The EMP Death Ray

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The popular trope of an evil genius who has mastered the technology of ultimate destruction and wields a death ray he is preparing to unleash from space has long entertained us. We don’t take it seriously, of course, and relegate it to the realm of a diverting fiction. But what happens when such comic book-and-James Bond-type scenarios leak into the real world? Unfortunately, we tend to make what philosopher Gilbert Ryle, in The Concept of Mind, calls a “category mistake,” which he defines as the tendency to represent certain facts “as if they belonged to one logical type or category…when they actually belong to another.” For the death ray is real; it exists in the empirical world. To assume that it is merely a feature of an imaginary realm that has no purchase on concrete, everyday life is, to quote Ryle, “one big mistake and a mistake of a special kind.” In the case we are considering here, it is a mixing of categories which issues in the kind of misunderstanding that can be fatal.

For the facts are these:

The “evil genius” is an Iranian ayatollah, who may go by many names. He is the de facto political leader of the Shi’a branch of Islam. His intention to destroy the United States of America and obliterate Western civilization is on record. Indeed, as historian Emmanuel Sivan has warned in Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, the igniting of a planetary conflagration is an integral part of Shi’a Islam’s belief and thought. Known as Shi’ite Twelver theology, it posits that Allah’s kingdom will be established on earth by the Twelfth or Hidden Imam, whose advent can be hastened by kindling an act of apocalyptic violence. This is why the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) is idle when applied to Iran; as the astute Canadian blogger Bill Narvey points out, Iran’s leaders believe that their “religious prophecies [for] world supremacy can only be realized by…a deadly apocalyptic showdown with the non-Muslim world.” The Muslim death count is immaterial since all good Muslims are assured of eternal life in Jannah, the Islamic paradise or heavenly garden. As for the death ray, it is no fantasy; it is an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, that can literally demolish the electrical grid of an entire nation. An attack of this nature can be launched undetectably from, for example, a nondescript vessel in the Pacific or the Gulf or via “satellite” trajectory. The social and economic devastation would be massive and likely terminal. As Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen write concerning the possibility of a high-altitude EMP attack over American territory, “There is a sword of Damocles over our heads. It is a threat that is real but has been all but ignored.”

William R. Graham, chairman of the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, testified that Iran has already conducted EMP missile tests from frigates in the Caspian Sea. Additionally, Graham draws attention to Iranian military writings that “explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States.” And Iran could get away with it since it is almost impossible to identify the origin of what—especially if it is carried out by sea—would be essentially an anonymous attack. As Bob Owens indicates in a recent PJM article, “the most likely avenues of attacks are locally launched missiles from submarines or freighters in the Gulf of Mexico or off either coast, where distance to detonation from launch is measured in seconds, and which are not the focus of our outward-facing early warning and detection systems. Such vessels could be easily scuttled after launch, and the rogue agent responsible for the attack may not be found until well after the attack is over, rendering our nuclear counterstrike abilities utterly moot.”

As mentioned above, the damage to the nation’s electrical grid following an EMP assault would be catastrophic. The cascading effect on major infrastructures would result in the destruction or critical impairment of the financial system, the communications network and cybernetic functioning, farming, distribution of food and water, fuel production and delivery, all forms of transportation, law enforcement, medical care, trade and industry and, of course, military defense. The state of civilization in America would be peeled back by hundreds of years and a state of nature in all its raw ferocity would supplant it.

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  • Edward

    M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction)

    No. M.A.D. is Mecca Assured Destruction – in retaliation of course.

  • 11bravo

    The entire electrical grid does not have to be rebuilt. Some switches transfer sights and control systems; but an EMP would not vaporize all copper wires. Of couse electro-NICS will be useless until new ones are made.
    Why don't we or the Isreali's try this experiment on Iran if they won't back down.
    That sounds like the best of both worlds aye?

    • Ordinary Joe

      Maybe Israel would do the return strike for us while we are rebuilding.

  • tagalog

    To make a pre-emptive EMP strike on Iran would not only alert the so-called "watchdogs" of the West to the horrors of Western "brutality" against "third-world" people, it would most importantly send a message to radical Islam and nuts everywhere in the world, particularly North Korea, that anything now goes. That would be bad for the West.

    War in the Middle East probably is inevitable. That doesn't mean that we stick a "Kick Me" sign on our backs.

    • joy52

      I have news for you, "..anything goes.." started over ten years ago. We are the ones tangled up in our PC notions. I'd rather be brutal and alive. The message, which others would clearly understand, would be that we will do what we have to do to survive. They get that, which is why they have not backed down, and will not back down until they are given an answer they can't refuse. That's how they think. We are in this fix because no one is standing up to them.

      • Maxie

        No one is standing up to them because all that matters to our ruling class is getting re-elected and staying on the lobbiest-driven gravy train.

  • QuantumSam

    The sky is falling, oh no, the sky is falling.

    If Iran wants to eliminate the US threat to itself, an EMP attack would do the opposite. Our key satellites, our military aircraft, and ships are designed to operate through such an attack. Our missile warning satellites and forensic abilities would readily be able to attribute the attck and we would then simply shut the nation of Iran DOWN. We can easily destory their ports, their airfields, their ships at sea, their aircraft, their factories and more…

    And we would.

    • tanstaafl

      Why not attack Iran now and save countless lives?

    • Paul of Alexandria

      Read the article carefully. Three main problems
      1) (as CharlesWhiteVIII points out below) the entire nuclear deterrent rests on the assumption that the CINC would, in fact, release the launch codes. The military cannot and will not launch without presidential approval – unless they have evidence that the entire national command structure has been eliminated, which is doubtful with an Iranian strike. The mere fact that we ourselves believe that Obama may not authorize a retaliation means that Iran is most certainly questioning it.
      2) As the article pointed out, mutual assured destruction is irrelevant if the enemy doesn't care. If the Iranian leadership actually wants us to destroy them, the matter is even worse.
      3) As the article pointed out, unless we can nail down the responsible party, retaliation is rendered moot. Even Iran isn't stupid enough to launch an ICBM from within their own borders. I will point out the missiles that Iran is installing in Venezuela; if they are launched who do we retaliate against?

      The best option, actually, is to install anti-missile systems on both seaboards and do our best to ensure that missiles can't get to their targets in the first place.

  • Ordinary Joe

    Of all the apocalyptic scenarios this one could be for real. It would be just like the terrorists to slip behind our lines of defense and deliver a crushing blow right at our most vulnerable spot.

  • Grantman

    I would strongly recommend reading "One Second After" as noted in the article. It is a novel that covers what happens AFTER the EMP goes off. It's frightening…and it could happen.

  • RiverFred

    The Hidden Imam, according to the fairytale, went down a well over a thousand years ago. I heard Iran spent 25 million decorating the well, can anyone confirm this?

    Also ,a missile defense system is useless as Iran's missiles can be fired from ships off our coast. Lets hope they close the Straight of Hormuz then we can get it over with.

  • Rev. Roy Trepanier

    Biblical prophecy and the Book of Revelation are looking more "relevant" every day, aren't they ? Now, try this one…. Isaiah chapter 17…it describes the destruction of the city of Damascus, OVERNIGHT !! This was written by the prophet over 2,700 ago, just about 2,650 years before the invention of the atom bomb…now Damascus is the oldest inhabitated city on earth and has never, ever been destroyed, yet !! _ Add to this that Assad has already begun installing chemical and biological warheads on over 600 missiles aimed at Israel, and that the majority of Syria's chemical and biological weapons are MANUFACTURED and STORED in and around DAMASCUS._What a target for Israel, especially when Israel has already threatened to take out DAMASCUS if Syria messes with them. _ How much proof does it take ?? Wake up people !! The Bible is true, prophecy is ("bang on"..pun intended) and Jesus is just about ready to come back and clean up this mess. (After He takes His church away). There is only one ticket for this bus, and His name is Jesus. Hellooooo. He is trying to get your attention. Better listen up._Rev. Roy….<><_

  • tagalog

    Iran warns "the enemy," namely, the U.S., not to allow the carrier John Stennis to return to the Strait of Hormuz. President Obama orders the Stennis back to the Strait of Hormuz.

    What occurs now will be interesting. Hopefully, the U.S. won't back down. The Iranians say they don't make a practice of repeating advisements like the one regarding our naval forces in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. isn't in the practice of backing out when some tinpot dictator makes hostile noises.

    It'll be interesting if Iran decides to nuke, say, Washington DC; Iran will within about a half-hour become a smoking radioactive ash heap from one border to the other, where people won't be able to live for the next 10,000 years.

  • BLJ

    The Iranians have been at war with the U.S. since those diaper heads took power in 1979. Despite the fact that we could destroy them with ease we seem to cower before them. They have much American blood on their hands already.

    If we had a real Commander-in-Chief I would feel more comfortable about putting these bastards in their place. Send them to their filthy thereafter.

  • Nakba1948

    Does the detestable saber-rattling never end of this website? You've reached a new low with an article that contains "death ray" in the title. Iran may be an oppressive theocracy, but it's no threat to the United States. Hell, Israel, our supposed "ally," has killed more Americans than Iran (see USS Liberty). Besides, there's no hard evidence that Iran is developing nukes. And even if it were and supposing it launched them against Israel, it wouldn't survive long enough to gloat. The Iranian leadership is many things, but they're not suicidal. Give the Zionist talking points a break; after Iraq, you people are like the boy who cried wolf (translation: no one believes you any more).

    • zsqpwxxeh

      Yes. Iran wants peace. Peace. In fact, for us and Israel, Iran wants Eternal Peace.

      So, how long have you been working for CAIR?

      • Nakba1948

        When was the last time Iran attacked one of its neighbors? How about Israel? Q.E.D.

        By the way, I don't work for CAIR, but what you consider an insult, I wear as a badge of pride. CAIR does wonderful work in advocating for the American Muslim ummah; websites this this unfortunately necessitate the existence of such a group.

        • Anonymous

          .א שווארץ יאר אויף דיר

    • Ghostwriter

      You're unbelievable,Nakba1948. Nobody said the leadership in Iran was rational. And please,give the anti-semitic nonsense a break. It makes you look stupid.

    • Stonefellow

      Hundreds of American service people have been killed or severely injured in Iraq by Shiites using Iranian supplied weapons. Some of the Shiite killers were probably Iranian. This was done with the authorization of the Iranian Islamic government.
      The US kept this quiet so as to not provoke a demand for war with Iran, but ask any mutilated service person who has been the victim of Iranian rockets.

  • AmandaK

    No matter what your opinion and what your thoughts are, I think that you should go to EMPact Radio (EMPact America- which was mentioned several times' Radio blog) to listen to former Chairman Pete Hoekstra of the HPSCI talk about EMP's and other global threats on Wednesday that 11th. It should be an extremely informative and interesting show to listen to; here's the link:

  • AmandaK

    I'm aware that I have posted here before about EMpactRadio talking about EMP. But I wanted to post again about it because I have found it to be extremely interesting and informative. This Wednesday the 29th Chuck Manto will be on their show. So here's the link again if you guys want to listen if you didn't get the chance to before or if you want to listen again!

  • PhillipGaley

    Well, say you were planning to run the world like a farm, and with respect to geo-physical positioning of the USA, you wanted most of your worker type manufacturing stuff "over there", using EMP to maybe thin out the population—and, beginning with the working class—might seem like the very thing to have done, . . . in the nature of things, of course, those of an elderly persuasion, and medically dependent would go bye-bye, too, and in all probability, not taking with them, so much as a change of clothes; so, . . .

    And insofar as, "buy[ing] a firearm and stock[ing] your basement" may seem to show as a correct element of concerned preparation, because we are social creatures, maybe do at least something to make sure that, others who may be around you are similarly prepared for say, 3-4 years before anyone of them will be able to go into a hardware store, and ask for a bag of nails, . . .