fear that the pact did not provide enough safeguards against Iran’s producing a bomb. As the agreement’s opponents knew, Iran has only to show signs of violating the agreement to bring on immediate retaliation by the U.S. and Israel. The Iranians undoubtedly remember Israel’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear facility at Osirak in 1981.

Hostility to Iran on the part of Israel and the U.S. has in fact far less to do with its nuclear program than with its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that Israeli spin doctors and their American supporters have made virtually synonymous with “terrorism.” They worry that the pact will bring an easing of economic sanctions against Iran and thereby enable it to increase its support for the two resistance groups.
Read More

Page 22 of 227« First...10...2021222324...304050...Last »