Don’t believe the EMP hype

In response to Bill Forstchen's desire to terrify America ["Apocalypse WNC," July 8 Xpress], scaring people with false information is not admirable. Only three countries — the United States, Russia and China — could explode a large enough nuclear weapon high enough, higher than the International Space Station, to cause a national electromagnetic pulse problem. For accurate information on this subject, check out the report by the Congressional Research Service at; type "high altitude EMP" in the search box on the right and read the first report.

Other ideas of Forstchen's are equally misleading, such as the idea that the U.S. should preemptively strike North Korea and Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. is only 4.6 percent of the world's population although we do already spend 50 percent of the world's military spending to try keep us safe. How likely is it that 4.6 percent of the world can have a "might makes right" indifference to international law, creating new enemies daily, and remain safe in the long run? Irresponsible, imperialistic behavior will provide incentives for our enemies and also bankrupt us eventually.

Primitive nuclear weapons can now be made in secret by both nations and terrorists. While one of these weapons cannot cause a destructive EMP event, if delivered by truck, one could destroy a nuclear power plant, making a metropolitan area uninhabitable and costing trillions of dollars. Preemptive attacks on other nations and ballistic-missile defense can't make us safe. International law is the only hope for our planet, and the U.S. must not be a leader in lawlessness.

— Dot Sulock, instructor of "The Nuclear Dilemma Class" at UNCA

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

7 thoughts on “Don’t believe the EMP hype

  1. travelah

    What bunk …. what makes you think that rogue nations and terrorist groups give two cents for your notions of international law? Secondly, how in the world do you define the US as a leader in lawlessness?
    The size of our population and defense budget have absolutely nothing to do with the issue of justifying preemptive military action. Make a case against such endeavors if you wish but trying to play the bogey card of anti-Americanism does not address the issue of hostile nations gaining nuclear weapons and the threat they pose to humanity in the hands of their zealots.

    Lastly, where are you getting your information from? It seems you are woefully lacking regarding EMP. Perhaps you should update your resources for the benefit of your students.

  2. Piffy!

    Great Letter, Dot.

    Although i’m still interested in reading the book.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Although i’m still interested in reading the book

    I read the first 30 pages. That cured my interest.

  4. Matt Howard

    Building the EMP is only part of the equation. Getting it in place is the other. I know a guy that swears he could build a small EMP device in his garage. He dosent claim to be able to build a ballistic missile.
    As for preemptive military action, we had a long history as a nation of firing the last shot, not the first. Until Iraq. That was part of my growing up thinking we were the good guys. Not hitting first makes us civilized. Im not arguing against hitting back harder if it comes to it. Provided you hit the right target of course. Out last President had that problem.

  5. travelah

    Matt, the guy you know is swearing over his faulty imagination. It takes at least the resources of a small nation to be able to put together a working fission device. I doubt he has the technical know how and even the rudimentary equipment needed to construct an accurate model.
    As for delivering it, that is a bigger challenge but one already attained by several countries. What the opening letter omitted either through ignorance or intention is that even at a height of 30 miles the EMP impact will dramatically effect an almost 1,000 mile range and do so with a weapon as low in yield as 10 kilotons. The instructor of the class just needs to apply a little geometry taking the height of the detonation and the curvature of the earth into account and realize the effect of the EMP is from horizon to horizon at the detonation height. This produces some scary scenarios. A 30 mile height would produce an EMP coving an area from Boston MA to Montgomery AL.
    The preemptive strike issue changes somewhat with the nuclear question. Can we be the gentlemen when a million casualties at home are at serious risk by doing so?

  6. shadmarsh

    Great letter, thanks for injecting a bit of science and sanity toward exposing this fascist book.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.