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[l] at 9/18/19 8:42am

Zachary Keck

History, Europe

Hex - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5556903 We've got them ranked.

Key point: These nuclear tests were deadly and world-changing.

These days, the phrase nuclear test is almost synonymous with North Korea. After all, Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests since its first one in 2006. No other country has conducted a single test this century.

In the grand scheme of things, however, North Korea is barely a blimp on the map. Between America’s first nuclear test in 1945 and North Korea’s last denotation in September of last year, the world has witnessed at least 2,056 nuclear tests. Nearly 85 percent of these were conducted by the United States and the Soviet Union, but the three other recognized nuclear powers (the United Kingdom, France and China) have also conducted a significant amount of their own. Israel has never officially tested a nuclear weapon, although there is strong evidence that it secretly tested some in South Africa in 1979. India conducted a “peaceful” nuclear explosion in 1974, followed by a series of five nuclear blasts in May 1998. Later that same month, Pakistan responded with six nuclear tests on two seperate days.

Recommended: 1,700 Planes Ready for War: Everything You Need To Know About China's Air Force

Recommended: Stealth vs. North Korea’s Air Defenses: Who Wins?

Recommended: America’s Battleships Went to War Against North Korea

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[Author: Zachary Keck] [Category: History]

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[l] at 9/18/19 8:35am

Tom Nichols

Security, Europe

By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40087110 Class is now in session.

Key point: American policymakers and citizens need to better understand Russia's nuclear program.

Americans don’t think very much about nuclear weapons, and they certainly don’t think very often about their own arsenal, at least until something goes wrong with it, like the recent scandals involving the U.S. ICBM force . The Obama administration completed a nuclear posture review in 2010 , a document that supposedly lays out the purpose and future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Like previous U.S. reviews conducted in 1994 and 2002, it sank without a trace. The fact of the matter is that nuclear weapons and their mission simply do not matter much to post–Cold War American leaders.

Nuclear weapons, however, certainly matter to the Russians. Nuclear arms have always been the source of superpower status for both Soviet and Russian leaders. This is especially true today: the Soviet collapse left the Russian Federation a country bereft of the usual indicators of a great power, including conventional military force or the ability to project it. Little wonder that Moscow still relies on its nuclear arsenal as one of the last vestiges of its right to be considered more than merely— in President Obama’s dismissive words —a “regional power.” (Or in the caustic words of Senator John McCain : “A gas station masquerading as a country.”)

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[Author: Tom Nichols] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 8:29am

Tom Nichols

Security, Europe

By US gov - US gov, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1997496 No joke.

Key point: There have been too many nuclear war close calls for comfort and humanity must learn from them.

Nuclear war, the exchange of nuclear weapons between two or more states in open conflict. It’s unthinkable. It can’t happen.



Of course, nuclear war is extremely unlikely. Although the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has placed the hands of its famous clock at five minutes to midnight, that doesn’t mean very much and never has. The fact of the matter is that world nuclear inventories, led by reductions in the United States and Russia, have never been lower, and none of the major powers expects a nuclear conflict in the way they did during the Cold War. To crib a line from Captain Jack Sparrow, however, nuclear war is not impossible, it’s improbable, and a nuclear war could take place in more ways than you might think, sparked by any number of occurrences from a pure accident to an intentional strike.

Editor’s Note: Please also take a look at Tom Nichols recent piece Welcome to Russian Nuclear Weapons 101.

I’m going to focus here on a war that could involve the United States and its allies on one side, and Russia or China on the other. Nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, or between a future nuclear-armed Iran and Israel, is unlikely but far easier to imagine than a global nuclear conflict. Indeed, this is one reason Americans don’t think about nuclear war very much anymore: they think it will happen somewhere else. (If a regional limited war takes place, however, you’ll know it: even a small exchange of nuclear weapons will create a global environmental catastrophe that will dwarf Chernobyl or Fukushima.)

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[Author: Tom Nichols] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 8:16am

Robert Gard, Philip Coyle, Greg Terryn, John Isaacs

Security, Americas

https://media.defense.gov/2018/Nov/29/2002067540/-1/-1/0/080514-O-ZZ999-444.JPG We break it down.

Key point: There are a lot of assumptions out there about nuclear weapons and these need to be corrected to prevent voters from making poor policy choices.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced last week that it has decided to move its famed “Doomsday Clock” three minutes closer to midnight or, in effect, closer to the “end of humanity.” While this year, the Bulletin focused on the threat from climate change, a spokesperson added that “a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”

Indeed, nuclear weapons still play a limited, yet very expensive, role in our national security. The Congressional Budget Office announced last week that the United States will spend about $350 billion over the next decade to upgrade and maintain its arsenal. But at the same time, there are also misconceptions about the purpose, status and effectiveness of our arsenal. Let’s disarm some of those myths:

1. Nuclear weapons are the highest priority U.S. military forces:

Out-going Secretary Hagel perpetuated this myth during his press conference announcing the results of a recent nuclear review: “Our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in ensuring U.S. national security, and it's DOD's highest priority mission. No other capability we have is more important.” While nuclear deterrence has been a vestige of U.S defense policy since World War II, it clearly does not represent today’s highest priority for the DOD in terms of attention, planning or funding.

Nuclear weapons do not address the threat of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, the Ebola epidemic, the continued insurgency in Afghanistan or Russian expansion into Crimea and Ukraine. Conventional forces, medical assistance and diplomacy are essential in addressing those issues and deserve to be prioritized for current and foreseeable threats to the United States and its allies.

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[Author: Robert Gard, Philip Coyle, Greg Terryn, John Isaacs] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 7:39am

Bishop Garrison, Preston Lann

Security, Europe

https://news.usni.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/x_51.jpeg Not spending in the right areas?

Key point: America is spending on hypersonic weapons but not enough on hypersonic defense.

Russia is developing hypersonic nuclear weapons, and Putin claims he offered to sell one to President Donald Trump. While the conversation between the two leaders was presented light-heartedly, the very real threat from Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons systems continues to grow as both make significant advances in the development of hypersonic weapons that can escape and evade the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Ballistic Missile Defense System. To counter this emerging hypersonic threat, the DoD’s 2019 budget has allocated more than $2 billion for hypersonic weapons development. However, the DoD’s hypersonic weapons program currently suffers from large disparities in research and budget between its offensive and defensive capabilities development. While offensive capabilities are important, a strong defensive capability remains important to the protection of interests and assets.

The majority of DoD's funding for hypersonic weapons development currently goes toward precision strike or offensive weapons, as opposed to missile defense programs. Next year’s DoD budget for overall hypersonic investments is approximately $2.6 billion, with defensive developments making up only about six percent ($157.4 million) of that investment budget. Moreover, the budgetary figure for defensive developments will drop by almost a quarter in the coming years, from $157.4 million next year to $122 million by 2024.

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[Author: Bishop Garrison, Preston Lann] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 6:20am

Michael Peck


Konstantin Sivkov, a member of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences, argues that superior U.S. reconnaissance capabilities would trump China’s advantages in hypersonic missiles.

If U.S. and Chinese aircraft carriers were to clash, the U.S. Navy would win.

And who makes that prediction? A Russian military expert.

Konstantin Sivkov, a member of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences, argues that superior U.S. reconnaissance capabilities would trump China’s advantages in hypersonic missiles.

Sivkov lays out a sort of wargame for an America vs. China carrier clash that seems based on the World War II carrier battles between America and Japan, particularly the Battle of Midway. Those battles tended to be nail-biting, knife-edge affairs where victory or defeat rested on which side first spotted the other side’s carriers, and then dispatched an airstrike against the vulnerable flattops.

“The key role that determines the course and outcome of hostilities at sea in modern conditions is played not so much by the power and quantity of strike weapons, but by the capabilities of the reconnaissance system on an ocean theater of operations,” Sivkov writes in the Russian defense publication Military-Industrial Courier. “Surpassing the enemy in this respect, the U.S. Navy is able to significantly level the superiority of the Chinese in hypersonic anti-ship missiles.”

While the U.S. has by far the greatest carrier fleet in the world, China already has one carrier, is almost ready to sail another, and may eventually build a half-dozen or more to assert Chinese power in the Western Pacific and beyond. That leaves Russia, a traditional land power that has just one carrier (now out of commission after a dockyard accident), as something of an interested bystander in carrier warfare.

Sivkov assumes that because China lacks power projection capabilities such as overseas bases, the battle would be fought closer to bases within 500 to 1,500 kilometers from the coast of China (or a base in, say, the Indian Ocean if China manages to obtain one from a friendly state). Presumably outgunned in a purely carrier battle, the People’s Liberation Army Navy will seek an engagement within range of its hypersonic missiles launched from land and by bombers.

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[Author: Michael Peck] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 5:26am

Michael Peck


Russia’s military doctrine is due for an update. And it will likely emphasize factors such as hypersonic missiles and hybrid warfare.

Russia’s military doctrine is due for an update. And it will likely emphasize factors such as hypersonic missiles and hybrid warfare.

That’s the assessment of a RAND Corp. analyst who thinks it likely that Russia’s military doctrine – last updated in December 2014 – is due for a makeover.

“There are a few reasons why the Russian military may release an updated doctrine next year: 2020 has long been a benchmark year for Russian military planners, Russian threat perceptions have hardened with respect to the United States, and Russia appears to be entering a cycle of updating several national security strategy documents,” writes Dara Massicot, a RAND Russia specialist, in an article for War on the Rocks. Russia is also modernizing its arsenal with weapons such as the T-14 Armata tank, Su-57 stealth fighters and hypersonic missiles, which would need to be incorporated into a new doctrine.

As with the United States, Russian national security plans tend to be fairly stable, but there are often small but significant changes in each new version. “For example, internal threats were included for the first time in the 2014 doctrine, and since then Russia updated the legal relationships between the military and internal security agencies, created the National Defense Control Center in Moscow to better monitor and respond to many types of threats, and consolidated multiple internal security services into the national guard (rosgvardia),” Massicot notes. “In another example, the 2016 Russian Foreign Policy Concept deleted references to the INF Treaty, a subtle foreshadowing of the agreement’s implosion this year.”

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[Author: Michael Peck] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 5:18am

Michael Peck


Russia will begin building two helicopters carriers as of May 2020, according to Russian news agency TASS, citing unnamed sources. And in a slap at the West, the ships will be built in a shipyard in the  Crimea, forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014, which led to Western sanctions against Russia.

For the first time since the 1990s, Russia’s helicopter carriers are coming back.

Russia will begin building two helicopters carriers as of May 2020, according to Russian news agency TASS, citing unnamed sources. And in a slap at the West, the ships will be built in a shipyard in the  Crimea, forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014, which led to Western sanctions against Russia.

"Two amphibious assault ships, with water displacement of up to 15,000 tons, will for the first time in Russian history be laid down at the Zaliv shipyard in Kerch in 2020," one source said. The first vessel is slated to be delivered before Russia’s current 10-year arms procurement plan ends at the end of 2027.

“The ships will be able to carry over 10 helicopters of various types and will be equipped with a dock-type chamber for landing craft utilities (LTU),” TASS said. How many troops will be carried wasn’t specified, though TASS noted that such ships carry from a few hundred to more than a thousand soldiers.

The U.S. Navy operates eight Wasp-class amphibious assault ships, each about 41,000 tons. They carry almost 2,000 Marines, plus up to a dozen landing craft, 30 M-1 tanks and AAV7A1 amphibious armored vehicles, eight towed 155-millimeter howitzers, and almost a hundred trucks, Humvees and other support vehicles. That ground force is supported by a powerful mixed air unit comprising about 20 to 30 transport and attack helicopters, MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, AV-8B Harrier jets and F-35B short-takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) stealth fighters.

The Wasps give the United States the capability to land a Marine Expeditionary Unit (essentially a reinforced infantry battalion) by sea or air, backed by armor and air support. Deployed around the world as the centerpiece of Amphibious Ready Groups complete with escort warships, such groups have allowed America to land troops at global hotspots at short notice.

But the Russian vessels seem closer to France’s Mistral-class amphibious assault ships. The 21,000-ton Mistrals accommodate up to 900 troops, 40 Leclerc tanks, 16 transport and attack helicopters, and a few amphibious landing vehicles. France operates three, while Egypt has two.

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[Author: Michael Peck] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 4:45am

David Axe


And some of those weapons came from China. 

Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have been at war with a Saudi-Emirati coalition since 2015, claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks on two Saudi Aramco facilities on Sept. 14, 2019.  

The attacks apparently involved either cruise missiles or far-flying drones firing small guided munitions. Thanks in part to support from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Houthis possess both types of weapons.

The Houthis also have produced an array of land-attack ballistic missiles. The militants reportedly have converted old Soviet- and North Korean-made Scud rockets, which once belonged to the Yemeni military, into longer-range “Burkan” ballistic missiles.

Similar efforts resulted in an arsenal of anti-ship weapons. In 2015 and 2016 the Houthis repeatedly targeted ships sailing near Yemen. At the peak of the shipping war in October 2016, Houthi forces fired fired two cruise missiles toward the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mason and the amphibious ship Ponce while the two vessels were sailing in international waters north of the Mandeb Strait.

Mason fired three surface-to-air missiles and launched a radar decoy. The first Houthi missile fell into the sea, either on its own or after being struck or redirected by the American weapons or decoy. The second Houthi missile harmlessly struck the water without American missiles or decoys directly intervening.

Aviation expert Tom Cooper in a 2016 article explained the origin of the Houthi anti-ship force. “As the Yemeni civil war escalated in the period from September 2014 to March 2015, as much as two-thirds of Yemen’s armed forces defected to the Houthi side,” Cooper wrote. “The defectors included the crews of three Chinese-made Type 021 missile boats armed with C.801 anti-ship missiles.”


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[Author: David Axe] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 4:30am

David Axe

Security, Asia

Reuters It's a big deal.

Key point: This new, domestically-produced missile is Taiwan's attempt to close some of the military imbalance with China.

Taiwan has begun production of a new land-attack cruise missile. But the island country still is badly outgunned by China’s own, much larger missile arsenal.

Taiwanese media on Aug. 4, 2019 reported that the country’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology had cleared the Yun Feng cruise missile for mass production.

The supersonic land-attack missile has been under development since the 1990s. It can fly as far as 1,200 miles, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

That range could allow Taiwan to threaten many of the airbases, ports and other facilities from which China likely would stage any attempt to invade Taiwan.

Taipei reportedly is building an initial 20 Yun Feng missiles as well as 10 truck-based launchers. Taiwan’s Up Media described the missiles as “the top priority of the various studios of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”

Taiwan also is developing a new air-launched cruise missile -- and reportedly has attempted to reverse-engineer old, U.S.-made J85 engines apparently to power the munition.

According to a local media report, the Taiwanese air force and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are collaborating on the reverse-engineering of the General Electric J85 engine, two of which power each of Taiwan's roughly two-dozen F-5 fighters.

The Taiwanese air force operated more than 300 F-5s before replacing most of them with American-made F-16s, French Mirage 2000s and locally-built F-CKs, leaving the country with a large stock of excess J85s.

The J85 is a versatile motor. Compact at just four feet long and capable of producing 3,000 pounds of thrust, the engine powers F-5s, T-38 training jets, A-37 light attack aircraft and other types.

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[Author: David Axe] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 4:15am

Michael Peck

Security, Middle East

https://pictures.reuters.com/archive/RUSSIA-DEFENCE-MISSILE-RC1861594010.html A huge headache.

Key point: New weapons always have trouble, but especially when they weren't built with hotter climates in mind. 

Russian missiles had problems operating in Syria.

Why? Because parts of Syria are desert, and Russia lacked experience with designing weapons for such climates.

That startling admission came from Boris Obsonov, head of Russia's Tactical Missiles Corporation (KTRV), during an interview with the business newspaper Kommersant [Google English translation here].

"I will not hide it: various flaws were found in real combat conditions," Obsonov said. "For us, the Syrian campaign has become a serious test."

Obsonov said he tried to convince the Russian military to use smart bombs instead of unguided bombs. We did not have the cheapest weapon compared to free-fall bombs. We were told that the gravitational [unguided] bomb is quite effective thanks to a new method of targeting. And I had to argue! Tables, coordinates—it's all good. It is possible to make aerodynamic tables correctly, but with a strong wind such a bomb can be off by several hundred meters, because it does not have a correction system.

Obsonov blamed the lack of training ranges in Russia with similar climatic conditions to Syria. "We do not have polygons [training ranges] with such climatic conditions: heat, a strong haze rises from the ground, winds, sand storms."

"Therefore, it was not possible before Syria to test products, for example, with a laser homing head in such conditions," Obsonov said. We did not assume that the illumination due to mirages could 'float away.' The principle of operation of a laser weapon is: there is a target light. The head sees the reflected laser signal and is induced at the point of reflection of the signal. Under ideal conditions, a laser weapon is considered the most accurate weapon, but its range depends largely on the transparency of the atmosphere.

"The more complex the weapon, the more one had to think why something went wrong," Obsonov added. "Why, under ideal conditions, the defeat of the target occurs regularly, and suddenly it does not."

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[Author: Michael Peck] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 4:00am

Charlie Gao

Technology, Europe

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/2018_Moscow_Victory_Day_Parade_66.jpg Here's what's new.

Key point: Russia has upgraded their missile to allow it to be used from land instead of just by sea.

The 3M22 Zircon (Tsirkon) missile is one of the most hyped-up weapons in the Russian arsenal. One of the big three publicly-revealed hypersonic missiles, the Zircon is an anti-ship missile designed to pose an “unstoppable” threat to ships within a 300-400 km range.

But anonymous sources suggested to CNBC in a December 2018 interview that the Zircon was being adapted to be a land attack missile as well as an anti-ship missile. What could a land attack Zircon look like? What payloads could it carry, and which targets in Europe could be at risk?

On the surface, the ground-attack Zircon is a very formidable weapon. It’s not interceptable by any known means, it has plasma stealth to avoid detection, and it would be able to strike at very quick notice. But its original role as an anti-ship missile perhaps hampers its usefulness. Deploying them would be rather straightforward, as K-300 Bastion anti-ship launchers are said to be able to be modified to fire the Zircon.

According to Russian sources, the Zircon is derived from the supersonic P-800 Oniks, though the drawings of the Zircon looks significantly different from the P-800. The dimensions of the missiles are comparable, with the Zircon estimated to be between 8-10 meters long and the P-800 being 8.6 meters long in the surface-launched variant.

Given that the missiles are approximately similar in dimensions, it’s possible to estimate the warhead size of the Zircon based on the P-800. The P-800’s “battle compartment” which houses the warhead is located in the nose of the missile and is relatively small, due to the constraints of the air-intake and ramjet engine. Although the Zircon missile moves the air intake to the bottom of the missile, the nose is also far more slanted and sharp than the P-800, so the “battle compartment” is likely of the same size or smaller.

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[Author: Charlie Gao] [Category: Technology]

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[l] at 9/18/19 3:30am

Sebastien Roblin

History, Europe

https://i.imgur.com/EgL51Gd.jpg Very strange.

Key point: In 1943, Germany made plans for an advanced flying wing, but the design would never get to make a difference in the war.

Northrop Grumman revealed this year it is developing a second flying wing stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, to succeed its B-2 Spirit. However, it was a pair of German brothers in the service of Nazi Germany that developed the first jet-powered flying wing—which has been dubbed, debatably, “Hitler’s stealth fighter.”

But maximizing speed and range, not stealth, was the primary motivation behind the bat-shaped jet plane.

Walter Horten was an ace fighter pilot in the German Luftwaffe, having scored seven kills flying as wingman of the legendary Adolf Galland during the Battle of Britain. His brother Reimar was an airplane designer lacking a formal aeronautical education. In their youth, the pair had designed a series of innovative tail-less manned gliders.

In 1943, Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering laid out the so-called 3x1000 specification for a plane that could fly one thousand kilometers an hour carrying one thousand kilograms of bombs with fuel enough to travel one thousand kilometers and back—while still retaining a third of the fuel supply for use in combat. Such an airplane could strike targets in Britain while outrunning any fighters sent to intercept it.

Clearly, the new turbojet engines Germany had developed would be required for an airplane to attain such high speeds. But jet engines burned through their fuel very quickly, making raids on more distant targets impossible. The Horten brothers’ idea was to use a flying wing design—a tail-less plane so aerodynamically clean it generated almost no drag at all. Such an airframe would require less engine power to attain higher speeds, and therefore consume less fuel.

Flying wing designs were not an entirely new idea and had been used before in both gliders and powered aircraft. During World War II, Northrop developed its own high-performing XB-35 flying wing bomber for the U.S. military, though it failed to enter mass production. Despite the aerodynamic advantages, the lack of a tail tended to make fly wing aircraft prone to uncontrolled yaws and stalls.

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[Author: Sebastien Roblin] [Category: History]

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[l] at 9/18/19 3:00am

James Holmes

History, Asia

Reuters We explain.

Key point: Japan had many options that it could have taken instead of the huge blunder of attacking Pearl Harbor.

Let's face it. Imperial Japan stood next to no chance of winning a fight to the finish against the United States. Resolve and resources explain why. So long as Americans kept their dander up, demanding that their leaders press on to complete victory, Washington had a mandate to convert the republic's immense industrial potential into a virtually unstoppable armada of ships, aircraft, and armaments. Such a physical mismatch was simply too much for island state Japan -- with an economy about one-tenth the size of America's -- to surmount.

Editor's Note: Please see our other "Five Ways" articles including: Five Ways D-Day Could Have Been a Disaster and Five Ways a Nuclear War Could Still Happen

Quantity has a quality all its own. No amount of willpower or martial virtuosity can overcome too lopsided a disparity in numbers. Tokyo stared that plight in the face following Pearl Harbor.

So Japan could never have crushed U.S. maritime forces in the Pacific and imposed terms on Washington. That doesn't mean it couldn't have won World War II. Sounds counterintuitive, doesn't it? But the weak sometimes win. As strategic sage Carl von Clausewitz recounts, history furnishes numerous instances when the weak got their way. Indeed, Clausewitz notes that it sometimes makes sense for the lesser contender to start a fight. If its leadership sees force as the only resort, and if the trendlines look unfavorable -- in other words, if right now is as good as it gets -- then why not act?

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[Author: James Holmes] [Category: History]

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[l] at 9/18/19 2:30am

Sumit Ganguly

History, Eurasia

Reuters The massacre is still remembered in India as a symbol of colonial cruelty. Here’s what happened a hundred years ago.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently visited the site of a brutal massacre that happened in 1919 under the British colonial rule in India and offered his personal apologies. He expressed his “deep sense of grief” for a “terrible atrocity.”

Earlier in April, then U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that the episode was “a shameful scar on British-Indian history.” However, she had stopped short of apologizing.

The massacre is still remembered in India as a symbol of colonial cruelty. Here’s what happened a hundred years ago.

Killing Unarmed Protesters

After World War I, the British, who controlled a vast empire in India, agreed to give Indians limited self-government due to India’s substantial contribution to the war effort.

These reforms, named the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms after the secretary of state for India and the viceroy of India, promised to lead to more substantial self-government over time.

However, around the same time the British had passed the draconian Rowlatt Acts, which allowed certain political cases to be tried without trial. And the trial was also to be conducted without juries. The acts were designed to ruthlessly suppress all forms of political dissent.

The Rowlatt Acts were designed to replace the constraints on political activity that had been embodied in colonial rules, known as the Defense of India Rules, which had been in force during World War I.

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[Author: Sumit Ganguly] [Category: History]

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[l] at 9/18/19 2:15am

Michael Peck

Culture, Americas

Reuters Good question.

Key point: The Army has a long-standing history of making card decks featuring America's adversaries and rivals.

It’s either a badge of honor or a countdown to war.

Iran’s arsenal of weaponry now adorns a deck of U.S. Army playing cards.

Iran finds itself in august company. The Army already has decks of cards for Russian and Chinese weapons. And then there was the famous “most wanted” deck of Al Qaeda leaders distributed to American soldiers in Iraq.

The idea is to make it easy for soldier to remember and recognize what various enemy weapons look like. Much like using video games and comic books for military training, the theory is that a deck of cards makes learning a little more fun.

So what Iranian weapons will grace the tables of U.S. Army poker games? Or more important, what Iranian weapons does the U.S. Army want its soldiers to be able to quickly identify?

Not surprisingly, anti-aircraft weapons account for several cards. Among them are surface-to-air missiles, including the Russian-made SA-5, SA-13 and SA-22, and the American-made Improved Hawk sold to Iran before the Iranian Revolution.  There are also man-portable anti-aircraft missiles such as the SA-7 and SA-24, and the Swiss-made Oerlikon GDF 35-millimeter self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. In a U.S.-Iran war, American fixed-wing aircraft and attack helicopters would be a key – actually the decisive -- factor. Knocking out Iran’s anti-aircraft defenses would be a priority.

Iran has almost 7,000 artillery pieces, ranging from self-propelled howitzers and multiple rocket launchers to medium mortars. They could potentially rain devastating fire on American ground troops. Weapons that made it to the card deck include the Russian D-20 152-millimeter howitzer, the American M114A1 towed 155-millimeter howitzer and Iran’s homegrown Fadijr-5 multiple rocket launcher.

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[Author: Michael Peck] [Category: Culture]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/18/19 2:00am

David Axe

Security, Asia


Key point: China is making rapid progress in achieving a major carrier-based navy.

The Chinese military has decided to develop the air force’s J-20 stealth fighter into a sea-based variant to fly from the navy’s growing fleet of aircraft carriers.

The Central Military Commission, the People’s Liberation Army’s top decision-making body, favors the J-20 over the smaller FC-31 stealth fighter design, according to the Hong Kong South China Morning Post.

The Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, which builds the J-20 for the air force, “will announce some new products, which will include a new version of their J-20,” an unnamed source told the newspaper. “You can guess what type it will be.”

If the selection of the J-20 is confirmed it will mark the end of a lengthy debate between its supporters and advocates of the FC-31 as to which would make a better carrier-based fighter.

Those who favored the J-20 said it was more advanced and reliable than the FC-31, but its supporters said it was more light and nimble.

“Both the J-20 and FC-31 have their advantages. The size of the J-20 is similar to the J-15 since both are powerful heavy fighters,” Song Zhongping, a military commentator for Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, said.

The carrier-based J-20 partially would replace the J-15, China’s first carrier fighter.

The J-15 is a clone of Russia's Su-33 naval fighter. Outwardly, the fighter has a lot in common with U.S., French and British carrier planes. "The J-15 has folding wings, strengthened landing gear, a tailhook under a shortened tail stinger, two-piece slotted flaps, canards and a retractable inflight-refueling probe on the left side of the nose," the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency explained in a January 2019 report.

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[Author: David Axe] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 1:45am

Kyle Mizokami

Security, Americas

By New Zealand Defence Force, CC BY 3.0 nz, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20148934 Period.

Key point: Each naval power is especially keen on having advanced and powerful cruisers or destroyers.

Great-power competition is back, and so are surface navies. As any student of history will tell you nationalist rivalries drive naval construction, going back to the days of the Greeks and the Persians. After a quarter century hiatus, shipyards are again building large destroyers and even cruiser-sized vessels.

All of the world’s most powerful surface combatants operate in the latest rivalry between major powers, this time in the Asia-Pacific region. The five most powerful surface ships on the planet are means to an end, board-game pieces in the struggle between the dominant military powers of postwar Asia (the United States, Japan) and authoritarian states (Russia, China) challenging the status quo.

Kirov-class missile cruiser:

The largest surface combatants built by any power in the years after World War II, the Kirov class ships are often referred to as battlecruisers because of their sheer size and firepower. The four Kirovs are each 823 feet long—eighty percent of the length of a U.S. Navy supercarrier—with a beam of ninety-three feet. The ships displace 24,300 tons, and can make speeds of up to thirty-two knots due to the presence of a CONAS (Combined Nuclear and Steam) propulsion system that generates six hundred megawatts of power.

Of the four original ships only two, Petr Velikiy and Admiral Nakhimov, are still in service. The ships were originally armed with twenty P-700 Granit (NATO code name: SS-N-19 Shipwreck) ramjet anti-ship missiles, each of which could carry a 1,500 pound high explosive or nuclear warhead. Fast and powerful, the Kirovs were positioned to hunt down and destroy American aircraft carriers carrying nuclear weapons that could threaten Moscow’s missile submarines sea and the Soviet homeland.

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[Author: Kyle Mizokami] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 9/18/19 1:30am

Christian Weller

History, Americas

Reuters Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are among the 2020 presidential hopefuls in favor of reparations.

Four hundred years ago, America’s first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia.

Centuries later, black Americans have managed to accumulate some wealth, but it still pales in comparison to that of whites. This racial wealth gap is a result not only of the horrors of slavery but also policies – such as Jim Crow laws, redlining and modern-day mass incarceration – that followed.

The average white family with at least one working adult over 25 years old owned more than nine times as much total wealth as a black one in 2016.

As a scholar of wealth inequality and its causes, I believe the promise of equal opportunity for all remains unfulfilled as long as this massive gulf persists. A variety of proposals have been suggested by Democratic candidates for president and others to close this gap, such as eliminating housing discrimination and making college free for all.

Two colleagues and I created an economic simulator to model the impact of five of the most ambitious proposals. Our results show why reparations that directly target African Americans are likely the only way to eliminate it.

Why Wealth Matters

This wealth gap matters a lot because it means African Americans have far fewer opportunities to get ahead and less economic security.

Wealth is what allows families to start a business, send their children to college, switch jobs when new opportunities arise, buy a house and retire comfortably. It’s also what helps people get through unexpected financial hits, such as a layoff, medical emergency or simply a leaky roof.

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[Author: Christian Weller] [Category: History]

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[l] at 9/18/19 1:00am

Robert Farley

History, Europe

By Allan C. Green - This image is available from the Our Collections of the State Library of Victoria under the Accession Number:, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10821395 A mistake?

Key point: The battleships were never completed, but they would have presented a formidable mix of qualities.

The five battleships of the King George V class served the Royal Navy honorably during the war, participating in the destruction of the battleships Bismarck and Scharnhorst along with an array of other missions. HMS Vanguard, the last battleship ever built by the United Kingdom, did not enter service until after the war. Neither of these classes, however, were the apogee of British battleship design. Instead, the Lion class—a group of six ships of advanced design and high capabilities—were initially intended to lead the battlefleet of the Royal Navy in its next war. But the war came too soon, and the Lions never saw service.


The Royal Navy entered the mid-1930s with an odd assortment of capital ships, including the two intermediate ships of the Nelson class and a variety of modernized and unmodernized battleships and battlecruisers. Reconstruction of HMS Hood, the Renown class battlecruisers, and the Queen Elizabeth class battleships was hoped to bring these ships up to modern standards, but the Navy still required new vessels. The five ships of the King George V class, while excellent ships, remained creatures of the interwar Treaty system. Bound to 35,000 tons, they carried 14” weapons in part because of a desire to adhere to the Second London Naval Treaty, and in part out of other design requirements. When it became clear that Japan would unbind itself from the terms of the London Naval Treaty, the restrictions on battleship designs eased considerably.

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[Author: Robert Farley] [Category: History]

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[l] at 9/18/19 12:30am

Einat Gedalya-Lavy

Politics, Middle East

Reuters A key question is whether having a woman who is also secular, leading such a right-wing religious alliance for the first time, will affect Israeli voting patterns. Israelis are heading to the polls in a unique election. The vote on September 17 is the first time Israelis will vote in two elections in the same year, after the Likud party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, failed to form a new coalition government following the April 2019 election. It’s also exceptional in terms of female political leadership – the only woman heading a party in this election, Ayelet Shaked, is a secular woman leading an alliance of religious, right-wing parties.

Shaked, Israel’s former minister of justice, established the New Right party together with Naftali Bennett, the former minister of education, in December 2018 ahead of the April election. But the party, which includes both religious Zionist and secular members, didn’t get a high enough percentage of the vote share to win any seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, under the system of proportional representation.

Shaked replaced Bennett as party leader and a few months later was chosen as leader of the Yamina alliance (which means “rightwards”), comprised of three right-wing parties: the New Right, the Jewish Home and the National Union-Tkuma. According to the latest polls, Yamina is heading to become the fourth largest party in the next Knesset and could have a part to play in forming the next government.

A key question is whether having a woman who is also secular, leading such a right-wing religious alliance for the first time, will affect Israeli voting patterns.

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[Author: Einat Gedalya-Lavy] [Category: Politics]

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