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Saturday, January 19, 2019

The terrible attacks in Brussels early this morning underscore just how important an even-handed approach to foreign policy is. If the U.S. were to be attacked under similar circumstances — as we have been — it’s crucial that our leaders don’t respond in a way that rewards the terrorists: namely, by falling into crazed conspiracy theories and religious scapegoating.

That’s why Ted Cruz’s response yesterday to a question from Wolf Blitzer about his advisor, Frank Gaffney, is so troubling.

I wrote about Gaffney a few days ago, when Cruz first revealed that he was a foreign policy advisor. In short, Gaffney is at the root of some incredible fear-mongering about Islam and terrorism, and imagining him in the ear of Ted Cruz — who, let’s face it, probably shares most of his beliefs anyway — is terrifying.

When confronted with Gaffney’s theories — that Saddam Hussein was connected to the Oklahoma City bombings, that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the darkest corners of American government — Cruz refused to disavow his advisor, insisting instead that Blitzer was playing “gotcha” journalism. Remember, that’s the phrase Sarah Palin invented when she wouldn’t admit that she didn’t read newspapers.

Then, Cruz pivots: Gaffney’s too busy for conspiracy theories, apparently, because his schedule is all booked “leading the effort” looking into the dangers of an “electromagnetic pulse.” That is, a nuclear bomb detonated over major U.S. cities that would fry the electrical grid and kill millions.

I’ll try to list every problem in Cruz’s response, but we don’t have all day.

First, in order for an EMP to be used against the U.S., whoever was using it would have to have access to both ballistic missiles — most likely, intercontinental ballistic missiles — and nuclear weapons. They’re the same as nuclear weapons, in this regard. And we’ve spent decades keeping tabs on and accounting for the rest of the world’s nuclear capabilities.

Cruz is right on one point: plenty of people talk about the danger of EMPs. They’re just mostly survivalists and conspiracy theorists. Speculation about EMPs spiked during the debate over the Iran deal, but using them to emphasize the threat of nuclear attack has been around for a long time. Plenty of public figures have preceded Cruz’s unreasonable obsession, mostly to make President Obama look weak and ignorant: Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Glenn Beck, and others.

In fact, it was none other than Frank Gaffney who alerted Beck to the dangers of an EMP. He immediately followed, at the time, with a warning: “Listen to what the Iranians are telling you: Not only that they think that taking us out is achievable, but also, 2012 is the year that Mahdi will return.”

“Mahdi,” or Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdī, is an apocalyptic figure whose return alongside Jesus, according to many Muslims’ beliefs, will signal the end times.

Remember: Just like he is on electromagnetic attack, Gaffney is an expert on Islam.

And actually: We do plan for attacks such as an EMP attack — thousands of people in our national defense apparatus make careers thinking about possible ways the United States and its crucial infrastructure could be attacked. You never hear about EMP attacks on their own because that would mean we were under nuclear attack as well. EMP attacks make the specter of nuclear war even more terrifying, but if such a nuclear attack were to happen, the electromagnetic affects might be a secondary concern to, I don’t know, global nuclear winter.

In short: Cruz ducked a question about his conspiratorially racist foreign policy advisor by pointing out that advisor is spending all of his time worrying about hypothetical threats that, in all reality, he would be better off shelving to continue his investigations into the Muslim Brotherhood. Blabbering about EMPs isn’t a acceptable response to your foreign policy advisor’s McCarthyism. It’s not even a viable foreign policy response. At best, it’s a good way to sell gold on Fox late a night.

Video: Crooks and Liars.

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32 responses to “Endorse This: Ted Cruz’s Islamophobic Foreign Policy Advisor Is Worried About Electromagnetic Pulses”

  1. penguin says:

    electro-magnetic pulses? oh dear. beam me up Scotty. EMP….a real wacko! Palin could be Energy Secretary; Gaffney, Secretary of Defense, and let’s bring back Rumsfeld and Cheney. We could all rest more easily.

    • Georgene Summers says:

      Thank you…what a line up. It’s like Dumb and Dumber. I don’t get how any thinking person could consider voting Republican…Oh my…that is the optimum word. THINKING. THEY DON’T…H E L P

  2. ResqDogz says:

    Just ONCE, I’d like to see a Repugnican – ANY Repugnican – ANSWER THE F*CKING QUESTION that was put to them!

    • TZToronto says:

      They answer the question they want to be asked, but, in truth, not answering the question asked is not confined to Republicans. I can recall a press conference in which Pres. Kennedy was asked a question, waltzed around the answer and then, when the reporter who asked the question suggested that Pres. Kennedy had not answered the question, Kennedy said curtly, “Yes, I did. Next question.”

  3. Georgene Summers says:

    The entire Republican line up is absolutely frightening. Just what does Cruz suggest that we do to prevent Iran from firing that nuclear weapon above the Eastern seaboard…shall we just nuke them now or wait…I don’t hear anything from these idiots but a lot of misinformation, racism and bigotry. Let’s get the Muslims. He, Cruz isn’t really even legit to run for this office. That has not been asked and answered. The constitutional jury is still out.

  4. bobnstuff says:

    As of right now EMP is not something we need to worry about since the nuke would do way more damage. These people watch way to much Science Fiction. I will bet they think R2D2 is real also. Even though the weapon isn’t real yet the military is thinking about it and our new war planes and ships have shielding to protect them from the effects. It would seem that the shielding isn’t all that hard to do and when you are spending $4.4 billion why not include it.

    • ralphkr says:

      Actually, bobnstuff, in a properly carried out EMP attack the nuke would cause very little or NO physical damage…it would just shut down all non-hardened electronics which is all the more reason to concentrate upon hardening US infrastructure.

      • bobnstuff says:

        The new super ship and the new fighter plane are both shielded from EMP and by the time there really are EMP out there they will mostly be problems for non military systems. For a country that is loosing our greatness we sure are giving the military a bunch of new toys.

        • ralphkr says:

          Yep, bobnstuff, the military & the government are hardening SOME things but nothing is being done to harden the national infrastructure because it won’t increase the utilities bottom line.
          Also, don’t you love it that the AF won’t deploy the best fighter because it is so expensive that they can’t take a chance on losing one (they have also been known to spontaneously catch on fire while parked with nothing running).

      • plc97477 says:

        Which one, cruz or trump do you think would know how to properly carry out said attack?

        • ralphkr says:

          I really don’t think we have to worry about what Trump might do as president, plc97477, but we have to worry about who he picks for vice-president. I am sure that a “President Trump” shall so frighten other nations that he shall be quickly assassinated by agents from Great Britain, France, Canada, Australia, Germany or Japan (or a consortium of the entire UN membership).

    • Independent1 says:

      Be encouraged that any truly progressive nation that would have the wherewithal to develop an EMP would be aware that America has several of these submarines always circumnavigating the globe that would retaliate on any stupid attack against our country. Each of these subs carries enough ICMBs to virtually flatten any country on the planet.

      • plc97477 says:

        I don’t find encouragement in the subs because I think the idiots most apt to try to use EMPs would be the idiots on the right in this country.

  5. yabbed says:

    These people are lunatics and there are people who will vote them into the Oval Office. That is more frightening than EMPs. Besides, only Israel has the wherewithal to hit the USA with EMPs. Maybe Trump should know so he can take a prophylactic approach.:)

  6. Irishgrammy says:

    The words that come out of this man’s mouth sicken me. The arrogant and at the same time completely ignorant unconstitutional pronouncements from this idiot are beyond the pale. He is the extreme of the extreme and those of the same ilk he has decided to surround himself with, Frank Gaffney the notorious Islamaphobic crazy person who sees a twisted conspiracy behind every corner and he just put on Sen. Graham, (R-Texas)retired who believes in absolutely NO REGULATIONS on Wall Street……..unreal. And of course every Republican that wants his mug on TV today cannot wait to attack Pres. Obama for any crazy insult they can contrive, Cruz, with particular relish couldn’t wait to

  7. BasicFunguist says:

    Listen. An EMP attack would involve a relatively low yield atom bomb detonated in the stratosphere over the Gulf of Mexico, something the North Korean clown may be capable of now.
    The explosion would “fry” our electrical grid. Know what that means? No gas, no water, no electricity…and about 90% of the US population dead within a year.
    The EMP threat is a real capability which could be thwarted by our nation’s power utilities spending money to bolster their respective parts of the grid. Know what? They will not spend $.

    Trump’s advisor may be wackadoddle; however, the EMP threat to the US is REAL.

  8. Sand_Cat says:

    Ted Cruz is more than scary enough; Gaffney really can’t be significantly worse.

  9. David says:

    But aren’t you all saying that Islam is “the religion of peace”?

  10. CrankyToo says:

    Yes. An EMP generated by a nuclear device detonated over the US would knock out our power. It would also stop every automobile manufactured since the dawn of the electronic ignition. There’d be no end to the misery. But I don’t see why or how an EMP would kill millions of people. Someone, please explain that to me.

    In any case, one would need a device yielding 20 megatons or more, and an ICBM to get it up over our heads. And then the country from which it was launched would be annihilated by a massive US counter-strike, because Uncle Sam’s toys are shielded against just such an EMP attack.

    • iamproteus says:

      Cranky, don’t get bogged down in details. Just take their word for it. Oh, and be afraid. Be very afraid. They like it when you’re afraid.

    • ralphkr says:

      Unfortunately, CrankyToo the millions of death would be secondary to the actual blast. The deaths would be the result of no power and no transportation so there would be mass starvation since the US is no longer an agrarian nation.

      • bobnstuff says:

        The farmers will be fine, at least around my part of the world. Last summer in hay season I had six tractors in the field across form my house and not a computer in the bunch. Things would be interesting for a while but don’t sell our people short. For myself I would miss the internet but not much else.

        • ralphkr says:

          Sorry that you misunderstood what an EMP attack will effect, bobnstuff. For instance, an EMP attack will stop my 1940s era Jeep and, believe me, there is NOTHING computerized on it. AMP knocks out weakly shielded electrical circuits which includes engine ignitions (diesel will run IF the starter isn’t fried) and the entire electrical grid. So… not just no computers & Internet but no electricity for lights or refrigeration or heat or cooking and no transportation other than by non-existent horse/mule/oxen until new circuitry can be manufactured from unaffected supplies and by things are repaired enough to restart civilization millions shall have starved or died of exposure or sickness. EMP is almost the perfect weapon since it paralyzes activity in the attacked area but does little physical damage.

          Now, if you want to consider an even more realistic fear I suggest you consider how easy it is to release highly contagious airborne pathogens to kill the population with no way to even know there has been an attack.

          • bobnstuff says:

            Germ warfare is a much larger risk. The thing with Germs is they don’t even have to kill you to take you out. In my reading the power of a EMP that it would take to knock out all electric circuits is so great that it’s unlikely that anyone could create it. In my case I am set up to run with no electric service if I need to. I live far enough out in the country that my city raised wife is afraid of loosing power so I have set up so we could be alright with out electricity.

          • ralphkr says:

            But, bobnstuff, have you shielded all of your home grown electrical equipment?? EMP doesn’t just damage computers but overloads and fries ALL electrical equipment. My guess is that solar panels are especially vulnerable as well as wind-chargers. I do agree that pathogens are a much greater threat as they are much cheaper to breed and easy to spread.

          • bobnstuff says:

            I don’t need electrical equipment I have wood for heat and a wood stove for cooking if needed.I have oil lamps and lots of oil since my furnace us an oil burner. I do canning because you don’t need any thing but a shelf to store it. I have kept much of my grandfathers tools and live in a farming area No I’m not one of those survivalist nuts I was just brought up to be ready for anything. The effects of a EMP only lasts a short time and once it passes you can go back to using electricity it’s just that you might have to build it from scratch, I can do that. My house is shielded from radio waves which makes cell phone user have real problems, Now here is a piece on EMP that I found interesting.

          • ralphkr says:

            Oh, I know that it is possible to survive without electricity, bovnstuff, since we never had electricity on the farm other than low voltage lights powered by a wind-charger. LP powered Crosley refrigerator and a two-cycle engine powered Speed Queen wringer washer (I don’t remember if that was factory made or modified by my dad) and I remember the wood fired range with no fondness as the heat was miserable when I had to help mom canning. But, today most Americans live nowhere near a farm and are totally dependent upon having their food shipped to them. My current house has a pellet stove in addition to the heat pump BUT the pellet stove needs electricity to operate properly.

          • bobnstuff says:

            I looked at pellet stoves but went with the wood burner because I can’t go out back and cut down a pellet tree. Plus I couldn’t pass up the deal I got. If I get a chance to pick a pellet stove up cheep I will most likely get one to add to my system. If I loose my electricity I have propane for about 100 days of cooking. I pulled the wood stove out of the basement when I got my new wood burner but it on the back porch. I just collect odd things and like playing with them. I’m not worried about much but I have fun building things. You may want to look at convertors so you can run your pellet stove on a battery. A charged car battery would run it for a while and in a pinch you could recharge it by driving around. I can live with out a lot of things but heat isn’t one of them. In reading about EMP there seems to be a lot of different views on what would happen and it looks like no one really knows for sure just how bad it would be. I don’t think I will loose any sleep over it.

      • Ran_dum_Thot says:

        Cataclysm is not always the result of a drastic change in technology. Do we need cell phones an computers to live? Not really. The adjustments to pre-circuit board days won’t be fun, but then most of the 300 million people in the US will manage. Rather than EMT, the public should be more concerned about a pandemic of some incurable bug, which will be devastating. If anyone thinks outbreaks like Ebola, avian flu, Zika virus are just isolated events, think again.

    • Independent1 says:

      Any nation on the planet better think twice before trying such an idiot attack (and that includes North Korea), because there are several U.S. submarines as documented by the link below always circling the planet, each with enough ICBMs on board to virtually level not only a country but a continent.

      • plc97477 says:

        I really think the only country that would launch such an attack would be the USA under the leadership of either cruz or trump, neither of which is smart enough to realize what idiots they are.

  11. Ran_dum_Thot says:

    Just what we need–a Presidential candidate operating on knee-jerk. What but a fool believes that the world is a nice place to live and that evil is not rampant?

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