“Good boy” alert, but a different flavor, the national security expert in training.
Today, the idea is floated that the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy has been treated maybe a little too shabbily by whatever constitutes the analytic community.
The idea is that it’s sort of bad to laugh at the Cult if you’re unwilling to take the time to write a scholarly piece that soberly dissects the issue.
Here’s the key line, republished from the Atlantic (where I dumped on the guy who wrote it, Patrick Disney, a couple weeks ago) at a blog you’d never normally read:
To be honest, not a lot of folks have taken the EMP threat seriously enough to give it a thorough rebuttal … I myself have tried to dive into the issue as part of my graduate research, imagining various scenarios in which an electromagnetic pulse attack could seriously threaten the United States, its allies or its military. And although I still maintain that EMP is, in general, a laughably overhyped “threat,” the issue deserves better treatment from the analytical community than it has gotten.
According to [Newt Gingrich], EMP may be the greatest single threat facing America today.
Today, there’s more because — apparently — no one paid enough attention the first time:
Under what circumstances would a terrorist be unsatisfied with an old-fashioned, direct nuclear strike against a city? If the goal is to crash the US economy, the terrorist could hit Wall Street …
The national security man-in-training thinking about what would create the most fear.
Hitting Wall Street. First time I’ve heard that. Today.
Ahem. Hitting Wall Street with electromagnetic pulses, be it through bombs, rays or “direct nuclear strike,” is always one of the first things that occurs to people conducting these exercises. Scramble the finances!
Here’s a discussion on non-nuclear electromagnetic pulsing, before the House Joint Economic committee back in 1997.
Years ago I put this on the web as part of the old Crypt Newsletter page and in it, a retired general with six Purple Hearts, Robert Schweizer, goes on about the threat to everything, singling out the “banking” systems:
You can use [electromagnetic pulse weapons] against the banking system so that currency transactions and financial transactions cannot be made … This can be done with going to RadioShack and buying the components. I have in my briefcase a catalog from one of the companies that is putting out these devices that says, “We will show you how to do it. Everything is included. If it isn’t, we will help you get it with diagrams or other assistance.” And, the prices are from $35 to $200 to buy components to go and do a number on Wall Street.
The kind of scenario that one could envision would be the van with a radio frequency weapon in it and no exterior signs or indicators or signatures on it, just driving in circles or up and down the canyons of Wall Street pulsing with this almost limitless capacity to generate high power pulses through the walls of the financial and banking institutions on let’s say, a Sunday morning at 2:30 a.m. And, you can make as many passes as you need.
Again, it’s non-nuclear, but even way back then, the argument touched on the servant’s obsession with protecting the territory of the plutocracy. Schweizer died a number of years ago never having seen a single example of what he was warning about.
But back to Disney, who argues:
But this year has witnessed a shift. The message about the impending blackout has softened. The jihadi boogeyman, who until recently was perched in a rowboat off the East coast ready to launch a scud, has vanished. The new EMP monster under the bed is: solar weather?
Well, no, not precisely. Bad solar weather was a convenience, one that was simply added to the pie. He knows this.
Here’s the Heritage Foundation today, again going full throttle on the same old-same old nuclear burst angle, complete with the videos they love to produce.
All this to draw extra attention to something the Foundation tried last year: getting a national Electromagnetic Pulse Awareness Day on the calendar.
If you’re a normal human being, it’s almost impossible not to laugh at the conceit. Naturally, when it showed up the first time everyone ignored the request.
I tried to helpful, suggesting Roscoe Bartlett be put under a shroud on the floor of Congress to symbolically all the Americans who would be dead a year after the electricity vanished.
“March 23 should be designated as EMP Recognition Day,” wrote someone at the Heritage Foundation, at the time.
“An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) produced by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at high altitude or as the result of unusually powerful solar activity (often called severe space weather) could produce catastrophic destruction in the United States,” is the lede sentence.
As I’ve said, the bad solar weather hook is a convenience. And that’s because what the Cult of EMP Crazy chieftains want are only two quite specific things: more missile defense and to bomb Iran.
And bad solar weather really doesn’t help them in these matters.
However, it does provide a convenient extra hook on which to hang opinion pieces on electromagnetic pulse attack.
Anyway, there’s still no shortage of the usual scenario-making.
Tehran’s navy deploys ships to the Atlantic capable of launching long-range missiles. This is not a joke. This is a dress rehearsal for the day an EMP attack ends our way of life … A simple Scud missile, with a nuclear warhead, could be fired from an inconspicuous freighter in international waters off our coast and detonated high over the U.S.
It would wreak devastation on America’s technological, electrical and transportation infrastructure. Masked as a terrorist attack, Iran would have plausible deniability of any responsibility.
The Revolutionary Guards have successfully test-launched long-range ballistic missiles from a ship before, so the statement that they are arming some of the vessels with such missiles should worry the United States. An Iranian navy ship or any commercial vessel operated by the Iranians could easily launch a missile from outside the Gulf of Mexico and essentially cover most of the United States. Much more alarming is the fact that once in possession of a nuclear bomb, Iran could successfully carry out its promise to bring America to its knees by a successful electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on America.
“One nightmare scenario posed by the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States From Electromagnetic Pulse [Attack] was a ship-launched EMP attack against the United States by Iran, as this would eliminate the need for Iran to develop an ICBM to deliver a nuclear warhead against the U.S. and could be executed clandestinely, taking the U.S. by surprise …