Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
National Missile Defense: Seek and Vaporize

By imrdkl in News
Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:57:17 PM EST
Tags: Security (all tags)
Security

For the first time in 30 years, nuclear-tipped Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABMs) are being considered again, as part of the Bush Administration's National Missile Defense plan. Donald Rumsfeld has this week "encouraged" William Schneider Jr., chairman of the Defense Science Board to begin exploring the idea again, as an alternative to the largely unsuccessful "hit-to-kill" ABMs that have been tested to date, and against the threat of biological and other non-nuclear warheads possibly being delivered against the US.


Common sense has long prevailed against the notion of deploying nukes in ABMs. The political fallout, as well as the nuclear, has dissuaded even the most gung-ho military planners from seriously proposing it. It has taken time, but the agility and resolution of modern interceptor rockets and their targeting systems is now approaching the point where conventionally armed "hit-to-kill" systems are approaching feasibility. Some 33% of the 25 or so specific tests conducted to date have been at least partially successful, in fact. But it seems things are not moving along quickly enough for some.

The daunting task of intercepting a missile in flight is easily grasped. Recent technical advances, including faster computers and better software, have made the task seem feasible, but even the latest technologies can be deceived. Decoys, biological submunitions, warhead cooling, and other techniques can render even the newest seek-and-destroy systems ineffective. Furthermore, defending against short range delivery, such as from a boat or plane, is also highly problematic.

Modern nuclear weapon techniques, such as pure fusion weapons not requiring fissable material, as well as low-yield, low EM pulse-width weapons are now being considered, to avoid the effects that ordinary nukes might have on people and satellites, due to an open-air burst.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
Cry havoc, and let slip the
o dogs of war 35%
o kids from the playground 15%
o monkeys from the zoo 50%

Votes: 60
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o being considered again
o Common sense
o highly problematic
o Modern nuclear weapon techniques
o Also by imrdkl


Display: Sort:
National Missile Defense: Seek and Vaporize | 82 comments (75 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Maybe they want this for boost phase (2.50 / 2) (#3)
by georgeha on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 04:29:15 PM EST

interceptors, which would make an nuclear explosion above or near an evil enemy country, and thus would be harmless to Americans.

Nah. (none / 0) (#31)
by physicsgod on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 08:21:04 PM EST

The problem with a boost phase intercept missile is , unless your psychic, the interceptor will detonate just about the time you start loosing cities. For BPI you're better off using a laser, or a gun of some kind, but at the top of a gravity well you really don't need nukes.

BTW I'd much rather have the nuke fall back on the jackasses who launched them then anyone else.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Maybe they want this for boost phase (none / 0) (#36)
by jamstar on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 10:45:42 PM EST

This of course would be harmful in fact to the U.S. (or any country setting off nukes for that matter) due to the fact that high altitude nuke explosions *would* settle fallout into the Jet Stream. Remember, Krakatoa, when it exploded, caused the 'Year Without A Summer', affecting climate thousands of miles away...

[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#39)
by physicsgod on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:50:58 AM EST

A sub-orbital nuke would not result in large amounts of fallout (most fallout is due to irradiated ambient matter, somewhat rare 100km up). Also most of the fallout would enter the stratosphere, where it would settle out only very slowly. That's the reason Krakatoa could affect climate for years.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
request for more links (4.33 / 3) (#8)
by _Quinn on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 05:05:44 PM EST

"Modern nuclear weapon techniques, such as pure fusion weapons not requiring fissable material..."

   Maybe I'm just blind, but I didn't see anything in the link about fission-free fusion weapons. Could you post more links about this?

   Thanks.

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
See the fourth link (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by imrdkl on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 05:57:37 PM EST

The NIF, in combination with other Stockpile Stewardship facilities also could play a role in the development, over the long term, of pure fusion weapons not requiring plutonium or uranium.


[ Parent ]
Thanks, but that's still pretty vague (3.00 / 3) (#45)
by Spork on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 06:25:16 AM EST

So what would initiate the reaction? Conventional explosives? Lasers? The idea seems pretty far-fetched to me. In any case, I hope they never make it work, because without the radioactive fallout, the US would probably make a habbit of dropping these things from planes whenever a president's popularity rating needs a boost.

[ Parent ]
Laser initiated fusion. (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by katie on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 06:55:34 AM EST

There is a test site in the US that's got laser-initiated fusion working.. (working, as in: the fuel pellet undergoes fusion, not energy-out>energy-in) but from what I understand the laser is big enough that dropping it on someone would make a much better option. Or even just scaring them with a plane that could drop that much weight on them....

If I understand the physics correctly (and I'm not a physicist), you can't initiate fusion in something with conventional explosives; if you could, you wouldn't need a fuel, because the explosion gasses would undergo fusion first...


[ Parent ]
rofl (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by martingale on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 09:38:13 AM EST

Quick, here's a laser, throw in on to those soldiers over there...



[ Parent ]
Fusion (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by trhurler on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 09:43:15 AM EST

Existing explosives will not initiate fusion in any known material, so far as I'm aware. However, (uncontrolled) fusion is a simple matter of a whole lot of temperature and pressure; there's no reason in principle why it couldn't work with "better explosives." You might still want fusion "fuel" because some materials fuse more easily than others; it is doubtful the explosive's byproducts would form quickly enough, assume a correct configuration, exist in enough quantity, or have the optimal properties for fusion.

The big problem is, we just don't have conventional explosives that powerful. Or rather, if we do, they're a very well kept secret. I would guess there are none, myself. There are several common processes that can produce small scale fusion, though, and initiating fusion certainly is not beyond the means of a (unusual and AFAIK unknown) hypothetical chemical process such as that involved in an explosion.

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

[ Parent ]
Fusion in a college setting (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by lordpixel on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:53:26 PM EST

He could have been pulling my leg, but a physics student at my old college once described how the basement fusion "reactor" worked.

Basically they freeze a long thin strip of hydrogen (by thin, I mean as close to 1 atom wide as they can get it) and put XX,000 volts across it. The magentic field from this causes the hydrogen atoms to slam together and fuse.

Of course, its useless as a weapon and the reaction lasts for a minute fraction of a second and the energy put in is much higher than that let out...

But fusion isn't so hard as you might think, if all you want to do is study it.


I am the cat who walks through walls, all places and all times are alike to me.
[ Parent ]
Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by mofospork on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 06:53:01 PM EST

Well, the pure fusion bomb that they were talking about seems to be more of a fantasy than something that has been, or is close to being, developed.

[ Parent ]
Political fallout? (2.40 / 5) (#9)
by ReverendX on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 05:12:33 PM EST

I don't see the problem in using nuke-based interceptors. Think about it, the only time one would presumably be launched is on a missile attack on the USA. In such case we'd be pretty much f*cked anyway, so this might give us a chance.

Being able to piss in an allyway is however, a very poor substitute for a warm bed and a hot cup of super-premium coffee. - homelessweek.com

Well.... (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by Stickerboy on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 11:26:34 PM EST

Consider this scenario... some countries would want to procure ICBMs with conventional warheads. Why? Because it gives them extra leverage against the US in case the US wants to militarily intervene somewhere abroad.

Let's take Foreign Country #1, which is headed by Bad Dictator who massacres ethnic minorities in his own country. The US says, stop it, or we'll attack you. Bad Dictator says, if you attack us and violate our sovereignty, I'll shoot off 50 conventionally armed ICBMs at New York, Washington D.C. and 48 other major cities. This is an internal matter that doesn't concern you, and if you choose to attack us, we'll reciprocate. I doubt US citizens think that the price of hundreds if not thousands of casualties is worth meddling in something that's not their affair, anyways.

Basically, conventionally-armed ICBMs shoots down that idea, because we can't defend against those with nuclear weapons and still come out looking anything like the good guy.

[ Parent ]
Sounds like a bait and switch (5.00 / 4) (#10)
by rickward on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 05:15:57 PM EST

Hm. A choice between a politically destabilizing, high-failure rate, massively expensive hit-to-kill ABM system...

...or the use of defensive nuclear weapons over American targets.

Which one do you suppose the American people will vote for? And of course, there will be no '0' (Abstain), because military contractors 0wn j00r k0ngre55m3n.

People who get pissed over silly things deserve to be bothered at all costs. --MisterQueu

honestly... (4.25 / 4) (#15)
by pschap on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 06:03:21 PM EST

If I honestly thought that there was a legitimate threat of a massive scale nuclear attack on the United States in the near future (which at the moment, I don't) I would rather a system that actually had a chance of working (a big nuclear blast) than a system that was essentially useless because of a (most likely) low hit rate.

Its better to have a higher chance of developing cancer from the fallout than to be vaporized outright.

--
"In 1991, we had almost nothing. We'd only begun building cocks. After just 10 years, we have a very robust, active cock."

[ Parent ]

but... (none / 0) (#16)
by pschap on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 06:04:30 PM EST

I guess that was your point ;)

--
"In 1991, we had almost nothing. We'd only begun building cocks. After just 10 years, we have a very robust, active cock."

[ Parent ]
Missile defense doesn't work now, and never will (4.00 / 3) (#11)
by ocelotbob on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 05:18:15 PM EST

A while back, I wrote a piece for another website regarding Missile Defense. Missile shields won't work, because rogue states prefer much more low-key methods of delivery, such as boats or aircraft. Systems such as this only protect against a large state with a large missile program, and those are few and far between in this world.

Call me a cynic, but I feel the only reason these cockamaime schemes are being floated is because some congressbeing wants a little bit of pork barrel action for their district.

Why... in my day, the idea wasn't to have a comfortable sub[missive]...
--soylentdas

Delivery method (3.00 / 4) (#19)
by elefantstn on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 06:11:57 PM EST

I think it's a bit disingenuous to assume that rogue states will always prefer such "low-key" methods -- it doesn't even make sense. If you wanted to launch a nuclear attack, and you had the technology to use missiles to do it, why wouldn't you use it? Why would a rogue state "prefer" to use aircraft, which could be shot down, or a truck, which could be stopped at the border?

[ Parent ]
Plausible Deniability (4.33 / 3) (#21)
by avocadia on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 06:48:26 PM EST

It's a bit hard to deny an ICBM came from your country.

[ Parent ]
Plausible Deniability (none / 0) (#73)
by MrAcheson on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 07:14:42 PM EST

Yes and that is what has kept the Taliban in Afghanistan safe despite the implications of their involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Oh wait, you mean we still took them out? Oops there goes that theory.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
plausible deniability rulez (none / 0) (#74)
by martingale on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 08:33:19 PM EST

Don't kid yourself. If Russian Mafia terrorists had done 9/11 (they didn't, and probably wouldn't have, but assume they did), there would have been no bombing of Moscow by the US.



[ Parent ]
Don't kid yourself (none / 0) (#77)
by MrAcheson on Sat Apr 13, 2002 at 08:47:52 PM EST

Thats right, they didn't and probably wouldn't have. On the other hand the people most likely to try a clandestine nuclear strike are not the large world powers they are the small nations who could be crushed easily. The big guys have missiles and more importantly other forms of clout to get what they want.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
nope (none / 0) (#78)
by martingale on Sat Apr 13, 2002 at 09:07:45 PM EST

My point wasn't that a superpower would resort to a clandestine operation (they certainly do their fair share, but I'm not arguing that), rather I meant that a small, independent group of terrorists, based inside a superpower's borders, could do so without the knowledge and express permission of the superpower. Hence my use of the mafia moniker. Now, is the superpower going to be taken out because they can't keep tabs on everybody inside their borders?



[ Parent ]
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, *WRONG* (4.20 / 5) (#23)
by sigwinch on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 06:51:26 PM EST

Missile shields won't work, because rogue states prefer much more low-key methods of delivery, such as boats or aircraft.
Just because bullshit is fashionable doesn't make it correct: everybody prefers exoatmospheric missiles. It's just that certain belligerent nations cannot afford missiles given current technology and their current (piss poor) economic conditions. When single-stage to orbit vehicles are commoditized down to jetliner prices, and a few of the anti-liberty Arab nations have turned into economic powerhouses a la Japan, those conditions will no longer hold.

If the US waits until then to start developing a missile defense system, the belligerent Arab nations will have a 5-15 year window when they have assured destruction capability against the US. MAD will be no defense: mutual destruction gets them the same place in paradise as destroying just the US.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Waltz's argument (3.16 / 6) (#28)
by RandomPeon on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:56:43 PM EST

Ken Waltz makes a rather compelling argument against your counter-bullshit:

You can't survive as an unelected head of state and be stupid. You can be evil, even really evil, but you can't be a dumbass or insane. Cases in point: Gadafi, Hussein, Castro, Muagabe, Stalin, Mao, Khomeni. All evil none stupid enough to attack a country that could obliterate them. Antagonize, sure, but not to attack. Anybody who can hold power long enough to acquire a nuclear weapon and the delivery system is not insane or a real fanatic.

Newsflash: None of the Arab leaders believes a word that comes out of their mouth. Real religious nuts are too far gone from reality to manage even the most pathetic state. Anybody who claims to hear the voice of God is schizophrenic or a huckster. Arafat and Khameni don't believe in jihad any more than the Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson believe in Jesus and miracles.

Let's assume for a second that there's actually a head of state dumb enough to attack the US. He has enough brainpower to acquire a nuclear weapon, but he isn't

[ Parent ]
So sure, are you? (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by avocadia on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 10:17:05 PM EST

Anybody who claims to hear the voice of God is schizophrenic or a huckster. Arafat and Khameni don't believe in jihad any more than the Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson believe in Jesus and miracles.

That sounds like a rather bitter form of atheism. How can you be so sure that a higher being does not exist and doesn't speak to some? Is it because They haven't spoke to you? Are we proving negatives these days, are we?



[ Parent ]
Spot the odd one out (2.00 / 2) (#44)
by jonathan_ingram on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 04:56:40 AM EST

Cases in point: Gadafi, Hussein, Castro, Muagabe, Stalin, Mao, Khomeni. All evil none stupid enough to attack a country that could obliterate them.

What is it that you in the US have against Cuba and Castro? Perhaps because they didn't immediately roll over and beg for mercy when the US imposed ludicrously heavy sanctions? Having a different ideology does not make you evil. Cases for the defense could also be made for Gadafi and Khomeni.
-- Jon
[ Parent ]

Typical hard-leftist (4.50 / 2) (#55)
by wiredog on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 08:09:08 AM EST

Anybody who claims to hear the voice of God is schizophrenic or a huckster. Arafat and Khameni don't believe in jihad any more than the Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson believe in Jesus and miracles.

Really? Even if the first sentence is correct, what about the people who follow the person hearing voices? They believe. Just because we think organized religions are wacky at best, doesn't mean the followers believe that. I know Christians who really believe that Jesus was sent to Earth by God to redeem them for their sins. I know Muslims who really believe that there is only one God, that His name is Allah, and that Muhammed is his Prophet. Just because you think they are deluded idiots doesn't change the fact that they believe, and that they act on that belief.

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

Learn (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by bob6 on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 09:01:31 PM EST

The deadliest weapon is human life, a leader who has soldiers ready to die without question has an unlimited resource.
US and Israel are learning the hard way.

It doesn't mean the shield is unnecessary.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
I would suspect... (none / 0) (#43)
by pschap on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 02:04:32 AM EST

...that Israel has been aware of that for years.

--
"In 1991, we had almost nothing. We'd only begun building cocks. After just 10 years, we have a very robust, active cock."

[ Parent ]
Aw, hell. (5.00 / 3) (#40)
by physicsgod on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 01:00:53 AM EST

because rogue states prefer much more low-key methods of delivery, such as boats or aircraft.
Well when you put it that way, all these tanks aren't going to do much against a nuke on a boat, so let's get rid of those. Same with the Air Force. And hell, who needs all those pesky aircraft carriers?

Will NMD stop a smuggled weapon? No. But it also won't walk your dog or cure your BO. Should we still build it? Yes. Why? Because someday some zealot will get his hands on an ICBM, and if we don't have the means to stop him millions of people are going to die. How far away is Osama bin Laden from an ICBM? About 10-15 years. How far are we from a working NMD? About 5-10 years.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

All for nuke-tipped missiles (2.75 / 4) (#12)
by cannis on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 05:50:35 PM EST

as long as it includes an Asteriod Contingency Plan where we get to shoot nukes into space. I'd also like to see an Alien Contingency Plan in case we're ever invaded by all these Women from Venus I hear so much about.
"you'd probably be the first to blame women for getting raped too.." - infinitera displaying his best debate tactics.
eh? (2.75 / 4) (#14)
by kaemaril on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 05:58:13 PM EST

I'm confused. Why do you need a nuke to destroy a nuke? Has missile technology now developed to such a state that missiles are completely impervious to non-nuclear explosives? Have the evil rogue states (TM POTUS) developed forcefields or something? :)

More importantly, when is the USA gonna announce the nuclear-tipped anti-Boeing 747 missile? Or the suitcase-nuke-seeking missile?


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


I thought it was obvious... (4.50 / 2) (#18)
by Nick Ives on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 06:09:10 PM EST

The article implies that the problem is getting a regular missile to hit the nuke in the first place. You have to remember that a nuke is a really small target moving at high speed through open air, so hitting it is hard. If you use a nuclear anti-nuke, however, you can just get "close enough" then detonate, vapourising anything in range.

--
Nick
I thought your sig was humourus in light of your comment, there really should be a list of ironic k5 sig/comment pairs.

[ Parent ]

Yikes! (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by kaemaril on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 06:13:50 PM EST

Seriously? Ah, I misunderstood, and thought it was referring to the "direct hit" technique. So, getting a missile relatively close and hitting the big switch? OK, gotcha. So, relying on a big ol' nuke (let's assume it's "clean" - but is there really such a thing as a totally clean nuke?) and the EM pulse? Interesting. Insanely Mad, but interesting. I'd hate to be living on the same planet as the insane psycho who countenanced that plan.


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#27)
by wiredog on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:50:44 PM EST

It's not a good idea. But if the alternative is, say, Los angeles getting nuked, or LA doing without electricity for a few weeks, well, there would be fewer casualties and less fallout.

Still a bad idea, which is why all the development money is going into the hit-to-kill systems.

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

electricity? (none / 0) (#29)
by kaemaril on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:58:27 PM EST

If the alternative is LA getting nuked, then maybe, just maybe it's an alternative. But you're not seriously suggesting that setting off a nuke and unleashing an environmental calamity is somehow better than depriving LA of electricity for a week or two?


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Badly written sentence ;( (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by wiredog on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 08:07:06 PM EST

I meant the EMP was preferable to LA getting nuked. Didn't say it well though.

But an EMP burst over LA could still kill millions. No electricity means no water (since it has to be pumped), no communications (and any that can work off of the grid will still get zapped by emp), no heat or light. It could get real bad, real fast.

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

LA (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by elefantstn on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 08:38:07 PM EST

Wouldn't they be used to not having electricity, living in California and all? For Los Angelinos, an EMP overhead would be just another day at the dark office.

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily... (none / 0) (#48)
by kaemaril on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 06:37:26 AM EST

I guess a powercut can be combatted by backup generators, battery power, etc. An EMP, on the other hand, could potentially fry a lot of circuitry *. And there's no point plugging a diesel generator into a fried life-support machine - sounds like a good reason to not be using nuclear explosions to combat missiles...

* And I seem to recall reading that an EMP isn't too beneficial for the "circuitry" of the human brain, either.


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
I think that psycho might still be alive (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by Nick Ives on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 11:26:37 PM EST

I dont know who thought of it originally, but I'd wager that if it wasnt the man himself then it was someone who at least subscribed to the Edward Teller school of thought. I particularly like his solution to global warming, mentioned towards the end of that article, and I suppose you could justify his reasoning along the lines of "waste not want not". We've built all these bombs, may aswell detonate them.

--
Nick
Global Thermonuclear Conflict.

[ Parent ]

fast but predictable (none / 0) (#46)
by Sanityman on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 06:26:24 AM EST

ICBMs are ballistic - sample their path twice and you know where they're going to be, as long as you get to them before they start their MIRV manoeuvers (in which case you're already screwed). Mortar-tracking radar systems like Cymbeline have used this to good effect (for targeting artilliery bombardment of mortar sites before the first bomb has even landed). I accept that it's harder than it looks (Patriot), but I'd like to see some explanation of why. Also if you can do it exoatmosphere, couldn't you use an ablation approach (directed shrapnel) to get a better kill probability without needing a direct hit?

Sanityman



--
If you don't see the fnords, they can't eat you.
"You can't spray cheese whiz™ on the body of Christ!"


[ Parent ]
Vapourising (none / 0) (#50)
by katie on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 06:47:09 AM EST

Isn't even the goal.

A nuclear warhead produces a LOT of blast - far more sky will be filled with a blast wave strong enough to cause structural damage to a warhead than with the fireball that would vapourise them.

The ideal thing to do would be to fill the sky with shrapnel. At re-entry speeds there's not much you can do against hitting a few grams of ball-bearing coming the other way... but that might be difficult to arrange...

"Vaporising" them could even be bad - if you caught the warhead in the fireball, it could be hot enough to set off a fizzle in the other warhead. While you could design your intercept to burn clean - minimal radiation, an altitude fizzle yield from the target could spread a lot of VERY hot debris across a lot of the planet..

If you can disrupt the detonation system, the warhead just gets to go "clunk" and bounce off something as it comes down...



[ Parent ]
Big important part missing. (3.66 / 3) (#22)
by DoomGerbil on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 06:49:04 PM EST

Russia/USSR built a nuclear-based ABM shield in the 1960s. They removed the nuclear warheads from the ones guarding Moscow in 1998, replacing them with conventional warheads instead. I still find it funny that the Russians are so upset about the US wanting a missle defense shield when they already have theirs. We had a similar system online for 6 months in 1976 prior to the treaty which our current president has backed out of.

Info

The reason the Russian system used nukes is because their missiles were so inaccurate that a conventional-based system would have almost no probability of hitting anything. But for some reason, they still have the conventional missiles up and running. I personally think that Russia's useless shield should be dismantled ASAP, and GWB should be thrown off of a bridge, along with his idiotic plan for a US NMDS.

Not missing (none / 0) (#24)
by imrdkl on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:04:18 PM EST

this is covered in the washington post article, the first link (near the end, granted). I considered it a secondary concern, at best.

[ Parent ]
No. (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:17:34 PM EST

We each got a "point" MD sheild. We had one around DC for a while and them moved it to a Missle bunker. While Russia decided to gaurd their Capital, we decided to gaurd our retaliatory nukes.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Nike/Herc (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by wiredog on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:48:39 PM EST

There are roadside historical markers near the old Nike/Herc silo's. One is in Great Falls Virginia, on Springvale Road near Georgetown Pike. Another near Fairfax on the Parkway.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
I've seen abandoned Nike missile sites (3.00 / 2) (#70)
by Patrick Bateman 10005 on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 01:00:16 PM EST

all up and down the West Coast, literally dozens of locations.

[ Parent ]
Translation: Nuke D.C. (none / 0) (#68)
by opendna on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 11:51:41 AM EST

You realize that the Soviet "defense system" involves detonating a nuke over Moscow, right?

Doesn't it strike you as somewhat INSANE that the defensive plan was to nuke themselves?

[ Parent ]

SDI as a first-strike weapon (3.66 / 6) (#35)
by opendna on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 10:20:38 PM EST

This car will make you happy. This dress will make you beautiful. Drinking this beer will cause hot babes in bikinis to jump out of your refrigerator and do strip teases on the coffee table for your fat ass. The Missile Defense System/Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is only a defensive system.

Two tribes fighting in the proverbial wild. Hand to hand. A picks up a stick, B responds with a stick and a shield. A matches with a shield and raises to a club. B matches with a stronger shield and a knife. A matches the knife and raises to a sword. B matches with armor and raises to a long bow. A matches the armor and raises to a musket. B matches the musket and raises to a cannon. A matches the cannon and matches with a tank. B matches the tank and raises with a bomber. A matches the bomber and matches with a fighter. B matches the fighter and raises to a nuke. A matches the nuke and raises to an ICBM. B matches the ICBM and raises with a SDI. [This is the logic of the Arms Spiral; it never goes anywhere good.]

What does A do?

When the US and USSR started thinking through first-strike strategies (eliminate all the opposition's weapons so there is no retaliation) both sides came up with a few solutions:

  • MIRVs - Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles (or some such). Put a bunch of warheads on top of one missile.
  • Nuclear submarines.
  • Cruise Missiles.
  • Easily transportable nukes. And... [drum roll please]
  • SDI. The point of the SDI was to allow whichever side got it first to strike without fear of retaliation. It's like punching someone who's got their hands tied behind their back when you suspect they'd clean your clock otherwise. SDI would have ended all that Cold War arms race nonsense... albeit with a nuclear war.

One might wonder why they even bothered, considering how well developed Multually Assured Destruction (MAD) is as a military strategy. Plant a few thousand cobalt-encased nukes around your country and if someone is insane enough to attack, start the Doomsday Machine (a la Dr. Strangelove).

If you assume that the other guy is a suicidal nutcase you have no choice but to strike first and hope for total annilation. If the other guy IS a nut case he'll stike first and expect total annilation.

Personally, I think any leader who accepts nuclear weapons as legitimate tools of foreign policy should be required to carry one around at all times (and to sleep next to it at night).



Gee, I thought the trials were going so well..... (3.50 / 4) (#41)
by fanatic on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 01:03:00 AM EST

Once again the government has been fibbing to us. Yes, the intercept tests are working so well, that we need to put nukes in to make this work. Shit, why not make it really easy and just intercept the missiles before they're launched? Works for me.

ahh, the Doctor Strangelove approach (none / 0) (#49)
by fink on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 06:38:02 AM EST

Herr Doctor would be proud of you, I feel.

Although, admittedly (and coldly so) that is the One True Nearly Foolproof Method for ensuring that you manage to destroy the nukes before they're used against you.

However, as I'm sure you're no doubt aware, this is when MAD comes in. Any attempt to preemptively strike against a nuclear power would not be completely successful (humans aren't perfect, for all that we'd like to be). Therefore, you run the risk of a retaliation, with whatever is left of your enemy's supply.

Worked for the two superpowers in the cold war, and I don't know that things have changed that much now either.



[ Parent ]

Herr Doktor? I think not... (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by fanatic on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 10:26:20 PM EST

Did you miss my sarcasm, or am I missing yours?

[ Parent ]
Both, I daresay. (nt) (none / 0) (#79)
by fink on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 05:08:25 AM EST



[ Parent ]
In debate, (4.00 / 3) (#42)
by auraslip on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 01:06:12 AM EST

this years topic for CX(cross examination) debate was: significantly reduce the use of weapons of mass destruction.....

At the begining of the year Bush's Anti missile sheild or whatever was a popular case. Of course by the time I left school (december) no one ran that case, because it lost so much due to the massive evidence against it.

and I can tell you, a case that uses Nukes to shoot down other nukes would last about 5 minutes.

Some of the arugments against AMS;
Being that rouge states/terroist are our only real fear at this point, they will you likley use suitcase nukes, over conventional due to price, and ease of use.

Their is a huge amount of evidence against the interceptors not working.

Their are no enemys with nukes, (unless russia gets happy).

thats all I can remeber of right now.

124
Problem (4.50 / 2) (#63)
by trhurler on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 09:34:43 AM EST

High school debate has nothing to do with truth. I should know; I won consistently by lying, misrepresenting, and otherwise making an ass of myself, and when I tried to be honest, I lost almost every time. People are swayed by only three things in those debates:

First, whatever they go in already believing.

Second, which side they like better for whatever reason. Causing sympathy for yourself by falsely claiming your opponent has mistreated you wins more often than you'd believe.

Third, whichever side looks more collected, has better looking notes they actually use, and so on. Again, this works more often than you'd believe.

That you might think this sort of debate has something to do with truth suggests that you're a chump.

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

[ Parent ]
April Wired (US) (3.00 / 2) (#47)
by Sanityman on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 06:35:02 AM EST

Has a rather jingoistic artcle by Bruce Sterling about missile defence which seemed to basically say 'The US is taking over the world. There's not a lot you can do about it, but hey, absolute power never hurt anyone. Enjoy the popcorn.'

A more interesting article was one alleging that the current missile defence plans won't work, and that boost-phase interception is the only viable stategy.

Sanityman



--
If you don't see the fnords, they can't eat you.
"You can't spray cheese whiz™ on the body of Christ!"


sterling (3.00 / 2) (#57)
by speek on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 08:25:57 AM EST

your interpretation of Sterling's article is odd.

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

shall not mention the other site (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by martingale on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 09:49:36 AM EST

Actually, it's pretty even (I came away with the same interpretation). I think his (Sterling's) article is somewhat simplistic though. Here are a couple of points he skips over:

  • If the US forces depend on satellite intelligence for combat operations, what'll happen when their communications gets hacked (Windows, no less! see the article)?
  • How is the high-tech warfare he describes going to help with a conflict like Vietnam? It's been tested on three occasions only. The first was Desert Storm, which involved spotting tanks in the desert. Any decent satellite can do that nowadays. The second was Bosnia, which had mixed results (ie nowhere near as clear cut). The third occasion has been Afghanistan, and the media weren't allowed to see what was going on then.



[ Parent ]
A real eye-opener! (5.00 / 2) (#51)
by Spork on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 06:51:52 AM EST

The document mentioned in the article is absolutely outstanding, and I hope many people read it carefully. I guess I knew many of the things in it, but to see that our leaders actually say the stuff that I feared they thought ... well, that fills me with unamerican thoughts.

You've done it now... (none / 0) (#59)
by deefer on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 09:03:16 AM EST

that fills me with unamerican thoughts.

You're next for the knock, sonny.


Kill the baddies.
Get the girl.
And save the entire planet.

[ Parent ]

I applaud this (2.90 / 10) (#53)
by Chairman of the Republic on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 07:47:59 AM EST

Greetings from the Chairman, It amazes me to see such an extreme amount of liberals here who are offended over the United States defending itself with necessary weapons. It's time to wake up and realize we're in a state of war and it's essential we do anything necessary to defend our freefom and liberty. I'm VERY glad people like you are not the ones defending our country, while the real men do their work to defend every person in this country people like you can sit here and insult the very honor that makes America so great. Shame on you, shame on every last one of you who questions the intentions of our government. That is blatant disrespect for all they have done for you, all that you have, every freedom you've used, and the very ability to sit here and talk sensless drivel on how using nuclear warheads is a bad thing.

What ever it takes to defend freedom, you can count my unquestioned support behind it. Unlike you people, I care for my country, I care for our freedom and I will not hesitate when I know my servicemen have to take the life of a enemy to defend everyone of us. So do my a favor and grow up, the powers that be know what's best for us, it's why they're in charge. You people who sit at your computer all day bashing our government are naive, ignorant and do not understand the realities of the world, 20 year old punks who should be forced to serve in the military for 2 years.

I don't mean this as a troll, it's a honest opinion. What I've seen from this site has disgusted me and I can no longer hold back my opinion.

Good day from the chairman

troll or not... (none / 0) (#56)
by speek on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 08:17:33 AM EST

Taking the meta-step to silence those who disagree with you is just bad form. There's nothing wrong with debate and disagreement and questioning. Since that is the nature of the freedom the "real men" are defending, it seems ironic to try and undermine those freedoms the way you do in your post.

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

Agreed and Disagree (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by Chairman of the Republic on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 08:39:37 AM EST

Greetings, I have made no attempt to silence anyone, to do that would be a restriction on the freedoms those men are trying to defend. What I am saying is that it's very bothering to see many people on this site openly mock, diagree, and in some cases abhor the actions of our government no matter what they do. The U.S. Government *is looking out for every person in this country.* (Please don't give me that conspiracy theory nonsense.)

The government *is* out to help every citizen who loves their country, the people who always put down the actions of the government which are made in the interests of freedom and liberty do not understand the sacrafices people have made for them. Very similiar to how many young kids these days do not care that Jesus Christ died for their sins, but I will not preach about that here. I do feel people who do not love their country and live in the U.S. should serve 2 years of mandatory military service to learn discpline and the school systems should be reformed to teach our youth about the benefits of America. Love your country, love god, work a good job and live the American dream. Is that asking too much?

Disagree with me or not, it is my opinion and many others share it in the real world. I came to this site because I was told it had intelligent debates, I've seen some, but for the most part I've seen 20 year old college kids with no respect or love for their country.

[ Parent ]
troll it is then (nt) (none / 0) (#60)
by speek on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 09:07:26 AM EST


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

If you say so... (3.50 / 2) (#61)
by Chairman of the Republic on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 09:25:44 AM EST

I have an opinion that many share, that does not make it a troll. Just because you don't agree with it doesn't make it a troll. Just because I'm sure many on this site won't agree with it BECAUSE it directly relates to them and is frankly ABOUT them does not make it a troll.

Just because you don't like the truth about yourself does not make it a troll....

Good day

[ Parent ]
ok, I'll reply too (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by martingale on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 09:33:18 AM EST

Hi Chairman,

I've had a look at your comments and you appear to be new, so I'll take it easy the first time and not mark your second post with a 1. You will get many 1s for your first post I think, don't take it personally.

There are several things about your post that I feel deserve a very low score.

  • If you think that the site has only American readers and writers, then I'd like to herewith inform you that many, perhaps most, members of k5 are international. The person criticising the American government is quite possibly not American, although Americans have been known to do so on occasion ;-)
  • Having opinions is admirable. Most people on this site also have them, though perhaps not the same as you. There is no need to point out explicitely that you have them, especially if you phrase things so as to block debate about it.
  • Try phrasing your comments in such a way as to invite debate or else to respond to specific points somebody has made. A general statement about the lack of standards on this site or more generally with todays youth isn't particularly interesting in a debate about nuclear weapons.
  • It's nice that you have ideas about Jesus Christ, and k5 does on occasion discuss religion. I fail to see how this supports, or even relates to, your stated position that the government is looking out for every American. Part of the purpose of k5 is as a training ground for debating skills, and you aren't displaying yours in a very flattering light.
  • If you feel there is something that you really wish to see discussed, and it doesn't fit neatly in the current topics, why not submit an longer article. This will get voted on and you'll get valuable feedback, maybe have to resubmit and eventually see it discussed fully on the site.



[ Parent ]
Your advice is well accepted (3.50 / 2) (#67)
by Chairman of the Republic on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 10:03:23 AM EST

Greetings,

Thank you for the advice, I will heed it but it does not change my opinions on the said subjects. All the matters I brought up I felt were releveant to points through out these comments and on other stories, Good day to you.



[ Parent ]
Necessary for a healthy democracy (none / 0) (#71)
by hardburn on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 02:02:48 PM EST

Shame on you, shame on every last one of you who questions the intentions of our government.

Always questioning the actions of the government is the basis for a healthy democracy, and the founders of the American government knew this. England was (and is) a constitutional monarchy, and the broad powers given in their constitution (the Magna Carta) reflected the fact that the people there trusted (and in many ways, still do) their government to do the right thing. Though many of the basic freedoms guarenteed in both the Magna Carta and the US constitution are similar, the US consititution is diffrent because it creates a series of checks-and-balances so that no one part of the government could gain too much power. This is the greatest evidance that the founders of the US did not trust future governments to simply do the Right Thing.

If you just "trust the government", you should be advocating a benevlant dictatorship. (In fact, the benevlant dictatorship is probably the best form of government, except that it's hard to get the "benevelant" part).


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Quick history (none / 0) (#76)
by Jacques Chester on Sat Apr 13, 2002 at 12:13:43 PM EST

Being an Australian law student, I am necessarily given a basic introduction to British and English legal history.

The Magna Carta is not "the Constitution" of Britain, per se. It is a key document, but there are others - the Act of Settlement, the Habeas Corpus Acts and so on and so forth. Far more importantly, though, the pommies showed a propensity to revolt against oppressive governments - specifically oppressive monarchies - before their american colonies were even established. Parliament may reign supreme and sovereign, according to Diceyen theory, but any brit with an eye to history knows that it does so by observing the rights established over a thousand years of painful accumulation.

So yes, in theory, the poms are vulnerable to the whims of parliament. But in actual fact, the danger of the grant renders them even more vigilant than americans who rely on a piece of paper to defend their rights.

Mind you, neither seems to be doing too well.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

It is good (none / 0) (#72)
by imrdkl on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 05:06:49 PM EST

to see that my writing affects you, as well as others. I like that feeling. Conversely, I find your comment quite refreshing. Narrow minded people who are willing to unquestioningly toe the line are always welcome commentors to my articles. Notice how I've even given you some scientific support for the reasonableness and infallibility of the proposal. But remember, the line you toe may be drawn in the sand.

[ Parent ]
[meta] Troll critique. (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by claudius on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:37:53 PM EST

This is actually a pretty good troll, but I think you still need work. In places your prose is a bit too climsy--remember, silent trolls, the kind that sneak up on you so that you only realize you've been had after you hit the "Post" button, are by far the most elegant. Let us analyze your second paragraph:

"What ever it takes to defend freedom, you can count my unquestioned support behind it. Unlike you people, I care for my country, I care for our freedom and I will not hesitate when I know my servicemen have to take the life of a enemy to defend everyone of us. So do my a favor and grow up, the powers that be know what's best for us, it's why they're in charge. You people who sit at your computer all day bashing our government are naive, ignorant and do not understand the realities of the world, 20 year old punks who should be forced to serve in the military for 2 years."

The assumption you make of k5 readers being exclusively of the United States is a stale hook--this kind of thing rarely even brings token replies from the non-U.S. readers anymore. Your patriotic profession preceded by "Unlike you people" is good--keep that. It's the kind of prod that will trigger visceral responses. The juxtaposition of "do not understand the realities of the world" and "the powers that be know what's best for us, it's why they're in charge" lacks artistry, however, and will trap only the truly naive. And the "20-year-old punks"/2-year mandatory service bit is tossed in as an afterthought. This is a pity, since I think you missed an opportunity. You should have followed your second paragraph with a provocative thesis, e.g., that mandatory military service would cure the lack of "patriotism" and "love of country" among the foolish youth. You could provide some references to other societies where such service has been a success--Israel and the former Soviet Union come to mind, but historical anecdotes such as Sparta and the Apaches may have served--and I'm sure you could find a clever William Bennett quote to drop in here, though you would have to be careful with your choice as to avoid betraying your trollish intentions.

Alas, a squandered opportunity. You have potential, however. Just remember, never confess to trolling--the meta-game is so very hard to pull off effectively.

[ Parent ]

militarization of space (4.66 / 3) (#54)
by speek on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 08:03:37 AM EST

The real reason to pursue anti-missile defense is to get started on the militarization of space. Sounds awful, doesn't it? Yet, I think it's necessary. Provided our technology continues to improve, someday getting into space will be a simple thing. At that point, it will become militarized (ok, I refuse to use that word anymore in this post) by someone. Being from the US, I'm naturally inclined to think it'd be better for the US to get there first, rather than, say, China.

Although it would be nice to imagine a world without such weapons, I don't think it's realistic. The US, if it lingers in do-nothing-but-half-measures-foreign-policy land forever, will stall and possibly collapse as a superpower. That would be seriously bad for everyone. The US has to keep moving.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Oh please (5.00 / 3) (#81)
by EriKZ on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 10:35:21 PM EST

Modern nuclear weapon techniques, such as pure fusion weapons not requiring fissable material, as well as low-yield, low EM pulse-width weapons are now being considered, to avoid the effects that ordinary nukes might have on people and satellites, due to an open-air burst.

A pure fusion nuke is as modern as the warp drive. It doesn't exist. We can't build one to fire at incoming nukes anytime in the near future. If anyone followed the link you posted, all they say is that "They might develop it in the future."

Pinning our survival on a theoretical weapon. You have no idea if it's more dangerous than a fission warhead.

Low EM pulse width weapon? It's also called a LASER.

I have no problem in deploying nukes as an anti-nuke defense. Why? Because we have nothing else.

National Missile Defense: Seek and Vaporize | 82 comments (75 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!