What Is The Government Doing To Protect Us From An EMP?

Via SurvivalSullivan.com,

An EMP attack is the most deadly doomsday proposition we could ever face. Few outside of the prepper community are even pondering such an end of the work event – and far fewer still are preparing to survive such a SHTF and the copious amount of domino mega disaster effects it would create.

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is defined as a brief surge of electromagnetic energy and it can be the result of either man-made or natural disturbances. Electronics can be affected and in some cases an EMP can result in physical destruction of things such as structures and vehicles. After a nuclear explosion, the EMP will radiate abruptly, and is likely to cause unspeakable damage to electrical systems as unnaturally high voltage surges through valves and transistors.

Let’s break down that very technical and scientific definition of an EMP into practical terms, shall we? The SHTF will epically hit fan in biblical proportion and could forever change life as we know it on planet Earth.

And….it could happen any minute now.

That, my fellow preppers, is the deep and dirty mega secrete neither the mainstream media nor government officials are paying enough attention to or want us to know.

If you grew up watching the Little House on the Prairie and Grizzly Adams like I did and ever wondered what it would be like to live an 1800s style existance, you just might get your chance to find out.

If (I really should agree with former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and say, “when”) an EMP happens, expect a scene like this to begin playing out in your neighborhood.

An electromagnetic pulse, whether it is caused by an Earth-directed X Class solar flare or a more nefarious man-made attack, WILL fry out fragile and antiquated power grid, anything hooked to it during when the EMP occurs, and ALL sensitive electronic equipment,

An EMP is a short, but very strong burst, of electromagnetic energy caused by a rapid and intense increase in charged particles in the ionosphere. The acceleration of particles can occur as the result of a solar storm, a nuclear bomb, dirty bomb or an a small scale, even due to a simple, yet strong, bolt of lightning.

Once the ionosphere experiences a particle surge, a wave of electrical currents emerges and shorts out all, modern equipment which needs electricity to function – including the transformers are necessary to make power grids all around the world, work.

An EMP disturbance has the capability to not only destroy sensitive electronic equipment, but can even burst power lines, down airplanes, and damage brick-and-mortar structures.

EMP Classification

We are all familiar with the government’s hurricane and tornado classification. The same type of scale also exists for electromagnetic pulses.

E1 – This classification of an EMp is the most brief. An E1 typically lasts for hardly even a microsecond, but is still regarded as being substantially powerful and highly destructive. An E1 EMP would occur after the detonation of a nuclear bomb.

E2 – This classification of an electromagnetic pulse lasts at least a little bit longer than an E1 and could be caused by a man-made dirty bomb depending upon its capacity, or a nuclear explosion. During a nuclear blast, what would most likely occur is an E1 level EMP would happen followed by an E2 class event. Our power grid might be capable of withstanding an E2 event if it is really as hardened as the government claims, but there is currently no known way to harden the electrical grid (or anything else, for that matter) against an E1 class EMP event.

E3 – An E3 EMP event is less powerful than either an E1 or an E2. It can last for hours to days, depending upon the originating incident. This is the type of EMP disturbance that commonly occurs due to solar flares during the summer months.

The Carrington Event

When the most recent and only recorded EMP provoking solar flare happened in 1859, it was dubbed the Carrington Event. Richard Carrington, an astronomer, watched the EMP unleash its power through his telescope lens and documented the event.

A monstrous power outage resulted, leaving more than six million people in the dark from Canada through New York to New Jersey. At the time, NASA experts proclaimed the solar flare possessed approximately one-third of the power that the Carrington Event carried.

Telegraph lines, the most sophisticated type of technological equipment of that era, not only snapped and caught fire, even the papers and desks of operators also burst into flames.

Scientists often refer to EMPs as a “transient electromagnetic disturbance.” The incidents can be natural disturbances due to solar flares or a man-made current used as part of a weapons system.

Man-Made EMPs

An EMP strike is actually more likely to occur than a nuclear bomb or a war because of money and power. Why spend billions on war, manufacturing weapons, training and dispatching soldiers, when you can discharge an EMP attack, wait a few months, and then survey the inevitable damage?

By simply launching a few SCUD missiles (a storable-propellant, single-stage ballistic first developed by the Soviets) from a ship anchored off the coast, you could unleash a silent, quick, and clean attack on an enemy, without so much as a single bullet. Human nature and the force of evolution will take care of the rest, as populations become defenseless, weak, and increasingly desperate. North Korea claims to have the ability to launch such an attack right now.The bottom line is that an EMP assault is cheaper and less messy for our enemies than anything else.

Following an EMP attack, financial and communication systems would fail. Transportation systems would derail. The unprepared portion of the population, all 325.7 million of them that are not preppers or already living off grid or on a sustainable homestead, will not be able to cope with the basic needs of daily survival.

Depending upon the origin of the electromagnetic pulse, a man-made disturbance can stem from an electric, radiated, conducted electric current, or magnetic field. A nuclear EMP attack would be even more devastating than a solar EMP – or coronal mass ejection – CME.

An EMP attack results when the enemy launches a nuclear bomb – from land or sea – into the Earth’s atmosphere, rocketing to a height of more than 25 miles. The detonation causes gamma rays to interact with air molecules, producing positive ions while recoiling electrons in Earth’s atmosphere.

The positive ions take over the electrons and a gigantic pulse bursts out towards the Earth below. Simply put, an atomic reaction takes place and the electromagnetic pulse that is created scorches all the electrical devices within a vast radius, including batteries.

Solar Storms

The effects of a solar (geomagnetic) storm are often attributed to that of an electromagnetic pulse. While an intense solar storm could potentially damage huge segments of the country’s power grid, it will impact ground level sensitive electronic equipment that isn’t even plugged in. While the effects of a solar storm do match the scientific definition of an EMP, the response it triggers is much slower than the expected speed of a ‘pulse’.

It is untrue that an EMP has limited range because it follows the inverse square law. This law is, in fact, irrelevant for most nuclear EMP occurrences. This is because, while the detonation of the nuclear weapon may be occur at a great distance, the E1 EMP is produced within the atmosphere, 12 to 24 miles directly above, in the stratosphere region, referred to as the source region by scientists.

A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is a huge burst of gas released from the Sun.This is the organic, natural form of an EMP and it brings the might power to fry electronics along with it. It targets the power grid, blasts power plants, and sends surges of electrical current along the lines, damaging household appliances and simple electronics that are plugged in along with all sensitive high-tech devices.

A CME lasts only a few hours, but if the Sun emits many of these in several directions, there’s more chance one could collide with the Earth. A CME will have global consequences, disrupting radio transmissions, blasting satellites, and endangering people travelling in airplanes and spacecraft at high altitudes.

The power grid would only be temporarily disrupted by a solar storm, these types of occurrences happen with fair frequency during the hot months of summer – when you see your television experiencing heavy static and have patchy cell or internet service, a solar storm is likely the root cause. However, geometric currents, triggered by a solar storm, could eradicate much of the biggest transformers worldwide and recovery could stretch over decades.

It’s only a matter of time before nature unleashes a solar storm. And next time, it could be a big one. Solar flares run in cycles with most scientists in agreement that an X Class Earth directed solar flare occurs about every 100 years. It has been longer than a century since the Carrington Event of 1859 – so we are long overdue for what we, as a society, are ill-prepared and ill-equipped, to survive without a traumatic death toll.

What Will Stop Working After An EMP

  1. Lights

  2. Gas pumps – meaning tractor-trailers carrying food, water, and medicine will not be able to roll. Nor will emergency responders or the military once their generators and stockpiles of fuel run out – no vehicles with sensitive computer components will be able to move even with a full tank of gas because the EMP will fry the circuits

  3. ATM machines

  4. Cell phones

  5. Computers, laptops, tablets

  6. Televisions

  7. Radios that have not been stored in Faraday Cages

  8. Life-saving hospital equipment

  9. Air conditioners

  10. Electric furnaces

  11. Electric stoves

  12. Microwave ovens

  13. Power tools – not because of sensitive electronic components but because there is no electricity to provide fuel for their tanks or to recharge their batteries once generator power and stockpiles run out

  14. Water pumps, well pumps, and municipal water treatment and utility services

  15. Refrigerators – including the ones needed to keep medicines cool at pharmacies and warehouses and the coolers at grocery stores

  16. Internet

  17. and more

Because we rely so much on modern conveniences, the sudden deprivation will mean the general populace will be thrown into a state of panic that will rapidly lead to violent civil unrest and the breakdown of society.

What Other EMP Effects Can We Expect?

While an EMP doesn’t harm the human body, (with the possible exception of people with pacemakers) one strategic strike launched over Kansas could cripple electrical operations in the United States. Basically, all telecommunications would fail and the country will be plunged into a 19th-century-era darkness with nationwide blackouts, because the power grid will go down immediately after the EMP hits.

The intensity of the high voltage spikes produced by an E1 surge is based on several factors including location relative to the EMP surge, amount of shielding, as well as object size and energy status at the time.

The E2 surge is like lightning, but weaker and relatively harmless. Electronic devices already damaged by an E1 are more vulnerable to an E2. The E3 is similar to a geomagnetic storm, lasting several minutes. Unconnected electronics won’t be damaged. Its primary threat is to the power grid, especially the larger transformers.

Phone, cable TVs and electric lines are the most hazardous when an EMP strikes. External antennas and computer cables are next in line. Smaller electronic devices would be mildly affected and would probably stay intact. A cell phone or wristwatch may be immune to a spike, but only EMP-resistant signal towers will stay online.

Planes will literally be falling from the sky after an EMP. Their highly sensitive computer components will fail and the approximately 7,000 planes flying above our heads across the country at any given moment, will crash and burn – and no one will be there to put out the flames.

The spreading of fires from plane crashes as well as from survivors attempting to stay warm, boil water, and prepare food, will causes an insurmountable amount of damage to homes, businesses, crops, wildlife that will need to be hunted for food, etc.

Shock, disbelief, and then panic will be the first emotions and reactions the general populace (and let’s face it, many areas of our government will be going through the same set of emotions as well) will feel. Once the full impact of the doomsday disaster beings to register, things will get even worse once folks know the lights are not going to come back on for at least months, but more than likely years…if at all.

With no functioning ATMS, cash will go fast and essentially be deemed worthless overnight. A can of peaches or a bottle of water will become far more valuable than a $100 bill to survivors.

When the SHTF, looting will occur quickly and bartering will replace cash transactions. Security systems will fail, leaving you and your home vulnerable to intruders because you cannot call 911 for help. You’ll need alternative methods to prepare and refrigerate or otherwise store food. Start canning, stockpiling, and preserving food before it’s too late.

There are indirect and direct EMP effects. Direct, physical effects include damaged electrical systems. Indirect effects can be more severe and cause widespread chaos. And, the worst part is, it only takes a fraction of a second to fry all electronics.

The indirect effects of a doomsday disaster, like an EMP, are referred to as “domino effects.” With the exception of a full-scale nuclear war, that is no other SHTF scenario that will bring out more devastating domino effects than an EMP.

EMP Domino Effects

  1. Economic collapse

  2. Dehydration

  3. Starvation

  4. Fires – raging unchecked because the fire department cannot respond.

  5. Looting and general lawlessness

  6. Violent civil unrest

  7. Homelessness

  8. Disease – because trash will not be collected and human waste can no longer be flushed, we could have a plague on our hands within weeks. Treatable medical conditions will turn deadly, people with controllable chronic conditions will die due to a lack of medication, and serious medical issues, like heart attacks, will cause even more deaths as hospitals run out of generator power and because doctors will no longer have access to the high-tech tools they have come to rely upon. A pandemic is highly likely during such a long-term disaster.

When both the United States and Russian government engaged in nuclear tests during the 1960s, the experiments definitely did not go as planned.

The Star Fish Prime test of 1962 involved a 1.4 megaton nuclear warhead being launched over the Pacific Ocean by the United States government. The EMP pulses generated by the testing of the nuclear warhead were significantly more powerful and far reaching than the learned scientists of that era had anticipated.

In Hawaii, more than 1,000 miles away from the test sight, street lights went out. The test results the scientists had hoped to review and learn from were rendered useless because the EMP event was so powerful it exceeded the ability of their equipment to measure.

At the same time as the Star Fish Prime test, Russia was engaging a nearly identical nuclear experiment of their own – Test 184. Although the exacts details about the type of nuclear warhead used and other particulars related to the test are still unknown outside of our Cold War foe, diesel generators were damaged and a a shielded and underground power line 180 miles away from the test area in Kazakhstan.

Are We Prepared?

Some analysts and elected officials prefer to bury their heads in the sand instead of facing reality and hardening our power grid from an EMP attack.If you think the government has a ready stockpile of necessary parts tucked away in Faraday cages “just in case” think again. We do not even make the parts needed to repair our electrical grid in the United States. If the EMP attack is global, as would be the case with an Earth-directed solar flare, getting the parts we need from an overseas manufacturer will not be an option.

How Can I Protect My Stuff ?

During an EMP, electric fields, both non-static and static, are obstructed because electricity is directed around the mesh, producing continuous voltage on all sides but not the space in the middle. Cars and microwaves are NOT Faraday cages. As a rule of thumb, if you can listen to the radio or call your cell phone while inside any of them, they won’t work.

To ensure that your electronics survive an EMP spike, they have to be housed inside aFaraday cage shield, preferably several nested cages. What is a Faraday cage? It is a low-tech cage, box, or can made of metal and lined with cardboard that houses sensitive electronic equipment to harden it against an EMP or CME. The components inside absolutely cannot touch for the cage to function properly.

Michael Faraday, a scientist from England, invented a cage that is capable of shielding its contents from an EMP by rerouting the charge around the surface of the metal, in 1836. The more dense the metal, the better the contents in inside will be protected – that fact is why most preppers use metal trash cans as Faraday cages.

How well a Faraday cage would work under real world conditions remains unknown because they have only been tested in laboratory simulations. But, it still remains the best shot at saving your handheld 2-way radios, batteries, spare vehicle parts, etc.

There Are many opinions on whether or not these cages will work so… better safe than sorry.The mesh layer of conductive material in Faraday bags creates this protective skin.

If you’re worried about EMP obliterating your comms, invest in a Surplus PRC 77 radio and an EMP-resistant vehicle. Short range comms, that utilize VHF/UHF radios, can be up and running less than an hour after an EMP strike, if protected. Long range comms will take several hours to recover.

How well your vehicle will fare against an EMP will depend largely upon its age. There is a lot of debate about how old is old enough, when it comes to the durability of car parts from an EMP survival perspective. Some folks say any vehicle built prior to the early 1970s does not possess components with electronic components sensitive enough to be impacted by an EMP. Still others staunchly maintain a vehicle older than the 1950s or maybe the 1960s, will not still work after an EMP.

You can turn your garage into a Faraday cage in an attempt to harden your vehicle, ATV, and other electronic devices and survival gear. If you own a metal pole barn style garage, simply line the floor with sheet metal and then place several layers of thick cardboard or plywood on top of the metal to insulate the vehicles or equipment from the impact of the EMP.

To protect your electronic devices, you need to defend against the E1 phase, a surge similar to radio waves that penetrates ground-level devices such as power cords, circuit boards and antennas. The E3 phase, which travels through power and phone lines, is also worrisome. E3 energy travels over longer conductors, flooding connected equipment and causing a destructive power overload.

Formulate Plan B for operating your home and business without electronics or the Internet. How will you manage transactions? Inventory stock? Accept payments? To be safe, prepare yourself now to conduct all operations manually and to do cash only transactions.

What About Day-To-Day Power Surges?

For day-to-day protection, invest in quality surge protectors for your electronic devices, an affordable and reliable precaution. You’ll need one that’s UL-listed with a voltage of 330 volts or less, as well as a rapid response time. Buy a computer with an Ethernet slot, or get yourself a dedicated Ethernet surge protector. For optimal protection, add an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), an effective but more expensive option.

The UPS should be a double conversion supply tested to meet UL standards. While 60-90% of today’s vehicles are designed to withstand electromagnetic pulses of up to 25 kV/m, it’s always best to be prepared for the worst case scenario. If you know your way around cars, consider buying back-up modules for your vehicle’s key electronics.

What Is The Government Doing To Protect Us From An EMP?

Not much, is the short answer.

While nuclear weapons are destructive enough to level entire cities, the resultant EMP from one would likely be its most devastating effect. In 2001, in response to concern that crucial infrastructure and even the United States military would not hold up against an EMP strike, the EMP Commission was created by Congress. President Obama disbanded the committee and the potentially society-saving information that would come out of it, not long after taking office.

In 2008, the Commission delivered a report on the possible effects that an EMP strike would have on national infrastructures, recommending ways that the US could prepare, protect, and restore these if this kind of attack were ever to take place. Dr. William Forstchen’s One Second After was heralded on the floor of Congress by those elected officials and commission members who saw the writing on the wall and were urging, if not outright begging, for something to be done to protect the lives of Americans, our economy, and sanctity of this nation, from an EMP attack.

Their pleas largely fell upon deaf ears. Several bills were written to address the power grid’s frailties and to develop a full and actionable plan to prepare for an EMP attack – and to survive afterwards, but they never made it out of committee.

Why do perhaps the most important pieces of legislation introduced during our lifetimes keep getting buried? Disbelief such a SHTF event is really going to happen for one – but over money, mostly.

Hardening the power grid and taking other necessary steps to prepare American for either a man-made or natural EMP attack would cost billions of dollars. Why don’t our public servants just stop sending our hard-earned money to countries they readily and loudly proclaim their hate for us and curtail the tens of billions of dollars sent overseas for charitable reasons and spent on studies about that place shrimp on treadmills? That is a good question for which neither I, nor those politicians who continue to ignore this looming and very real SHTF thread, have no reasonable answer.

Final Word

An EMP attack is a strong possibility in today’s economically-strained, weaponized world. It is a swift, deadly, and silent force that relies on the deterioration of civil society into chaos and darkness. While it may appear to be a perfectly normal scientific phenomenon, its effects on humanity will be crippling. How prepared are you for an EMP strike?

US Farmers Choke On Trade War With China

In April we told you about how some of the “unintended consequences” of Trump’s steel tariffs, such as an Illinois farmer who put the brakes on a $71,000 grain mill, but had to hold off on the purchase because the seller raised the price 5% to account for the rising price of steel, or Iowa grain mill producer Sukup Manufacturing, which had to hike their prices for grain storage bins. 

The Wall Street Journal now reports that the US-China “trade spat” is now affecting US exporters of soybeans, pork and other commodities. 

Since early April, when China announced tariffs on some U.S. agricultural goods and threatened to target others, Chinese importers have canceled purchases of corn and cut orders for pork while dramatically reducing new soybean purchases, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Chinese importers’ new orders of sorghum, a grain used in animal feed, have dwindled while cancellations increased.

The chill in agricultural trade is sending jitters through the U.S. Farm Belt, which for years has dispatched farmers on trade missions to cultivate the Chinese market. –WSJ

As the summer persists and if nothing’s been resolved, it will start showing up as a pretty big hole in U.S. exports,” warned Soren Schroder, CEO of Bunge Ltd., one of the world’s largest soybean processors and traders.

Last Thursday, a ship bound for China carrying over 58,000 tons of American sorghum was diverted to South Korea after Beijing said it would levy a hefty deposit on U.S. shipments of the grain amid an anti-dumping probe.

Importers now facing losses of millions of dollars on their cargoes are trying to resell the grain to buyers elsewhere but are being forced to offer steep discounts.

Four cargoes have been resold to Saudi Arabia and Japan, and another is heading to Spain. If the ‘Peak Pegasus’ unloads in South Korea, it would be first of the Chinese cargoes to be resold in that country. –Reuters

No date has been set in stone for the various tariffs China has threatened to impose, however senior US officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing this week for negotiations. That said, even if they reach an agreement, the uncertainty created by the threatened tariffs has already done quite a lot of damage in the commodities sector.

China spent around $20 billion annually on US agricultural products in 2017 – and their growing apetite for pork and other meats requires huge quantities of feed grain, such as the aforementioned diverted sorghum. China-based importers are holding off on new soybean orders from the US, including their usual advance purchase of this fall’s crops, as nobody wants to take the risk that a shipment will be slapped with a giant tariff by the time it is delivered. As such, China is buying more beans from South American suppliers, according to Bunge’s Schroder.

Chinese buyers ordered about 255,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans during the week ended April 5, according to the USDA, but new sales over the rest of the month came to about 11,000 metric tons, a sharp decline. Meanwhile, purchasers canceled nearly 76,000 metric tons’ worth of orders over the month. –WSJ

If [the Chinese] market closes, it could be devastating for local communities across the Midwest,” said Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a statement. 

Despite the fact that US soybeans are around $15 a ton cheaper than beans from Brazil, a 25% tariff would cost Chinese importers around $100 a ton according to St. Louis-based trader Ken Morrison. 

Ed Breen, chief executive of crop-seed supplier DowDuPont Inc., said Thursday that if China steps back from U.S. soybean purchases, growing markets like Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam and Turkey would fill the void. –WSJ

Following China’s tariff on US pork products on April 2, the USDA reported the largest weekly drop in net pork sales to the country since October 2016, and sales have declined further since then.

Given expanding pork supplies—boneless hams in cold storage hit a record 86 million pounds earlier this year—and another big slaughterhouse set to open later this year, the industry has been aiming to sell more to China, not less. –WSJ

“With the trade negotiations, a lot of unknowns with our future demand is clearly not a positive to the pork market at this stage,” said Jason Roose, VP of U.S. Commodities Inc., a livestock and grain advisory firm based in Des Moines, Iowa.

Given China’s growing need for agricultural imports, some believe that China won’t be able to avoid US crops for long. That said, the biggest danger in this trade war is US farmers and agricultural companies developing a reputation for unreliability – prompting other countries to maximize their own crop production, according to research firm AgResource Co’s President, Dan Basse. 

“Our biggest concern is the message this sends to the world,” said Mr. Basse, adding that “Brazil still has an abundance of land to bring into production, and farm profits there would rise to the chagrin of the U.S. farmer.”

Trump might be wise to note that the very US farmers suffering the unintended consequences of the trade spat with China are the very same folks from he promised not to neglect.

War & The Imperial Presidency: Congress Offers Bipartisan Blank-Check To Trump

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via TomDispatch.com,

It may be too late. The president of the United States is now a veritable autocrat in the realm of foreign policy. He has been since at least 1945, when the last congressionally declared war finally ended. Wars in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen (among other places) were all waged via executive fiat or feeble, open-ended congressional authorizations for the use of military force, aka AUMFs. So it has been with increasing intensity for 73 years and so, most likely, it will remain.

Along with many others, this military officer has repeatedly decried the no-longer-new normal of congressional acquiescence to presidential power to no avail. When, in September 2017, Republican Senator Rand Paul sought to repeal (and replace within six months) the existing 2001 AUMF, which had authorized the president to use force against the perpetrators and enablers of the 9/11 attacks, he could barely muster 35 votes. Given that any president, Republican or Democrat, would veto such a curtailment of the essentially unlimited executive prerogative to make war, that’s still some 32 votes short of a Senate override. In hopelessly divided Washington, that’s the definition of impossibility.

Fear not, two brave “centrist” senators, Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Tim Kaine, are riding to the rescue. Their recently announced bill to repeal and replace the existing AUMF promises to right seven decades of wrong and “establish rigorous congressional oversight,” “improve transparency,” and ensure “regular congressional review and debate.”

In reality, it would do none of those things. Though Senator Kaine gave a resounding speech in which he admitted that “for too long Congress has given presidents a blank check to wage war,” his bill would not stanch that power. Were it ever to pass, it would prove to be just another blank check for the war-making acts of Donald Trump and his successors.

Though there have certainly been many critiques of their piece of legislation, most miss the larger point: the Corker-Kaine bill would put a final congressional stamp of approval on the inversion of the war-making process that, over the last three-quarters of a century, has become a de facto constitutional reality. The men who wrote the Constitution meant to make the declaration of war a supremely difficult act, since both houses of Congress needed to agree and, in case of presidential disagreement, to be able to muster a supermajority to override a veto.

The Corker-Kaine bill would institutionalize the inverse of that. It would essentially rubber stamp the president’s authority, for instance, to continue the ongoing shooting wars in at least seven countries where the U.S. is currently dropping bombs or firing off other munitions. Worse yet, it provides a mechanism for the president to declare nearly any future group an “associated force” or “successor force” linked to one of America’s current foes and so ensure that Washington’s nearly 17-year-old set of forever wars can go on into eternity without further congressional approval.

By transferring the invocation of war powers to the executive branch, Congress would, in fact, make it even more difficult to stop a hawkish president from deploying U.S. soldiers ever more expansively. In other words, the onus for war would then be officially shifted from a president needing to make a case to a skeptical Congress to an unfettered executive sanctioned to wage expansive warfare as he and his advisers or “his” generalsplease.

How to Make War on Any Group, Any Time

Should the Corker-Kaine bill miraculously pass, it would not stop even one of the present ongoing U.S. conflicts in the Greater Middle East or Africa. Instead, it would belatedly put a congressional stamp of approval on a worldwide counter-terror campaign which isn’t working, while politely requesting that the president ask nicely before adding new enemies to a list of “associated” or “successor” forces; that is, groups that are usually Arab and nominally Muslim and essentially have little or no connection to the 9/11 attacks that produced the 2001 AUMF.

So let’s take a look at just some of the forces that would be preemptively authorized to receive new American bombs and missiles, Special Operations forces raids, or whatever else the president chose under the proposed legislation, while raising a question rarely asked: Are these groups actually threats to the homeland or worthy of such American military efforts?

Al-Qaeda (AQ) proper naturally makes the list. Then, of course, there’s the Afghan Taliban, which once upon a time sheltered AQ. As nearly 17 years of effort have shown, however, they are militarily unbeatable in a war in their own homeland that is never going well for Washington. In addition, there are no significant al-Qaeda forces left in Afghanistan for the Taliban to potentially shelter. AQ long ago dispersed across the region. The age of plots drawn up in the caves of the Hindu-Kush is long over. In addition, the focus of the Taliban remains (as it always was) highly local. I fought those guys for 12 months and, let me tell you, we never found any transnational fighters or al-Qaeda vets. The vast majority of the enemies Washington mislabels as “Taliban” are poor, illiterate, unemployed farm boys interested, at best, in local power struggles and drug running. They rarely know what’s happening just one valley over, let alone in Milwaukee.

Then there’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a particularly vicious AQ franchise in Yemen. These are genuine bad actors and, for a while during the Obama administration, were considered the top terror threat to the U.S. Still, that’s not who the American military actually fights in Yemen most of the time. U.S. Air Force fuelers provide in-flight service, U.S. analysts provide updated targeting intelligence, and U.S. megacorporations sell guided bombs to the Saudis, who mostly bomb Shia Houthi rebels (and often civilians) unaffiliated with — in fact, opposed to — AQAP. Worse still, the U.S.-backed campaign against the Houthis actually empowers AQAP by sowing chaos and creating vast ungoverned spaces for it to move into. The Houthis aren’t on the Corker-Kaine list yet, but no doubt (amid increasing military tensions with Iran) Mr. Trump would have little trouble adding them as “associated forces.” Are they brown? Yes. Do they worship Allah? Sure. Throw ‘em on the list.

Al-Shabaab in Somalia is also included. Its nasty militiamen do make life miserable in Somalia and have occasionally called for attacks on U.S. targets. There’s no evidence, however, that U.S. military operations there have ever stabilized the region or improved long-term security. Meanwhile, al-Shabaab tries to radicalize young Somali-American youth in immigrant communities like cities like Minneapolis. Their main gripe: the U.S. military presence and drone strikes in East Africa. And on and on the cycle goes.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), which operates in North Africa, is another “associated force” that’s taken on the AQ moniker, though with a distinctly local flavor. AQIM operates in several countries. Does the Corker-Kaine bill then imply that the U.S. military may conduct strikes and raids anywhere in North Africa? Odds are that it does. Again, though AQIM is violent and problematic for local African security forces, they’ve never successfully attacked the United States. As professor and Africa expert Nathaniel Powell has shown, more often than not U.S. military operations in the Maghreb or the Sahel (just south of the Sahara desert) tend only to exacerbate existing conditions, motivate yet more Islamists, and tangle Washington up in what are essentially local problems and grievances.

Finally, there’s al-Qaeda in Syria, as the bill labels them. This is the crew that used to be known as the al-Nusra Front. The Islamic State, or ISIS, eventually brokeoff from AQ and has even fought al-Nusra Front militants on occasion. No doubt, U.S. interests are never served when any al-Qaeda franchise gains power and influence. Still, there’s little evidence that the former al-Nusra Front, which is losing the civil war inside Syria, has either the staying power or capacity to attack the U.S. homeland.

Add in this: the U.S. military in Syria has rarely attacked al-Nusra, focusing instead on ISIS or occasional strikes at the regime of Syrian autocrat Bashar al-Assad. In addition, in the past, America’s Saudi allies have supported and funded this and other radical Islamist groups and some U.S. aid has even inadvertently fallen into the hands of al-Nusra Front fighters in the mess that passes for the Syrian civil war.

And don’t let me get started on those “successor forces” — think ISIS and its brands around the world — a term so vague as to ensure that any Islamist organization or country, including Iran, could, by a stretch of the imagination, be defined as a target of the U.S. military.

Lumping these various groups under the umbrella of “associated” or “successor” forces ignores the agency and specificity of each of them and so provides any president with a blank check to fight anyone he deems loosely Islamist the world over. And if he cares to, he can just add any new gang he chooses onto the list and dare the Senate to muster 67 votes to stop him.

Consider it a remarkable formula for forever war.

The Dangerous Evolution of Article II of the Constitution

When you get right down to itall the debate over AUMFs is little more than a charade. It hardly matters whether Congress ever updates that post-9/11 document. When, for instance, President Trump recently sent missiles soaring against the Assad regime in response to an alleged chemical attack on a suburb of Damascus, neither he nor his advisers even bothered to suggest that the strike fell under that AUMF. Instead, they simply claimed that Trump was exercising his presidential prerogative under Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which makes him commander-in-chief.

In such moments, right-wing presidents and their advisers have no compunctions about turning the standard liberal argument about the Constitution on its head — that it’s a “living document” subject to the exigencies of changing times. Of course, it’s not exactly an obscure fact of history that the framers of that document never meant to grant the chief executive unilateral authority to start new conflicts — and “strictly constructionist” conservatives know it. The Founders were terrified of standing armies and imperial overreach. After all, when they wrote the document they’d only recently brought their own revolt against imperial England and its vaunted army of redcoats to a successful conclusion. So, to construe the Constitution’s commander-in-chief clause, which gave the president the authority to oversee the generals in an ongoing war, as letting him declare wars or even expand them qualifies as absurd. Nonetheless, that’s just what recent presidents have claimed.

What they like to say is that times have changed, that warfare is now too swift for an eighteenth-century recipe involving Congress, and that, in such abbreviated circumstances, presidents need the authority to apply military force at will on a global scale. The thing is, Congress has already recognized this potential reality and codified it into law in the 1973 War Powers Act. This fairly sensible, though generally ignored, piece of legislation requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of a military deployment and remove the troops after 60 days unless legislation officially sanctions the escalation. Presidents tend to be meticulous about the first requirement and then — like Congress itself — pay no attention to the second.

Obviously, Bashar al-Assad’s regime had nothing to do with 9/11 and so falls under no imaginable interpretation of that 2001 AUMF. Therefore, President Trump has on his own essentially launched a new conflict, with a new enemy, in western Syria. He’s “notified” Congress of the latest missile strikes, of course, and that’s that.

Salvation Will Not Come From the “Bipartisan” Center

Early indications are that the Corker-Kaine bill is unlikely to pass the Senate (no less the House) and, if it did, wouldn’t have a hope in hell of outlasting a presidential veto. You know that the system is broken, possibly beyond repair, when the secretary of defense — one “Mad Dog” Mattis — is reportedly the only figure around Donald Trump to have argued for getting a congressional stamp of approval before launching those missiles against the Assad regime. Think of it this way: a retired general, the official top dog of destruction in this administration, was overruled by the civilian leadership in the White House when it came to an act of imperial war-making.

In other words, we’re through the looking glass, folks!

As a thought experiment: What would it actually take for a supermajority of both houses of Congress to curtail a president’s unilateral war-making power? Liberals might have thought that the election of a boorish, uninformed executive would embolden moderates on both sides of the aisle to reclaim some authority over the lives and deaths of America’s soldiers. It didn’t, nor did such passivity start with Donald Trump. Mainstream liberals certainly treated the presidency of George W. Bush as if it were the worst disaster since Richard Nixon, Watergate, and Vietnam. Even so, they never had the guts to cut off funds for the obvious, ongoing folly in Iraq. Mostly, in fact, they first voted for a resolution supporting that invasion and then heckled pointlessly from the sidelines as Bush waged a dubiously legal, unwinnable war to his heart’s content.

Conservatives absolutely hated Obama. They questioned his very legitimacy and even his citizenship (as did Citizen Trump, of course) — or at least stayed conveniently silent while the far right of the GOP caucus did so. Still, Republicans then essentially did nothing to curtail his unilateral decision to expand drone attacks to a kind of frenzy across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa and oversee a special operations bonanza. Rarely, for example, in the bazillion hearings the Republicans sponsored on the deaths of an American ambassador and others in Benghazi, Libya, did anyone call for a serious reappraisal of executive war-making authority.

Despite the paltry Corker-Kaine bill, expect no respite or salvation from Congress, which is, in truth, at the heart of the problem. To move the needle on war-making would take grassroots pressure similar to that applied by the Vietnam-era antiwar movement. But such a movement looks highly unlikelywith the draft long gone, few citizens engaged in foreign policy issues, and even fewer seeming to notice that this country has now been involved in still-spreading wars for almost 17 years.

To recapture military authority from an imperial president and inject sanity into the system, “We the People” would have to break out the pink pussy caps, gather the young and their social media skills — Parkland-style — and bring the sort of energy now going into domestic crises to issues of war and peace. Suffice it to say, I’m not hopeful.

Whether noticed or not, whether attended to or not, there is, however, a grave question before the American people: Is the United States to remain a democracy (of sorts) within its borders, but a war-making empire beyond its shores? Certainly, it’s most of the way to such a state already with its “all volunteer” imperial military and unrestrained war presidency.

Just about everything is in place for an (elected) executive emperor to move his imperial chess pieces wherever he pleases. Nothing in the Corker-Kaine cop-out of a bill can or will change that. In truth, it doesn’t even pretend to.

When it comes to war, the president reigns supreme — and so, it seems, he shall remain.

Hail, Caesar!

*  *  *

Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his podcast “Fortress on a Hill,” co-hosted with fellow vet Chris ‘Henri’ Henriksen.

Trump says date, place set for North Korea summit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday said the date and location have been set for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, building suspense for the unprecedented talks, as South Korea said it would oppose a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the area.