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Why Missile Defense Won't Work

By wiredog in News
Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 06:48:44 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

An article by Theodore A. Postol in the MIT Tech Review criticizes the current missile defense system being pursued by the US, and discusses a system that would work.

Dr. Postol's criticism is based on his own experience and on two reports (PDF) released by the U.S. General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the US Congress.

The problem with the current missile defense system being pursued is the difficulty of determinating the difference between decoys and real warheads, given the limitations of the current technology. The workable system he discusses is a boost-phase interceptor that would target the missiles during launch, before they had released the warheads.


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Why Missile Defense Won't Work | 104 comments (100 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
I cant find the boost-phase description (none / 0) (#1)
by imrdkl on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:24:25 AM EST

in either of the PDF's. Is this something like laser-guidance from the ground?

Try... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:34:40 AM EST

... the last page of the article.

[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#3)
by imrdkl on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:39:40 AM EST

the article has a page-turner button at the bottom for the other 4 pages. Sometimes I miss those and assume that all there is.

[ Parent ]
'boost-phase' (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by _Quinn on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:44:12 AM EST

Usually means a naval or airborne system designed to intercept an ICBM before it enters ballistic flight -- while the rocket is still firing. In addition to being more difficult to produce decoys of an entire ICBM, tracking an active rocket is relatively straightforward; the seeker head from a conventional air-to-air missile would probably work just fine. The major technical problem is that the interceptor missiles practically need to be IBCMs themselves, in order to catch up.

The air force alternative to mount a chemically-activated laser on a Boeing 7x7 and try to burn a hole in the skin of the ICBM. (They're testing a very similar system right now, though it may be for theater, rather than strategic, defense.)

Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]
No form of missile defence is totally effective... (4.00 / 3) (#5)
by m0rzo on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:49:13 AM EST

...as an NBC attack on the United States is most likely to come in the form of a suitcase...Missile defence will just lead to arms races and world instability.

My last sig was just plain offensive.

Suitcase != Missle? (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by Woundweavr on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:17:57 PM EST

Point taken, but its alot cheaper to steal/buy a Soviet ICBM then a suitcase, or container sized one. Even so, having safety from missles doesn't really decrease our defense against suitcase/container sized planted bombs (necessarily).

[ Parent ]
Ok.. I'm not sure about this... (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by m0rzo on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:22:05 PM EST

but couldn't an Electro-magnetic pulse attack on the USA prior to a missile attack make any defenses useless?

My last sig was just plain offensive.
[ Parent ]

Yes, but... (none / 0) (#10)
by physicsgod on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:46:03 PM EST

An EMP attack that would affect the entire US would require a high-altitude (wait for it) nuclear explosion, the very thing an NMD is designed to prevent. Also shielding a system from EMP is relativly simple, just wrap the electronics in a conductive box and you're OK as long as the pulse strength isn't too high (where too high is determined by the conductor), the usability of a shielded system is rather low, but it would make for a perfect backup.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Depends (none / 0) (#11)
by Woundweavr on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:46:15 PM EST

It depends on the method of the defense. If its fairly autonomous(sic?) or has backups in say Turkey, it probably would be ok.

Also, vital systems, like hospitals, nuclear power plants, missle systems, miliary hardware etc are shielded from EMP waves because of just such a vulnerability.

[ Parent ]

Actually, (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:58:38 PM EST

Also, vital systems, like hospitals, nuclear power plants, missle systems, miliary hardware etc are shielded from EMP waves because of just such a vulnerability.
Some missile systems are, some are not(shielding carries weight.) Some nuclear power plants are, some aren't, but none are protected as well as you'd like to think. Most hospitals flat out are not, some have a few pieces of equipment that would be ok. Some military hardware is, much is not(EMP shielding adds a whole lot of weight and some amount of bulk.)

Defense is not as good as you'd hope.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Forget suitecases (none / 0) (#16)
by ucblockhead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:22:48 PM EST

More likely is a Liberian registered tanker sailing into New York harbor.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Doesn't matter (none / 0) (#18)
by Woundweavr on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:30:41 PM EST

Missile defense still doesn't hurt. The only way to stop the other scenario is security and finding/destroying as many nukes as possible. A good missile defense system would defend against all missile attacks.

[ Parent ]
Economics (none / 0) (#21)
by ucblockhead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:54:56 PM EST

Fundamentally speaking, war is about economics. Every dollar spent on a defense missile system is a dollar that could have been spent somewhere else.

So "doesn't hurt" must be seen in the context of the cost, and the context of whether or not the money could have been spent on more useful weapons systems.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Weapon System vs Prevention (none / 0) (#23)
by Woundweavr on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:03:19 PM EST

But the US already has enough WMD to kill all life on earth existing. This system is intended to prevent the effective use of similar missle based weapons on the US. It gives an alternative to Doomsday if someone launches a nuke at the US. Not to say its cost-effective, but its not exactly analagous.

[ Parent ]
Military (none / 0) (#29)
by ucblockhead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:34:35 PM EST

There's a lot more to the military then "WMD". The money would be far better spent in the conventional arena, where, as anyone who watches the news knows, the money actually hits the battlefield.

If you are talking about a WWIII nuclear exchange, then a MDS is pointless because none will stop all incoming missiles. If you are talking about a terrorist state trying to nuke one city, then a MDS is useless because said terrorist state will simply use another delivery method. Either way it is a waste of money.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

the argument against a US missile defense (none / 0) (#34)
by minra on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:34:51 PM EST

... pointless because none will stop all incoming missiles .... useless because said terrorist state will simply use another delivery method. Either way it is a waste of money.

Your logic is airtight if you assume other effective means of delivery exist _and_ the USA doesn't address them. But as thurler pointed-out an effective missile defense is just one of a host of defensive measures the USA is undertaking.

You could claim 'but there will always be a way'. Certainly. And there's always a way to hack a computer system. And there's always a way to break-into a house. That is no argument against installing locks and firewalls.

The problem with these developments isn't that they can't work, but that they CAN work, and that they will help cement the USA's current position as the #1 undisputed global ass-kicker.

Some of you might like the idea of an unassailable USA, but look at how the USA is acting *already*. Isn't anyone else here uncomfortable with the idea of a Fortress America, playing by no-one's rules but their own? An America that does not have-to negotiate anything?

Good to hear about China's increasing military strength. They've been invaded by the west before, and they see who's on their doorstep now.

"I like chinese... I like chinese... "

[ Parent ]

Festkung Amerika (none / 0) (#61)
by _Quinn on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 07:24:37 AM EST

Some of you might like the idea of an unassailable USA, but look at how the USA is acting *already*. Isn't anyone else here uncomfortable with the idea of a Fortress America, playing by no-one's rules but their own? An America that does not have-to negotiate anything?

If this were the goal, wouldn't we be seeing more money spent on decreasing the US dependence on (foriegn) oil? (And the US would still need to invade South Africa (strategic minerals), probably Japan (machine tools), and maybe Taiwan (electronics).)


Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]
Decreasing dependence (none / 0) (#80)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:50:37 PM EST

Frankly, I think we SHOULD decrease our dependence on Arab oil. I'm not too concerned about South Africa or Japan, since there's not particular problems with those counties. I would be concerned about Taiwan, in case Red China decides to move on them.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Totally untrue (3.25 / 4) (#24)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:07:32 PM EST

A biological attack would likely be from a nonmissile source, but would also likely not be as dangerous as most people speculate. Odds are it would be nasty but only affect a very small part of the population.

A chemical attack is quite unlikely to occur at all on any significant scale; really, chemical weapons are useless for anything but small scale terror unless you've got a large army using them.

A nuclear attack using a briefcase is almost certainly not going to occur, despite all the hype from idiots who know nothing about nuclear weapons. The US and the USSR both developed such weapons, but the yields are so low that they're nearly useless, they weigh so much that they're rather conspicuous(you'd need a circus strongman to carry it around like an ordinary suitcase without drawing a lot of attention,) and they're both rare and rather well protected. The likelihood of anyone else developing such a weapon independently in the next hundred years is essentially zero.

Far more likely would be an attack using a nuke in a crate or similar. The problem here is that unless they do it really, really soon, we'll have facilities in place to detect nuclear weapons at all the ports where you could inconspicuously move such a thing around. Believe it or not, the Bush administration is working on comprehensive defense, not just missile defense.

Quit just blindly accepting the baseless claims of the anti-NMD crowd. Most of them don't know anything at all about the weapons and adversaries they're talking about; they just spout whatever bullshit happens into their forebrains at the moment or whatever they heard from someone else that sounds plausible. The fact is that advocating that we remain totally purposefully defenseless against an entire category of attack is absurd. If we can build a defense, we should do so, and it is the opinion of an awful lot of scientists and engineers who work on these things that it can be done. Hint: they know more about the subject than you and the "I loathe the military" crowd.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Bomb in a crate (none / 0) (#41)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:36:45 PM EST

Read "The Fifth Horseman" for ideas on how to make it hard to find the device once it's in the country.

The problem is getting it in. But if it is smuggled in in sections it would be very portable. The only parts that couldn't be bought openly would be the fissile material and the initiator. Getting those in would be tough, but do-able. Still, they only have to be lucky once...

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Problems (2.00 / 1) (#45)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:26:03 PM EST

One, if they're unlucky once, the captured individuals will probably talk, because the alternative is likely to be unending torture and eventually death. Rights are rights, but when you're engaged in the act of murdering a couple of million people and get caught, for all intents and purposes, you don't have any.

Two, the fissile material is the biggest problem. Long range alpha particle detectors and active neutron inquiry and so on are likely to make it nearly impossible to ship such materials, no matter how well concealed, so you'd have to smuggle them. They're not that big or that heavy; you could do it in a light aircraft. The problem is, of course, that you need to not get caught, you need to get the goods off the plane(without setting off any detectors, so not at a public airport of any size,) and you need to be able to move around. Again, get caught, and they're going to reduce you to a mindless mass of torn flesh and screams unless you talk. From what I've read, the movies are right in this regard: people ALWAYS talk, presuming the torturer is skilled enough not to kill them.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
You could do it in a car (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:16:54 PM EST

And it doesn't take that much shielding for uranium. It doesn't have to be perfectly shielded, just enough to get below background.

Tough, but do-able if they're motivated enough. People who fly airplanes into buildings probably have the motivation. Deterrence might work. They need countries to hide in. Places to move their cash. And after Afghanistan, every country in the world knows the consequences of helping them. And those countries know US policy on weapons of mass destruction.

I think a terrorist attack on the US with nukes is possible, but not likely.

10kt, in the right place, could do significant damage. Rt 123, right outside CIA. The George Washington Parkway goes within a couple hundred meters of the Pentagon. Heck, detonate it at the intersections of Rt 7 and Rt 123 in Tyson's Corner. At the right time that'd kill 20,000 plus.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Yes, but (none / 0) (#75)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:37:08 PM EST

The more advanced detectors on the way can do things that will thwart middling levels of shielding. You'd need something truly superlative, which would be large, heavy, and really really obvious if, say, a customs officer searched the vehicle.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
So... (none / 0) (#90)
by dasunt on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 05:05:58 PM EST

We don't have to worry about people parking rider truck bombs outside of federal buildings and walking away?

[ Parent ]
Depends (none / 0) (#91)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 05:47:19 PM EST

If you mean nuclear ones, then probably not, in fact. If you mean a truck full of diesel and fertilizer, that's a harder question. It is certainly harder to construct such a bomb today and not be noticed, because they've taken to watching sales of the ingredients in significant quantities, but if you could construct it, then probably you could set it off.

At this point, half a dozen farmers are going to pipe up telling me that buying fertilizer is dirt easy and a rural resident of some sort will point out that you can replace diesel with fuel oil. To them, I say this:

First of all, yes, you can replace diesel with fuel oil. And in fact, you probably should, as this will be easy to get away with - but it will require actually having a residence out in boonyville that you don't want heated for a few months to make it work. That's a logistics problem in storing fuel and so on, but it could probably be done if you were clever, careful, and had enough land to hide the operation. Another means which has been suggested is to buy a used diesel rig and repeatedly fuel it up at different places. This could possibly work, but carries additional risk of exposure due to paperwork associated with collecting taxes on fuel used by such trucks and so on. A bad idea, I think.

Second, remember that just because they're not making you fill out a bunch of forms and running a background check like you're applying for an FFL doesn't mean they're not tracking sales of fertilizer. They most certainly are, and the amounts sold don't vary much in a given region year to year - unless of course, there's a visible reason, like farmer Bob selling his land to be used as a new suburb or Jim the terrorist constructing a large bomb.

Finally, a simple note: fertilizer bombs suck. For what you have to put into them in the way of money, prep time, testing, and effort, you don't get much back, because they don't have much power. Had a real explosive been used on that federal building, there would have been nothing left. It may seem easier to get a fertilizer bomb, but consider this: if you were a terrorist(not some idiot kid who wants to blow his school up or something, but a real terrorist, with things like "connections" and so on,) do you really think the several thousand you'd spend to get a working truck-fertilizer bomb wouldn't buy you a good sized case of C4 and the required detonation gear? The C4 would do a lot more damage, be a lot easier to conceal, a lot easier to handle, and wouldn't require advance testing just to make sure it'd go off.

That one was used is to me a sign that the guy who did it was just some disgruntled relatively clueless chump. Don't expect the likes of al Queda to bother with such things; they can certainly get C4, dynamite, and other passably good explosives, and probably have the resources to outright make them.

I personally think blowing shit up is a very antiquated method of getting attention. So are hostages. You want to get attention by terrorism(which I do not), kill someone important. Not anyone too important, or you will get caught, but someone important enough to scare the people who ARE that important. Screw hostages; they're just an ongoing opportunity to get caught. Screw blowing lots of people up; instead of being scared, people get pissed off(well, ok, so a few idiots get scared, but they're not the ones you want to affect.) The added advantage is that if it doesn't work, you just do it again until it does. People in the middle east have understood this for quite a while, I think, judging from a lot of the things that happen there.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Oklahoma... conspiracy? (none / 0) (#97)
by minra on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 02:01:13 AM EST

There are a few unsettling claims about the OKC bombing.

"The ANFO (ammonium nitrate) bomb was not powerful enough to do that damage"

"Other bombs reported found in the rubble"

"All BATF officers missing from building on date of blast"

Anyone care to comment?

Did the BATF/FBI et al just bungle? I dunno...

[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#98)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 11:37:49 AM EST

If more bombs had been found in the rubble, they'd have been found by firefighters, emergency volunteer crews, and so on. Even if they'd been told to keep quiet, someone would have leaked it, and it would have been headline news. It wasn't. Many of the ATF's people were out of the office, but given that they have field jobs, that's not surprising; they're probably usually out of the office. And the damage to the building wasn't all that much, really; the real problem was that it hit a daycare.

You cannot have a conspiracy when hundreds or thousands of people with no incentive to keep quiet are on the scene investigating. It just won't work.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Bzzt. (none / 0) (#99)
by beergut on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 12:18:01 PM EST

One of our mutual acquaintances knows of a site that has audio of all the CNN (and other outlets') reports of more sophisticated explosive devices found strapped to girders inside the building. I don't know right now why they didn't go off, unless they were somehow damaged by the ANFO explosion.

When you take into account reports (if true) of the large contingent of former Republican Guard (the Iraqui one, you know...) officers who had been relocated to OKC not long before that incident by the feds, and the early reports of Arab-looking people involved, and the subsequent silence and non-investigation of media when the feds had "found their man", it doesn't look too good.

I think McVeigh was in it to his eyeballs, personally, but I don't think he was the only one involved. He was not a complete dumbass peckerwood like the feds and the media would have you believe - Gore Vidal's writings and interviews with him are apparently pretty extensive, and telling. And, you'll not convince me that a Ryder truck full of ANFO, parked as far away as that truck was parked from that building, could have done the damage to that building that it did.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

So then (none / 0) (#100)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 01:05:54 PM EST

You believe everything in a late breaking CNN story?! These are the same people who at one point reported that Saddam Hussein was dead, just because a bomb hit one of the cars in his something like 50 car caravan, damaging three of them!

I personally am inclined to believe that something was strapped to those pillars, but it probably was something like fire extinguishers, electrical boxes, and so on. There were literally hundreds of what from the g-man perspective are amateurs involved in that cleanup; idiotic rumors getting spread around are believable, but the presence of actual devices without that being confirmed in some way? That's like asking people to believe a plane didn't hit the Pentagon, man.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
CNN's credibility... (none / 0) (#101)
by beergut on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 01:22:45 PM EST

I'm not inclined to believe everything they report, no.

But, I'm more inclined to believe that there's a problem when no explanation or retraction is made, no independent investigation of said facts is made (that I know of, at least,) and when silence would tend to enhance the strength of a police state, even if only in their rhetoric.

To say that I distrust the government would be putting it mildly. This seems like another of those "magic bullet" theories.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Why they will not talk (none / 0) (#54)
by tftp on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:28:52 AM EST

the captured individuals will probably talk

People who can be caught most likely will not know anything, except the delivery place - and that can be useless too (as seen on TV too many times.)

[ Parent ]

Works well for some stuff... (none / 0) (#73)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:34:05 PM EST

I don't see terrorists entrusting their very small, very expensive, almost irreplacable stock of uranium to some patsy, though... too much risk. Similarly, diamond smugglers usually carry large loads through in person, because they don't trust anyone else to do it for them.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Works well for some stuff... (none / 0) (#82)
by tftp on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:06:50 PM EST

The carrier can be very experienced, very dedicated and in many ways "stronger" than a mad scientist who will be putting the weapon together. I do not assume that they will ask a local homeless man to carry the thing, that would be foolish indeed. A prepared and dedicated person from terrorists' own ranks will be doing it. But he won't know *who* his contact is, and *how* to get to him. Furthermore, knowing basics of conspiracy, this guy will not even want to hear the name of his contact; this way he will not betray the rest of them even if captured and tortured with most effective drugs.

[ Parent ]
What about airdropping? (none / 0) (#64)
by mazachan on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:08:41 AM EST

If you can get it on an airplane, what's to stop people from filing a flight plan over say, the middle of arizona (assuming they came from mexico) or montana (if they came from canada) and then continuing on to their destination? With GPS systems, they could have a predetermined coordinates and the people on the ground should be able to pick it up rather easily. (This is assuming they can get it on the plane in the first place). Then you won't need to worry about detectors at the destination.

[ Parent ]
Are you serious? (none / 0) (#74)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:35:47 PM EST

You think they're going to airdrop a package weighing several hundred pounds full of highly radioactive material into the middle of nowhere? They'd have to have spotter teams on hand to watch it float down, or they'd have a hard time finding it, and if it is damaged on the way down, they've now got a very serious problem which will almost certainly lead to exposure of their organization's activities.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Several hundred pounds (none / 0) (#79)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:33:14 PM EST

If all they're dropping is the core, it won't weigh much. A critical mass for U is less than 50 kg. It will be in two or more pieces. And U is dense. Denser than lead. So you take each part of the core and put it in a wooden box, packed in those lovely styrofoam peanuts, strap a parachute on it, and toss it out the door.

And metallic U isn't all that highly radioactive. You wouldn't want to sleep with it, but you can hold it in your hands. And are the people who would do this going to be concerned that they might get cancer in 20 years?

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Er, yeah... (none / 0) (#84)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 03:24:53 PM EST

You could hold it in your hands, but since microgram quantities are poisonous for reasons having nothing to do with radiation, you really wouldn't want to. Heavy metals are rather poisonous. You'd have to pack it better than that. Also, the idea that uranium enriched to weapons grade isn't all that radioactive suggests that maybe you haven't done your homework; this isn't just metal extracted from ore. Few things are more radioactive. That'd be the worst "sunburn" you ever saw, to be damn sure.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Hmmmm, (none / 0) (#89)
by dasunt on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 05:04:31 PM EST

I could be forgetting a lot of college here, but isn't alpha radiation rather easy to shield? Gamma radiation would be harder to shield, but either way, I'm assuming, a warhead packed in lead, and stuck in the bottom of a ship surrounded by balast water might be hard to detect.

[ Parent ]
It takes one crazy person to blow us all up. (none / 0) (#58)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 04:45:54 AM EST

The problem with all this kind of weapons, defensive or not, is that it takes just a few crazed individulas to make the bad decisions and we could be saying good bye to civilization or even perhaps to life in this planet.

All these wonderful politicians of all stripes think that it is possible to fight fire with fire.

So OK, you get a perfect defense system (if it is not perfect it is useless. I want to hear anybody that can claim perfection on this one) and you trust that it is always going to be in the hands of responsible people. I think it is there to everybody to see how flawed this asumption is.

The most ridiculous thing is that the few countries that could harbour any intentions to directly attack the US just can't do it.

Irak? Did not we all see how pitiful their misiles were during the Gulf War (I know that they managed to kill some people, but certainly "mass destruction" is not how I would describe the damage caused). Their arms program was severely set back by UN inspections and I would like to see the evidence that good inteligence and conventional weapons are not enough to keep Irak contained until the time comes for a more reasonable leadership to take power.

Iran? They support terrorists mainly in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Obviuously Bush and co. know something they are not letting us know or simply are scaremongering, I can't recall a single hostile direct action from Iran against the US in recent times and the new Iranian President was doing all what he could, with the obvious constraints of the Iranian political realities, to ease the enemity with the US.
North Korea? There we are joking for sure. The sin of the North Coreans is to sell misile technology to other countries, as simple as that. Slowly and reluctantly North Korea's dictator was warming to an open relationship with the West and a policy of dialogue was bearing fruits.

Again, show me the amount arms manufacturers contributed to the political causes Bush embraces and maybe we may begin to see what the real motiviations for this efforts are.

If you want to gurantee your safety you try to unarm your perceived oponent, not arm yourself to the teeth. That only gurantees that eventualy someboy pulls the trigger.
"At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look;
at forty-five they are caves in which we hide." F. Scott Fitzgerald.
[ Parent ]
Wow (3.50 / 4) (#8)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:19:01 PM EST

Well, you bought that line complete with hook and sinker. Look, the "current system" as envisioned by Bush's people is a multilayered effort including boost phase interceptors, warhead interceptors, and possibly other items as well. Nobody is talking about it, because it would be a major arms race faux pas, but it is not unreasonable to believe that they're thinking of using the optical technology from the old Starlight research as a ground level "intercept" that burns missiles on their launch pads, kills launch personnel, and so on; after all, they're still planning for the SBL, and a big laser on a satellite with rechargable batteries might as well have some fancy optics fitted to it. We know the laser as currently in design should be capable of causing structural failure in ICBMs at 10,000 feet during boost, without the fancy optics.

Anyway, all technical speculation aside, the real point is, you're being fed a line. The Bush administration wants to build warhead interceptors, but they also want TMD, boost interceptors, and lots of other stuff. The idea is not to eliminate a massive missile strike, which would still be effective, but to give us as many chances as possible to eliminate small strikes. Given the carnage a "small strike" would inevitably create if it succeeded, that seems reasonable to me.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Pardon (4.50 / 2) (#13)
by medham on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:46:57 PM EST

The idea, as everyone knows, is to take away China's deterrent.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Pardon (4.66 / 3) (#15)
by ucblockhead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:20:55 PM EST

The idea, as everyone knows, is to transfer money to croneys in the defense industry.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
side fact: (none / 0) (#102)
by garlic on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 11:28:12 AM EST

I'm not sure how it typically works, but I know that the recent appointment of secretaries of navy, army, and airforce were high level coporate executives in the field. I specifically know that the secretary of the air force was appointed from a VP position of Northrop Grumman.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Can't be done (2.00 / 1) (#19)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:50:31 PM EST

China can easily(and for less money than NMD will cost us) deploy an arsenal so large that we cannot possibly counter it in any way except by having our own large arsenal. This is not really in question, because enough capacity to actually stop an attack with several thousand missiles would cost so much that not even we can afford it, and would require more orbital lift capability than the whole world will have in the next hundred years.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
What? (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by medham on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:08:43 PM EST

China cannot "easily" start mass-producing nuclear warhead ICBMs. It's a straightforward tenet of military planning that the MD is an offensive weapon against China, for we can prevent them from expanding their power as long we don't have to worry about them retaliating against us with nuclear weapons.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Um... (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:17:32 PM EST

Yeah. Apparently you haven't been reading the same military journals we get around here, because the officers I see writing are convinced that by the time we can get an effective large scale missile shield going, China can have a stockpile of essentially arbitrary size. They've got all the natural resources they need to produce warheads domestically, they've got missile technology out the wazoo(thanks, Clinton,) they've got all the labor and expertise necessary, the facilities are already mostly there, they flat out don't give a damn about the health and safety of the workers, so basically they're in even better shape to build up than the US or USSR ever were. They even have tritium production facilities to make boosted warheads.

Oh, and they've got quite a few good weapons designs too.

In any case, I doubt they're overly worried about the US nuclear arsenal, because as long as they don't nuke us, we're unlikely to nuke them, no matter who they invade or what else they do, as long as they stay outside our borders.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
No, no (2.50 / 2) (#27)
by medham on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:22:54 PM EST

These officers are telling some audience the Congressional version of events. The reality is that a missile race would cripple China, and the purpose of MD is take out their deterrent.

The U.S. can easily prevent China from invading Formosa now, but they're worried about a naval buildup--not a nuclear one. China knows that we wouldn't risk Los Angeles for Taipei, and we know we'd back off under those circumstances.

A few right-wingers are even quite candid about this. Lowry in National Review Online, for example.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Oh really? (2.00 / 2) (#28)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:32:33 PM EST

These officers are telling some audience the Congressional version of events.
And exactly how does a left leaning university prof come by this secret information? Lowry in "National Review Online" is likely as uninformed as anyone else, so I hope that's not your only source. I'd sooner trust military and thinktank journals, to be sure.
The reality is that a missile race would cripple China
Unlikely in the short term. Their economy is in better shape than the USSR ever was, and is getting better with every passing day.
The U.S. can easily prevent China from invading Formosa now, but they're worried about a naval buildup--not a nuclear one.
Um... I hate to break this to you, but we're not going to use nukes to prevent China from invading people, and they're not going to use them against us in support of an invasion, either. And as for navy, odds are they'll eventually have us beat in their corner of the world. I don't know what 1970s version of events you've been reading, but this is 30 years later, and this is a totally different China. This one is building aircraft carriers, rumored to be working towards nuclear submarines, and has a robust and growing economy.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
First off (3.50 / 2) (#30)
by medham on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:53:05 PM EST

I prefer to be known as a "radical." We reserve "left-leaning" for faculty wives who agitate against local industry and other such bourgeois gaucheries.

You needn't read anything to understand what is happening; it's all quite deducible. But, this article reprinted from Foreign Affairs in one of your favorite forums, does a good job of presenting the facts.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

sign me up for the (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by minra on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:05:14 PM EST

thurler and medham fan-club (tm)

that little spat was more educational and entertaining than... uhh.. insert starry-eyed superlative here.

i'm not being sarcastic. i hope to see you both weigh-in more often :-)

[ Parent ]
Thank you (2.33 / 3) (#32)
by medham on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:08:09 PM EST

I like hearing that my efforts here are appreciated. I'd encourage you to read through my stories, comments, and diaries for my edutainment.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

"my" (2.33 / 3) (#35)
by ucblockhead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:51:49 PM EST

A wonderful freudian slip, there.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Not as good (2.33 / 3) (#39)
by medham on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:35:02 PM EST

As your "son," earlier.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Not a slip (2.33 / 3) (#40)
by ucblockhead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:36:44 PM EST

That was deliberate condescension.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Uh-huh (2.33 / 3) (#42)
by medham on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:39:45 PM EST

And the post you referred to wasn't a "slip," but simply what it said: "my edutainment," as in the "edutainment" that I've left behind. Your reading, depending I guess upon the assumption that I am the edutainee, is more than a bit forced.

Besides, Freud is a complex and misunderstood figure, and it's best to leave his name out of this stuff unless you've read him.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Um.... (2.33 / 3) (#51)
by ucblockhead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:04:05 PM EST

As I've mentioned, I have a psych degree.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Yeah, except... (3.00 / 3) (#33)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:17:35 PM EST

for one little detail. It doesn't support your claim about "ruining China," and it doesn't actually take into account the massive recent US-caused improvements in Chinese missile technology. It is several people guessing. China will end up doing what both the US and the USSR decided had to be done, because global influence, absolute soveriegnty, and respect are more important to them than anything else. The details are for historians to record, but it will happen. Just wait.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
About China's plans (none / 0) (#55)
by tftp on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:38:23 AM EST

China cannot "easily" start mass-producing nuclear warhead ICBMs
It was already announced in the open press that China plans to *significantly* increase the number of warheads within next 10 years, and that is when this "shield" is supposed to start working. In this case, their asymmetrical response is stronger than the shield because if they get more warheads and more carriers then it becomes more difficult to locate and target them even with current methods. The NMD will make China's nuclear arsenal less vulnerable and thus more effective.

[ Parent ]
Excuse me (none / 0) (#70)
by medham on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:12:32 PM EST

It is not true that a U.S. NMD makes China stronger in any way. Your last sentence is an utter, bare non-sequiter.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Re: Excuse me (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by tftp on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:28:47 PM EST

If China makes more weapons it becomes stronger. If these weapons are pointed toward USA, then they are neutralized more or less. But the same weapons pointed at other countries are not offset by the NMD. This leaves China in a stronger position against all countries except USA, and in stronger position overall.

[ Parent ]
Boost-Phase Defenses (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by WombatControl on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:44:29 PM EST

Actually, one of the reasons that President Bush backed out of the 1972 ABM treaty was because it specifically banned boost-phase defense systems. One of the elements of the comprehensive anti-missle shield is the use of Aegis ship defense systems to shoot down ballistic missles, airborne laser systems to disable missles on takeoff, and other systems. Already DARPA is working on a laser device mounted to a 747 which would be capable of intercepting and destroying enemy missles. This technology is also being tested for anti-personnel use as a non-lethal weapon to disperse crowds using microwave radiation. It seems like Star Trek keeps getting closer and closer...

Real Genius (none / 0) (#69)
by ethereal on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 11:49:28 AM EST

Already DARPA is working on a laser device mounted to a 747 which ... is also being tested for anti-personnel use as a non-lethal weapon to disperse crowds using microwave radiation.

By detonating a giant container of Jiffy Pop in their living room, right? It's amazing how life imitates art somehow...


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

we all know it won't do what its name implies (4.66 / 3) (#14)
by gps on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:59:03 PM EST

but the real question is what is its purpose in the first place. I'd say its designed to boost the defense industry and provide tons of big government contracts to fatten some pockets and employee some people who would otherwise vote against the current politicians if they were out of work.

Out of curiosity (2.00 / 3) (#20)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:54:39 PM EST

How do YOU know that it won't work? Are you an engineer on the project? Do you actually have knowledge of what the classified technologies they're using for things like decoy detection are, what their weaknesses are, and whether they're likely to work in practice?

Of course not. Neither do the media pundits who slam NMD, and neither does the GAO for that matter. And yet you all keep talking...

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
More topics for non-debate. (5.00 / 4) (#38)
by claudius on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:29:47 PM EST

Those of us who have access to this information are not at liberty to comment on such matters in the open. Those of us who do not are not, by your criteria, sufficiently well informed to discuss the matter. For this reason, NMD (BMD, Star Wars, etc.) is a topic that cannot ever be debated on k5 according to your "cluefulness" criterion.

But we should not stop there. While we're at it, we should ban all discussion of economics, the war in Afganistan, politics, religion, philosophy, nuclear/biological/chemical weapons, science, literature, developments in intellectual property and patent law, and the arts since too few of us have an appropriately informed opinion on any given subject for there to be a proper discussion. Moreover, we should require posting (and validation) of our curriculum vitae, so that we can all vet those who would dare opine at a level beneath that of a scholarly article. Sure, the forum will become sterile and vapid, but at least we would keep our esteemed trhurler happy.

[ Parent ]

You idiot (2.00 / 6) (#44)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:21:46 PM EST

I didn't say we shouldn't discuss things like these. My point is that here are a bunch of uninformed fuckwads making claims like "will not work" and "cannot work" and they have NO FUCKING CLUE! If you are going to make statements of fact, you need facts!

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
No facts, just name-calling. (4.60 / 5) (#47)
by claudius on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:58:17 PM EST

You have no facts, and your opposition has no facts. (Save for a litany of reported successful tests, failed tests, successful tests that were later found to be rigged, and failed tests that were later reclassified as "successes." Also leaks to the media about how the systems work, what the technical hurdles are, etc. But let's ignore this). The only real experts, I gather from your post, have Top-Secret code-word access to the detailed information on the defense systems. This select few apparently are the only ones you regard as having the authority to criticize the endeavor, an enormously expensive one which American taxpayers will be paying for for a very long time. Apparently nobody who has the kinds of "facts" you stated as being relevant to a discussion of the efficacy of the proposed missile defense system is at liberty to discuss the matter here. All we can do in k5 is speculate, and you seem to take objection to anyone whose speculation runs contrary to your own. This isn't a debate, trhurler, but a shouting match. One may as well go read alt.war.nuclear.

[ Parent ]
Let's put it this way (3.00 / 2) (#71)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:20:57 PM EST

So far, nothing has leaked to the media about the actual techniques they're using to avoid decoys. In fact, nothing much has "leaked" at all, except for misinformation.

Those tests that were "rigged?" Have you ever tested ANYTHING of complexity the first time? I have. You don't test the whole thing at once, because it won't work and you won't know why. Instead, you "rig" parts of it so that you know they'll work for your test even though they wouldn't work in practice, and then you test the rest, and when it works, then you worry about the rest. The media simply doesn't know what it is talking about; they said precisely the same thing back when there were questions about the accuracy of the Patriot missile systems' reprogramming after the Gulf, and that system now hits well upwards of its design rate!

And as for the "failures reclassified as successes," that's basically the same thing. If you're only testing one part, you don't care if something else failed. Did that part work? Good, then that test was a success.

Of course, in order to have enough information even to create this "speculation," you'd have to have done more than read CNN like the fucks I'm arguing with, but hey, whatever.

And hey, I'll admit, I'm not absolutely certain of what I'm saying - but what I'm saying fits the facts, whereas the absurd notion that tens of thousands of people are working on a project they know won't ever work just because they'd be jobless otherwise is just fucking nuts. Those people are essentially the best engineers in the country; do you really think they're hard up for a job?!

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
MIC (1.00 / 1) (#72)
by medham on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:26:40 PM EST

It's what brought our economy out of the last recession; why abandon tried-and-true methods at this stage?

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Conflict of interest in defining "success.&qu (none / 0) (#93)
by claudius on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 08:05:44 PM EST

Boeing stood to land a $500 million bonus for a "success" on a certain test slated for November 31, 2001. Given that their July 1 test of the same year, which was also scored a success, had the defense knowing when the target was being launched, from what location, and with what flight path. Moreover, a homing beacon was installed on the target so that it would essentially shout "hit me, hit me." One wonders just what vital systems were evaluated with this "test"--the countdown intercom? More to the point, why weren't they up-front about exactly what was being tested? This took some investigative reporting on the part of one of the major media outlets in the U.S., and it leads one to be suspicious of descriptions of the system's capabilities. Perhaps you are less frugal with your tax dollars than I, and thus less apt to view such things critically.

I've worked for the government on big projects, and I know from experience that success often means whatever it needs to mean in order to keep the project going. I'm not saying that this is the case here or that the missile defense program has no technical merit per se, but rather that pronouncements about the viability of the system are most likely being made by the Boeing and Raytheon politicos and not the (highly qualified) engineers. Prudence suggests that one should take BMD press releases with a grain of salt.

Incidentally, I suggest your reasearch include some of the more informed objections to the methodology and deployment of the missile defense system, much of which is by highly respected scientists and engineers, "essentially the best... in the country," to borrow your turn of phrase.

[ Parent ]

classified != good (none / 0) (#53)
by gps on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:08:09 AM EST

Just because secrets are kept doesn't mean they know anything worth keeping secret.

I recognize a too complex project when i see one. Missle defense is silly at this point because you will not be able to prevent enough of a full barrage (90% still allows tens of warhead through). nobody will launch a nuclear missle at the usa regardless of defenses. defense against it just encourages it saying "come on, try and hit me."

rogue nuclear attacks won't come in the form of missles...

[ Parent ]
Hmmm Yes (none / 0) (#50)
by n8f8 on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:35:06 PM EST

I've her the same thing about the Chinese buying Coca Cola

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Is this a religion for you? (none / 0) (#78)
by gregholmes on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:57:55 PM EST

we all know it won't do what its name implies

Er, how do you know that?

This is really a religion to some, this anti - missle defense. Depending on when you asked, eradicating diseases was impossible. Flight was impossible. Computers in the home were impossible, or impractical.

There's really no reason to be cocksure that a technical problem won't be solved. We're not talking about exceeding the speed of light, or nullifying gravity here.

[ Parent ]
-1 INADEQUATE (2.00 / 7) (#17)
by jungleboogie on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:29:11 PM EST

This article mentions nothing of the fact that missle defense is a shell for US dominance in space. The same way the eurpoeans dominated the seas back in the time of Colombus, the USA is now ready to dominate who can use space for what purposes, inviolation of several international treaties. China and other nations have said this will bring about a new space-arms race. No shit, folks, why aren't more intelligent, thinking individuals bringing out the TRUTH ?

And why... (none / 0) (#36)
by UncleMikey on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:21:24 PM EST

...can't the intelligent, thinking individual who registered this complaint tell the difference between an 'editorial' and a 'topical' comment, and submit appropriately?
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]
cuz (1.00 / 2) (#67)
by jungleboogie on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 11:14:51 AM EST

i wanted it to stay on after the article made it up

[ Parent ]
nail on head (none / 0) (#66)
by speek on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:46:19 AM EST

Although your rhetoric is a bit hot, this is exactly right. The real complaint about missile defense is that it requires the use of orbit and space (as in outer). Space-based lazers, cameras, radar, etc. It's scary.

But, it's also necessary. I'd rather the US pioneered the space race than anyone else.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Well.... (1.50 / 2) (#68)
by jungleboogie on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 11:16:01 AM EST

Domainting space is all for the advancement of US CORPORATIONS, the same ones we constantly despise on Kuro5hin every day.

[ Parent ]
I don't disagree (none / 0) (#88)
by speek on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 04:30:18 PM EST

yes, the way things are now, everything not on earth will never be owned by individuals, except very rich ones. Everything else will be corporations and government. I wonder what libertarians think about that?

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

my beef with it is... (none / 0) (#77)
by bobzibub on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:38:31 PM EST

..not whether it can operate as claimed. It is that the US gov will be able to pretend to the US public that there are no costs/risks to any of its foreign activities or policies. Any country's absolute hegemony (percieved or real), is a destablizing. It is our interdependance (read self interest) that keeps us from blowing each other up. Take away the percieved risk and future US administrations have a much freer hand to advance policies that benefit the US while screwing foreign states. Extremely dangerous.

[ Parent ]
Another Article (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by eemeli on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:12:02 PM EST

There's another article in the MIT Tech Review, Postol vs. the Pentagon by Gary Taubes that's got more about Postol himself as well as the missile defense system.


How about a bomb in an airplane? (4.66 / 3) (#46)
by eemeli on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:26:11 PM EST

A missile shield could (theoretically) protect a country from ballistic and other missiles. Nukes brought overland in a truck can be detected at border crossings. Same goes for ships. But how do you stop an apparently legal cargo plane that is carrying a nuke from flying over a city & blowing up?

I have no statistics, but quite a few cargo planes must be coming into the USA from all over the world every day. How hard (comparatively) would it be to cram your bomb into a standard container, load it onto a plane going to New York, and set it to blow up at the right time/location?

About this many.. (none / 0) (#76)
by Wah on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:38:24 PM EST

How hard (comparatively) would it be to cram your bomb into a standard container, load it onto a plane going to New York, and set it to blow up at the right time/location?

I'd hazard an uneducated, off-the-wall, out-of-my-ass, guess that it's about 50 times easier than designing, testing, and deploying an ICBM. Not to mention the simple fact that this method of deployment also routes right around that "response" part of a nuclear exchange.

It's gonna get mighty damn expensive to keep selected parts of the world out of the atomic age. Too expensive for even the U.S. to pay, IMHO.
Choas and order, flowing down the drain of time. Ain't it purdy? | SSP
[ Parent ]

the CIA shares your opinion (5.00 / 2) (#96)
by Hobosexual on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 11:20:50 PM EST

A few years ago the CIA published a report entitled "Foreign Missile Developments and the Ballistic Missile Threat Through 2015." One of the most striking conclusions of the report was that nonmissile threats were deemed the most significant.
The following is a related excerpt from the report:
Nonmissile means of delivering weapons of mass destruction do not provide the same prestige or degree of deterrence and coercive diplomacy associated with ICBMs. Nevertheless, concern remains about options for delivering WMD to the United States without missiles by state and nonstate actors. Ships, trucks, airplanes, and other means may be used. In fact, the Intelligence Community judges that US territory is more likely to be attacked with WMD using nonmissile means, primarily because such means:
  • Are less expensive than developing and producing ICBMs.
  • Can be covertly developed and employed; the source of the weapon could be masked in an attempt to evade retaliation.
  • Probably would be more reliable than ICBMs that have not completed rigorous testing and validation programs.
  • Probably would be much more accurate than emerging ICBMs over the next 15 years.
  • Probably would be more effective for disseminating biological warfare agent than a ballistic missile.
  • Would avoid missile defenses.
In light of this, the present focus on missile defense programs can justifiably be considered to be of more economic than strategic benefit. The threat isn't that rogue nations are suddenly going to attack with ballistic missiles, it's that Lockheed Martin and company won't get any new defense contracts.

[ Parent ]
Problem With Boost Phase (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by n8f8 on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:07:35 PM EST

The problem with boost phase is that you have to have near proximity for it to be effective. That would mean, most likely, mobile platforms such as planes and ships EVERYWHERE every potential foe has assets. Even if you could you would have to deal with the politcal implications of putting you mobile boost pahse platforms near enough to do any good. Besides, its just not feabible since these same potential foes already have mobile LAUNCH platforms.

In a typical Amercial political fashion, if you can't show somthing that works right now and can demonstate it, detractors will try to -excuse the pun- shoot it down.

It may very well take 20 years to develop a viable system, but what is the alternative? Wait until even small countries have ballistic missile technology?

As far as the whole decoy issue goes, I think this entered the picture as soon as Bush got into office and started hardcore pushing development. I woul venture to guess that development is still at the phase where they are trying to make somthing that can reliably hit a fast-moving target reliably.

It is also probably true that each missile test has several "success" factors and that they don't think all have to be met for a test bo be considered a success.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

Going Postol (3.00 / 3) (#52)
by n8f8 on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:09:02 PM EST

A Google Search leads to tons of information on Postol who has been ranting about the failure of virtually every defence system we have since the 1980's.

He co-authored an artilce back in 1988 in Scientific American titled :CIVILIAN CASUALTIES FROM COUNTERFORCE ATTACKS; September, page 26.

He won Leo Szilard Lectureship Award in 1990 foroutstanding accomplishments by physicists in promoting the use of physics for the benefit of society in such areas as the environment, arms control, and science policy.

As far as I can see in a brief search this guy set his agenda on the issue back in 1988 before any real developent reserch had begun:

However, analysis of proposed ABM Treaty-compliant accidental launch protection options have raised serious technical, strategic, cost and arms control implications. Dr. Theodore Postol, former scientific advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations, has done extensive work in this area, including an analysis for the House Democratic Caucus in 1988 of the first Accidental Launch Protection system.

Dr. Postol concluded that a limited deployment of 100 missiles, such as the original ERIS system proposed by Lockheed Corporation, might be effective against a small accidental launching, if no penetration aids were used, but the system would have trouble dealing with a launch of more than five missiles. Dr. Postol noted that such a system could not defend the major industrial and population centers of the entire Northeast against a missile launched from a submarine off the coast of the United States. Just what kind of coverage is possible is not clear.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

wow, spintastic (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 05:43:35 AM EST

Congratulations. You've taken a set of facts whereby this is a guy who's enough of an expert to have correctly predicted the failure of SDI, and who's been proved right over and over again, and spun it into "he's a single minded nut who's never changed his tune".


Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Well actually (1.00 / 1) (#63)
by n8f8 on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 08:26:19 AM EST

I see enough of a pattern to see an agenda. Lotsa guys out there researching SDI but here's this one guy who for twelve years has devoted a lot of his efforts to bashing SDI and basicall every other missile program. Long before anyone really knew what SDI was gonna be. Probably to the detriment of his research credentials. It's called a fanatic.

In fact as far as I can see his only academic claim to fame is getting a post at the Pentagon then a post working for the House early in his career. That I can tell all he's done for a decade is "indoctrinate other physycists". Can't seem to find any published research papers, only anti everything propaganda articles. Mr. Postol stopped being a researcher a long time ago.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
published research papers (none / 0) (#65)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:27:31 AM EST

Well, getting stomped on by the Defense Security Service, because a paper written using completely open source materials exposed classified information, does tend to reduce the output a bit.

Note that he isn't opposed to missile defense, he just thinks the current hit to kill system is unworkable.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Read then (1.50 / 2) (#92)
by n8f8 on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 06:27:50 PM EST

Go ahead and read everthing he's published in the last ten years. He was bashing StarWars even before development. It's called bias. And anyone devotinghat much of their time to trying to kill somthing is a fanatic. He keeps making these wild statements and backs them up with unproven assertions. At best, Dr. Postol is good at finding flaws in the big picture and blowing them out of proportion.

Postol Papers

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]

Speaking as a European (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 05:48:11 AM EST

I would be very interested in knowing exactly where it is anticipated these missiles will be during their boost phase, and which major continent will be below them.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
Buy a lead raincoat... (none / 0) (#62)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 07:56:08 AM EST

Actually, I don't think Europe, western anyway, is under any missile tracks. The missiles are launched north, over the pole, for the shortest flight time. So unless they're coming out of north Africa, Europe has no worries.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
The arctic. (none / 0) (#104)
by aphrael on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 06:22:38 PM EST

It's pretty much assumed that, unless the missiles are coming from the southern hemisphere, they'd follow a trajectory over the arctic; that's why so many radar stations are in norway, greenland, and alaska. :)

[ Parent ]
it hardly matters MD won't work (none / 0) (#81)
by bukvich on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:54:52 PM EST

As a political issue, it is the marketing glitz that gets space military research funded. The New York Times Sunday magazine had a terrific article on this last summer. The Defense Department has decided to go full bore into militirizing space with all manner of laser weapons and optical paraphernalia and anti-satellite weaponry. The budget for this is skyrocketing (!). To them the discussion on whether the Missile Defense is valid is somewhat beside the point


the one major reason why it won't work (none / 0) (#85)
by tralfamadore on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 03:28:06 PM EST

have you ever played "missle command"?
that shit gets hard after awhile.

Does it really matter if it works or not? (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by thenick on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 03:40:40 PM EST

If the US Govt. can run some falsified tests showing that SDI works and is effective, it doesn't matter if the system works or not. If a country wants to start a war with the US, they'll think twice about firing their nukes because they wouldn't know if the SDI system worked or not.

"Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler, he did a lot, but don't we all wish he would have stayed home and gotten stoned?" -Dex
Two things... (none / 0) (#103)
by tazzy531 on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 05:58:39 PM EST

As a person living in this country, do you feel safer that the US has backed out of the treaty with Russia and thrown all of its eggs into this flawed basket?

If you were the leaders of another country and you know that the system that the US is using is flawed, would that make you think twice?

[ Parent ]
Good grief!! (none / 0) (#87)
by Kasreyn on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 04:07:56 PM EST

"The kill vehicle collected about 63 seconds of data, starting at a range of roughly 460 kilometers and continuing until it flew by the targets at a speed of 7.3 kilometers per second. The first 30 seconds of data were so severely contaminated by heat-generated electronic noise that none of them could be used in the postflight analysis. For various other reasons-some scientifically legitimate, but also including the fact that one of the medium-sized balloon decoys suddenly began to look more and more like the warhead-the last 16 seconds of the flyby were also removed."

What sort of idiot "science" do they think this is??!

hypothetical TRW/DoD bigwig conversation:

"Umm, this datum isn't what we wanted to see." "Throw it out." "This result is also obstinately refusing to be what we wish it were." "Disregard it." "Hmm, the device we were testing seems to have failed miserably at this particular point." "Well, we'll just not report that part." "We've got another test upcoming. Shall we fix the problem?" "No, just make the test easier."

I love this idea they have that they were doing an experiment, where actually they were shooting around some toys and then patting themselves on the back. I guess that's the beuraucrat mindset, though; reality doesn't even enter into the equation. Rather than admit a mistake and risk getting egg on their face, they'd rather fail to do their jobs properly.

And these are the people who have the job of protecting us.

I may personally not be a huge fan of the proposed missile defense system, but if we're going to DO it, let's do it RIGHT. Otherwise we'll just have a false sense of security which will be much more dangerous to America than NOT having a missile defense system would be. ("Yeah, just try it! Your missiles can't get through! Oh, wait, here they come through my window!" *boom* )


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Speaking of cheating science... (none / 0) (#95)
by tenpo on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:21:13 PM EST

It should probably be also noted that there were several tests of the missile interception system about which Pentagon officials were "quietly confident". They succeeded in intercepting the missile 2 times out of 4. Not a terrible success rate really. A reasonable start, at least.

They later admitted that they had hidden GPS systems within the target rockets which allowed the intercepting rockets to lock on to them. So... even when they cheated they only hit a 50% success rate.

[ Parent ]
Interception during boost is already in the plan (none / 0) (#94)
by tenpo on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:15:09 PM EST

This article (dated January 2001) details a boost phase interception that is already in the National Missile Defence plan. Basically, it's a laser mounted on a 747 jet. The planned first test flight is due to occur this year. Seven aircraft are planned to have been built and be in the air by the year 2009.

Further mentions here, here (includes diag.) and here.

Why Missile Defense Won't Work | 104 comments (100 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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