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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quit neglecting the EMP threat

By: Ryan Jaroncyk, THL Contributor

It's the stuff of nightmares. Within minutes of detonation, America's entire electronic and communications grid is wiped out. Planes plummet from the skies. Hospitals and rest homes lose power. Food begins to spoil. Panic and fear begin to sweep the streets. Millions die in a matter of weeks. What could cause such a catastrophic event, and what can we do to prevent such a doomsday scenario?

It's called an EMP attack. Years ago, our government sponsored a commission to discuss the threat and the media has covered it from time to time, but nothing has been done to protect America from this existential threat.

Without delving into a detailed scientific explanation, imagine a ballistic missile launched off our coast, perhaps by terrorists on a barge, or by agents of certain rogue states. The missile detonates approximately 300 miles above sea level, and within minutes, our entire electronic infrastructure is shut down. Computers, cars, planes, refrigerators, generators, water plants, and vital communications systems are fried by a super-explosive electromagnetic burst barely noticeable by an ordinary human being.

Despite warnings by a vocal minority, America is investing virtually no time, money, or resources to prepare for a potential attack on its own soil. Instead, we're printing, borrowing, and spending trillions to bail out Wall Street, wasting billions on ineffective "stimulus" bills, and fiddling around with troops and other military personnel in 144 nations. What can we do to prepare? Here are some potential solutions:

1. Reduce our overseas military presence. We're running nearly $2 trillion budget deficits and amassing trillions more of additional debt. We can afford to maintain a powerful presence in certain, strategic locations, but we can no longer afford to police the world.

2. Stop engaging in costly and extended guerrilla wars. If we must go to war to defeat terrorists, then we need to learn some hard lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq. Casualty counts, the psychological toll on our soldiers, and the financial cost have been much higher than anticipated.

Instead of long-term, open-ended commitments in third world nations, it's time to adopt a policy where specific objectives are achieved in in a manner that befits swift, decisive, and overwhelming victory. The drain on our treasury could be mitigated so that resources are better utilized to defend against a potential EMP attack here at home.

3. Beef up our national missile defense. Instead of cutting our own ballistic missile defense shield, we should be cutting other, extraneous military expenditures, and devoting them to developing the world's most advanced ballistic missile defense system.

4. Harden our nation's communications and electronic infrastructure. In the event of an attack, critical civilian and military infrastructure must remain intact for the nation to recover.

5. Reduce foreign aid. Instead of spending billions to prop up corrupt regimes, self-sufficient nations, or to rebuild other nations' infrastructure, use the savings to rebuild our own aging infrastructure.

6. Develop a national emergency plan that employs not only the federal government, but state and local governments, as well as private organizations and citizens. Remember Katrina? Federal, state, and local governments proved unprepared, unfit, and unable to mitigate the disaster. Even today, the region has not fully recovered due to poor planning, ineffective coordination, and a lack of efficiency.

7. Invest more in research and development. Instead of employing scientists to search for microbes on a barren Mars, why not devote some of these funds to protecting our nation? Instead of sending thousands of contractors to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, why not utilize some of these bright minds to fortify our electronics and communications systems?

What are some of your solutions?

America was caught off guard at Pearl Harbor, it was caught off guard on 9/11, and it was caught off guard by the financial collapse last year. Let's not be caught off guard by an EMP attack, because if we are, the consequences will be catastrophic.

To learn more about EMP, check out this Heritage Foundation report and author, William Forstchen's website.

And now your moment of "Holy Crap!"


  1. Are you really going to question NASA's already meager funding at the end there??? $15B a year does NOT need to be cut. The benefits from our space program are immense and it certainly is NOT a drain of ANY SORT on the American taxpayer. I feel you are being dishonest when you say that we are paying to find microbes on a barren Mars and it is ohh so costly. Pleaaase. We spend $500B a year on the interst on the debt ALONE, let's work on that first, then tell me NASA's $15B a year is too much. I mean jeez the Dept of Education gets $75B a year and what have they done besides contribute to the decline of our education system? At least the space program gives us things like telecommunications advancements, solar power advancements, and much much more, all of which have and will change the world time and again (just wait for beamed energy). We hand billions to CEOs and you theorize that we should cut one of the few programs that actually benefits mankind...awesome.

  2. The Future, you make some valid points. I concur that cuts can come from a variety of areas, and I concur that a space program brings vital benefits to mankind. However, I also believe that NASA, like any other federal program, is not above critical review. If it is devoting millions or billions to a particular project (finding life on Mars), yet it is not achieving the desired objective for decades, perhaps it is time to take a closer look at that particular aspect of its budget. I submit that investing millions or billions in the scientific enterprise of defending America is more important than seeking microbial life on a barren planet. Science purely for the sake of satisfying curiousity is a worthy endeavor, but science for the sake of defending human life is a more worthy endeavor. So, ideally, I'd cut pork from all areas of the federal budget, from the small to the large, and utilize just a small portion to invest against a potential EMP attack on US soil. Ryan

  3. The Future- I am in agreement with you that these other areas of the budget need to be cut as well (and have said so repeatedly on this blog). We should absolutely pay down the debt, abolish the Dept of Education (and a couple other wasteful departments), and end all corporate welfare- which in the end is most of the Federal Budget. But I think it would be imprudent and inconsistent to make an exception for NASA.

  4. NASA has gone from being a space launch and exploration agency to being a global warming alarmist organisation.

    Cut the global warming BS out of the NASA budget and out of the entire federal budget.

    The EPA has overstepped its bounds by declaring CO2 as a pollutant, so the EPA can be cut deeply.

    The Dept of Education is doing more harm than good, so cut it. The Dept of HUD has become a work program for incompetents and crooks, so cut it. The DOJ is becoming a haven for mob connected attorneys and players.

    You get the idea.

  5. You make a good point about NASA. As long as the government is involved in scientific endeavors, science will always be polluted by politics.

  6. Remember the Space Shuttle orbits around 200 miles ASL. A massive EMP detonated at that altitude would radiate out in a spherical direction (unless some sort of reflection mechanism were created). But as energy moves forward it loses it's power in an exponential manner. By the time it travels 200+ miles and disperses in a spherical shape will it still retain enough potency to cause much, if any damange? I am not a doctor of physics, but I quesition how effective something like this would be over an entire continent.

  7. You've got an interesting point, Matt. I wish I knew enough about the science myself to provide an answer.