President Donald Trump’s important March 26 executive order is a huge step toward making America prepared for an EMP, say those who approve, for others, it’s a very questionable and dangerous move.
The Congressional EMP Commission has warned for nearly 20 years that an EMP is capable of destroying civilization and killing millions of people, but the Commission’s findings have largely gone unnoticed. This time, however, the Trump administration has focused on the issue.
The Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Threats mandates that the White House take charge of national EMP preparedness. This order circumnavigates the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Energy (DOE).
Putting the White House in charge of EMP preparedness is a bold, but vital, component of the president’s executive order. According to proponents of the executive order, cabinet departments – including DOE and DHS – have a long history of playing down the seriousness of the EMP threat.
The new executive order states that the president’s National Security Advisor, coordinating with the National Security Council and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, “shall coordinate the development and implementation of executive branch actions to assess, prioritize, and manage the risks of EMPs.”
President Trump’s executive order also directs DHS to liaise with DOE and other agencies, along with the private sector, to “develop a plan to mitigate the effects of EMPs on the vulnerable priority-critical infrastructures.”
Those favoring the move say that the United States is prepared to deal with hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters; it is prepared to deal with foreign invasions, terror attacks and cyber-attacks, but it is not ready to handle an EMP event.
One would counter that given the national disasters that have struck the US in the past few years, the state mechanism seemed inadequate to deal with natural calamities, be they wildfires in California, flooding in Louisiana, Puerto Rico, etc. So the record for dealing with calamities had fallen far off the mark. However, one may also see this, as putting all of one’s eggs in one basket, and at the same time a de facto abrogation of the US checks and balances system.
In one fell swoop, the White House circumvents the relevant departments that at least have all the relevant intelligence and the allocated means to deal with the issue, and places such responsibilities in the hands of personal presidential appointees.
The bipartisanship exhibited towards the particular executive order is justifiable, as a future Democrat incumbent will have the same prerogatives. Essentially this perpetuates and perhaps accentuates, the parallel state structure between the White House and the various departments. Parallel structures, which as Max Weber would point out, are a waste of resources and a source of rivalry and conflict.
The EMP threat is not new. What would happen if a nuke was detonated at a high enough altitude is well known. But this can be achieved by traditional TCBMs. However, Congressional EMP Commission Chairman, Dr. William Graham noted last year that:
“An EMP attack might be made by a North Korean satellite, right now. A Super-EMP weapon could be relatively small and lightweight, and could fit inside North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 (KMS-3) and Kwangmyongsong-4 (KMS-4) satellites.”
But if this is the case it is an issue for the DoD and the Pentagon who have the facility, mental and physical, to assess the treat and propose countermeasures. If it is a matter of responding to the aftermath, then the White House, has been rather slow in responding. For one thing, being political appointees their priorities are damage control for the administration and not the effective handling of the situation.