"Jaw-Jaw Better Than War-War?"
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
Reviewed by John Handley, Vice President, American Diplomacy
In this two-part article, Ambassador Cooper first addresses the problems, as he sees them, of the U.S. and Russia removing Syria's chemical weapons; and second, the implications for Iran of these actions within Syria. The central purpose of the article is actually to warn U.S. policymakers and the public at large of the potential devastation of life, as we currently know it, should Iran, or some other entity, explode a nuclear weapon over the U.S. The resulting electromagnetic pulse (EMP) could destroy virtually every aspect of U.S. civilization that relies on electronic connectivity.
Ambassador Cooper and his colleague, Lieutenant General (Retired) Daniel Graham, are respectively the chairman and founder of High Frontier, an organization dedicated to building a "truly effective defense" for the United States. With this noble agenda in mind, the article is well written and informative. With reference to Winston Churchill's preference for "jaw-jaw" over "war-war," Cooper wonders if the U.S.-Russian dialogue does not overstate potential success while understating potential dangers.
Several points are worthy of consideration. First, this is a U.S.-Russian agreement, not requiring the signature of the central player—Syria. What international language will hold Syria to an agreement between two other states? Second, which international state, Russia or the U.S., is leading the engagement with Syria? It appears that the U.S. government has decided to "lead from behind" while granting Russia a significant leadership role in the Middle East. The U.S. president's disappearing "lines in the sand" have not helped the country’s leadership position and such "red lines" now appear invisible. The president's threatened, but not executed, limited attack on some of Syria's military installations may well have exacerbated the problem of locating Syria's previous chemical weapons stockpile because the Syrians have had sufficient time to further disburse these concentrations. The point Ambassador Cooper made here is underscored by the fact that Libya promised to give up its chemical weapons some nine years ago, and the process of removing them from Libya is still ongoing.
The author believes dialogue, as practiced by the current U.S. administration, may make war more likely in the Middle East by encouraging if not emboldening Iran. Should Iran succeed in creating nuclear weapons, which Cooper believes is only a question of time, the real threat to the U.S. will come in the form of the previously discussed EMP. The author explains several ways for Iranians or other states or non-state players to explode nuclear-capable missiles close enough to the U.S. to cause this EMP-related damage. Ambassador Cooper closes his article with an appeal to join a "grass roots" effort to convince local, regional, state, and national "powers that be" of the disastrous significance of an EMP event over any portion of the U.S., and to support his organization, High Frontier, in spreading the word of this potential, if not probable, threat.
Personally, I believe a well written, directed, and acted disaster movie that realistically shows life in the U.S. after an EMP burst kills over 100 million Americans and leaves no functioning cars, trucks, locomotives, airplanes, banks, ATMs, stock market, government or personal computers, phones, or devices that requires a computer chip. That "scenario" might have enough of an impact on Joe Citizen to at least cause him/her to pause and reflect on the possibilities.