The Frayed Ends Of The Nuclear Cord

For all it’s faults (byproducts that have to be sequestered for half a million years, for instance), nuclear energy is amongst the best ways to generate electricity known to mankind at this time – discounting any future advances in fusion or solar power generation.

Nuclear doesn’t generate the greenhouse gases that spew forth from coal and natural gas power plants… isn’t effected by cloudy days or winter seasons like solar… has no problems when the air is still and fails to turn the windmills… and it doesn’t reroute entire aquatic ecosystems like hydroelectric dams.

But yes… there is that need to protect humankind and all our friends in the wild kingdom from the nuclear waste on scales of time that are longer than civilization has existed on the face of the planet.

Regardless, nuclear energy’s benefits are vast and every facility constructed to harness the power of the atom is a boon to society as it generally means there are less coal-burning plants toxifying the air we breath.

The problems with nuclear energy fall into two categories: environmental, which I’ve touched on above… and political, which I’m going to talk about below.

Nuclear reactors can be harnessed for electricity generation, yes… but they also can be used to create fissile material like plutonium or enriched uraniums that are necessary to create an atomic weapon.

Generally speaking, the technology required to build a nuclear power station is only affordable to nations that are more or less responsible enough to be trusted with any nuclear weapons that they might create – countries with governments that subscribe to the reality that deploying such weapons in anger would not be in their best interest.

Even the two most volatile neighbor countries that have nuclear weapons – India and Pakistan – realize that exchanging atomic potshots at each other would never be a small, localized engagement… that other nuclear powers greater than their own would most likely intervene with punishments of either military or political varieties.

With India being aligned with the Western superpowers like the United States, Great Britain, and France (don’t laugh… nukes can be dispatched from Parisian bunkers), a marginal country like Pakistan – who’s alliances aren’t clearly defined – would likely be struck with thermonuclear warheads carried by ICBMs or cruise missiles fired by New Delhi’s friends in the event Pakistan somehow came out on top.

The biggest check in the nuclear weapons business is that both the United States of America and Russia have enough nuclear weapons to end human civilization as we know it (or possibly altogether), with China, Great Britain, and France following behind them… and this is clearly enough to discourage smaller countries from developing any sort or atomic weapon.

There would assuredly be dire consequences for launching any sort of nuclear attack – no matter how much you hate the guy you’re pointing them at.

However, reality isn’t a universal concept in some corners of the globe.

There are a few governments that are so removed from society that they have become pariah states – the ones that nobody ever invites to the New Year’s celebrations at the United Nations, and ones that are perfectly happy with their status.

In the context of this discussion on smashing atoms, I’m focusing purely on the communist nation of North Korea and the middle eastern country of Iran.

Both countries eschew the global community (and the realities embraced by it) and have created unto themselves their own version of reality… one that generally places themselves at the center of the universe and deludes the ruling parties into thinking they’re untouchable/invincible.

In the case of North Korea, Kim Jong Il and his buddies (I use ‘buddies’ loosely since there isn’t a person in the country he wouldn’t shoot – including family members) rule the land in an almost empirical manner that really hasn’t been seen since the great dynasties of history: it’s taught to every North Korean child that Kim Jong Il is in fact a God.

In fact, North Korea barely qualifies as a communist state, and it can be argued – I’d imagine quite successfully – that it’s more in line with the leadership of Egypt’s pharaohs… just without the bountiful empire: North Korean citizens are probably the poorest out of any of the developed nations.

Kim Jong Il is so crazy that even his biggest (read: only) supporter at the United Nations, China, keeps him at arm’s length… and even then, they barely touch Pyongyang with their fingertips while wearing eight gloves on each hand.

The fact that this nutbar has access to nuclear weapons is entirely indigestible – and quite hard to fathom when you take into account that North Korea has no real money to speak of to pay for any sort of research program… but I suppose you can afford just about anything when you don’t actually have to pay the people who work for you.

Kim Jong Il is a god, remember? Don’t do what he wants and he’ll smite your ass… and probably your entire family while he’s at it.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that his atomic weapons are very basic and shoddily constructed: when testing them, they have a tendency to fizzle – more of a runaway nuclear chain reaction than an actual detonation.

These North Korean atomic bombs are barely in the same class as those deployed by the United States against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II… and nowhere near as advanced as even Pakistan’s.

But even the most rudimentary nuclear weapons are devastating… either through their explosive force (see photo below) or through the mass radioactive contamination of the target area.

Click Me
Click Me

In  terms of instability, North Korea is like the guy who was arrested for killing his neighbor because he though the neighbor was telepathically raping his wife.

Nothing said by Kim Jong Ill or his government makes any sense, and North Korea has no qualms about threatening anyone with total and complete destruction… promising a war that will end Western civilization – despite lacking any way to follow through on these threats, even when including the estimated 5 to 8 nuclear weapons that Pyongyang possesses.

The North Korean military may have one of the largest standing armies on the world when compared to it’s national population, but the equipment they are outfitted with is barely any more advanced than it was during the Korean War in the 1950s – at best, it’s equivalent to Soviet designs from the mid to late 70s.

This irrationality is alarming for two reasons:

1) Technically, North and South Korea are still in a defacto state of war since the Korean War ended in a cease-fire treaty – a truce that’s been in place ever since… if only barely on some occasions – and that war could pick up at any time, and that becomes more and more likely as North Korea becomes more and more impoverished.

2) Pyongyang has made no secret of it’s willingness to help political entities that have similar designs to destroy the West… and has routinely shipped weapons and military equipment to those ideological comrades, and it’s not a stretch of the imagination that North Korea would share nuclear weapons technology – or even a finished atomic bomb – with those same comrades.

The only silver lining in the North Korean situation is that ships leaving North Korean waters are some of the most scrutinized vessels afloat: any tub that can carry anything bigger than a refrigerator is fair game for random inspections by South Korean and American naval assets – which makes shipping nuclear weapons, fissile material, or technology to create either of those things by water not really a winning strategy.

This of course doesn’t rule out shipping illicit weapons by land or air…. but similar searches are carried out against trucks leaving North Korea by Chinese and Russian agencies (how effectively, nobody in the West can say for certain), and all air cargo from North Korea is thoroughly screened at airports abroad.

There is only one destination outside of North Korea that North Korean ships and aircraft are welcome – and it also happens to be the other rogue nation with nuclear ambitions: Iran.

I’m sorry, Tehran… were you hoping I’d forgotten you?

Nope.

In many ways, you’re worse than those nutjobs in Pyongyang – mainly because, even though you’re batshit crazy, you’re also very focused on the destruction of those you hold in ill regard.

In Iran’s case, that’s most notably Israel.

There isn’t a day that goes by that Iran’s puppet government and it’s religious masters don’t call for the total destruction of the Jewish state, and it works on a daily basis towards that goal by funding terrorist organizations that operate in Palestinian territories.

If that wasn’t problematic enough, the Ayatollah also sends money to terrorist outfits – including Al Qaeda – that attack other Western nations that are allied with Israel.

And while the Ayatollah isn’t necessarily as committed to destroying the West as Osama bin Laden was, his plans call for weakening the resolve of Israel’s allies by hopefully making it more bother than it’s worth to the United States, Britain, and others.

It’s this fanatical devotion to destroying every single Jew in the Middle East (and everywhere else in due time) that makes Iran more dangerous.

While North Korea is more reactive – as in it puffs itself up and makes threats when it perceives itself to be threatened – and can be calmed down with offers of candy (financial and food aid), Iran is completely proactive in it’s plans… spending nearly all it’s money on weaponry and armed forces.

It should be noted than Iran has a lot of money to use for it’s own military and the funding of terrorism around the globe, and that money comes from the export of oil to the countries that need it – both the export of Iran’s own oil assets, and money from neighboring countries’ oil sales who are agreeable to the Iranian way of things… primarily certain factions inside Saudi Arabia.

While Western nations don’t conduct a lot of oil business with Iran, countries like Russia and China don’t make that distinction and gladly take any oil Iran can send their way to fuel their own economies.

Russian and Chinese weapons technologies have also readily been made available to the Iranian government, and this is why the Iranian military possesses weaponry that’s equal to the West’s technology of the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

You may not think weapons circa 1989 to 1995 would be all that dangerous to Western targets using weapons made in this millennium… but keep in mind, those Iranian weapons are equivalent to what the U.S. defeated Saddam Hussein with in the first Gulf War – so they aren’t to be ignored by the wise.

With all that oil money, Iran has been able to afford a fairly modern nuclear energy program – one that Tehran insists is for purely peaceful purposes and that they’re not at all interested in making fissile material for making atomic weapons.

You know what? Put a kid in a room with both a dart gun and a target to shoot at, he’s going to shoot those darts at the target the second you turn your back – no matter how much you tell him not to, and how much he denies his intention to do so.

The fact of the matter is that Iran has far more centrifuge units required to enrich uranium than are needed for the modest civilian-purposed nuclear reactor that Tehran claims is the only beneficiary – and these enrichment facilities are spread far and wide throughout the country, with some of them located underground in hardened facilities that would be problematic to destroy.

If you’re producing far more enriched uranium than you could possibly use in your nuclear electricity generation reactor(s), then that surplus uranium has to go someplace… and the two options that come to mind aren’t acceptable: a covert weapons program, or for export to other political entities that also have covert nuclear ambitions – Al Qaeda, for example.

The nuclear situation in Iran puts Israel – and by extension it’s Western allies – in a bind: while Iran potentially acquiring nuclear weapons capability is completely unacceptable, unilaterally attacking Iran in a pre-emptive strike would be heavy-handed and most likely to ignite a war that would spread like wildfire across the entire Middle East – and the forces of the Western allies are already exhausted from a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Which leaves Israel to act on its own – and one must also keep in mind that Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons of it’s own if the situation got out of hand.

However, while Israel might have enough thermonuclear devices to level Tehran and a few other Iranian cities, the fact is that Iran is the 2nd largest country in the region… and Israel is the smallest, and therefore extremely susceptible to being destroyed in a single nuclear strike.

There’s also the small matter of delivering those nuclear weapons to Iran as – as far as anyone in the West knows – all of Israel’s nuclear devices are in the form of gravity bombs and not mounted on long-range missiles, meaning that Israeli attack planes would have to fly through potentially hostile Lebanese, Syrian, Turkish, or Iraqi airspace before even getting to Iran.

The same holds out for any non-nuclear intervention raid Israel might want to stage against Iran in hopes of derailing the Iranian nuclear program like they did when they pounded Saddam Hussein’s atomic facilities into dust back in the 1980s – there’s just too much territory to cover from Israeli airfields to targets in Iran unless those Israeli pilots commit to a one-way suicide mission… and I wouldn’t put that past the Israeli people as they know the value of sacrifice and are a hardened people after decades of being under attack from all sides.

And yet… all the logistics of attacking Iran pale in comparison to the destructive potential of either the Islamic Republic Of Iran Army, The Army Of The Guardians Of The Islamic Revolution (the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard), or any other Iranian military body – or any paramilitary body the Ayatollah deems satisfactory enough to share with – possessing nuclear weapons when they are ideologically tuned towards destroying Israel and the Western world.

The situation is untenable and will need to be resolved prior to Iran developing nuclear weapons technology – and that time isn’t all that far into the future.

Am I being an alarmist?

No.

Everything I’ve said here is absolutely true and cannot be argued by anyone outside North Korea and Iran.

The world has been under the illusion up until now that only the big players could afford nuclear weapons, and to be honest, global opinions should have changed once India and Pakistan developed the Bomb.

But we’ve fooled ourselves into complacency again… that we can send strongly worded letters to Tehran and Pyongyang and they will simply throw up their hands with a smile, saying “Well…  it was worth a try, right?” before packing their whole nuclear infrastructure up in crates and shipping it to Russia for disposal.

Without total regime changes in North Korea and Iran, localized or global nuclear attacks aren’t just probable – they’re an almost forgone conclusion because both countries stand today as spiteful (in Pyongyang’s case), hateful (Tehran), and wholly irrational states.

Kim Jong Il and his son to follow him will continue to develop their primitive atom bombs into more effective hydrogen bombs by working their researchers to death at gunpoint while the citizens throughout North Korea – who depend on the government – starve to death in the streets (while Pyongyang’s resident god drinks Hennessy and collects expensive toys).

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his boss, the Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will continue on their path to nuclear weapons while they continue to hate on the Jewish people and deny the Holocaust – which was the reason the state of Israel was formed in the first place from land ‘donated’ from the surrounding Arab states – in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

To me, that’s the sure sign of Tehran’s insanity and the reason they can’t be trusted: to completely deny the Holocaust when it was thoroughly documented by both the Allies when the camps were liberated, and by the Nazis themselves with their meticulous records of the methodical extermination of the Jews who they deemed as sub-human… and the continued existence of facilities like Auschwitz  and Dachau to remind humanity that the Holocaust was real.

It’s the equivalent of Ahmadinejad looking up and telling the world that the sky is in fact purple and that we’ve been duped by the Jews into thinking it’s blue… which I’m pretty sure he’s already claimed once or twice in his hateful stand-up comedy routines at the United Nations headquarters.

Folks… these are people who can not EVER be trusted with the nuclear genie.

You should be alarmed… you should feel a sense of panic.

These people aren’t going anywhere and won’t change their ways unless we make them.

And believe me… they’re not going to blink when we send them angry emails from the United Nations’ Gmail account.

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I Must Protest!

(NOTE: Edited with actual protester numbers on 8/30/2010)

Folks, I find myself writing this post in dire protest of protesters – but only those who congregate in less than critical numbers, and those who protest events worlds away from their selected protest site.

Am I the only one who finds it rather silly that 25 people 35 people in Peterborough gather up to protest a woman being stoned to death in Iran?

Is there some ayatollah in Iran who’s going to read about this little chanting session from a handful of attention seekers and say “Great Allah’s Beard! Why haven’t we seen the error of our ways before this moment? How could we have been so wrong?”

The notion is so clearly retarded that it makes my mind spin.

Before you say it, I must say that I do understand the underlying concept: protesting here will attempt to put upward social pressure on elected government officials who may actually have some influence on the world stage.

However, these people really need to be honest with themselves.

Nobody cares.

It’s a sad thing, yes… but none-the-less true: the woman who is being stoned to death has absolutely nothing to do with anybody this far removed from Iran (excluding any immigrants of an Iranian origin).

Sure… there are any number of bleeding hearts out there that will donate $10 to a $100 to an organization like Amnesty International to appease their conscience – but then they’ll move on with their day, completely absolved of responsibility and forget the whole thing.

At the end of the day, this sort of protest is as effective as protesting the sun or the moon.

Even if you blow the number of protesters up a thousand times, odds are that politicians still won’t listen.

The recent G8/G20 summit and it’s attached protests would be a great example of that: thousands upon thousands of protesters/rioters/all-around hooligans descended on Toronto to scream, shout, break windows, and set police cars on fire in protest of… what? The global economy?

They did all this for the government agents and representatives on hand, right? The ones that blithely ignored them?

Or how about the Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire – burning to death calmly in protest?

Hòa thượng Thích Quảng Đức did this in South Vietnam to protest how Buddhist were treated – but this only resulted in lip service from the ruling government at the time.

For there to be any effect on governmental bodies, the protesters have to be a real and legitimate threat – threatening to take away the government’s power to rule through the election process: in a democratic society, every eligible voter gets one vote… and if enough of those votes are possessed by people protesting, that is an immediate danger to the politicos in charge.

To understand this, we have to go back in time… back to the American Civil Rights movement.

Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a truly awesome sight and one of the most effective protests that I can think of – nearly half a million people descending on the nation’s seat of power.

It showed the powers in Washington that the black man was now united in it’s desire for equality… that there were now millions of voters in the U.S.A. that would throw their ballots in the direction of whatever party and presidential candidate that would give them the right to stand up with pride and dignity in CrackerLand.

And while the results were not immediate, they were tangible: a year later, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.

For protests to work, you need to have both numbers… a commonality… and authoritative body that can be threatened.

This can be easily demonstrated in many European countries where the governments actually fear the people e.g. France: if the French government passes some legislative charter that doesn’t sit well with the average citizen, a large fraction of the populace will take to the streets for days or even weeks until the government backs down.

Somehow, the North American populace has lost this power – and I have to say that we are poorer for it, but it is how it is.

However, I’ve been talking purely about democratic society and not those elsewhere that aren’t quite that free.

Let’s zero in on Iran where that poor woman is going to be stoned to death.

Yes… in theory, Iran has open and freely voted democratic elections – but the caveat is that the country is a theocracy ruled by ayatollahs, and that makes the presidential and governmental processes purely symbolic.

As much as we would like to heap hatred on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is merely the mouth piece of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – a puppet (a poorly dressed one) that spouts the religious party lines when the ayatollah can’t be bothered with the small details.

So, honestly, what are 25 people in Peterborough going to do against that?

Especially considering the entire frakkin’ UNITED NATIONS can’t get Iran to do squat?

The majority of U.N. members don’t want Iran to have any sort of nuclear energy whatsoever – in case it results in the development of nuclear weapons – but Iran just fueled up it’s first nuclear reactor with the help of the Russians (who also tend to do whatever they like).

If the world’s most powerful authority (at least ostensibly) can’t get certain nations to change their ways, what chance do a few attention whores carrying signs and chanting rhyming mantras have?

Remember…

Remember, remember…

The 11th of September.

Here we are 8 years down the winding path that time always leaves behind in our wake… beyond all the twists and turns, obstacles and ditches, and friends and enemies that we have passed by on our way to wherever we are going.

Who here remembers what they were doing on 9/11 before they learned about what had happened in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania?

I can’t specifically remember, but that period in my life, I was going through a homeless phase after splitting up with my ex-fiance Aimee for a spell – which happened a few times over the 5 years she and I were together.

How many of you remember what you were doing exactly when you found out?

This I do remember.

I was sitting at the public library, using the pay-for-play internet service to check my email and surf for whatever it was that I was interested in at that point.

Through my travels over the interwebs, I caught snippets of stories out of New York about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

This was at about eleven o’clock in the morning, long after the towers had come crashing down – but in the circles I was browsing, news wasn’t exactly front and center so I was missing the whole story.

As far as I knew, some idiot had forgotten which way the sky was and had plowed his Cessna it one of the WTC towers.

While I was surfing, a MSN box popped up and said my friend Steve had popped on.

Steve had been attending a bible college in Florida over the summer and we only chatted here and there, so I messaged him and made some lame joke about how he should watch out because planes were falling out of the sky that day.

Now remember, I had no clue about the scope of what was going on south of the border.

Man… did I ever get an earful – which left me a bit pissed off (because I didn’t know what his deal was) and a bit more curious as to what the actual story was with the plane that I had read about in passing.

It didn’t take me long to get the whole scope of the situation, or at least the essentials as my $10 dollars was running out.

9-11 attacks

After that, I waited until the evening news to get the big picture with video and sound and a lot of ‘Oh my god’.

wtc-9-11

Suddenly, being homeless didn’t really seem that big of a deal.

9-11_1

Fire fighters from my city traveled southward in hopes of helping the victims in New York.

Days later, I moved into my new apartment and got my utilities and internet connected.

The Time Magazine subscription I had set-up online began to kick in a week or so after that and I began to learn about the who’s and why’s of what actually happened during that fateful day

Names like Osama bin Laden.

Organizations with names such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

It seemed so extremely bizarre and otherworldly that crazy old men who lived in caves in the middle of the desert could strike out and destroy so many innocent lives in an orgy of seething hatred – thousands upon thousands of miles away on the other side of the globe.

So when the decision came down that the United States of America was going to invade Afghanistan in efforts to root out these evil doers, I was all for it.

I cheered every time I saw a bomb fall from a plane.

I became excited every time I saw ordinance explode.

I compared the military hardware that was in theater to the encyclopedias both on my shelf and in my head (I’ve always been a warfare enthusiast… World War II was my specialty).

However, as the war raged on, I began to realize that the U.S. Marines were not going to catch up with Osama… all they were going to get were his Taliban flunkies whom he gladly hung out to dry.

Eventually, the full-scale war in Afghanistan wound down when U.S. commanders came to the same conclusion that I had.

They left token forces behind to make sure the Taliban stayed out of Kabul, and left the cave-by-cave manhunt to NATO forces who had tagged along.

Things were quiet for a while before George W. concocted some crazy-ass bullshit about how Osama was chillin’ with Sadam Hussein and decided to throw an entirely new war in Iraq – hoping to finish what George Sr. had started a decade earlier when Iraq had invaded Kuwait.

As time went by, it became very clear as to how much bullshit George W. Bush’s administration had cooked up in order to roll tanks down Main Street, Baghdad.

It didn’t really matter, though.

What was done was done.

The idiot managed to get himself re-elected based on the Terrorist Boogeyman that he had convinced the American people was hiding around every corner – which may well be entirely accurate, but any accuracy was diminished by the fact that it was political gamesmanship at both it’s finest and worst.

Sadam Hussein was tried in a kangaroo court and sentenced to hang.

The man did deserve to be hanged for things he had done to his own people over the decades that he had been in power – but the judgment and sentencing should have been carried out with more decorum in someplace like the Hague… instead of inside former Sadam palaces staffed by angry Iraqis who were being propped up by the Bush Administration.

To add insult to injury, Sadam’s hanging was graphically broadcast over YouTube for all the world to see.

During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, countless Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives had been captured by U.S. forces and quietly scuttled off to the internment camp set up at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – without legal rhyme or reason beyond having been labeled ‘enemy combatants’ by George W. Bush and his cronies.

These poor bastards (and yes, I do recognize that these are people who want to kill every single man, woman, and child in the Western World) have been tortured for 8 years off and on with no one able to do a bloody thing about it since the Bush Administration and it’s point-men at the C.I.A. and the Defense Department were above the law in their own eyes.

To this day,  nobody knows exactly what to do with these prisoners since they present a serious problem to the new Obama Administration and the world at large.

What do you think would happen if Barack Obama signed an order today to magnanimously allow all these detainees go home right this instant?

They would go back to whatever country, town, or mountainside that they came from and tell everyone who would listen to them EXACTLY what happened to them over the course of the last eight years – or they might embellish their tales somewhat… but it’s hard to imagine any sort of embellishment that would top the actual torture that went on in the cells at Guantanamo.

How do you think that would make their compatriots feel? Like giving all the westerners a big hug?

Or… what do you think would happen if all these people went on trial and we sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty?

Will we all get flower bouquets from our friends at Al-Qaeda head office?

I find that prospect to be very dubious indeed.

So here we are, eight long years later and the forces that conspired to kill and maim so many people on that sunny late summer day hate us more than ever.

Doesn’t that make you feel warm and tingly inside?

Or does it fill you with abject terror?

What is it that you think we as citizens of the ‘civilized’ world should do to rectify this situation?

I’m slightly partial to an angry mob showing up at the Bush compound in Texas and grabbing Dubya right out of his bed before sending him to the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan via UPS while he’s still in his pajamas.

That’s gotta be worth something to Osama, don’t you think?

However, I honestly don’t know if there can ever be an end to this circle of hatred and violence in the Middle East.

The fact that Barack Obama has tried to open a dialogue with the Islamic world gives me a faint glimmer of hope that at least the damage that has been done will stop happening.

If the Islamic peoples of the world at least take a moment to hear calmer head speaking to them, maybe they can calm down as well.

If you take away the people’s anger and mistrust towards us in the West, how are organizations like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda supposed to function? Where will they find volunteers?

Maybe then we’ll all be able to sit down and sing a global chorus of Kumbaya.

Then again, maybe not.

You know what?

I don’t frikkin’ know.