August 05, 2017

Meanwhile, on the Roof of the World

For two months now, China and India have been having a tiff over a Himalayan mountain pass. This is nothing new, a good deal of the border between the two nations is disputed and the two countries fought a war in 1960 over its exact position.


Now for the second time in three years there are large numbers of troops involved. Unlike the 2014 crisis, this is complicated by a third party and the fact that the diplomatic exchanges between the two most powerful players consist mainly of ultimatums.

OK. What happened? China also claims a parts of Bhutan. India has a defense agreement with Bhutan. While the China Bhutan border dispute was being reviewed by international bodies China marched into a Bhutanese mountain pass called Doklam (which borders India and China) and began building a highway (part of their New Silk Road project). India then sent in troops (as per their agreement with Bhutan) and forcibly removed the Chinese contractors and escorting soldiers out of Bhutan. Both sides have been moving troops into the area ever since and diplomatic exchanges have gotten more heated

While this was going on, India has been rocked by a spy scandal involving their perpetual rival (and China's ally) Pakistan. In the last few days, Pakistan has just started poking along the Indo-Pakistani border and Kashmir is heating up again which is likely further unnerving India as they send troops north to Sikhim. 



China India and Pakistan are all nuclear powers.

Kyle Mizokami goes over the impact of a China India war that escalates beyond the skirmish level. 
A hypothetical war between India and China would be one of the largest and most destructive conflicts in Asia. A war between the two powers would rock the Indo-Pacific region, cause thousands of casualties on both sides and take a significant toll on the global economy.* Geography and demographics would play a unique role, limiting the war’s scope and ultimately the conditions of victory.

He notes that both India and China have "no first use" policies regarding nukes. However, in war, especially with high stakes, agreements get thrown out. (Remember use of Poison gas was forbidden by the Hague Convention in 1907. Parts of France are still uninhabitable today in part because of its use between 1915 and 1918 ).

Pakistan, something of a wild card in this affair, does NOT have a no first use policy and has expressed a willingness bordering on enthusiasm for battlefield nuclear bombardment. Once nukes start popping, anything goes.

The estimated short term impact of soot from a very limited exchange between India and Pakistan (low yields and only 100 detonations) is visualized here. It's comparable to a big volcano and could affect crop yields for a year. 



An exchange that went all out between China and India or just India and Pakistan would be worse of course. This doesn't even touch on the extent of fallout affecting nearby countries or the incomprehensible suffering and slaughter that will result from a couple going off over Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai or Hyderabad. 

Mizokani's piece above notes that this could turn on naval action. (Ironic given the location of the dispute). A good chunk of China's trade passes through the Indian Ocean and India has a sizable navy. Furthermore, Aridhaman and Arihant,  (India' two SSBNs) would be high priority targets for China, so you'd expect the Chinese to be taking measures in that direction if things were going to get serious.

With that in mind...
 
Chinese ships and submarines have recently shown up in the Indian Ocean

While all this was happening, the U.S. Japan and India recently conducted joint naval operations incase, for whatever reason, they have to fight together. 

While unlikely to actually take sides in such a fight, the U.S.N. is heavily engaged in the Arabian Sea right now...

What happens when Brahmos missiles and their Chinese equivalents start flying around the U.S. ships in the area? 
Do we continue operations against ISIS? 
Do we run neutrality convoys and protect the tankers coming out of the Persian Gulf? 
Does the fact that three submarine cables in the Arabian Sea have gone dead in as many weeks indicate something we should be concerned about?

There's more on this situation and the strategic incentives in play for both India and China here

In other words, control over the Doklam plateau constitutes a "win-win” for the PLA; both a knife to India’s jugular and shield to blunt its sharpest spear. With existential stakes for Delhi, and Beijing posturing growing more uncompromising by the day, there’s no end in sight to the longest standoff at the China-India border in over three decades.






Hide all the Archdukes.

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May 23, 2017

Beslan Comes to Manchester.

High school and younger kids were the target demographic, of Ariana Grande as well as these fiends.



There is very little that I can add except to say that a phobia is an irrational, unreasonable fear of something. Therefore, Islamophobia should not be a word. 

Update:
While the sheer depravity of blowing up little girls leaves me speechless, Cdr. Salamander is not so handicapped. 


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April 13, 2017

Big Bomb is Big, but The Tautology is Not the Story

The news today has been abuzz with reports that the U.S.A.F. dropped a GBU-43/b bomb on an I.S.I.S tunnel network in Afganistan. Much of the reporting has been breatlessly reporting on the fact that this bomb is REALLY BIG. Some reports have implied that this is like nothing ever used before and is as big as a small nuke.

No.
The bomb in question is about the same sizer as a British Grand Slam bombs used in WW2. 

This bomb has a much higher percentage of explosive to its total weight but its not anywhere near even the smallest nuke. 

A Kiloton is the explosive equivalent to one kiloton (that is one thousand TONS) of TNT. This can be chamically simulated (minus flash and radiation) with....one thousand tons of TNT.

Which brings us to Operation Sailor Hat...



...in which the U.S. Navy wanted to test the effects of nuclear blasts on its ships without actually popping a nuke. They stacked up a pile of explosives big enough to simulate one half a kiloton of TNT, that is, one 30th the yield of the Hiroshima bomb. Naturally, this assembly consisted of a detonator and 500 TONS of TNT. Note the sailor in the lower right hand corner for scale (and the fire extinguisher...'cause they REALLY didn't want a fire there.)

Here's the GBU-43/b. 


Much smaller than the bungalow sized bundle of boom above

It's also called MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Burst) which is a somewhat tortured application of the G.I. Joe system of acronyms that enables it to be unofficially referred to as the Mother of All Bombs.

It is NOT in the same ballpark as even the smallest known nuke.

It is a very good weapon for delivering a huge concussive force to a mountain and collapsing tunnels, which is what it was used for here. The target seems to be a massive underground system of tunnels and caves that is part of a chain of such fortresses set up by the Taliban and AlQuaeda in Nangahar province stretching from the northeast to south of Jalalabad of which Tora Bora is the most well known. that complex was well equipped with hydroelectric generators, and other equipment one would associate with the Maginot Line rather than a terrorist cave. 

Note though the buried lede in this story.

The operation in Nangahar not only warranted the use of a concussion weapon of this size, the weapon in question was targeted against an ISIS stronghold. 

Not Taliban, not Al-Quaeda, but ISIS...in Afganistan. There have been several islamist groups around the world that have sworn aliegence to ISIS, and the their operations in Africa have been known for some time. The scale of the operation in Afganistan, very near the Pakistan border, on the heels of numerous terror attacks inside Pakistan should give everyone pause. 

Pakistan is a nuclear power and its arsenal consists mainly of tactical nukes, that while small are multiple orders of magnitude more destructive than the very impressive firecracker we just dropped on a mountain fortress. They also have dubious security.
 In the past five years there have been at least half a dozen attacks on the facilities that reportedly store Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. The Kamra Air Base near Islamabad has been attacked three times by terrorists belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

This bomb strike, or more correctly the battle that it was part of, therefore, may well be consequential indeed. Not so much for what was dropped, but who it was aimed at. 

Having ignored it until it got dangerous, it appears that we waited too long to cut the cancer that is ISIS out of Iraq....it seems to have metastasized most alarmingly. 

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April 06, 2017

100 Years Ago Today



Woodrow Wilson had run his successful 1916 presidential campaign on the notion that he would keep the US from becoming involved in the unspeakable mess in Europe. 



"He kept us out of war" might as well have been "If you like your peace you can keep it."



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March 05, 2017

Status Six in the News Again

Well, not really, Next Big Future has a piece on this nasty Russian weapon that we've discussed here before


Most of the articles linked in the NBF post are from last year and the post focuses on the tsunami aspect of the weapon, which is not likely to be that much of a strategic threat. 

For those unfamiliar with this most clickbaity of weapons, "Status 6" is a new Russian torpedo carrying a nuclear warhead. Nothing new there except that this torpedo is over 5 feet wide and nearly 80 feet long and the warhead is between 50 and 150 megatons, with 100 megatons being the general consensus. The torpedo is big enough to carry the 100 megaton "Tsar Bomba" or RDS 220 physics package which was tested at half yield back in the 1960s producing 57 megatons of 'splody and cracking windows over 200 miles away.

It is designed to be fired into harbors, rendering them unuseable due to cratering and radioactive contamination. In the semi-enclosed  waters of San Fransisco and San Diego bays,  Puget Sound and possibly the Chesapeake Bay seiche effects would likely result in impressive wave heights, but the energies released by this weapon pale in comparison to what an earthquake releases and you can't just blow one up offshore and devastate the coast. 

However, the effect is not nonexistant.


Table from here. A 22-74 foot wave 100 miles away is kind of scary.

The bigger concern is the blast and radiation, even if not salted with cobalt 60 or something a high yield version of the old RDS220 would be horrifically radioactive. From the Nuclear Weapon Archive article...
The effect of this bomb at full yield on global fallout would have been tremendous. It would have increased the world's total fission fallout since the invention of the atomic bomb by 25%.
Since the effects of a ground burst are orders of magnitude worse for radioactive contamination than an airburst, the effect on the targeted harbors and those downwind is likely to be so dreadful that cobalt is unnecessary. 

There are 2 operational carriers of this delightful piece of technology, one is an experimental submarine that has one monstrous torpedo tube for this weapon. There is also a converted cruise missile submarine that reportedly has six tubes, though it is a combination spy- sub and work boat. In a year or so, the purpose built Khabarovsk comes into service, which will carry at least 6 tubes.

Using Alex Wellerstien's Nukemap simulator I looked at what 1 sub (assuming six tubes each) on each coast could do...


Assume 1 is hitting Pearl Harbor,  2 were used n Puget Sound because of the geography, the SSBN base OR the cities can be hit, but not both. Targets are major commercial ports and the most important naval bases. I assumed that no subs were in the gulf of Mexico, but they do have one addition sub to shoot at New Orleans. Additionally, certain Inland ports like Sacramento  or Albany might be fairly easy shots for this weapon if maximum fallout is desired.


..the thing that is most striking is the sheer size of the affected areas, even not taking into account the fallout. The fireball that plasmaglobe of utter destruction in the center of a nuclear blast is 10 miles across. The orange area is where fires would be started on a clear day and the lightest shade of grey is the 1.5 psi area where all the windows are blown out, the darker shades of grey has most homes demolished and inside that it's...unpleasant.

For scale I nuked Washington DC with a B-83, the most powerful weapon in the U.S. arsenal. It doesn't really show up at this scale.

Of course if the Russians actually used these, they'd be using their other nuclear weapons too, but the sheer amount if devastation caused by 11 of these things on CONUS ports is kind of sobering.

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February 27, 2017

How About...Can We...I mean...If They're Just Little Bitty Ones?




Some small ones. Mostly under 3 kilotons. 

Mostly.

Because small is relative.

Do not click on the You Tube channel, it appears to be run by crazy people. 

But the 'splodies are pretty.

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October 03, 2016

Gir Brings Us News Befitting a Monday



Foreign Policy has more on the simmering water conflict between India and Pakistan. Pakistan is threatening to use nuclear weapons on India in response to an Indian raid that killed numerous Jihadists which the Pakistani's claim to have nothing to do with. India is still pondering a redirection of the Indus river and now China  is threatening India over an Indian state that China claims under the principle that if Chinese pottery has been found by archeologists...that region is part of China. this has been going on for a while, Foreign Policy points out that China is looking at cutting off the Brahmaputra ...which would be rather more challenging than closing the flow gates on the Indus but would screw India good.



More history than news now and not representing any direct threat, this story is,, nevertheless, sufficiently horrifying to be included in a Monday news dump.
 Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton turned away a high-ranking Chinese defector who sought political asylum after the communist police chief sought refuge in a U.S. consulate in southwestern China four years ago. 
That is sickening. What could possibly be worse than....OH MY GOD! Fortunately we have another option hopefully with the perspective and maturity to...Oh for frack's sake

I started to type something very terrifying in this space, but upon tracking down the source for the story, all references to it led back to Zero Hedge. Whew!

The USGS is taking the unusual step of issuing an advisory, that the chances of a major earthquake in Souther California is much greater over the next few days.  Note that the San Andreas isn't the only potentially aggravating geological feature within 10 miles of these quakes. 

Oh yes. This.



Realizing that their exploding phones are unlikely to get iPhone or Blackberry users, Samsung is making an effort to get the rest of us with exploding washing machines. I guess Whirlpool was the correct choice!



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September 27, 2016

Keeping Informed



Meanwhile...

India and Pakistan are having a tiff.

At least 18 soldiers were killed in a terror attack on an Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18. All four terrorists, who attacked the camp, were killed.

This did not occur in a vacuum.. 

Pakistan's defense minister, last week decided this an oppertune moment to clarify Pakistan's stance.

Amidst growing tension over Uri attack by Pakistani terrorists on Sunday, a video of the country’s Defence Minister Khawaja M Asif threatening to use nuclear weapon against India is doing the rounds on social media. The video shows the Pakistani defence minister telling Geo News: "If Pakistan’s security is threatened, we will not hesitate in using tactical (nuclear) weapons.”  

And patience is running thin in India which has decided that they need to take action.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a fiery speech in Kerala where he blamed Pakistan for exporting global terrorism has now called for a briefing on the Indus Waters Treaty. 

Huh?

One of the suggestions is to turn off the Indus river tap that waters much of Pakistan

Oh Dear. 

India and Pakistan have a bit over 100 nukes each. 


 







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September 21, 2016

Meanwhile: The Ceasefire in Syria Continues Apace

The U.S. may or may not have hit a Syrian army unit. The Russian's, who hit a U.S. airbase back in July have probably  hit an aid convoy. The Russian carrier is en route to the area, the Chinese have gotten involved. We have troops on the ground, in Syria, a country whose government we have said we are going to overthrow, which is an ally of Russia who also has troops on the ground protecting Syria by shooting at the Jihadists we are ostensibly backing while we fight the mostly different crazy-nuts jihadis in ISIS which Russia is also fighting without any coordination with us so Russian and U.S. troops are on opposite sides of a civil war, armed and shooting at people who are trying to kill them in an area in which at least two factions are using poison gas. 


WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!?




















(As an aside, the King of Spain technically carries a subsidiary title of Archduke, so we should probably guard him quite closely...just as a precaution.)


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September 11, 2016

Remember The Rememberance

On September 11, 1683 the Ottoman forces besieging the city of Vienna were on the verge of victory. The City, under siege since July 14, was starving, Ottoman engineers had greatly weakened the city's walls and its collapse appeared imminent. However that evening relief arrived in the form of an army from Hungary and one from the confederation somewhat misleadingly known as the Holy Roman Empire...They brought with them roughly 40,000 troops, not good odds against a force of 90,000 Caliphate troops that included a large number of Janissaries. However, the situation was dire and this was a final desperate attempt to turn the tide of this months long battle, for with the loss of Vienna the Islamic armies would have free reign throughout Europe. The enlightenment was about to be snuffed out. 


Early on the morning of the 12th the allied armies were reinforced by 27,000 fresh Polish troops under John Sobieski, who bolstered the European forces as they pressed their attack against the Ottomans. Even with the reinforcements, Europe and had only a bit more than 2/3 of the Ottoman forces, however the Ottomans were also having to deal with the guard of the city they were besieging, which astutely chose this time to get very frisky. 

By the end of the 12th, the Islamic forces were routed. Along with the Battle of Lepanto, the siege of Vienna is generally regarded as the end of the large scale Islamic expansion into Europe. September 11th, 1683 thus marks the end of the period when the threat of Jihadi conquest was a constant threat...over the previous thousand years, Western civilization had been pushed into a small peninsula on the ass end of Asia which, for reasons of self esteem is still referred to as a "continent". This erosion was sometimes slowed, occasionally reversed for a time, but it was inexorable until 333 years ago today. 

 Islamists do not take these reversals lightly, particularly since this geographically tiny exception to their civilizations expansion turned out to be (for a time at least) annoyingly consequential to their efforts to fufill their faith's demand that they kill or convert...everyone. This date marked a profound slowing (for a time at least) of a thousand years of expansion and the halt, (for a time at least) of their expansion west. It is the date that, to their mind their civilization lost its way. 



They, quite unlike our cultural trendsetters, have a keen sense of history, and so 15 years ago, this was the date was chosen to kill Westerners,. in remembrance of the day that, to these murderous fiends, the course of history went off the rails. 


15 years on, nearly all of those who put together this celebration of butchery are dead, but their inspiration has worked better than one might have expected. The enemy of the west, and reason itself is again on the march. What it lacks in wealth, it makes up for in verve and they have lost none of the habits that Europe fought so hard and desperately against for a thousand years. 

Stories of great evils; dark, malign forces, which threaten civilization itself and that, even if defeated, bide their time, perhaps for centuries awaiting a chance to crawl forth again thirsty for vengeance...these were once parables told by adults to their children to instill in them on a profound level that monsters are real and even when out of sight may still bide their time. Today, we are ruled by children who use such tales to reassure themselves that such things cannot possibly happen...even as the ancient enemy is inside the gates.  

The greatest advantage that these people have is that they have long memories, and we tend to forget all that we have learned through the blood and terror of our ancestors. 

So do not listen to those who would have you "move on". Remember it, for the atrocity that was inflicted on 3,000 of our own 15 years ago, was itself a memorial service performed by those who thirst for our blood, and who themselves never forget. 


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