Beyond the Cusp

April 15, 2014

Iran Negotiations Continue Going Downhill

United States Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with reporters about the negotiations with Iran which presumably are aiming to prevent the Iranians from becoming a nuclear power by producing nuclear weaponry. Sometimes I wonder which causes a larger headache, thinking of a world containing a nuclear armed terror state such as Iran or having to discern what in the world Secretary Kerry means as he often speaks in such vagaries likely in order to always claim that any quote is not what he meant by his words. Before getting to Iran I thought it might be almost as interesting to examine the exact words Secretary was quoted delivering. Secretary Kerry stated, “I think it is fair to say, I think it is public knowledge today, that we are operating with a time period for a so-called breakout of about two months.” He further stated, “So six months to twelve months is, I’m not saying that’s what we’d settle for, but even that is significantly more.” So, according to Secretary Kerry, he can claim when questioned how he came to the conclusion that Iran might be but a two months from reaching nuclear weapons breakout point, he can deny having said that but that such was “public knowledge today.” If a reporter were to follow-up asking if Secretary Kerry honestly believes that extending that timeframe from two months to six to twelve months was actually much of an improvement, Kerry could claim that he had plainly stated that was “not saying that’s what we’d settle for.” Examine almost any Kerry speech and you will find that almost every sentence contains multiple streams with dissimilar meanings which provide him with sufficient wiggle room in order to deny any particular quote by claiming he really meant to emphasize the alternative expressions and that he may have said the other while thinking of a more relevant phrase. It is always acceptable for our leaders to claim that they were reaching and pondering the phrasing and substance when speaking despite their vagueness and contradictory circular logic is almost always intentional to allow them denial capabilities. Enough said about the infuriating vagaries of the speech patterns of for too many of public officials and their always seeking to give themselves room to deny anything said which later may come back to haunt them. Maybe with all the Kerry meddlesome interferences and one sided helmsmanship of the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis and his seeming to back more of the Palestinian demands and positions and pressing the Israelis for more concessions has infuriated me to distraction on all things Kerry.


Back to Iran and the problematic statements and assumptions of the leadership of the P5+1 nations (United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) that Iran is anywhere from a few months to as much as a couple of years from acquiring nuclear weapons and the lack of evidence validating their claims. The Iranians had started their nuclear program under the Shah back in the 1970’s. After the revolt that brought the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his theocratic governance to power in 1979, the nuclear program was suspended due to opposition by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini on religious grounds. After the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 it is currently believed that the new Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei restarted the Iranian nuclear research with the development of nuclear weapons as one of the main aims of the program. In August 2002, a spokesman for an Iranian dissident group National Council of Resistance of Iran, Alireza Jafarzadeh, revealed the existence of two nuclear sites under construction. The two sites he named were the heavy water reactor facility in Arak and the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. These sites had not been revealed to the IAEA and thus elicited suspicions of the intent of the Iranian nuclear research projects. These revelations caused the start of IAEA inspections of these sites and calls for complete disclosure by Iran of their intents and all sites where nuclear research and development including any enrichment productions of uranium and the degree to which stores may have been already achieved. The lack of full disclosure and other suspicions led to sanctions and eventually the current P5+1 negotiations with Iran following several levels of sanctions being passed by the United Nations Security Council despite Russian and Chinese initial oppositions.


We are now easily two and a half decades into the Iranian nuclear program where their aim has been to develop nuclear weapons. The United States Manhattan Project to develop the first nuclear bomb took less than five years starting completely from scratch without even a guarantee that such a weapon was truly possible. There was so much uncertainty that some scientists opposed the entire project fearing that such an explosion would ignite the atmosphere ending all life on planet Earth. Any research with the aim of producing a nuclear weapon in modern times has the advantage of, at the very least, a basic knowledge of the necessary technologies and necessary principles and requirements to develop nuclear weapons. Additionally, any nation or individuals with sufficient revenue would be able to procure exact schematics and blueprints of actual existing warheads which have been available from clandestine sources such as the Pakistani Physicist Abdul Qadeer Khan as well as others. Given all of the available information and evidence it is difficult not to believe that the Iranians have had the ability, knowledge, technologies and components to produce their own nuclear weapons and have been for likely close to a decade. When one includes the fact the existence of uranium ore within Iran the probability that they could have produced nuclear fuel for a weapon without having to go beyond their own borders and arousing any suspicions makes the suspicion that Iran is already nuclear armed even more likely. The final suspicion that Iran has already produced some undeterminable number of atomic weapons, even if only low yield basic World War II ending style weapons is the claims during President George W. Bush’s administration that Iran was less than two years from attaining a breakout ability to produce nuclear weaponry. If one simply believes that this was an accurate approximation of Iranian abilities, then how could anybody now accept that the Iranians are still two months from being able to produce a nuclear weapon and could be pushed backwards to a point where they would need as much as a whole year to reach breakout capabilities.


The question should not be how to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon as such is probably impossible if not mute as they have already developed and produced as many as a dozen operative nuclear devices which are deliverable by available missiles some of which are ballistic missiles capable of reaching most if not all of Europe. Additionally, Iran will have ICBMs within the next two years and more likely even sooner, probably within the next six months. They have already managed to place satellites in low earth orbit with limited ability for sustained orbits. Add to this the known capabilities they have as they were supplied with by the Russians which they could utilize to attack the United States through a known and recognized hole in the United States defense grids which were designed to detect a Soviet launch and are vulnerable of attacks coming from a polar orbit making a southerly approach. This vulnerability has been at the center of much of the debates about the possibility of a North Korean EMP attack using an orbit approaching the United States coming from the South Pole heading northward aiming to explode a low yield high gamma radiation nuclear device at between one-hundred-fifty to as high as three-hundred miles altitude over central states over the general area above Omaha, Nebraska. As evidence exists that North Korea and Iran have been working together on missile technology and sharing research and intelligence, it is also highly likely that the Iranians have also been made aware of this vulnerability of the United States which has been further confirmed by the fact that many of the Iranian missile tests have launched in a manner to take advantage of the same approach trajectory as would be utilized by the North Koreans in such a scenario. Additionally, the cooperation between Iran and North Korea it can be assumed that at least one of the reported North Korean nuclear tests may have been carried out utilizing an Iranian designed weapon providing vital technical and experimental data for the Iranians. There is a definitive probability that the Iranians are already a nuclear armed state and have the capability of delivering such a weapon easily striking much of Europe, Israel, as well as United States assets throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East. When also including the tactics of firing ballistic missiles with a range of as much as two-thousand miles from freighters or possibly from bases in their allies such as Venezuela or Nicaragua all of which place the mainland United States vulnerable to an Iranian first strike be it an EMP device or simultaneous launched nuclear tipped missiles from numerous sea based nuclear armed freighters, the truth of the extent and abilities of the Iranian nuclear programs is made all the more critical. Perhaps there needs to be more direct and unequivocal proof of the exact state of the Iranian nuclear weapons program and whether there exists now ready Iranian nuclear weapons stores. The health and future of civilization as we know such may depend upon knowing the real truth. The existence of doubts over what we have been told by governments and world bodies all completely lacking any solid evidence and based completely dependent on expedient political opinions should cause any prudent person pause and have worries over what is not being said. The current efforts do not appear to be earnest and as urgent as one would suspect if Iran was still incapable of having produced nuclear weapons. It is for these and also my general suspicions that a nuclear armed Iran is something I take as fact and hope those who have definitive evidence are taking the necessary steps to face such a challenge.


Beyond the Cusp


April 4, 2014

News Roundup and Commentary in Bits and Bites

Some days offer either too many items of relative importance or simply lack any one item which offers sufficient angles for a complete article and the recent past has been a perfect example of both. The most pressing story is also the most sad as it combines the horrors of recalling past horrors with a similarly horrific series of events in the present. I am referring to the mass shooting at Fort Hood Texas where an emotionally scarred and unbalanced soldier presumably experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) went on a shooting spree where he murdered three innocents and injured reportedly as many as sixteen others with nine requiring extended hospital treatment before turning his weapon on himself almost immediately after armed enforcement personnel appeared on the scene. This event occurring as it did at Fort Hood brought back the sickening memories of the “work place violence” committed by Major Nidal Hasan. Despite the United States Military classification of Major Hasan’s murder spree, many commentators and others expressed their belief that that shooting should have been classified as a terrorist attack, especially when reports revealed that the Major had been shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he murdered his victims. The one truth this horrific and senseless shooting spree will produce will be the inevitable references and comparisons between the two shootings which will hopefully not result in any excuses or insensitive statements minimizing the horrors and emotional tragedies attached to either incident.


Another crisis which is continuing on its rise in temperature and getting dangerously close to boiling over, emitting some loud and unignorable blasts this past week is the ever-present Korean peninsula’s low-grade war. It began in its usual fashion with the North Koreans informing their neighbors in South Korea that they planned on holding some military exercises. They cautioned the South Koreans to avoid approaching even the offshore maritime zones of North Korea. Once their war games began, predictably and unsurprisingly the North Koreans lobbed numerous shells and armed projectiles south of the demarcation lines between the two nations striking in South Korean waters. As has been the custom, the South Koreans responded with expressed indignation and stressed their displeasure with a few well-placed rounds into the North Korean maritime waters. The reason for alarm over what is not exactly a new occurrence is that the new, young, neophyte North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still very much an unknown quantity. It has definitely not served to lower the blood pressure or lessened tensions with the recent revelations that Kim Jong Un had carried out a purge which included his hanging family members. This along with other signals that the new North Korean leader may be quite unstable and unpredictable leading many to fear that he may not be easily predictable and thus an unknown quantity which presents a far more troubling situation than the already problematic relations between North Korean and the rest of the world, and especially for South Korea. Just add one more possible war-mongering megalomaniac onto the list of such players on the world stage. Where Kim Jong Un will not be as threatening a potential menace as Russian President Putin, known in our office as Vlad the Invader, or as dangerous as the slowly ever reaching tentacles from China slowly eating up all the disputed islands in the South China Sea and other area off their coasts and included in their newly declared enlarged maritime borders; these rising threats make one question, who will represent a viable opposition to these opportunistic hegemonic imperialists.


There were reports of some last ditch efforts to resuscitate the Israel Palestinian peace negotiations. Reportedly, Israeli Chief Negotiator Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat met with United States Mediator Martin Indyk in what was described as a very stormy session where the two required repeated separating by Mr. Indyk as they exchanged threats, curses and excessively abusive language in efforts to allow them to cool their jets and hopefully calm their animosity and belligerence. Eventually Mr. Indyk called an end to the session as everything he attempted proved ineffective and the atmosphere was proving beyond rescue making any hopes for any reconciliation being obviously impossible. In other developments, the Palestinians released updated requirements, actually conditional demands, upon the Israelis if any chance would exist for them to return and extend the negotiations. Their demands for a building freeze remained the same, an absolute freeze on all Israeli building within Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem including any areas the Palestinians define as rightfully belonging to their future nation while their previous demand that the Israelis release four hundred additional terrorist prisoners above the final twenty-six from the original one-hundred-four that were to be released as a condition for the Palestinians to even attend any negotiations was increased demanding the release of one thousand terrorist prisoner with the release terrorists Ahmed Saadat and Marwan Barghouti heading their lists. Finally, the Palestinians added one last threat that should the Israelis be perceived to have taken any undesired actions concerning the Palestinians that they would “pursue the Israelis in all international forums and make sure they were branded as war criminals.” At the end of everything that has occurred since Israel initially postponed the final release of twenty-six Terrorist prisoners, Israel finally announced that they were officially cancelling the final release reacting to the application to fifteen United Nations and world bodies and agencies by Palestinian Chairman Abbas carrying out his threat to seek world affirmation to establish the Palestinian state. One wonders how such might eventually be resolved as even with all these memberships the Palestinians will still lack some of the requirements of an actual nation under the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States as stated in Article 1 which states, “The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a) a permanent population; b) a defined territory; c) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”


The Earth has been shaking all over with Chile suffering aftershocks and what was potentially a second earthquake yesterday registering 7.6 on the Richter Scale following a larger earthquake the previous day which measured a destructive 8.2 on the Richter Scale. Further north, Panama was struck by an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale. In the past day there were reportedly sixty earthquakes considered notable, 2.5 or higher on the Richter Scale, by the USGS (United States Geological Survey) with the most significant being: 4.6 Richter Scale in Nobeoka, Japan; in ascending order, 4.5, 4.6 (x2), 4.7, 4.8 (x4), 4.9 (x6), 5.0, 5.1 (x4), 5.2 (x3), 5.5, 5.6 (x2), 5.8, 6.2, 6.5, 7.6 Richter Scale in Iquique, Chile; 4.9 Richter Scale in Putre, Chile; 5.3 Richter Scale in Lambasa, Fiji; 4.5 Richter Scale in Gura Teghii, Romania; 5.6 Richter Scale in Bengkulu, Indonesia; 5.0 Richter Scale at the Southwest Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean; and 5.6 Richter Scale in Kamaishi, Japan. The news covered the two major earthquakes near Iquique, Chile while mentioning there had been numerous aftershocks while the figures above shows how absolutely horrified the people living in the area have been suffering almost constant earthquakes and aftershocks since the initial jolt reported earlier this week. The one thing writing commentary and reporting news daily does is give you a perspective on how fortunate most of our lives are when we compare them to the miseries or disasters which strike so many fellow earthlings each and every day. It has given those of us who have this perspective reason to thank G0d that our lives have been blessed with a steady diet of what could be classified as boredom but is actually blessed calm and persistent quiet.


Beyond the Cusp


March 19, 2014

Where is Our Winston Churchill Now That We Need Him?

Sir Winston Churchill over his years in military and public service identified three preeminent threats to the Western World. His most obvious and best known threat was, of course, Adolph Hitler and the Nazi threat to Europe and the world. Churchill was ridiculed and driven from Parliament being accused of being an old and befuddled warmonger for his incessant warnings about the threat posed by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. When the eventual truth was revealed when the Nazis invaded Poland after taking Austria and Czechoslovakia leading to World War II and Britain demanding the crazy old Churchill come and save them. The first warning came from one of Churchill’s earliest of writings when he was stationed in the Sudan where he named Islam which he identified as existing such that “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.” He further observed Islam to be a “militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step.” The last one came during the twilight of his career in a speech given on March 5, 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri which became known for the phrase he coined during that speech, the “Iron Curtain.” The phrase came near the middle of the speech when he stated, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere.” Where just a few weeks back if one were to name the main threat facing the Western World and world peace the selection would have likely included Iran near the top of the list followed by China and North Korea. That includes the remaining two threats identified by Winston Churchill and recent events have brought an addition to the list of threats as Russia has taken on expansionism by annexing the Crimea Peninsula taking it from the Ukraine by force. That brings to the front the menace Churchill had referred to in his “Iron Curtain” speech. The continuing veracity of the dire warnings and protestations in our time ring as echoes from the wise words of a great spokesman and leader who did not rise to fulfill his destiny until late in his life, but without the doddering old fool that was driven from the British Parliament where would out modern world be today? And worse, what would it look like had the British Isles not been under Churchill’s steadfast leadership and raw nerves of steel and resolute never say die attitude which gave a small set of islands the backbone to withstand the furies of hell unleashed by the Nazi war machine.


Now that I have likely proven that I find Winston Churchill to be one of the greatest men in all of history and the defining leader of the twentieth century, could somebody please point me to who might possibly fill similar shoes today when we once again have a world under duress from threats coming from all directions. Everyone is concerned with the awakened and ill-tempered Russian bear from its hibernation and stretching its paws towards Europe once again taking the Crimean Peninsula from a weakened and in disarray Ukraine which was defenseless against the invading force, a mere force of 6,000 troops, though there had been more than sufficient reserves should they have proven necessary. But the growls of the Russian bear are far from the only threat and may have some stiff competition from other nations which have also taken advantage of a world with a weak United States which has taken a noninterventionist foreign policy believing that if the United States took a passive and altruistic approach the world would appreciate the kinder, softer, hands-off policies giving nations the breathing room to act without the United States pressing them on their agendas and actions. We saw this more accepting approach with the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program where the United States forced an agreement which allowed Iran great amounts of wiggle-room with the belief that by respecting Iran and trusting their stated intentions that such trust would produce a willing and cooperative Iran and that respectful trust would produce an Iran which would eschew the pursuit of nuclear weapons. When the Chinese government declared an increase in their maritime borders in the South China Seas which included within their claimed waters where two Islands claimed and recognized generally as belonging to Japan, the United States instructed all civilian airlines and ships to respect the Chinese extended boundary and contact the Chinese as requested should they be transgressing the waters or airspace now within an extended China. To Washington’s credit, there was one pass made by United States naval vessels without requesting clearance from the Chinese, but these ships did simply pass through the waters and did not linger or otherwise really challenge the Chinese claims and demands. But the United States has shown far more than a more passive approach in the world and what has become obvious is far more troubling than being more passive and less imposing of United States policy in the world.


In so many cases the United States passivity regarding foreign policy would have been welcome compared to their spineless and timid approach to the real threats, actual attacks on personnel and unfolding conflicts we have seen all around the world. There was the constant retreating “red line” concerning Syrian use of chemical weapons until the United States had pretty much red lined itself backwards completely out of the picture. After allowing United States President Obama to squirm and be shown as the paper threat he is sufficiently long enough that the entire world was shown the reality that there is no United States force to be feared, then Russian President Putin saved the day by providing President Obama an exit from his cornered position but by doing so installed Russia as the preeminent power and only real super power which was willing to use their available military capabilities and forces. There was the crisis in Benghazi where the United States Ambassador to Libya along with one of the embassy assistants along with two former Navy Seals who without orders proved to have more presence of applied force than the entire remainder of United States military force as no orders to engage in rescue, and possibly an actual bonafide stand-down order, were ever given to the numerous military assets which were within the general theater and available. About the one foreign policy that has any force from President Obama has been to the detriment of almost every former ally of the United States throughout the Middle East, especially Israel and Egypt.


The latest threat the world is struggling to get a grip on is Russian forces under orders from President Putin taking control over the Crimean Peninsula and possibly posing an immediate threat to the rest of the Ukraine. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a moment of unprecedented clarity compared President Putin’s aggressions including their occupation of the two provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia in 2008 and the ongoing invasion of Crimea to the occupations of Czechoslovakia and Austria before they then invaded Poland forcing the start of World War II. There are some, including former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who firmly believe that Russia and Putin are not anywhere near finished and will be satisfied with just Crimea and possibly not even with taking the Ukraine as well. One truth that is obvious is that Russia will not simply settle with annexing Crimea as there is no actual land bridge between Russia and Crimea without crossing over the Ukrainian borders. This will require that the Russians also take control of at least a fair share of eastern Ukraine and if Putin is going to have to take the risks and have to actually militarily acquire any part of the Ukraine, especially as the Ukrainian military is readying their defense of the remainder of their country, then he will simply continue until he had completely defeated the Ukrainian military in order to assure that they would not pose a threat in the future and in the process annex the rest of the Ukraine. It would be difficult to judge which former Russian leader who used military force on the Ukraine and its people Putin most resembles, Catherine the Great or Stalin, except that I believe I remember an interview with President Putin where he spoke of his admiration for the strong leadership that was Stalin. The real question is will President Putin be satisfied with just the Ukraine or will knowing that he has a free hand to take as much as he desires and not expect any resistance from the United States and realizing that he has Europe cowed as he holds control over the gas and oil they require to survive.


If President Putin, Vlad the Invader, is really chomping at the bit to reassemble the Warsaw Pact nations under Russian rule and reverse what Vlad the Invader refers to as the greatest calamity of the twentieth century, the fall of the Soviet Union, then we should try and come up with what would be his most likely order of attack. The first three plums Vlad the Invader would likely take after he pockets the Ukraine without arousing any real opposition would be Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These three nations are ripe fruit just sitting there ready for Vlad the Invader to pluck and would likely take well under a week. Beyond these three Vlad the Invader will be pretty much out of easy pickings and his next move would probably prove to be more problematic. It is anybody’s guess whether an invasion of Belarus would prompt a response from the rest of the world. It is quite possible that even if the rest of the world sits shaking in their boots that Poland and likely Romania would take such a move very ominously as a direct threat to their security. Rumania would realize that if Russia under the rule of Vlad the Invader were to absorb Belarus, then Moldova would not pose much of an impediment to Vlad the Invader preventing him from opening a front to take Rumania next. If the world decides to avoid taking real and forceful measures to force Vlad the Invader to return to just simply President Putin before he decides to invade Poland, then the world would begin World War III for the exact same reasons that it responded to both German, and what many forget, Russian encroachment, dividing up Poland between Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Joseph Stalin’s Russia starting World War II. The question is, once this domino theory of Russian reconquest of the former Soviet dominated states, will another power also begin to exercise their military might which they have been expanding and building over the last decade to satisfy their expansive desires and ally with Russia just as Imperial Japan allied with Nazi Germany. The state in mind is Iran which has threatened Israel and the United States but has closer and more immediate desires sitting right off its borders; namely the oil fields right next door in northeast Saudi Arabia. Iran and Russia are already fairly close allies and such a united front would make sense as both Iran and Russia have designs on gaining more control over oil. How far will Vlad the Invader go and will it take actual military confrontation to end his expansionism or will it continue and also spur Iran to act on their expansionist designs. This is already boding ill, how much further will these threats go, how will they end, and will it take a new Winston Churchill to make the defiant stand and who would this new Winston Churchill be; those are the big questions and fears.


Beyond the Cusp


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