Saturday, August 15, 2009

Huckabee raises spectre of EMP attack

Until now, Newt Gingrich has been the most prominent politician urging the government to do more to prevent an Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

Add another 2012 contender to the ranks.

Next month, a New York businessman is organizing a conference devoted to raising awareness about the possibility. Not surprisingly, Newt Gingrich will address the conference via video.

A bit more surprisingly, Mike Huckabee will be a keynote speaker. Until now, his name hasn't been associated with the cause, but this could be a first, significant step on a cutting edge, if not entirely validated, national security issue.

We've talked about Newt's involvement before, but in case you missed it, here's some more background on EMP issues, so you can decide if you want to live in abject fear or not.

On July 27, the Heritage Foundation's, James Carafano, penned an op-ed claiming the threat is very real.

Last year, a congressional commission studied how a high-altitude EMP strike would affect the nation's infrastructure. The answer was simple: It would be devastating.

The entire U.S. electrical grid might be gone and all the instruments of daily life that depend on electrical power useless. Life in United States, concluded the commission's chair, scientist William Graham, "would be a lot like life in the 1800s," except with a significantly bigger population.

.... The EMP problem isn't talked about much, yes. But not because responsible people think it's a sci-fi scenario. They don't talk about it because they are so overwhelmed by the challenges such an attack would pose.

Newt Gingrich has taken some grief over the fact that his close partner on the EMP issue is William Forstchen, who's, among other things, a frequent collaborator with Newt on works of historical fiction.

But the government's taking the concern seriously, as demonstrated by this Report of the Commission To Assess the Threat of the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack (pdf).

The Wall Street Journal has also warned about the threat. Last August, the paper ran a piece, called "The EMP Threat", which you shouldn't read to a child before bed.

But not everyone's been so bleak. Writing for the New Republic, Michael Crowley explains "how a pulp-fiction fantasy became a GOP weapons craze".

Crowley traces both the science and the science fiction behind the concept. It turns out rogue nations have looked into the possibility, including some pretty heavy national security experts, who've urged defensive action, though they're in the minority.

.... few analysts take the threat very seriously. The odds that Iran or North Korea would prefer a technologically untested Rube Goldberg scheme to merely nuking us seem slim.

And any terrorist group able to execute such a plan was probably capable enough to get us one way or another anyhow.

In fact, Crowley sees mischief in the EMP float -- there are book sales to mind, and more seriously, a neo-conservative agenda to further.

More broadly, archconservatives like Gingrich and Dick Cheney have gotten used to invoking low-probability worst-case scenarios to justify their views on everything from preemptive military action to torture.

So is EMP for R.E.A.L? Let's hope we don't have to find out.


TheMidnightWriter said...

So, did you read my new blog? Countdown till 2012 or the article on The Midnight Writer Org introducing this blog and the EMP threat along with the book One Second After. It's for real folks. Believe it. This pulse can be generated by man made weapons or occur naturally by an atmospheric cataclysm. Either way, it's worth paying attention.

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