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What the escalating conflict between India and Pakistan means for America

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What the escalating conflict between India and Pakistan means for America

Update: It’s escalating faster.

Original Story:

When Americans think of the risk of nuclear war, they often think of North Korea or Iran in their pursuits of nuclear weapons that can strike the United States. Others might look to Russia or China, the two largest nuclear arsenals that are both capable of striking the United States today. We rarely consider the most volatile potential nuclear standoff in the world right now between India and Pakistan.

This is a mistake made by American media, as the tensions between India and Pakistan have been the most likely catalyst for a nuclear war since both nations acquired nuclear weapons capabilities. If World War III starts any time in the near future, it will likely start in south Asia between these nuclear neighbors.

Tensions have been high for decades and reached a critical tipping point two weeks ago following a terrorist attack in Kashmir. Since then, there have been exchanges between the two sides, including an air strikes on terrorist training camps by India’s air force and the downing of two Indian fighter jets yesterday.

The geopolitics surrounding this conflict are as complicated as they get. Both governments are considered friendly with Washington DC, though there have been diplomatic conflicts with Pakistan’s government in recent years.

China is not officially allied with Pakistan, but that’s just on paper. They have strong ties with Islamabad and consider their neighbors in India to be a major potential threat.

Russia, like the U.S., has relationships with both sides, but may lean towards Pakistan if push comes to shove.

Could a war start between India and Pakistan soon? If things don’t deescalate quickly, it seems almost inevitable. Both sides are leaving room for deescalation despite the increased military activity, but they have gone to war in the past with less provocation. There seem to be two possible ways for this to turn into a nuclear war.

Scenario 1: Pakistan counters Indian military incursions with tactical nuclear weapons

Pakistan is the only nuclear armed nation that does not have a policy against first nuclear strikes. All other nuclear armed nations (other than Israel, which denies having a nuclear arsenal) state as national policy that they will never use nuclear weapons unless nuclear weapons are used against them first.

Nobody knows what the threshold is for Pakistan to use their nuclear weapons. This is by design. Because India’s conventional military forces both outnumber and are better equipped than Pakistan’s, they’ve always used the threat of nuclear weapons as their countermeasure to India’s superiority. This is similar to NATO’s stance against Russia through the Cold War. Russia was militarily capable of running over Europe through sheer size, but the presence of nuclear weapons in Europe was always viewed as the balance.

Pakistan views their nuclear arsenal the same way. They may not be able to stop India head-to-head in a conventional war, but they would be willing to nuke Indian forces, possibly even within their own borders if necessary. If this current conflict continues to escalate and India gets more aggressive with their military strikes, Pakistan may feel it necessary to use tactical nuclear weapons to level the playing field.

Scenario 2: India fears a nuclear strike so they preemptively attack known launch facilities in a counterforce offensive

If diplomacy breaks down, either through escalation of military strikes and counterstrikes or through a terrorist attack similar to the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, it’s very possible pressure for action by the vast Indian population would result in an attempt by India to take out Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities before they’re able to use them. India has extremely accurate ordinance delivery systems that are capable of pinpoint strikes. They also have intelligence about all of Pakistan’s launch facilities… at least they hope they have information on all of them. Combine those two ingredients with a strong, albeit untested missile defense system and we may have a recipe for a counterforce offensive.

This scenario would make it much more likely China would get involved early. They may view the action against Pakistan as a precursor to action against Chinese nuclear facilities. If that’s their perspective, they may attempt to take out India’s nuclear capabilities shortly after India takes out Pakistan’s.

America would be drawn in

Two things are certain about America’s response to a nuclear war regardless of how it starts. First, there is very little chance anyone will want to get involved directly in a nuclear war in south Asia. Second, any action by either Russia or China would make it nearly impossible for us to stay out of it. Nearly 1/5th of the world’s population is in India and Pakistan. The economic fallout from any nuclear war in the region would be crippling to much of the developed world.

Public sentiment will initially demand that we stay as far away from the conflict as possible. If India is able to take out Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities without China getting involved, it’s possible we could stay out of the conflict and focus on building a lasting peace. But that may be wishful thinking. India is strong and technologically advanced, but it’s hard to imagine them completely incapacitating Pakistan. It’s even harder to imagine China not getting involved.

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The most unpredictable components are the terrorist organizations on both sides. Pakistan has multiple Islamic terrorist groups that want India out of Kashmir. India has Hindu terrorist groups that want a deeper separation from Muslims, a goal that becomes easier to achieve through a war with Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Islamic State and al Qaeda are still active in the region and would love to see these countries at war.

Any one terrorist organization could engage in an operation that prompts either or both sides of the conflict to get more aggressive.

If tensions are not brought down quickly, war seems inevitable. While American attentions are directed towards Michael Cohen’s testimony or Jussie Smollett’s latest claims, WWIII may be ramping up in south Asia. From there, it will spread. We need to be watching.

 


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Foreign Affairs

Two asylum-seekers later discovered to be wanted by Mexico on kidnapping, homicide charges

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Two asylum-seekers later discovered to be wanted by Mexico on kidnapping homicide charges

According to many Democrats, anyone coming to the United States who files asylum claims should be released to the interior immediately. That’s the stance of such notable progressives as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren. Among the people they want released, no questions asked, are two separate Mexican asylum-seekers who, as border patrol later learned, were wanted in Mexico on charges of kidnapping and homicide.

Thankfully, border patrol did their jobs properly detaining the asylum-seekers until their request was denied, at which time they were ordered repatriated to Mexico.

Border Patrol Repatriates Two Wanted Felons

EAGLE PASS, Texas – Within the past two weeks, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Del Rio Sector Foreign Operations Branch worked with the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the government of Mexico to coordinate the repatriation of two men wanted by Mexican authorities on kidnapping and homicide charges.

“The U.S. Border Patrol works closely with the government of Mexico to identify fugitives,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz. “Because of that outstanding level of cooperation, these violent criminals were quickly located and returned to Mexico to answer the egregious charges against them.”

Border Patrol agents at the FOB were contacted by Mexican government officials in July regarding two subjects wanted on kidnapping and homicide charges. One of the men was apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in November 2018 near Eagle Pass, while the other surrendered to Customs and Border Protection Officers at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry in December 2018. Both men made credible fear claims, and were ordered removed by an immigration judge after those claims were denied.

There was no indication prior to contact by Mexican officials that these men were wanted when border patrol picked them up. Had their “reasonable fear” claims been accepted in their hearings, they would have become legal residents of the United States. Only after their claims were denied did news come from Mexico that they were wanted.

Demands by Democrats for immediate release of all asylum-seekers upon processing is the most blatantly dangerous policy they want to inflict on American citizens. You won’t see progressive media reporting this, so it must be spread by conservatives.

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Economy

Do we need China? Nope.

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Do we need China Nope

My first reaction to news that China was planning on imposing tariffs on $75 billion in American imports was to contemplate whether or not we could actually just stop trading with China altogether. As a free trade hawk, the notion is obtuse to me. But as a patriot who recognizes the multiple threats China represents to our nation and much of the world, I wondered if the economic risks of breaking away from the Chinese flow of products and resources were worth it.

Anyone who claims to know the answer to this question is lying or delusional. You could do a comprehensive study on the pros and cons of elevating other trade partners and dumping China and still not know with a certainty all of the effects. But we have numbers. We have analyses. We have common sense. All three tell us dumping China as a trade partner altogether would be rocky at first, but the end result for American consumers and businesses would be negligible while the crises brought about in China would be catastrophic.

In other words, this might actually be the best way to eventually return to a free trade atmosphere on the world market. Pressure is slow in working against China. Between their own tariffs and devaluing the Yuan, China seems to be preparing for the long battle in hopes the Democrats win the 2020 election. We may need to fundamentally rethink our entire trade infrastructure, one that is more spread around the world instead of reliant so heavily on one Asian nation.

As if President Trump has been reading my mind (new NSA tech?), he Tweeted what can only be perceived as total agreement with my speculation. Okay, so it’s possible he and his staff came up with it without digging into my head, but it eerily coincides with what I’ve been thinking about since yesterday.

The wording of the President’s Tweet is poor. We can’t be “hereby ordered” by the President to do anything outside of the confines of Article 2. But wording aside, the sentiment of the President’s Tweet is sound. We really don’t need China, and while it would be nice if we really could just bring everything home and build it in America, that’s not really what would happen. Some would be brought back to U.S. manufacturing sectors, but much of it will still need to be imported.

But here’s why the President is correct that we might be better off without China. They’ve held the lion’s share of products and resources we import for decades. This is an antiquated and false concept propped up by fears that if we eliminate things with the “Made in China” mark, Walmart’s shelves would be empty and Amazon would have to go back to primarily selling books. Our reliance on Chinese imports is an artificial need in the 21st century. There are plenty of ways to instantly replace China as a producer.

More importantly, there are plenty of countries who will gladly sign free trade agreements with us if China will not.

There’s a secondary, albeit exceedingly important consideration in this equation as well. China is the other world superpower. For years following the fall of the Soviet Union, America enjoyed exclusive status at the top. But over the lest decade, China has emerged as comparable and in many ways superior to us when it comes to specific seats of worldwide power. They have the manpower and natural resources we do not, and in the 21st century they’ve finally learned how to wield this power.

Pulling back heavily on trading with China will adversely affect their government power and international clout. It’s hard to imagine they’d be able to sustain themselves in a real trade war with the United States. They’re simply too reliant on Americans buying their cheap products. Diminishing or eliminating them as a trade partner would rock the financial markets and cause instant turmoil, but it would be a much shorter experience than some believe it will be. Capitalists know how to rebound. We know how to react when the status quo is shaken. China, by its nature as an exporting nation and its cultural adherence to the status quo, will not react as well. They could collapse in a matter of weeks.

China relies on exports. The United States relies on imports. It’s a heck of a lot easier to find sellers than buyers. Other countries will step up to fill our import void if we stop trading with China. But China cannot replace us as consumers.

Update:  And so it begins…

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Foreign Affairs

US officials confirm Israeli strike in Iraq

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US officials confirm Israeli strike in Iraq

Editor’s Note: This story from the Associated Press does not necessarily reflect the opinions of this publication. It contains news that was deemed important. Rather than rewrite fresh content on a story that has already been appropriately covered, we know our audience is capable of seeing through any bias often associated with left leaning news outlets like the AP.

JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S. officials have confirmed that Israel was responsible for the bombing of an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq last month, an attack that would mark a significant escalation in Israel’s years-long campaign against Iranian military entrenchment across the region.

The confirmation comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is strongly hinting that his country is behind recent airstrikes that have hit bases and munitions depot belonging to Iran-backed paramilitary forces operating in Iraq.

The mystery attacks have not been claimed by any side and have left Iraqi officials scrambling for a response, amid strong speculation that Israel may have been behind them. Earlier this week, the deputy head of the Iraqi Shiite militias, known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, openly accused Israeli drones of carrying out the attacks, but ultimately blamed Washington and threatened strong retaliation for any future attack.

Such attacks are potentially destabilizing for Iraq and its fragile government, which has struggled to remain neutral amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran.

There have been at least three explosions at Iraqi Shiite militia bases in the past month. American officials now confirm Israel was responsible for at least one of them.

Two American officials said Israel carried out an attack on an Iranian weapons depot in July that killed two Iranian military commanders. The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

The July 19 attack struck a militia base in Amirli, in Iraq’s northern Salaheddin province, causing a huge explosion and fire. A senior official with the Shiite militias at the time told The Associated Press that the base hit housed advisers from Iran and Lebanon — a reference to the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group. He said the attack targeted the headquarters of the advisers and a weapons depot.

On August 12, a massive explosion at the al-Saqr military base near Baghdad shook the capital, killing one civilian and wounding 28 others. The base housed a weapons depot for the Iraqi federal police and the PMF. The most recent of the explosions came Tuesday night, at a munitions depot north of Baghdad.

There have been weeks of speculation in Israel that the army is attacking targets in Iraq.

In an interview with a Russian-language TV station on Thursday, Netanyahu indicated the speculation is true.

“I don’t give Iran immunity anywhere,” he said, accusing the Iranians of trying to establish bases “against us everywhere,” including Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

Asked whether that means Israel is operating in Iraq, Netanyahu said: “We act in many arenas against a country that desires to annihilate us. Of course I gave the security forces a free hand and the instruction to do what is needed to thwart these plans of Iran.”

Early Friday, the New York Times, citing Israeli and U.S. officials, reported that Israel bombed an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq last month.

It would be the first known Israeli airstrike in Iraq since 1981, when Israeli warplanes destroyed a nuclear reactor being built by Saddam Hussein. It also steps up Israel’s campaign against Iranian military involvement across the region.

Israel has previously acknowledged hundreds of airstrikes on Iranian targets in neighboring Syria, primarily arms shipments believed to be destined for Iran’s Hezbollah allies.

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy and has repeatedly vowed that it will not allow the Iranians, who are supporting the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.

Striking Iraq would be far more complicated than reaching neighboring Syria.

The Israeli warplanes would likely have to travel through Turkey, a former ally that now has cool relations with Israel, or through Saudi Arabia, to carry out strikes on Iraq.

Israel and the Saudis do not have formal diplomatic relations, but are believed to have established a behind-the-scenes alliance based on their shared hostility toward Iran.

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Baldor reported from Washington.

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This story has been corrected to show that the last known Israeli airstrike in Iraq was in 1981, not 1980.

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