Friday, May 21, 2004

What Do We Offer The World?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

© 2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

"So, how do we advance the cause of female emancipation in the Muslim world?" asks Richard Perle in "An End to Evil." He replies, "We need to remind the women of Islam ceaselessly: Our enemies are the same as theirs; our victory will be theirs as well."

Well, the neoconservative cause "of female emancipation in the Muslim world" was probably set back a bit by the photo shoot of Pfc. Lynndie England and the "Girls Gone Wild" of Abu Ghraib prison.

Indeed, the filmed orgies among U.S. military police outside the cells of Iraqi prisoners, the S&M humiliation of Muslim men, the sexual torment of their women raise a question. Exactly what are the "values" the West has to teach the Islamic world?

"This war ... is about – deeply about – sex," declaims neocon Charles Krauthammer. Militant Islam is "threatened by the West because of our twin doctrines of equality and sexual liberation."

But whose "twin doctrines" is Krauthammer talking about? The sexual liberation he calls our doctrine belongs to a '60s revolution that devout Christians, Jews and Muslims have been resisting for years.

What does Krauthammer mean by sexual liberation? The right of "tweeners" and teenage girls to dress and behave like Britney Spears? Their right to condoms in junior high? Their right to abortion without parental consent?

If conservatives reject the "equality" preached by Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, NARAL and the National Organization for Women, why seek to impose it on the Islamic world? Why not stand beside Islam, and against Hollywood and Hillary?

In June 2002 at West Point, President Bush said, "Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time and in every place."

But even John Kerry does not agree with George Bush on the morality of homosexual unions and stem-cell research. On such issues, conservative Americans have more in common with devout Muslims than with liberal Democrats.

The president notwithstanding, Americans no longer agree on what is moral truth. For as someone said a few years back, there is a cultural war going on in this country – a religious war. It is about who we are, what we believe and what we stand for as a people.

What some of us view as the moral descent of a great and Godly republic into imperial decadence, neocons see as their big chance to rule the world.

In Georgia, recently, the president declared to great applause: "I can't tell you how proud I am of our commitment to values. ... That commitment to values is going to be an integral part of our foreign policy as we move forward. These aren't American values, these are universal values. Values that speak universal truths."

But what universal values is he talking about? If he intends to impose the values of MTV America on the Muslim world in the name of a "world democratic revolution," he will provoke and incite a war of civilizations America cannot win because Americans do not want to fight it. This may be the neocons' war. It is not our war.

When Bush speaks of freedom as God's gift to humanity, does he mean the First Amendment freedom of Larry Flynt to produce pornography and of Salman Rushdie to publish "The Satanic Verses" – a book considered blasphemous to the Islamic faith? If the Islamic world rejects this notion of freedom, why is it our duty to change their thinking? Why are they wrong?

When the president speaks of freedom, does he mean the First Amendment prohibition against our children reading the Bible and being taught the Ten Commandments in school?

If the president wishes to fight a moral crusade, he should know the enemy is inside the gates. The great moral and cultural threats to our civilization come not from outside America, but from within. We have met the enemy, and he is us. The war for the soul of America is not going to be lost or won in Fallujah.

Unfortunately, Pagan America of 2004 has far less to offer the world in cultural fare than did Christian America of 1954. Many of the movies, books, magazines, TV shows, videos and much of the music we export to the world are as poisonous as the narcotics the Royal Navy forced on the Chinese people in the Opium Wars.

A society that accepts the killing of a third of its babies as women's "emancipation," that considers homosexual marriage to be social progress, that hands out contraceptives to 13-year-old girls at junior high ought to be seeking out a confessional – better yet, an exorcist – rather than striding into a pulpit like Elmer Gantry to lecture mankind on the superiority of "American values."



The Fall Of The Iraqi Dream?

Ghassan Charbel Al-Hayat 2004/05/16

The neo-conservatives dealt with the 9/11 catastrophe as a rare opportunity to launch a project that is impossible to execute had the United States not been attacked on its own soil. This is how the "Iraqi dream" was born; it was a great adventure. It took the terrible event as an opportunity to go far with its right of self-defense, until it reached the right to launch preemptive attacks and change regimes and regions. The Iraqi situation was the ideal choice. A regime that violated the international borders and resolutions, and used toxic gases against Iranians and Iraqis alike. A regime accused of perpetrating the nuclear dream and stocking weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). A regime at the heart of the region that is accused of producing generations of people of the same mold of the perpetrated the New York and Washington attacks. An oil rich regime in international and regional isolation.

The Iraqi dream was big and dangerous. This is how WMDs and terror were linked. The files were injected with worries, fears, and justified war. Hence, the Iraqi dream was transformed into a project of a coup against international legitimacy and opposition of the other major powers. The Iraqi dream stipulated the launching of change in the Middle East through Iraq. Changing regimes or policies. It began with the illusion of establishing a democratic model over the rubble of Saddam Hussein's regime. Rumors of this regime's rays were used to embarrass and subdue the neighboring countries. The objective was to push the region's countries to accept what they had rejected long before, i.e. adopting the values and methods the U.S. wants to be available in those who desire to get an ordinary membership in the international community and the "modern world."

The Iraqi dream did not live long. The occupation forces seemed very good in undermining Saddam Hussein's regime. That same army seemed strange in dealing with the people it liberated from Saddam's regime. The American administration showed the post-Saddam Iraq total ignorance of Iraq's structure, the feelings of its citizens, their expectations and real authorities. The gap seemed very wide between the occupier's theories and the on the ground realities. The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime was not a blow against terror. It provided the mobile fighters an arena and an opportunity to repeat the Afghan experience in a region that is even more dangerous and terrible. The move of the crushing military machine on the ground that is full of sharp feelings and symbols made it clash with the Iraqi groups and their ambitions.

The U.S. considered transferring the authority to the Iraqis on June 30 as a chance to prove the success. One who observes the developments understands that the Iraqi dream collapsed. The reasons are far deeper that the violations of the Iraqi detainees' rights, although the violations doubled the trouble and the embarrassment. From Paul Bremer talking for the first time about withdrawal, to seeking the help of Lakhdar Al Ibrahimi and reaching the discussion with the top anti-war people to draft a new international resolution, it is clear that the Iraqi dream was not only a costly adventure but also an expensive one. It is still early to talk of total American defeat; however, it is sure that we are witnessing the Bush administration shifting from the Iraqi dream to search for exits that postpone discussing the withdrawal issue to after the American elections.


Countdown to the next big strike in America--Part 3

by William Webb

Weapons of Mass Destruction—Dirty Bombs

A dirty bomb is made from a conventional, high explosive core surrounded by a container packed with radioactive material such as Cesium-137, Cobalt 60, or Americium. The resulting explosion would not be a nuclear reaction, but would spread radioactive debris over a wide area. It is almost certain that terrorists will use a dirty bomb in future strikes.

While even the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission seems to downplay the consequences of a dirty bomb stating on its web site, “A dirty bomb is in no way similar to a nuclear weapon. The presumed purpose of its use would be therefore not as a Weapon of Mass Destruction but rather as a Weapon of Mass Disruption,” the consequences could be very disruptive indeed.

Al-Qaida operations chief Abu Zubaydah has claimed to interrogators that not only did the terrorist group know how to build a dirty bomb but the group may have already positioned one within the United States.

While the deaths caused by a dirty bomb would vary according to the type and quantity of radioactive waste used, the economic consequences of the clean-up or evacuation of the contaminated area could be astronomical.
Dr. Steven Koonin of the California Institute of Technology told a CBS news reporter that a strong enough cloud spread over a mile would make the area completely uninhabitable.

Dr. Henry Kelly of the Federation of American Scientists assessed dirty bomb scenarios in both Manhattan and Washington, D.C. stating that a bomb set off in lower Manhattan would spread more than 300 blocks up to Central Park. Depending on the radiation used, demolition might be necessary. Kelly estimates the damages to be more than $2 trillion.
In the Washington scenario, “A likely target might be somewhere along Pennsylvania Avenue, with the White House at one end and the Capitol at the other. For maximum impact, experts say, the bomb would be placed in the middle. A bomb set off at the corner of 10th Street and Pennsylvania could contaminate the FBI headquarters, the Justice Department, and possibly the Commerce and Treasury Departments—depending on the weather that day.

The FBI has already thwarted one dirty bomb plot within the United States since 9/11. Jose Padilla, aka Abdullah al Muhajir, an American citizen, Latino gang member, and convert to Islam, sits in a brig in Charleston, South Carolina charged with conspiring to launch a “dirty bomb” attack within the U.S.

According to an Associated Press report quoting a memo from Michael Mobbs of the DOJ, Padilla “approached senior Al-Qaida lieutenant Abu Zubaydah with a proposal to conduct terrorist attacks within the United States.
“Zubaydah, who is now in the custody of the U.S. military, directed Padilla to travel to Pakistan for training in wiring explosives from Al-Qaida operatives. There, Padilla researched how to construct a dirty bomb. Mobbs writes in the memo that Padilla met with Al-Qaida officials twice. In 2002, he and Al-Qaida officials discussed the possibility of blowing up gas stations or hotels in a series of coordinated attacks on the United States,” the memo states.

While neither as dramatic or destructive as a true nuclear explosion, the dirty bomb poses a greater probability of being used simply due to ease of construction and the availability of nuclear waste. An excellent PBS NOVA special aired in February 2002 featured Dr. Abel Gonzalez, head of Radiation Security at the International Atomic Energy Agency based in Austria, who told of when his group was called to investigate the radiation poisoning of two Georgian woodcutters in December 2001.

Upon investigation, Dr. Gonzalez found the men had slept beside two warm, metal canisters. According to PBS, “Radiation detectors indicated that the cylinders contained concentrated strontium-90, which emits beta radiation. Beta radiation is a spray of fast-moving electrons that can pass through thin layers of material, including skin. When beta particles interact with matter, they generate an intense heat. Strontium-90 metal has been known to spontaneously ignite.

“The metal cylinders were hot enough to melt snow. And small wonder, because each one contained a substantial percentage of all the strontium spewed out across Europe during the Chernobyl accident.”
Upon further investigation, Dr. Gonzalez found that the Russians had built thousands of nuclear generators that could power lighthouse and navigational aids for airplanes and ships. The radiothermal generators, or RTGs, fueled by pure strontium-90 whose 800-degree heat was used to generate the electricity, are strewn over the entire country.

The sobering truth to this one reported incident is that there are literally millions of unprotected sources of radioactive material in the world today. Charles Ferguson of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimates there are more than 2 million radioactive sources in the United States of which 200,000 actually present a “high security risk.”

Captured documents in Afghanistan and interrogations of Al-Qaida prisoners seem to reaffirm the creation of a dirty bomb as a very high priority. A Sunday Times of London article by Adam Nathan and David Leppard tells of a meeting between Bulgarian businessman Ivan Ivanov and bin Laden in April of 2001 to discuss setting up an environmental company to buy nuclear waste. A Pakistani chemical engineer who wanted to buy nuclear fuel rods from the Kozlodui reactor in Bulgaria also approached Ivanov.

In June 2002, United Press International reported that the Russia Federal Security Service thwarted an Al-Qaida attempt to acquire 11 lbs of radioactive thallium from devices used on decommissioned Russian submarines.
While certainly not as catastrophic as a nuclear blast, the probability of a dirty bomb used against innocent civilians in a Western city is almost a certainty.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

Countdown to the Next Strike Part 2

note: Both Secretary Ridge and Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes made statements on Wed, March 19 voicing their concerns over non-conventional strikes and the increasing amount of chatter.

Countdown to the Next Strike Part 2 by William Webb

On April 30, 2003, ABC news reported that the FBI had issued an alert warning operators to be on the lookout for terrorist activity around nuclear power plants. As mentioned earlier, this was the initial plan for September 11 as was told to Al Jazeera reporter and author Yosri Fouda by Khalid Shaik Mohammed (KSM) during an interview in Pakistan in April 2002. KSM, who was captured in March 2003, told Fouda, “it was eventually decided to leave out nuclear targets—for now.”

Weapons of Mass Destruction—Nuclear
Publicly, most government officials do not believe or at least will not confirm they believe Al-Qaida or other terrorists groups have acquired atomic weapons. Privately, as one senior intelligence official told me, “there is growing concern the ultimate nightmare might be true.”

It is easy to see how the nightmare might become real. Reports of bin Laden’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons have been covered by the press and offered as evidence in criminal trials since 1997. Mainstream and non-mainstream press have covered them.

One of the earliest reported incidents was a leaked Israeli intelligence report that stated bin Laden allegedly payed more than 2 million pounds to a middleman in Kazakhstan for a stolen “suitcase” bomb. The suitcase bombs, called backpack nukes by American Special Forces, were developed by the Russians to be used by the KGB.

While the official Russian position is that the bombs never existed and that all Russian nuclear weapons are tightly controlled and accounted for, a PBS interview with Alexei Yablokov, former science advisor to then-President Boris Yeltsin, indicates otherwise.

When asked, “Do backpack nuclear weapons exist?” Yablokov answered, “Yes, small atomic charges exist. They are very small. Several dozen kilos, thirty kilos, forty kilos. I spoke with people that made them, I saw them.”

Yablokov testified before a subcommittee of the House National Security committee in October 1997 concerning the existence of the bombs and said, “During beginning of ’70s, in USSR have been made some number—nobody knows exactly—some number of small-sized suitcase-size nuclear munitions. For what? For terroristic [purposes]. Exactly; only for terroristic [purposes].

“It was Cold War; it was maybe middle of Cold War, and they tried to fight this capitalism. They tried to kill capitalism through this unusual weapons. I repeat, it was KGB; it was not Minister of Defense. It was KGB who ordered it. This nuclear bomb [was] never included into official list of Soviet nuclear arms or nuclear stockpiles.”

More telling was Representative Curt Weldon’s statement in the same hearing that, “So, in fact, both the U.S. and Russia took this extremely seriously, as recently as 1995. And, in fact, under questioning yesterday, by our friends from the NEST (Nuclear Emergency Search Teams) they train every day for the potential response necessary to deal with suitcase-sized nuclear devices. And to be frank and honest with you, one of the problems that I have, as someone who spends as much time in a positive relationship with Russia as any member of this Congress, is a repeated denial of what we know to be reality, in fact.”

Another Russian, General Alexander Lebed, a prominent soldier and politician, told both CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes and a U.S. Congressional subcommittee in 1997 that more than 80 small atomic demolition munitions (ADMs) were unaccounted for in the Soviet nuclear stockpiles. His charges caused great controversy and denials both within Russia and the U.S. State Department.
General Lebed died in a helicopter crash in Siberia in April 2002.

Another well-publicized account of Al-Qaida attempts to acquire nuclear weapons is the case of Pakistani scientists Sultan Bashir ul Din Mehmood and Abdul Majid. The two were taken into custody after U.S intelligence operatives received reports they had crossed into Afghanistan and met with bin Laden. During their debriefings by both Pakistani and Western intelligence officers, the two spoke of nuclear material obtained by bin Laden from Islamic connections in Uzbekistan.

While it is generally believed that Mehmood and Majid only provided technical know-how, particularly expertise on how to build a dirty bomb, the story is troubling since it shows the great danger of Islamic extremists involved in nuclear programs of nations such as Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Russia.

When you couple the idea of Islamic extremists aiding terrorist groups with political remarks like those made by former Iranian president and “Expediency Council” chairman Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during an Al Quds day sermon in 2003, you can understand why the warnings concerning Al-Qaida using WMDs continue.

Rafsanjani said that “Muslims must surround colonialism and force them [the colonialists] to see whether Israel is beneficial to them or not. If one day,” he said, “the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession [meaning nuclear weapons]—on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end.” This, he said, is “because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.

Rafsanjani warned of the outbreak of World War III: “The confrontation of pious and martyrdom-seeking forces with the highest forces of colonialism is extremely dangerous, and might inflame a third world war.”

Another report in Newsday cited a former Russian intelligence official that said Russian intelligence blocked a deal between a Russian and Pakistani firm owned by bin Laden to provide uranium for a nuclear weapon.
This is particularly interesting, because if true, would seem to indicate that bin Laden actually already possesses a weapon, and seeks fissionable material to recharge the device.
The New York Times covered a 1998 story of the arrest of Al-Qaida member Mamduh Salim and cited German government sources that Salim was trying to obtain nuclear materials including highly enriched uranium.
Two Arab publications also documented Al-Qaida’s nuclear aspirations. In October 1998, the Saudi owned Al-Hayat carried an article that stated bin Laden had acquired nuclear weapons. This was followed in November 1998 by an article in Al Watan Al Arabi that outlined Al-Qaida’s nuclear weapon plans and identified bin Laden’s links to organized crime members in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

According to Kimberly McCloud and Matthew Osborne of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, “The Al-Watan Al-Arabi article cited one particular meeting in which an agreement was negotiated by some of bin Laden’s followers and Chechen organized crime figures in Groznyy, Chechnya.

It was referred to as ‘the nuclear warheads deal.’ Bin Laden reportedly gave the contacts in Chechnya $30 million in cash and two tons of opium in exchange for approximately 20 nuclear warheads. Sources stated that bin Laden planned to have the warheads dismantled by his own team of scientists, who would then transform the weapons into instant or suitcase nukes.

“Al-Watan Al-Arabi also reported that bin Laden had tried a different route to acquisition before turning to Chechnya for nuclear weapons. According to the article, bin Laden’s original strategy was to develop his own ‘in-house’ nuclear manufacturing complex, in which small, tactical nuclear weapons would be manufactured from scratch. Beginning in 1993, bin Laden instructed some of his aides to obtain weapons-grade uranium that could be used to develop small nuclear weapons.”

While the Arab media reports are generally discounted by the Western mainstream press and Western intelligence sources, particularly the assertion that bin Laden actually acquired nuclear weapons, it is instructive to note that not one Western government has stepped forward to categorically reassure its citizens that the initial purchase of the suitcase bomb cited in the Times of London did not happen.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Killing Arafat

I had thought that it would be best to just put Arafat out of our misery, many times. But, I have come to realize that Sharon has done an incredible service for history. INSTEAD of killing the rabid dog - and making him into the martyr of his aspirations - Arafat is penned up like the wild beast he is - and always was. He's dying a slow death, on the world scene. His European fans stand idly by and watch as everything they encouraged with him, is revealed to have been a ruse. All their money has proven to have been diverted from peaceful goals to weapons of destruction. Their prestige is worth - to use an Arabic saying - sifr min shimal (zeros from the left. Means that it makes no difference how many zeros you add to a number, on its left - it's worth nothing.).

Sharon has exposed Oslo to have been a a calculated deception to fill the Palestinian Territories with soldiers & arms. The missiles Israel saw coming into Gaza last week, which prompted this major offensive...the Palestinians were obligated in the treaty to...not even possess!!!! He has shown Arafat to be nothing more than a tin-pot dictator whose proclamations for a secular democratic Palestinian state were proven to have been hogwash - as he crippled every vestige of democracy & accountability; and then made Islam the state religion. He PROMISED Elias Freij (now deceased mayor of Bethlehem) precisely that he would never do that, as he "cherishes" the Christian community. Yea...that's why ~33% of the Christian community have fled his rule in the last 10 years!!!!

Arafat will die the death of a prisoner in jail. His body will be brought out on a stretcher. They will try to make his funeral into some glorious watershed moment. He will be buried in some huge contrived state ceremony. And fade from memory.

Better than some poeple's proposed pig's blood-soaked bullet. Believe me. He knows this - and it is driving him crazy. For that alone, I'd buy Sharon a beer.


Politically Incorrect--but Consider This

We are now inundated by charge and counter-charge related to the treatment of prisoners in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. The USA--always a nation to claim the moral high ground--was obviously dealt (to quote the irascible Don Rumsfeld) a "body blow" by the release of emotionally charged pictures of naked men, dog leashes, and smiling MPs. Just when given a PR officer's dream--what does the "other side" do? They videotape the beheading of a hapless American civilian.

Among the list of stupid moves made by either side in the battle for hearts and minds, this not only makes the Top Ten, I suggest, for Islamists, it should rank in the top three. But rather than argue about which stupid move was the stupidest, I want to point out something very politically incorrect. And I await the howls and screams of all the 'right thinking' patriots who read this.

Nick Berg was, according to the press and pundits, "brutally murdered". His beheading was "barbaric", "shocking and depraved", and, overall, an example of just how bestial America's enemies can be. Here's the politically incorrect part. Trapping people in buildings destroyed by nearby 1000 pound bombs causing them to bleed slowly to death over hours is FAR MORE brutal and barbaric than a blade that severs the spine and causes instant death. Slow death from injuries as the result of "collateral damage" is not as dramatic, and--strangely--governments do not encourage the comparison.

So what's the point? The point is simple--war is about destruction and death. It's never pretty and it's never NOT brutal, no matter which side you're on. A slow death from injuries caused by a bomb is far more painful and every bit as fatal as a scimitar through the neck. So don't kid yourself, it isn't the act itself that is reprehensible. Focusing on the method of killing is good propaganda, but isn't persuasive to anyone who actually thinks about war and what it's about.

No, the point needs to be WHY. Going to war will always kill people. Some of them will be old women and ten year old girls and infants and nice people and MOST of them will be innocent of any crime or action that justifies their deaths. That is why after 4000 years of humans killing humans we have tried so hard to avoid wars. It is also why war must only be undertaken when there is really no other choice. War must be reserved for those reasons and those occasions which so profoundly affect the human condition that whole nations are forced to send men and women into battle. To trivialize war is perhaps the greatest crime that a person or party can perpetrate upon the people.

So now the USA has 130,000 troops in Iraq. As of yesterday, there were 777 dead and an estimated 21,000 medical evacuations for severe injuries. The number of dead Iraqis is controversial, but generally accepted estimates put the number of civilians killed at 9100 to 11,000. Although some of these people died as quickly as Nick Berg--rest assured that the vast majority did not--on both sides. So, the HOW of all of these deaths, the ways by which all of these human beings have been killed--that is not the most important question. No, the question of supreme importance remains "WHY?".

It is extremely uncomfortable for citizens of advanced societies, of countries with representative governments to accept that each of them bears part of the responsibility for this kind of killing. If you are a citizen of the USA, soldiers and marines and special ops teams and intelligence operatives have been sent to Iraq to kill people in your name. Are you sure that you know why? Are you absolutely certain that you can justify the real cost in human lives. Could you look at the mother of a dead 8 year old girl and argue that it was necessary? Could you tell a 5 year old boy why his parents are dead?

I would argue that there indeed have been times when you could. When Hitler's armies were toppling nations in Europe and herding humans by the millions into the gas chambers, you might have had tears in your eyes, but you very possibly could have argued that very point with great passion after the fire bombing of Dresden or the nuclear blast at Hiroshima. In the absence of WMD and anything even remotely resembling an imminent threat to the USA, could you make that same argument to a grieving Iraqi family? Could you honestly and passionately console the family of a fallen US soldier by clearly explaining why he or she had to be sent to Iraq first to kill and then to die?

These are the troubling questions raised by the horrific (yes, I agree) execution of Nick Berg. So long as we try to console ourselves by paying attention only to HOW this poor man was killed, we can avoid the painful examination of why--and the far worse conclusion that the "why" is not good enough.

City On Fire

City on fire
By Lynn Eden

By ignoring the fire damage that would result from a nuclear attack and taking into account blast damage alone, U.S. war planners were able to demand a far larger nuclear arsenal than necessary.

This article has been adapted from Lynn Eden's book Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation.
For more on this subject please visit the National Security Archive's "New Evidence on Nuclear Weapons Effects Shows That U.S. Nuclear War Plans Underestimated Destructiveness of Nuclear Arsenal By Ignoring Firestorms"

For more than 50 years, the U.S. government has seriously underestimated damage from nuclear attacks. The earliest schemes to predict damage from atomic bombs, devised in 1947 and 1948, focused only on blast damage and ignored damage from fire, which can be far more devastating than blast effects.

The failure to include damage from fire in nuclear war plans continues today. Because fire damage has been ignored for the past half-century, high-level U.S. decision makers have been poorly informed, if informed at all, about the extent of damage that nuclear weapons would actually cause. As a result, any U.S. decision to use nuclear weapons almost certainly would be predicated on insufficient and misleading information. If nuclear weapons were used, the physical, social, and political effects could be far more destructive than anticipated.

How can this systematic failure to assess fire damage have persisted for more than half a century? The most common response is that fire damage from nuclear weapons is inherently less predictable than blast damage. This is untrue. Nuclear fire damage is just as predictable as blast damage.

One bomb, one city

To visualize the destructiveness of a nuclear bomb, imagine a powerful strategic nuclear weapon detonated above the Pentagon, a short distance from the center of Washington, D.C. [1] Imagine it is a "near-surface" burst—about 1,500 feet above the ground—which is how a military planner might choose to wreak blast damage on a massive structure like the Pentagon. Let us say that it is an ordinary, clear day with visibility at 10 miles, and that the weapon's explosive power is 300 kilotons—the approximate yield of most modern strategic nuclear weapons. This would be far more destructive than the 15-kiloton bomb detonated at Hiroshima or the 21-kiloton bomb detonated at Nagasaki. [2]

Washington, D.C., has long been a favorite hypothetical target. [3] But a single bomb detonated over a capital city is probably not a realistic planning assumption.

When a former commander in chief of the U.S. Strategic Command read my scenario, he wanted to know why I put only one bomb on Washington. "We must have targeted Moscow with 400 weapons," he said. He explained the military logic of planning a nuclear attack on Washington: "You'd put one on the White House, one on the Capitol, several on the Pentagon, several on National Airport, one on the CIA, I can think of 50 to a hundred targets right off. . . . I would be comfortable saying that there would be several dozens of weapons aimed at D.C." Moreover, he said that even today, with fewer weapons, what makes sense would be a decapitating strike against those who command military forces. Today, he said, Washington is in no less danger than during the Cold War.

The discussion that follows greatly understates the damage that would occur in a concerted nuclear attack, and not only because I describe the effects of a single weapon. I describe what would happen to humans in the area, but I do not concentrate on injury, the tragedy of lives lost, or the unspeakable loss to the nation of its capital city. These are important. But I am concerned with how organizations estimate and underestimate nuclear weapons damage; thus, I focus largely, as do they, on the physical environment and on physical damage to structures.

With this in mind, let us look at some of the consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation, from the first fraction of a second to the utter destruction from blast and fire that would happen within several hours. This will allow us to understand the magnitude of the damage from both effects, but particularly from fire, which is neither widely understood nor accounted for in damage prediction in U.S. nuclear war plans.

Unimaginable lethality

The detonation of a 300-kiloton nuclear bomb would release an extraordinary amount of energy in an instant—about 300 trillion calories within about a millionth of a second. More than 95 percent of the energy initially released would be in the form of intense light. This light would be absorbed by the air around the weapon, superheating the air to very high temperatures and creating a ball of intense heat—a fireball.

Because this fireball would be so hot, it would expand rapidly. Almost all of the air that originally occupied the volume within and around the fireball would be compressed into a thin shell of superheated, glowing, high-pressure gas. This shell of gas would compress the surrounding air, forming a steeply fronted, luminous shockwave of enormous extent and power—the blast wave.

By the time the fireball approached its maximum size, it would be more than a mile in diameter. It would very briefly produce temperatures at its center of more than 200 million degrees Fahrenheit (about 100 million degrees Celsius)—about four to five times the temperature at the center of the sun.

This enormous release of light and heat would create an environment of almost unimaginable lethality. Vast amounts of thermal energy would ignite extensive fires over urban and suburban areas. In addition, the blast wave and high-speed winds would crush many structures and tear them apart. The blast wave would also boost the incidence and rate of fire-spread by exposing ignitable surfaces, releasing flammable materials, and dispersing burning materials.

Within minutes of a detonation, fire would be everywhere. Numerous fires and firebrands—burning materials that set more fires—would coalesce into a mass fire. (Scientists prefer this term to "firestorm," but I will use them interchangeably here.) This fire would engulf tens of square miles and begin to heat enormous volumes of air that would rise, while cool air from the fire's periphery would be pulled in. Within tens of minutes after the detonation, the pumping action from rising hot air would generate superheated ground winds of hurricane force, further intensifying the fire. [4]

Virtually no one in an area of about 40–65 square miles would survive.

A little farther away

At Pentagon City, a shopping and office complex about seven-tenths of a mile from ground zero, light from the fireball would melt asphalt in the streets, burn paint off walls, and melt metal surfaces within a half second of the detonation. The interiors of vehicles and buildings in line of sight of the fireball would explode into flames.

Roughly one second later, the blast wave and 750-mile-per-hour winds would arrive, tossing burning cars into the air like leaves in a windstorm. At this distance, the blast wave and thermal radiation would be more powerful and destructive than at ground zero in Hiroshima.

The compressed air and winds associated with the shockwave could cause structures to cave in and might even topple large office buildings. The massive concrete and steel office buildings at Pentagon City might not be knocked down, but all nonsupporting interior walls and doors would be shattered, their fragments blown away at high speed. Window frames, glass, heavy desks, tables, filing cabinets, chairs, and other furnishings would become missiles and shrapnel. Within minutes, the insides of buildings still standing would be burning pyres of splintered walls, doors, and other combustibles.

Seconds after the blast wave passed, suction effects created in part by the rising fireball would reverse the winds, drawing them toward ground zero. Trees and other objects could be sucked toward the point of detonation.

Within a slightly longer distance from the Pentagon—about 1.3 miles—are most of Arlington National Cemetery, most of the Virginia Highlands and Addison Heights neighborhoods, and parts of Washington, D.C., including the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

At this distance, for a split second the fireball would shine more than 5,000 times brighter than a desert sun at noon. Thermal energy from the fireball—more than 15 times more intense than that at the edge of the mass fire that destroyed Hiroshima—would radiate onto exposed surfaces in just seconds.

All combustible materials illuminated by the fireball would spew fire and black smoke. Grass, vegetation, and leaves on trees would explode into flames; the surface of the ground would explode into superheated dust. Any flammable material inside buildings (paper, curtains, upholstery) that was directly exposed would burst into flame. The marble on the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials would crack, pop, and possibly evaporate. If the light from the fireball illuminated part of the bronze statue of Jefferson, its surface would melt.

Trees and telephone poles would recoil from the flaming gases. Birds in flight would drop from the sky in flames. The air would be filled with dust, fire, and smoke. Visitors at Arlington National Cemetery or the Lincoln or Jefferson memorials who were directly exposed to the fireball's light would be killed instantly. Others would not survive long.

It would take about four seconds after the detonation for the shockwave to arrive at the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. They would collapse instantly. As the shockwave passed over, it would engulf all structures in high pressure and crush all but the strongest. The blast wave would generate ferocious winds of 300–400 miles per hour that would persist for about a second and a half.

The winds and the crushing overpressure would tear apart many strong structures. Wood-frame and residential brick buildings would be completely destroyed. Other structures at this range, such as the Arlington Memorial Bridge and the George Mason Memorial Bridge, might not collapse, but anyone caught in the open or even sheltered behind these structures would be killed within seconds or minutes.

The high winds would tear structural elements from buildings and cause them to disintegrate explosively into smaller pieces. Some of these pieces would then become destructive projectiles, causing further damage. The superheated, dust-laden winds would be strong enough to overturn trucks and railroad cars.

Just beyond this range, about 1.6 miles from the Pentagon, aircraft at Reagan National Airport would be exposed to a light flash from the fireball more than 3,000 times brighter than a desert sun at noon. The thermal radiation would melt and warp aluminum surfaces on aircraft. Interior sections of the aircraft illuminated by the fireball would burst into flames. The tires of the aircraft would catch fire, as would the tires and fuel hoses of service vehicles near the aircraft.

Three miles from ground zero

The Capitol, the House and Senate office buildings, and the Library of Congress are all about three miles from the Pentagon, and just beyond is Union Station. The Mall and the White House are closer. The monumental structures on Capitol Hill are among the strongest civilian buildings in the world: They are reinforced concrete, two- to 10-story buildings of earthquake-resistant design. The surrounding neighborhood mostly comprises private two -to four-story dwellings with brick, load-bearing walls, surrounded by many trees.

At the Capitol, the fireball would be as bright as a thousand suns and would deliver nearly three times the thermal energy deposited at the perimeter of the mass fire at Hiroshima. The Capitol is well constructed to resist fire and stands in an open space at a distance from other buildings, but it would probably suffer heavy fire damage. Light from the fireball shining through its windows would ignite papers, curtains, light fabrics, and some upholstery. The House and Senate office buildings would suffer greater damage—their interiors would probably burn, as would the area's adjacent residential buildings and trees.

Fire would be virtually everywhere within three miles of ground zero. Clothes worn by people in the direct line of sight of the fireball would burst into flames or melt, and uncovered skin would be scorched, charring flesh and causing third-degree burns.

It would take the blast wave 12–14 seconds after the fireball's light flash to travel three miles. At this distance, the blast wave would persist for well over two seconds and be accompanied by near-hurricane winds of 100 miles per hour. Buildings of heavy construction on Capitol Hill would suffer little or no structural damage, but all exterior windows would be shattered, and nonsupporting interior walls and doors would be severely damaged or blown down.

At a distance of 3.5 miles from the detonation, the light flash from the fireball would still be severe, delivering twice the thermal energy at the edge of the mass fire at Hiroshima. The light and heat to surfaces would approximate 600 desert suns at noon. Black smoke would effuse from wood houses as paint burned off wood surfaces and furnishings ignited.

At Union Station, not quite 3.5 miles from the Pentagon, the majestic front facade of glass would be smashed into razor-sharp projectiles. Curtains, table cloths, and other combustibles would ignite on the upper decks. Blast damage would not be nearly as severe as it would be closer to the point of detonation, but streets would be blocked with fallen debris. The scouring effects of the high winds accompanying the shockwave would loft dust into the air. Fires would be everywhere. Dust and smoke would create a dense, low-visibility, foglike environment, impeding the ability of individuals and emergency response teams to move about.

Even at this and greater distances from the detonation, fires would result from the tremendous release of thermal energy. Fires would also be started by the breakup of buildings from the blast wave and its accompanying winds.

Structural breakup would start fires by releasing flammable materials (gas, chemicals, and other hazards), by exposing and shorting electrical lines and equipment, and by exposing additional ignitable surfaces. These are "blast-disruption" fires. More ignitions would be caused by fire spread from radiant heat and from the winds accompanying the blast wave, which would carry firebrands. [5] In all probability, fires would be ignited to a distance of about 4.6 miles from the detonation—over an area of approximately 65 square miles.

A hurricane of fire

Within tens of minutes after the cataclysmic events associated with the detonation, a mass of buoyantly rising, fire-heated air would signal the start of a second and distinctly different event—a mass fire of gigantic scale and ferocity. The firestorm would quickly increase in intensity, generating ground winds of hurricane force with average air temperatures well above the boiling point of water. This would produce a lethal environment over a vast area.

The Pentagon is located near the relatively wide Potomac River, but fires would start simultaneously in large areas on both sides. The direction of fire winds in regions near the river would be modified by the water, but the overall wind pattern from these two huge and nearly contiguous fire zones would be similar to that of a single mass fire and will be treated as one.

The first indicator of a mass fire would be strangely shifting ground winds of growing intensity near ground zero. (Such winds are entirely different from and unrelated to the earlier blast-wave winds that exert "drag pressure" on structures.) These fire-winds are a physical consequence of the rise of heated air over large areas of ground surface, much like a gigantic bonfire.

The inrushing winds would drive the flames from combusting buildings horizontally toward the ground, filling city streets with hot flames and firebrands, breaking in doors and windows, and causing the fire to jump hundreds of feet to swallow anything that was not yet violently combusting. These extraordinary winds would transform the targeted area into a huge hurricane of fire.

Within tens of minutes, everything within approximately 3.5 to 4.6 miles of the Pentagon would be engulfed in a mass fire. The fire would extinguish all life and destroy almost everything else.

Firestorm physics

This description of the physics of mass fire is based on the work of a few scientists who have examined in detail the damaging effects of nuclear weapons, including nuclear engineer Theodore A. Postol and physicist Harold Brode. Postol is one of the country's leading non-government-funded technical experts on nuclear weapons, missiles, and arms control. Brode's five-decade career has been devoted to the study of nuclear weapons effects.

That mass fires have occurred, and that something like the firestorm described here could occur, is not in dispute. What is not widely accepted is that nuclear weapons detonated in urban or suburban areas would be virtually certain to set mass fires, and that the resulting damage is as predictable as blast damage. The much more widely held view is that the probability and range of mass fire depends on many unpredictable environmental variables, including rain, snow, humidity, temperature, time of year, visibility, and wind conditions.

But the work of Postol, Brode, and Brode's collaborators shows that mass fire creates its own environment. Except in extreme cases, environmental factors do not affect the likelihood of mass fire. Weather can affect the fire's range, but this can be reasonably well predicted. For nuclear weapons of approximately 100 kilotons or more, the range of destruction from mass fire will generally be substantially greater than from blast. The extraordinarily high air temperatures and wind speeds characteristic of a mass fire are the inevitable physical consequence of many simultaneous ignitions occurring over a vast area. The vacuum created by buoyantly rising air follows from the basic physics of combustion and fluid flow (hydro- or fluid dynamics). As the area of the fire increases, so does the volume of rising air over the fire zone, causing even more air to be sucked in from the periphery of the fire at increasingly higher speeds.

Only a few mass fires have occurred in human history: those created by British and U.S. conventional incendiary weapons and by U.S. atomic bombs in World War II. These include fires that destroyed Hamburg, Dresden, Kassel, Darmstadt, and Stuttgart in Germany, and Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki in Japan. History's first mass fire began on the night of July 27, 1943, in Hamburg—created by allied incendiary raids. Within 20 minutes, two-thirds of the buildings within an area of 4.5 square miles were on fire. It took fewer than six hours for the fire to completely burn an area of more than five square miles. Damage analysts called it the "Dead City." Wind speeds were of hurricane force; air temperatures were 400–500 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 60,000 and 100,000 people were killed in the attack. [6]

A mass fire from a modern nuclear bomb could be expected to destroy a considerably larger urban or suburban area, in a similarly short time.

The unique features of the mass fire fundamentally distinguish it from the more slowly propagating line fire. Famous line fires include the great urban fires that destroyed London (1666), Chicago (1871), and San Francisco (1906); the forest fire that swept Peshtigo, Wisconsin (1871); the suburban fire that burned the Oakland, California, hills (1991); and the combined forest and suburban fires that recently devastated southern California (2003). [7] These fires were terrifying and destructive, but they were not mass fires. They burned and spread for days and were not ignited simultaneously over very large areas. They generated high temperatures and winds, but not on the scale or with the intensity of mass fires.

The dynamics of mass fire are grounded in Newtonian laws of conservation of mass, momentum, and energy; classical hydrodynamic equations can be applied to mass fire. A nuclear detonation ignites material that releases energy into a fluid—the atmosphere. The region of atmosphere being heated can be approximated as a thin disc-shaped volume near the earth's surface. By solving the hydrodynamic equations, it is possible to calculate the flow of rising air from the heated fire zone and the lateral inflow of cool air near the ground from just outside the periphery of the fire zone. These equations model the behavior of mass fire.

Fire environments created by mass fires are fundamentally more violent and destructive than smaller-scale fires, and they are far less affected by external weather conditions. They are not substantially altered by seasonal and daily weather conditions.

There are, of course, uncertainties in the damage ranges associated with the initiation and spread of mass fires, and variations in environmental conditions could contribute to these uncertainties. For example, the location of the perimeter of mass fire following a nuclear attack cannot be predicted precisely. How the topography or the weather might affect the range of mass fire is also uncertain. But uncertainty over the extent of damage associated with mass fire can be estimated and modeled, and this uncertainty is not greater than that associated with blast damage.

Moreover, for higher-yield weapons (more than 100 kilotons), under almost all conditions fire damage will be far more destructive than blast damage. In addition, "fire may cause more complete and permanent damage. A structure only moderately damaged by blast may be gutted and rendered useless by fire. Similarly, building contents may survive the blast but be destroyed by the fires." [8]

What effect could the weather have on the probability and range of mass fire? Reductions in visibility because of rain, fog, haze, or smoke could absorb or scatter thermal radiation from the detonation and reduce or attenuate the amount that would reach exposed structures, equipment, and people. But even with a reduction in visibility from 10 miles to five (from the visibility of a relatively clear day to a misty rainy day), enough thermal energy would be delivered to set a mass fire out to three miles from ground zero. Even with visibility reduced to two miles, the flash would set a mass fire out to 2.2 miles from ground zero. (Visibility in the Washington, D.C., area is 10 miles or greater about 64 percent of the time. Visibility is five miles or greater 90 percent of the time, and visibility is two miles or greater 98.5 percent of the time.) [9]

The flash from the fireball from a 300-kiloton detonation would set a mass fire under virtually all weather conditions.

If the ground were snow-covered, vegetation covered by snow would not be ignited at first, but light and heat from the fireball would be reflected by the snow, roughly doubling the amount of light entering building windows. Further, during periods of cold weather when snow cover would be a factor, the warm interiors of buildings have very low relative humidities, greatly increasing the likelihood of ignitions. The mass fire set at Dresden in February 1945 by non-nuclear incendiary weapons occurred in "winter with snow on the ground. It was cold and wet and cloudy outside, but there was fuel inside where it was warm and dry." Similarly, in the first incendiary attack on Tokyo, in February 1945, the city "was covered by snow . . . but about one square mile was burned out." [10]

If a nuclear weapon were detonated below cloud cover, reflections off the clouds would increase the light shining into buildings by a factor of about two. When there is both snow and cloud cover, light reflected could intensify the fire-initiating fireball flash roughly by a factor of four.

Only if detonations occurred at altitudes above cloud cover or in periods of very intense rain or heavy ground fog would the size of the fire zone be as small as the zone of severe blast damage.

Severe weather conditions in Washington, D.C., are rare and can be taken into account by military war planners. More generally, the likelihood of severe weather is known for many locations and time of year. In addition, real-time or near real-time weather data have been available on a global basis for decades. The U.S. military maintains its own weather satellites to forecast cloud cover, predict low-altitude weather systems, and collect wind data.

Because of the many ways fires can start and spread, it is reasonable to assume that a mass fire with a radius of at least 3.5 miles would occur in all but the most extreme weather conditions. The fire would generate its own extremely intense winds; air temperatures would be so high that wet surfaces would quickly dry, and the relative humidity within the fire zone would be very low. Such a fire would be only weakly influenced by external weather conditions.

Blast and fire damage

In the late 1970s, Brode and a team of scientists at Pacific-Sierra Research began to investigate the possibility of incorporating the effects of fire into damage prediction for nuclear targeting under contract for the Defense Nuclear Agency. By the late 1980s, Brode and his colleagues thought they had developed an analytical basis for predicting fire and blast damage from nuclear weapons. But in early 1992, federal funding for the nuclear fire and blast damage studies begun by Brode was canceled. (The issue was later revisited and, as far as I know, remains under consideration.) If the U.S. government were to take both fire and blast into account, its predictions regarding nuclear weapons damage would have to change.

We can see how great the changes would be by comparing the differences in damage predicted by the above hypothetical scenario, which takes into account both blast and fire damage, with the results of the method used by the U.S. government, which predicts only blast damage. For many targets, although not all, the differences are great.

The government's way of predicting damage to structures, installations, and equipment uses the Physical Vulnerability Handbook—Nuclear Weapons, published by the Defense Intelligence Agency. It exists in a number of editions, from 1954 to 1992. [11] The Handbook characterizes structures in terms of their physical vulnerability to blast effects using "vulnerability numbers" (VNs) at specified damage levels. [12] Physical vulnerability sounds like the opposite of the widely used term "target hardness," but for all practical purposes it is the same: A target is strong, or hard, up to the point at which it is vulnerable, or fails. Physical vulnerability is stated in terms of level of damage that the structure would be expected to sustain at a given overpressure—severe, moderate, or light damage. Severe structural damage is defined as "that degree of structural damage to a building which precludes further use of the building for the purpose intended without essentially complete reconstruction or replacement. A building sustaining severe structural damage requires extensive repair before it can be used for any purpose." Moderate damage is "that degree of structural damage to principal load-bearing members . . . of a building which precludes effective use of the building for the purpose intended until major repairs are made." [13] The Handbook does not describe light structural damage for buildings, presumably because such damage would not be severe enough to bother with in targeting calculations.

Despite the sophisticated understanding of blast waves and structural response embedded in the government's vulnerability number system, for many types of targets the total damage that would occur in a nuclear attack is vastly understated because only blast damage is taken into account.

Take, for example, a target of interest to military planners—an aircraft carrier. The Handbook gives aircraft carriers a VN of 11P0 for moderate damage. (In this code, 11 is a rating of target hardness that translates to blast pressure; P indicates a type of target that responds mainly to overpressure, not drag pressure; 0 means the target is not sensitive to the duration of blast pressure.) At this rating, according to the government's method of calculating damage the aircraft carrier would sustain "about half loss in ability to deliver weapons effectively, because of damage to equipment or topside structure, or because of personnel casualties." The carrier's target-acquisition and communication equipment, however, are predicted to be operative. [14]

This code corresponds to blast-wave pressure that in a 300-kiloton nuclear weapon attack on the Pentagon would occur about 1.6 miles from ground zero. For purposes of illustration, such a target could be located in the Potomac River near Reagan National Airport. On an aircraft carrier at this range, the thermal flash would be more than 4,000 times brighter than a desert sun at noon, and the winds would be over 250 miles per hour. The light flash would ignite clothing, rubber, and exposed petroleum products; seven seconds later, the blast wave and winds would overturn and break up the carrier's fuel-laden planes. Under these conditions, the carrier could become a floating inferno. It is highly unlikely that sailors on it would be able to deliver half of its weapons effectively.

Damage to aircraft on the carrier and a little farther away at Reagan National Airport is also underestimated. According to the Handbook, light fighter and bomber aircraft located about 1.8 miles from a detonation and oriented "nose-on" toward it would sustain only "light damage," which it describes as "structural failure of small control surfaces, bomb bay doors, wheel doors, fuselage skin damage, and damage due to flying debris. Requires one to four hours repair but may permit limited flight." At this distance, the blast wave would cause the complete collapse and disintegration of typical two-story wood-frame and brick buildings. The winds accompanying the blast would be a little less than 220 miles per hour. Given that aircraft routinely fly into winds of several hundred miles per hour, we can see how the Handbook might arrive at such a prediction of damage.

But when the thermal effects are considered, "light damage" is understated. At a range of 1.8 miles, the light flash from the bomb would be thousands of times brighter than a noonday sun. The surfaces of the aircraft would warp and melt and tires and other components would burst into flames, rendering the aircraft inoperable.

These targets would be deep within the perimeter of mass fire. Farther away from the detonation, the built-up areas of Capitol Hill would be engulfed in a mass fire that would extinguish all life and destroy nearly all buildings and residences, large or small. Only the Capitol and some similarly monumental buildings on the Mall might be spared from complete destruction.

According to the calculations used in the Handbook, for a 300-kiloton detonation, severe damage could be expected against such massive buildings only if they were one mile from the detonation, and moderate damage only if they were within 1.2 miles.

What level of damage would the Handbook predict for the buildings on Capitol Hill, approximately three miles from the Pentagon? At this range, blast pressure and wind forces would not meet the government's criteria for achieving severe or moderate damage. But fire would cause damage that would be severe indeed.

Even if visibility were below two miles, an area of 12–15 square miles would be destroyed. This is two to three times the area destroyed in the incendiary attack on Hamburg in 1943. If visibility were five miles or greater, an area of approximately 25–45 square miles would burn. On a clear day, when visibility is 10 miles or greater, 40–65 square miles would burn.

Average air temperatures in the burning areas after the attack would be well above the boiling point of water; winds generated by the fire would be hurricane force; and the fire would burn everywhere at this intensity for three to six hours. Even after the fire burned out, street pavement would be so hot that even tracked vehicles could not pass over it for days, and buried, unburned material from collapsed buildings could burst into flames if exposed to air even weeks after the fire.

Those who sought shelter in basements of strongly constructed buildings could be poisoned by carbon monoxide seeping in, or killed by the ovenlike conditions. Those who tried to escape through the streets would be incinerated by the hurricane-force winds laden with firebrands and flames. Even those able to find shelter in the lower-level sub-basements of massive buildings would likely die of eventual heat prostration, poisoning from fire-generated gases, or lack of water. The firestorm would eliminate all life in the fire zone.

Lynn Eden is the associate director for research at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. This article is adapted from the first chapter of her book, Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation, Ithaca: Cornell University Press (December 2003).

1. I have written this in close consultation with Theodore A. Postol; Alex Montgomery also provided technical guidance. Sources include: Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan, eds., The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3d ed. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office [GPO], 1977); Theodore A. Postol, "Possible Fatalities from Superfires following Nuclear Attacks in or near Urban Areas," in Fredric Solomon and Robert Q. Marston, eds., The Medical Implications of Nuclear War (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1986), pp. 15–72; Theodore A. Postol, "Targeting," in Ashton B. Carter, John D. Steinbruner, and Charles A. Zraket, eds., Managing Nuclear Operations (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1987), pp. 373–406; Lachlan Forrow et al., "Accidental Nuclear War—A Post–Cold War Assessment," New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 338, no. 18 (1998): 1326–1331; R. D. Small and H. L. Brode, Physics of Large Urban Fires, PSR Report 1010, final report for Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C. (Santa Monica, Calif.: Pacific-Sierra Research Corp., March 1980); H. L. Brode, G. P. Fisher, P. F. X. Konokpa, A. Laupa, and G. E. McClellan, Fire Damage to Urban/Industrial Targets, vol. 1, Executive Summary, and voluminous unclassified material from vol. 2, Technical Report, PSR Report 1936, prepared for Headquarters Defense Nuclear Agency, Washington D.C. (Los Angeles: Pacific-Sierra Research Corp., 1989).

2. Glasstone and Dolan, Effects of Nuclear Weapons, list the yield of the bomb at Hiroshima as 12.5 kilotons; in United States Nuclear Tests, July 1945 through September 1992, DOE/NV-209-Rev. 15 (Las Vegas: Energy Department, Nevada Operations Office, December 2000), p. xi, the Energy Department lists the yield at Hiroshima as 15 kilotons. Both publications list the yield of the Nagasaki bomb as 21 kilotons.

3. See, for example, "Preview of the War We Do Not Want," special issue of Collier's (October 27, 1951).

4. Postol, "Possible Fatalities from Superfires," pp. 59–66.

5. Harold L. Brode and Richard D. Small, Fire Damage and Strategic Targeting, PSR Note 567, sponsored by Defense Nuclear Agency, Washington, D.C. (Los Angeles: Pacific-Sierra Research Corp., June 1983), pp. 10–21; Brode et al., Fire Damage to Urban/ Industrial Targets, vol. 1.

6. On Tokyo, see U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, Physical Damage Division, Effects of Incendiary Bomb Attacks on Japan, a Report on Eight Cities (n.p., April 1947), pp. 65–117. On Hamburg, see Postol, "Possible Fatalities from Superfires," pp. 52–53; and the broader treatment by Horatio Bond, "The Fire Attacks on German Cities," in Bond, ed., Fire and the Air War (Boston: National Fire Protection Association, 1946), pp. 76–97.

7. See Stephen J. Pyne, Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). On the power of a single forest fire, see the American classic by Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

8. Brode and Small, Fire Damage and Strategic Targeting, pp. 32, 22.

9. These figures are based on a decade of hourly weather observations at Reagan National Airport. See Federal Climate Complex, Asheville, N.C., U.S. Navy–U.S. Air Force, Department of Commerce, International Station Meteorological Climate Survey, prepared under authority of Commander, Naval Oceanography Command, Version 1.0, October 1990. I thank Benjamin Olding for finding these data.

10. Harold Brode, phone conversation with author, August 11, 1989; see also Small and Brode, Physics of Large Urban Fires, p. 18; and H. L. Brode and R. D. Small, "A Review of the Physics of Large Urban Fires," in Solomon and Marston, The Medical Implications of Nuclear War, p. 83. Robert Nathans, "Making the Fires That Beat Japan," in Bond, Fire and the Air War, p. 141.

11. I draw on a copy of the handbook marked "unclassified" (originally classified as confidential) from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

12. See Lynn Eden, Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), chapter 7, for discussion of how VNs were used to produce the VN coding system, which has been used in all the physical vulnerability handbooks after 1954. See also the explanation of the VN system in the detailed study of U.S. nuclear war planning by Matthew G. McKinzie, Thomas B. Cochran, Robert S. Norris, and William M. Arkin, The U.S. Nuclear War Plan: A Time for Change (New York: Natural Resources Defense Council, June 2001),

13. DIA, Physical Vulnerability Handbook–Nuclear Weapons, AP-550-1-2-69-INT (Washington, D.C.: DIA, 1969, with change 1 [1972] and change 2 [1974]), p. I-3.

14. Ibid., p. I-20.


Countdown to the next big strike in America

The mainstream media is great at taking something like the Iraq prison photos and running them into the ground. They are horrible and pathetic when it comes to reporting on something like the groups who plan to cause hundreds of thousands of American casualties.

Likewise, politically-tainted commissions like the 9/11 body, are great Monday-morning quarterbacks and give politicians and political hacks a chance to mug for the cameras. Hindsight is 20/20. Foresight is something tragically lacking within the beltway.

You will hear both the media and the politicians in shock before this year is up. The United States is going to get hit hard--and as much as I personally hope I am wrong--WMDs will feature in the strikes.

For the next several days, we will investigate the non-classified material available and help you connect the dots so you aren't surprised when the next round of mass murder begins

Countdown to the Next Strike
by William Webb

In July 2003, radical Saudi Sheik Nasser bin Hamd al-Fahad issued a fatwa, or religious edict, granting legal religious authority to the use of weapons of mass destruction against both the United States and Great Britain and their civilian populations.
For anyone familiar with the operations of Al-Qaida, this fatwa should serve as a grim, horrific warning to read, listen to, and most importantly, understand. Osama bin Laden has cloaked his next planned major mass murder in religious legitimacy by obtaining these rulings prior to the strikes.
Two months after publication of the fatwa, on September 10, 2003, the State Department issued a warning which stated in part: “We expect Al-Qaida will strive for new attacks that will be more devastating than the September 11 attack, possibly involving nonconventional weapons such as chemical or biological agents. We also cannot rule out the potential for Al-Qaida to attempt a second catastrophic attack within the U.S. Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, hijackings, bombings, or kidnappings. These may also involve commercial aircraft and threats to include conventional weapons, such as explosive devices. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.”

The theory is jihad. The act is the use of weapons of mass destruction against cities in the West.
The fatwa provides religious justification for the act.

Sheik Fahad, Sheik Ali al-Khadir and Sheik Ahmed al-Khaldi are three of the most radical Saudi clerics and have written dozens of books, pamphlets, and other materials full of incitement and religious rulings against the United States and the West. The three were arrested following the May 12, 2003 terrorist attacks in Riyadh, and the possibility of them receiving the death penalty has led to further threats against the Saudi royal family from bin Laden.

According to Yoni Fighel and Moshe Marzouk of the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism, “Sheikh al-Fahad’s fatwa is one of several such edicts issued by Islamic clerics granting religious authorization to carry out terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction against American targets and targets of those who provide assistance to “the crusader’s world of heresy.” Edicts issued by the same clerics, who have connections to Al-Qaida, offer the religious backing for the continuation and escalation of the organization’s terrorist activity against the U.S.

“In our estimation, the Al-Qaida organization and other radical Islamic groups associated with it will use such edicts to gain support for their efforts to carry out large-scale attacks against Western targets. These efforts are likely to include plots against Western civilian infrastructure targets with the intention of maximizing the human toll and economic loss.”

An Arab journalist writing in the Arabic daily Hayat highlighted the use of fatwas by clerics to legitimize violence. Under the subhead, “fatwas permit murder,” the journalist made the following points:

o Saudi Sheikh Safar Abd Al-Rahman Al-Hawali, who prefers to use the Internet to publish his religious rulings permitting the killing of groups and nations, ruled that the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan are unbelievers because they support the Americans against the Islamic government of the Taliban. The fatwa read: ‘Support of any kind for the unbelievers against the Muslims, even if only verbal, constitutes blatant heresy and hypocrisy, and anyone doing so goes against Islam. Members of the Afghan opposition or others who do so must repent, recant this loathsome deed, and support their Muslim brothers...’ The fatwa said, that the September 11 tragedy is strictly an act of ‘measure for measure.’ Namely, ‘a response to Clinton’s missile aggression against Al-Qaida following the bombing of the American Embassy in Nairobi.

o In the bin Laden video released by the Pentagon in 2002, his unidentified guest informed him that Sheikh Salman Al-‘Alwan had ruled that bin Laden’s attack on the U.S. was in line with shariah, Islamic religious law.”

The Arab author suggested, “the connection between the fatwa and terrorism lies in the fact that the religious ruling unleashes the terrorist’s sadism and instinct for murder. It frees him from all moral restraints and shrivels what remains of his conscience. It releases him from any healthy sense of guilt.”
Sheikh Ali bin Khdheir Al-Khdheir, one of the three radical Saudi sheiks who now reside in jail, also posts his fatwas on the Internet.
He presented his fatwas concerning September 11 as a response for his students in Yemen:
“The weeping, the sorrow, and the pain over the American victims among those termed ‘innocent’ are strange. Those victims were...unbelieving Americans who must not be sorrowed over, because the unbelieving American is considered a combatant due to his connection to his government, or because he supports it with money or opinion or counsel, as is customary in their political regime, may Allah not multiply such regimes. It is permissible to kill the combatants among them, as well as those who are non-combatants, for example the aged man, the blind man, and the dhimmi, as the clerics agree.”

The author concluded that, “This fatwa permits the blood of all Americans, without exception, and was endorsed by Sheikh Yussef Al-Qaradhawi and the leaders of the Islamic movements who joined him in his religious ruling that encouraged Hamas and the Islamic jihad to kill Israeli civilians. Why? Because fanaticism, as hatred for everyone who is different, removes the lobe of logic from the brain of the fanatic!”

Another Sheik writes, “Regardless of the norms of ‘humanist’ belief, which sees destroying the infidel countries as a tragedy requiring us to show some conscientious empathy and…an atmosphere of sadness for the loss that is to be caused to human civilization—an approach that does not distinguish between believer and infidel…. I would like to stress that annihilating the infidels is an inarguable fact, as this is the [divine] decree of fate…
“When the Koran places these tortures [to be inflicted on the infidels] in the solid framework of reward and punishment…it seeks to root this predestined fact in the consciousness of the Muslim group, asserting that the infidels will be annihilated, so as to open a window of hope to the Muslim group…”

Near the day in 2003 when President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, FBI Director Robert Mueller warned that Al-Qaida “remains capable of launching a multicity attack similar to the assaults on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.”

“The war with Al-Qaida is not over,” Mueller said. “We have not won it by any stretch of the imagination. Al-Qaida still seeks to attack us and has the capacity to do it. Will we be attacked in the future? Yes.”
More ominous was a four-page CIA report quoted in a June 2003 article by Bill Gertz, reporter, author, and terrorism expert. “Al-Qaida terrorists and related groups are set to use chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in deadly strikes,” Gertz wrote.

Among the points made in the CIA report:

o “Al-Qaida’s goal is the use of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons to cause mass casualties.
o “Osama bin Laden’s operatives may try to launch conventional attacks against the nuclear industrial infrastructure of the United States in an bid to cause contamination, disruption, and terror.
o “Indicates the group has crude procedures for making mustard agent, sarin and VX nerve agent”
o “Terrorists can produce a nuclear device in three ways, including a bomb made from diverted nuclear-weapons components, a nuclear weapon that has been modified, or a new indigenously designed device.”

While the report was downplayed within the government, many people believe that the next “super” terrorist act from Al-Qaida will involve at the very least a dirty bomb. Others are not as optimistic.
“Al-Qaida has recruited scientists for a weapons of mass destruction attack on the West,” the head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency said in a recent interview. Al-Qaida has recruited what she termed “renegade scientists” to develop biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. Eliza Manningham-Buller, the director of MI5, did not identify where Al-Qaida has recruited, but officials later said Iraq and Pakistan were suspected of being the key countries supplying such personnel.
“We know that renegade scientists have cooperated with Al-Qaida and provided them with some of the knowledge they need to develop these CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] weapons,” Ms. Manningham-Buller told the Royal United Services Institute in London. “My conclusion, based on the intelligence we have uncovered, is that we are faced with the realistic possibility of some form of unconventional attack.”


The Shadow of Terror Lengthens

From South Asia Intelligence review

Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

The US Coalition's growing troubles in Iraq are bad news for South Asia. Among the primary targets of Islamist extremist terrorism in the region, India has long seen a necessary convergence of its interests with those of the US-led global war against terrorism - though there have been differences over the discriminatory focus of this war, and the evident indulgence extended to Pakistan's continuing support to terrorist groups. The increasing disarray in Iraq creates imminent dangers of an escalation and widening of Islamist terrorist activities in this region, even as it creates possibilities of intensification of violence by terrorist groups deriving their justification from other ideological streams.

The spaces for such a resurgence are created by two factors. The first of these is based on the nature of terrorism as a method; to the extent that it is seen to succeed substantially even against the world's greatest military and economic power in Iraq, it will be estimated to have far greater probabilities of success against the weaker state powers within South Asia. This would be considered to be the case in all theatres, and with respect to movements inspired by the entire spectrum of 'revolutionary' ideologies. The second of these factors relates to the diminished international focus on terrorist movements in this region, as events in Iraq (and, to an extent, West Asia) exhaust the greatest proportion of Western, and particularly US, attention. This creates opportunities and incentives for terrorists and their state sponsors in South Asia to intensify campaigns that had, briefly, been brought under significant pressure as a result of the glare of international publicity and the increased risk of international penalties after 9/11. It is useful to recall that it was the neglect of developments in South Asia - and particularly of the assembly lines of jihad in Pakistan and then Taliban-controlled Afghanistan - that contributed directly to the current mushrooming of global Islamist terrorism and the planning and execution of 9/11. While the armies and infrastructure of terrorism in Afghanistan were substantially eroded by the US-led campaign there, much of these simply shifted across the border into Pakistan, to join forces with a number of like-minded terrorist groups, many of them created and directly supported by covert state agencies in that country. Considerable American pressure on the Musharraf regime had resulted in some cosmetic curbs on these organizations, and a marginal decline in their visible activities. Such trends are now in danger of reversal, as American prestige suffers blow after blow in Iraq.

There is, today, a growing assessment among radical Islamist groups that, while America does have the unquestionable power and technology to blow any country out of existence, it does not have the capacity or comprehension to manage even a mid-sized nation - such as Afghanistan or Iraq - under occupation or surrogate rule. America, moreover, is assessed to have no effective defenses against sustained and determined terrorist campaigns, and is, consequently, perceived to be immensely vulnerable despite its apparent strength. As Iraq emerges as a critical element in the US Presidential Election campaign, America's domestic political vulnerability to terrorist activities in foreign theatres will also be underlined. The events in Iraq, within these calculations, place an absolute limit on how much pressure the US can now exert on rogue states and state sponsors of terrorism, especially where such entities are able to manipulate the instrumentalities of terror within intensities that do not provoke extreme retaliation, or within the confines of 'credible deniability'. The result is that the US is expected to be increasingly cautious in exerting extraordinary pressure on countries such as Pakistan, for instance, to end their covert support to terrorism and the activities of terrorist groups on and from their soil. This will create the opportunities for a consolidation of terrorist forces within such areas.

Iraq has also sounded the death knell of the international consensus against terrorism, once again throwing the entire issue into the realm of moral ambivalence. America's unilateralism and mismanagement have alienated many natural allies in the war against terrorism, and the delusionary constructs under which the US Administration continues to act do not suggest any trends towards increasing executive competence, and consequently, little prospects of greater international participation in the campaign in Iraq. Spain's new Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has already issued instructions for the withdrawal of his country's 1,300 troops from Iraq 'as soon as possible'. The US Administration has expressed some expectations that India and Bangladesh would send Forces to Iraq after the 'handover of sovereignty' on June 30, but this is sheer fantasy. No country would send in its Forces to Iraq unless the present administrative and political incoherence is brought to an end. To the extent, however, that American decision-making continues to rely overwhelmingly on paradigmatic constructs and the personal proclivities and biases of individuals within the Administration, rather than on any clear conception of the ground realities in Iraq, no such resolution appears to be in sight.

These factors are superimposed on a South Asia immensely more complex than it was before 9/11. Pakistan alone stands at a crossroads in its history, with its internal contradictions creating increasing stresses, as the Pervez Musharraf regime adopts ideologically incompatible objectives; and as elements within a number of hitherto 'captive' jehadi groups begin to chart out an independent course. Areas of instability in Pakistan currently include the North West Frontier Province, Baluchistan and the Federally Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA), which have long been loosely controlled by the state, but where strong bonds on ethnic and religious lines dominate social and political life. In addition, Sindh, while currently relatively calm, has a history of political and sectarian violence, which could, in situations of rising political uncertainty in Islamabad, revive. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and particularly the Northern Areas are denied basic political and human rights, and the Shia population, which constitutes a majority in the region, has been subjected to repeated and genocidal campaigns of repression; there are now increasing signs of political unrest and a potential for violence in this region. The American effort to orchestrate a transition to democracy through a controlled military regime is also fundamentally flawed, and has, in fact, immensely weakened democratic and secular forces in Pakistan, even as it has further entrenched the military-jehadi-feudal combine of revanchist forces in the country. The Kashmir issue, moreover, has been entirely miscast by the US Administration, and ignores the reality that it is essentially a symptom of the larger ideological conflict between an exclusionary Islamist extremist Pakistan and a liberal, democratic and pluralist India.

There is, moreover, an enormous multiplicity of terrorist actors and organizations across South Asia - drawn from diverse ideological streams, including Islamism, ethnic fundamentalism and Left Wing extremism - who will derive great encouragement from America's discomfiture in Iraq. It is, indeed, safe to say that the future of terrorism in the South Asian region will be decided substantially by actors and events outside the region; events in Iraq are impacting directly on the potential, not only for Islamist terrorism, but for all forms of terrorism in South Asia, and on the diminishing potential for the stabilization of both Afghanistan and Pakistan in the foreseeable future.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A Bestial Competition With No End in Sight

Linda S. Heard, Arab News

CAIRO, 18 May 2004 — Shamed and indignant Americans have been calling for heads to roll after being sickened by the abuses perpetrated by US grunts at Abu Ghraib...but not literally. Just when the Bush administration has been doing some warranted self-flagellation with the president’s approval rating diving to an unprecedented low of 46 percent and public support for the invasion to a mere 41 percent, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, an affiliate of Bin Laden, has changed the mood. According to the Islamist website, which put up a gruesome video showing the beheading of American Nick Berg, the man who personally did the horrific deed was none other than Al-Zarqawi.

If that’s true, Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who trained in Al-Qaeda terrorist camps, hasn’t done the Iraqis any favors. Like George W. Bush, who in one week during the run-up to the invasion disingenuously linked Saddam Hussein to Bin Laden nine times during public speeches, Al-Zarqawi has attempted to meld his extremist ideology with the struggle of the Iraqi people.

But was it Al-Zarqawi? There are those, especially in the Arab world, who doubt that Al-Zarqawi was the knife-wielding criminal in that video, despite the CIA’s assertions that after carrying out voice analysis, its experts believed it was. A few skeptics have noted the murderer’s agility, pointing out that Al-Zarqawi is thought to be minus a leg. Others have cited a US military report dated April 2003, which stated Al-Zarqawi was killed. Yet others have implied a far more sinister scenario. The Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuit worn by Berg has been mentioned by those who express doubt Al-Zarqawi’s group would have one readily at hand. Such conspiracy theorists also bring up the fact there was little or no blood shown on the video. Or they question why Al- Zarqawi bothered wearing a hood when he wanted it known that he did the awful deed along with the timing of the killing which served to deflect public opinion away from Abu Ghraib.

The main route to full Iraqi sovereignty is via US public opinion, and this is especially true during an election year when they will have a chance to vote with their feet. Now that a masked terrorist has brandished the head of one of their own while evoking Abu Ghraib, the link between those who attacked the symbols of American power on 9/11 and the long suffering Iraqis has been cemented in some American minds — especially those less informed or gullible.

When one of their own is attacked, most Americans aren’t big on nuances. The fact that Al-Zarqawi isn’t Iraqi and has merely hijacked their cause to suit his own ends isn’t a topic Americans will dissect over their morning coffee. They will see an Arab waving the standard on behalf of the Iraqi insurgents and it won’t matter how much the Iraqi people protest or the Arab newspapers condemn the grotesque beheading. American networks are already scrutinizing English-language Arab newspapers for outrage over the death of Berg as though Arabs must prove their abhorrence of that act. Again, the right-wing US media has missed the subtle difference here, perhaps deliberately. Bush, as commander-in-chief of the US military was right to apologize for the actions of his own troops, but why should Arabs collectively apologize for the crimes of a few thugs in their midst over which they have no control? On the other hand, the vast majority are as disgusted and saddened at the beheading as they are about the Abu Ghraib scandal, in the same way all decent human beings around the planet are.

Unless we can get away from this type of bigoted lumping together of all Arabs and Muslims and, for that matter, all Americans, never mind their beliefs or political persuasions, then Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” looms large. Stereotyping is one of the greatest enemies of peace today. Admittedly in our hectic world, it’s often the easy option to swallow the sound bite, fall sway to the dramatic image or be carried along by the public mood but when so much hangs on just who our leaders are, we must make the time for scrutiny and critical thinking. In the final analysis, Western powers must be above the revenge principle. They are the ones with the metal armies; with the big bombs and they are supposed to be the ones bringing democracy and freedom to the Iraqi people.

We’ve seen what happens when an occupying power adopts the settling-of-scores policy in the West Bank and Gaza: Small children are shot, civilians are bombed and thousands watch impotently as their homes are demolished. In response, the body parts of Israeli soldiers were used as trophies and held to ransom by militants. It’s a never-ending downward spiral of brutality and hatred with ordinary people the victims of their own flawed leaderships.

We cannot allow ourselves to compete in the bestiality stakes, for to do so would truly mark the beginning of a frightening, corrupt and heartless age. Iraq is a failed experiment. The occupiers are for ever tainted both in regards to their motives for invading in the first place and their subsequent cruel behavior toward those in their care. Too many red lines have been crossed; too much blood has flowed and too much credibility has been lost to support anything other than a complete pullout. Will the Iraqis do better? Who knows? But one thing’s for sure. They, surely, can’t do much worse.

— Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs and welcomes feedback at


Why Do They Hate US? From Islam online

And They Ask, “Why Do They Hate Us?”

By Arwa Mahmoud
Staff writer – IslamOnline

We’ve seen this only too many times.

As an Arab Muslim, watching and hearing news on what went on in Palestine and Iraq had gotten to a nauseating point with me. There had been too much repetition, too much unintelligent jargon, and too much vulgarity for even devout Middle East addict to take. My and many others’ intelligence gets insulted everyday with not much done about it. God forbid I should forget that those who insult are the “mighty” ones with the black suits and the fancy ties, the ones with their sophisticated toys, ready to knock the hell out of anyone who misbehaves.

It’s been a pattern, and an intentional one at that. They strike, kill, enrage, and walk out clean. Our faces turn red; we scream; they turn blue. We walk down the streets holding signs and throwing tomatoes. We let it all out. Our faces grow back their yellow, and they stay that way. Colorful, isn’t it?

Alarmingly, each crime committed against my people is beginning to act like a vaccine booster, as if we were slowly adapting to humiliation. Proud men getting their faces rubbed in sand is the order of the day. At some point it was a Palestinian child’s bloody face into the pavement under an Israeli boot, so rubbing an adult face in sand with an American boot is not that bad after all!


As if we were slowly adapting to humiliation.


We’re looking at a policy that aims at producing non-reaction. Acquired helplessness. And they see it as the first step to a loving friendship. They’re torturing, raping and bombing their way to our hearts. And since we’re dogs, we’d continue to drool to them for attention, for love. This is their utopian vision of us. This is how they’ve chosen to run things with the people of a thousands-of-years-old civilization.

But as humiliated and helpless as many of us have come to feel, silent rage is spreading among us like a dangerous plague. No, they haven’t won any “dog’s” heart. They’ve only kept the hearts and minds of Arab rulers who gladly prostitute their countries for cash and prestige.

As this outrageous set of atrocities piles up with time, it awakens the proud human in any decent Muslim. They empower the will to act more assertively, to speak louder, and to make a change. And we’re more than a billion. We come from different parts of the world, and we live under differing conditions. Our education ranges from a PhD to nothing. But if a few of us get hurt, we all ache. And our reactions then vary, and range from speaking and writing to suicide bombing.

I believe this pile just got heaviest with me. When I saw pictures of my brothers in Iraq stripped naked I literally felt my blood boiling in a way it hasn’t for a very long time. I found myself writing for the first time in four years.

There isn’t much I can write that hasn’t already been written by many others or spoken by many more. But since there appears to be a massive state of ignorance on the policy making level, allow me to use some basic teaching techniques usually applied on Alzheimer patients: repetition.

Invade a country and treat its people like sheep and you’ll be loathed for generations. The Israelis still suffer from that mistake; the infamous “a land without people to people without land” dogma, which is translated in each Israeli policy, continues to cost many Israeli lives 56 years on. And they haven’t learned.


The Israelis still suffer from that mistake… And they haven’t learned.


And Iraqis are not Red Indians. In the 21st century everyone can see what you think you’re doing in the dark. There are many around the world who feel the plight of the Iraqis as you rip at their culture, not hundreds of years later.

Finally, add more oppression to the oppressed, take away the little they have left and they will turn violent. This is a basic equation. Politics 101.

“Objectivity” tells me that those pictures I saw reflected the acts of a deranged few, and that those few will receive their well-deserved punishment at the hands of their commanders. But much to the displeasure of the American administration, I am a rational being, and I come from the Middle East. Some of the old commanders and politicians who took charge throughout the turbulent history of this part of the world had pasts not dissimilar to the present of the sick minds they recruit today. And that lady posing next to the prisoners is part of the package. We’ve seen this only too many times. Ask any Arab ex-prisoner who fought a war with Israel.

And now, with a smiling face, I’m expected to give reassuring answers to angry patriotic Americans echoing the blond heads that popped on television right after 9/11: “Why do they hate us?” A question the media has managed to scare every American with. And many have internalized and believed it.

One thing: Get your honorable liberators out of our land. As each day passes you convince more and more people to really hate you this time, and fight to the very last drop of their boiling blood.

Do you have an opinion to share on this issue? Join our ongoing discussion.

Arwa Mahmoud is editor and recently staff writer for IslamOnline. A Political Science graduate of the American University in Cairo , she holds an International Relations diploma with special focus on foreign policy analysis. You can reach her at


Monday, May 17, 2004

Nutwatch 2004--Mass Delusion on The Left/Blame it all on the CIA on the Berg Beheading

Nutwatch 2004 is howling and screeching like a double tornado across the Oklahoma plains. Here, at, and we have the two stories I’ve warned you were coming.

Two, truly hideous and offensively insane schizophrenic ramblings that should trouble all who worry about the possibility of civilization sinking into the depths of another Dark Age.

I warned you it would just be a matter of time. Here are two stories that I can’t decide are truly insane because they are so colossally pathetic; or truly pathetic because they are so colossally insane.

One writer, James Conachy suggests “American Agencies” somehow had a hand in the beheading of Nick Berg. Yes folks, the American government killed Berg to deflect attention from the nude Iraqi pictures that has become the mainstream press fetish of the past two weeks. Sort of a “wag the dog,” with sharp knives.

But then, the clincher, the story only a bull-fruit lunatic in the deep throes of psychotic delusion would ever sign their name to—one that Michel Chossudovsky proudly penned his name to and actually published.

Listen to how the truly delusional write: “When people across the US find out that Al Qaeda is not linked to Saddam but is in fact a creation of the CIA and that the terrorist warnings are fabricated, the legitimacy of the Bush Administration will tumble like a deck of cards. The perceived enemy will no longer be Saddam, it will be Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, et al.”

Al Qaida is a creation of the CIA.

Sweet grunting, sweating mother of Buddha!

“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine …”

What is it that propels the far-out left to madness? You can only hope bin Laden or Al-Zarqawi read this insane gibberish, get angry, and hunt these two down for cheapening their cause.

Listen you two nitwits, more than one countries’ intelligence service listed Zarqawi in-charge of Al Qaida’s middle eastern and European strikes and Ramadan Abdullah Ramadan as being charged with hitting the United States the next time.

I know it’s hard James and Michael, particularly when you only sporadically take your medicine—but try to write this on your forearms or something—all of these Islamists are fighting a religious war against the infidels. They don’t need western intelligence help.

So go take a look the ramblings. Like most schizophrenic delusions, there’s no sane evidence presented. Just a bunch of disconnected gibberish. Somehow, Nick Berg’s father is quoted as tying it all back to the Patriot Act—which if a true quote—we’ll overlook due to his terrible loss.

Until the James and Michael, welcome to the Nutwatch 2004 hall of fame.

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