The Electromagnetic Pulse Knockout Strike to End the War in Ukraine

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by Gilbert Doctorow via Gilbert Doctorow

[ . . . ] So much for Belgium.* As for Russia, what I have just described is not very promising for bringing in a change of policy in the West that would hasten the end to the war by cutting military and financial support for Kiev. It is in line with with the realistic appraisal of what Russia is up against that is being aired on state television with ever greater frequency. Today’s morning edition of the ‘Sixty Minutes’ news and commentary show was a case in point. As panelists and hosts were saying, the results of yesterday’s elections in America hold no promise of a quick reversal in Washington’s foreign policy. And for its part, Western Europe does not yet appear to be collapsing economically or politically. The conclusion: the war will end only as a consequence Russia’s victory on the battlefield, not thanks to outside events.

So, how is the war going on the ground? According to the expert panelists on ‘Sixty Minutes,’ the 80,000 or so recently mobilized Russian troops now at the front have achieved the objective of holding the lines, so that for several days now they are stable, hardly moving this way or that despite daily Ukrainian attacks on given points. The attackers are repelled with great loss of life on the Ukrainian side, but without any strategic implications. The Russians speak of 10,000 Ukrainian deaths in the Kherson zone of combat over the month of October. At the same time, the Russians say they are withdrawing from the city of Kherson, having decided that presently the logistical challenge of supplying their troops on the Western banks of the Dnepr are too great; they will continue the fight from across the river, on the Eastern banks. They have already evacuated 110,000 civilians from the city of Kherson to the East, meaning essentially to the Crimea and the southern regions of European Russia.

Thus, for the moment the war is at a stalemate. That may change only when the further 140,000 or so reservists complete their training and are sent into battle for what will be the Russian counter-offensive of 2023. That may be a game changer, or maybe it won’t, depending on what new cutting edge weaponry Washington begins shipping to Kiev between now and then.

All of the foregoing brings me to an issue that I had dismissed out of hand…a ‘tactical nuclear strike.’ However, an article in today’s Financial Times put it into a very specific form, quite different from the low yield nuclear weapons designed for use on the battlefield that the Russians say they have no need of. What we are talking about is an ‘electromagnetic pulse strike’ to knock out Ukraine’s military potential at one blow by disabling any and all electronic and electrical equipment on the ground throughout the country and…including satellites in the space above. Here we have a nuclear device delivered by hypersonic missile and detonated at high altitude. There would be no cloud, no physical destruction to buildings, nor deaths to people on the ground. And the Russians are said to have already tested this over the Barents Sea.

This state of the art weapon used by no one till now would, indeed, conform to Vladimir Putin’s saying at the start of the war that Russia had ‘military technical means’ to prevail, an expression that had many Western analysts guessing when it was said. It would also put in a proper context Putin’s recent mention of the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In both the 1945 case and the possible present case, the motive of those using the new weapons was and would now be to spare the lives of tens of thousands of one’s own soldiers while putting a swift end to a war. The difference, of course, is that the American use of nuclear weapons cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians whereas Russia’s possible use of a tactical electromagnetic pulse would cost virtually nothing in human lives.

I leave it to the reader to decide if this would amount to opening the Pandora’s box of nuclear horrors as Washington is intimating.

Postscript, 10 November: One reader has correctly commented that an EPM attack could also be brought about using a non-nuclear explosive, which the Russians are also said to possess. This issue will merit very close attention. And I further emphasize that Russia’s possible move on to totally new methods of warfare in which they are, with the United States, world ‘leaders’ will only come about in response to escalation in capabilities of weaponry supplied to Ukraine by the USA and NATO. Russia remains a ‘reactive’ power.

: Here is the discussion about Belgium.

After my recent explanation of the way the Europe-wide energy crisis is forcing the household finances of the vast majority of Belgians into red figures each month, and after speculating on whether and when this untenable situation will lead to civil unrest, I am duty bound to report on today’s “nationwide strike” in Belgium: namely what were the demands of the union leaders who called the strike, what impact their action has had on daily life here and, most importantly, whether this in any way prefigures changes with respect to Belgian support for the EU policies of sanctions on Russia and military-financial aid to Ukraine.

This was called a ‘nationwide strike’ rather than a ‘general strike’ because the strike action was called by the country’s two biggest labor unions acting on their own and representing several clearly defined economic sectors, chief among them being transportation. The Belgian railways were nearly shut down, as were most municipal public transportation networks, meaning metros, trams and buses, though certain lines were provided with sharply reduced service. Of the two national airports serving commercial flights, Charleroi was completely shut, while Zaventem outside Brussels cancelled 60% of its flights. In retailing, the main supermarket chains were shuttered. Post offices, hospitals, prisons and many other public services were maintained at minimal levels typical of Sundays. However, the schools remained open. For that matter, most shops, eateries and other private enterprises remained open.

The union bosses called the day’s action a success. It was a shot over the bow of the government to warn of the demands that the unionists want to see satisfied in the weeks ahead. These demands are strictly economic, seeking government assistance in putting a cap on energy bills to households and scrapping controls on allowable salary increases set in law, so that workers can negotiate new contracts that raise wages sufficiently to compensate for the ongoing high inflation. For his part, Prime Minister De Croo says that the provisions of wage indexation in place protect Belgian workers better than in most other countries and he has called upon the people to pull together and avoid discord.

What are we to make of this? The outstanding conclusion is that both sides to the issue are intentionally ignoring the elephant in the room, namely the sanctions on Russia which have driven up energy costs so dramatically over the course of this year. Most likely by intent, the unions have decided not to infringe on the prerogatives of the government by making political demands. Thus, to borrow a line from the BBC Business News programs, they are not ‘making the connection’ between the country’s foreign policy and the rising cost of living.

The problem here is that indexation or still higher salary awards in the months ahead will only aggravate the inflation, making it more intractable and longer-lasting. Moreover, since so many of those who were out on strike today are government workers, their pay increases in months ahead will push the federal budget into still greater deficit, violating EU financial rules and risking penalties of one kind or another. Meanwhile, private employers are likely to resist any large wage increases over the levels set in law since that would drive up costs and their own sale prices to uncompetitive levels on world markets. We may expect the arm wrestling to continue for some time, possibly engendering wildcat strikes and other labor unrest.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022

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