The United States has experienced a nearly unbroken string of catastrophic intelligence failures in the last eighty years. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor caught America by surprise in 1941, only to be followed by North Korea’s invasion of South Korea and China’s intervention in the Korean War a decade later. More recently, American intelligence failed to predict or warn U.S. policymakers about the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, or the recent outbreak of the deadly global coronavirus pandemic, which has taken the lives of over 700,000 Americans and millions of more people around the world. It seems possible that the U.S. intelligence community will fail to predict—let alone provide advance warning of—an existential nuclear, cyber, or electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack upon the U.S. homeland from America’s adversaries.
U.S. leaders have been seemingly unconcerned about the increasingly bellicose and militarily superior “New Axis” powers aligning against it since the end of the Cold War. This alliance by America’s two most powerful adversaries is not a recent development. The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June 2001. Russian president Vladimir Putin has since described it as “a reborn Second Warsaw Pact.” Russia and China now lead a military alliance that includes over 68 percent of the landmass of Eurasia, nearly 42 percent of the world’s population, nearly 30 percent of the world’s GDP, and approximately 75 percent of the world’s operational nuclear weapons, with over two-thirds of them deployed by Russia.
Russia developed super-electromagnetic pulse weapons more than two decades ago. These nuclear weapons are designed to greatly enhance their EMP effects. It subsequently shared this deadly technology with its Chinese and North Korean allies. More recently, Russia, China, and North Korea have been assessed as likely having the capability to use EMP and cyberwarfare attacks to shut down America’s electrical power grid and other critical infrastructure, including the internet, financial systems, transportation systems, food, and water distribution systems, communications systems and emergency services in a matter of minutes. Such attacks could possibly disable the Global Positioning System and military early-warning satellites, blinding Americans to subsequent attacks against the United States and its allies. U.S. military leaders have even expressed concern that our nuclear command, control, and communications system might be vulnerable to cyberattack. Such an attack could disrupt the president’s ability to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike. Also, it could prevent America’s conventional military forces from being able to communicate with their commanders or coordinate their attacks, making them much easier to defeat. The United States has yet to develop any super-EMP weapons to help deter any such attack.
President Joe Biden was elected, in part, on a platform of protecting the environment from global climate change. However, few people realize that a super-EMP or cyberattack on the U.S. homeland would likely be far more catastrophic for American citizens and the environment. Such an attack could cause all ninety-four nuclear reactors in the United States to meltdown, spreading radioactive contamination and fallout to nearby cities. If such an attack were to occur, then U.S. leaders might not be certain which country attacked us or who to retaliate against. In 2008, the Congressional EMP Commission estimated that such a cataclysmic attack on a national scale could cause up to 90 percent of Americans to die within twelve months due to starvation, disease, and societal breakdown. A comprehensive cyberattack on the U.S. homeland could also kill tens of millions of Americans. Given their destructive potential, U.S. national security professionals should seriously consider reclassifying cyber and EMP weapons as weapons of mass destruction. Despite these warnings, U.S. leaders have done little to protect the American people from EMP and cyberattacks. They have also failed to deploy a national missile defense system to protect against nuclear missile attacks. In the event of a catastrophic Sino-Russian attack against the U.S. homeland, there is a good chance that even America’s allies would decline to come to its defense for fear of sharing its fate.