Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Road Taken

MSNBC reports: Nato warms to plan for defence shield.

Plans for a Europe-wide missile defence system to protect the continent from possible threats from Iran and North Korea are winning backing from Nato headquarters, while Pyongyang's recent missile tests have reignited debate in the US about a missile defence system. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato secretary-general, wants member states to consider seriously a recently issued 10,000-page report that concluded that such a system would be feasible for Europe and added that the dangers posed by Pyongyang and Tehran were increasing. ...

Washington is in talks with some Nato member states, such as Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK, about help they can provide with the US's $10bn-a-year (£5.4bn) missile defence system. Several European governments hope they can get protection in return for agreeing to base anti-missile interceptors, vital for the working of the system, on their territories. But Nato officials believe that a Europe-wide system could complement the US's own military defence, and worry that the unity of the alliance could be fatally undermined if some but not all of the members were protected.


What did the intellectuals historically think of missile defense? Pulitzer-Prize winning author Frances Fitzergerald, author of Fire in the Lake, wrote a book in 2001 entitled Way Out There In the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War. Amazon cites a Publisher's weekly summary which describes Fitzgerald's thesis that missile defense was all about Reagan selling a religious belief to the American public. Myth was all it was without a vestige of reality.

Anyone who thinks that Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" program is dead should read this shocking book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Fitzgerald (Fire in the Lake, etc.). The former president's "Star Wars" plan--for laser weapons and space-based missiles intended to make the U.S. invulnerable to nuclear attack--was pure science fiction, writes Fitzgerald, and she notes that no technological breakthrough has occurred that would make Clinton's modified SDI program remotely feasible. Yet the U.S. has spent $3 to $4 billion a year on "Star Wars" in almost every single year since Reagan left office (and, as Fitzgerald observes, there has been almost no public discussion on this issue for several years). Why? The answer, suggests Fitzgerald in this painstakingly detailed study, lies partly in the way "Star Wars" was sold to the American public. By her reckoning, Reagan adroitly filled the role of mythic American Everyman endowed with homespun virtues. Prodded by the Republican right, by military hardliners such as limited-nuclear-war advocate Edward Teller and by deputy national security adviser Robert McFarlane (who, ironically, intended SDI primarily as a bargaining chip with the Soviets), Reagan wholeheartedly embraced the Star Wars concept for ideological reasons; he persuaded the people of its necessity by tapping into America's "civil religion" rooted in 19th-century Protestant beliefs in American exceptionalism and a desire to make the U.S. an invulnerable sanctuary.

Amazon's review, on the same page says, describes Fitzgerald's skepticism that SDI would ever work.

She makes the familiar claim that Reagan's acting career had a profound effect on how he governed. Yet she takes it a step further by arguing that specific movies had a deep influence on his political decisions. "SDI was surely Reagan's greatest triumph as an actor-storyteller," she writes, and goes on to suggest that Reagan was favorably disposed to spending billions on ABM technology because, in the 1940 film Murder in the Air, he played a secret agent assigned to protect a new weapon "capable of paralyzing electrical currents and destroying all enemy planes in the air."

Although much of Way Out There in the Blue covers recent history, the controversial debate over missile defense continues today. An epilogue covers developments in the 1990s and mentions a pair of successful tests that occurred in 1999. Yet FitzGerald remains a skeptic, believing a workable ABM system is too complex, too expensive, and too easy to defeat. Conservatives will chafe at her condescending appraisal of Reagan; liberals will appreciate her aggressive attacks on a defense strategy they have never liked.

What did politicians think of missile defense? Howard Dean's stand on the subject was apparently this.

And the other is that the problem with the defense budget is not entirely its size, it's what it's spent on. We should be go back into the ABM Treaty. We ought to sign the land mines treaty. Instead of building the tactical battlefield nuclear weapons program, which is a weapons program that does nothing to fight against terrorism, we need to invest in special ops and human intelligence. Instead of investing in Star Wars, which has failed the majority of its tests, that we ought to be doing different kinds of things with that money, such as paying soldiers and making sure there are adequate schools on our military bases. Source: NPR, "Justice Talking" Dean-Nader Debate Jul 9, 2004

I support missile defense efforts that make us more secure; I oppose deployment of any system not yet proven to work. Source: Dean writing in Washington Post Dec 21, 2003

A Dean administration would be guided by the notion that Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) and related programs [Russia and other former Soviet states] with are a more urgent priority than National Missile Defense and would transfer $1 billion per year from the over $8 billion ballistic missile defense budget to CTR and related programs. As President, Howard Dean will increase our intelligence, police and military special forces capabilities abroad to thwart and disrupt terrorist operations. Source: Campaign website, DeanForAmerica.com Jul 2, 2003

Commentary

Now none of this is to say that missile defense will work effectively. Or that it was the most cost effective approach to defense ever. Nor are these observations intended to argue that Frances Fitzgerald or Howard Dean are bad people. But it may underline what Slate once quoted Donald Rumsfeld as saying:

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

And that's the problem with the future. It contains elements we genuinely can't predict because they haven't happened yet. Ronald Reagan conceived of SDI in an era when the Soviet Union loomed large in his mind. Was he right for the wrong reason? And were his critics wrong for the right reason? At any rate it looks like Ronald Reagan may turn out to be right for whatever reason. And that may be good enough.

54 Comments:

Blogger Chester said...

I think Reagan intended missile defense to be a bargaining chip in his negotiations with the Soviets. Gorbachev offered everything to him at Reykyavik in exchange for abandoning it, and he turned him down, supposedly telling an advisor that since the nuclear genie was out of the bottle, one day rogue states would have nukes too. Reagan hated nukes.

It's worth noting that Rumsfeld served in the late 1990s on a Committee to investigate the threat to the US from ballistic missiles.

Finally, is it possible that the Czechs, Poles, and Brits, all of whom have been steadfast allies in Iraq, have been told some interesting data about our capabilities in missile defense? Just how did that NK rocket go down?

7/06/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"But Nato officials believe that a Europe-wide system could complement the US's own military defence"
---
This is a problem for the Halfbright/Clintonista types:
Anything that further unbalances things in our direction is a BAD Thing.
Limbaugh has been great in portraying this b.... for what she is:
A Kissinger wannabe:
She's got her LLC, and is trying to raise her fee schedule with all these TV appearances trashing the USA.
A true political whore.
...once upon a time ex-officials had some class, dignity, and patriotism.

7/06/2006 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Meanwhile, Japan says Si!

7/06/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Halfbright and her ex-clinton partner INSIST that all bad things in North Korea occured on Bush I and II, and all good things happened on her watch.
Whata Gal!

7/06/2006 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

During my time in the Pentagon I was truly astonished at the breadth and depth of the efforts to sabotage SDI. They did it in big ways. They did it in small ways. They used all kinds of reasons. But they did it a lot - early, often, and creatively.

Then there were Phds who saw SDI as a way to finance their own dreams of scientific empire.

The expanse of SDI's efforts was enormous - and perhaps that was part of the problem. For all of the 80's and well into the 90's SDI was the most innovative outfit around when it came to space launch R&D - and eventually all of this work came to naught.

SDI had so many irons in the fire that it developed a terrible reputation for program management, but at the same time it was far ahead of everyone else in any concept you could care to name.

The really amazing part was the "moral authority" position taken by some - that we had no business trying to defend ourselves anyway. The Europeans were big on that idea.

7/06/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

It's funny to see the pacifists turning now, the ones who laughed at "star wars". Pro military politicians should play back their opponents old commercials saying that we don't need missile defense.

7/06/2006 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Instead of investing in Star Wars, which has failed the majority of its tests"
---
At a certain point in time, long after efforts had begun, this was still true for the Airplane.
...or a child learning to walk.

7/06/2006 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Chester: Relative to that study team that Rumsfeld was on.

The CIA issued a report saying that there was no way anyone could devlop ICBM capabilities suddenly and unexpectedly. Congress commisisoned the special study, which said that CIA report was wrong. Within a couple of months after the report came out N. Korea launched the first Taepodong - which made it all the way into the 3rd stage burn.

7/06/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Chester 6:08 PM,
Accidents Happen.
also, s... Happens.

7/06/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger protagonist473 said...

This could turn into a great example of the free rider effect in economics. Lets say the US only has the listed folks sign up to help with the system (Czechs, Poles, Brits). A missle gets launched at, oh I don't know... Germany, or France. Are we just going to let it sail on by and crush Paris just because they didn't pay their fee? Doubtful.

7/06/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

I remember during the 80s, when this topic first came up, there were two arguments against missile defense. These two arguments still appear frequently today:

1) It will never work.
2) It will violate ABM, screw up the balance of power, and all sorts of other things.

Amazingly, the two statements were often made in sequence by the same person, completely oblivious that if 1 was true that 2 wasn't a problem.

7/06/2006 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Doug: Per Fox News just now, the Taepodong launched on the 4th was targeted at Hawaii.

In reality, at T+35 sec you can't even tell if a missile is targeted at Planet Earth based on its trajectory. You would have to have other info from other sources.

7/06/2006 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

RWE,

If the Nokor missile was targeted south of Hawaii it would almost certainly have overflown Japan. The most destabilizing element of the Nokor tests is that they went back on their promised missile moratorium. They promised, then they tore it up.

That raises the question of whether an agreement with the Nokors is worth anything. The answer among diplomats is probably going to be "sometimes" and they will continue to talk to Pyongyang. But the linchpin of any negotiated settlement has to be confidence that the parties will abide by them. Hitler's willingness to tear up treaties what made Munich such a shock. But unlike Chamberlain, not everyone in the West was asleep.

7/06/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

There is no way to defend part of the free world without defending all of the edges of the free world.

We have gradually 'opened the kimono' throughout this outbound war since 9/11. Who among us was not amazed at the bullseye 2000 pounder bombing campaign in Afghanistan? Not one or two like the old days, no, a whole stick from a B-2 that changed the side of a mountain to rubble.
USAF conquered Afghanistan in a month. Same thing in Iraq. Shh, it's a secret, don't tell anybody.
Year after year, new war tech like we saw in The Terminator enters the battlefield.

I suppose I'm only dreaming, but the stuff they've been writing about in AWST the past few months - they say they could do this - light these guys up with hot radar rays.

Weird, huh?

I guess this is how confident the guys at Stonehenge felt, when they dug that huge trench all around themselves. Damn cavemen ain't climbing up out of there!

Luckily, the good guys have the good stuff. For now.

7/06/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger rich said...

I liked the quote from Howard Dean.

The ABM treaty, the land mine treaty, all the little Munichs he would exchange for "Peace in Our Time."

7/06/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

rwe 7:09 PM,
Hawaii and Marin County are not ON Planet Earth!
Actually Hawaii's a lot more down to Earth than much of CA, except for a number of Maui Moonbats.
---
Hey! We got our Haleakala fast tracker, and the "Test" Range on Kaui!
That dummy warhead wouldn't stand a chance against our smarts.

7/06/2006 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wretchard 7:44 PM,
Allbright is sure you can trust the NoKors:
As long as you have smart enough people involved like we had during the Clinton years.

Bolton '08!

7/06/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Doug said:.."A true political whore."

Man, have you no shame? Please restrain your metaphors. Picturing the ambassador "flagrante delicto". Beyond the capabilities of any blue vitamin and possibly few men have been so intoxicated. well, not really, but how, how can I get this out of my head?

7/06/2006 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

STAR WARS - THE SEQUEL

JUNE 4, 1996

TRANSCRIPT NPR

http://www.pbs.org/newshour
/bb/military/star_wars_6-4.html

.."SEN. JOHN GLENN, (D) Ohio: (1985) General Abramson was here one day, and he likened the whole Star Wars thing to the Apollo Project. You just have to decide to go and go ahead, and I told him then that I thought that was nonsense because when we decided to do the Apollo Project, we knew all the engineering. Yet we talk about Star Wars as though all we have to do is decide to go and we go, and that's just pure nonsense because the physics hasn't been invented yet to do Star Wars."..

Even the clairvoiant Gen. Shalikashvili was against it

.."SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) Michigan: (Capitol Hill) The Pentagon, the top military leadership of this country, oppose it. They oppose it very strongly. They do not want to make a commitment now to deploy a system which has not been developed and not been tested. They feel very--and Gen. Shalikashvili has written to Sen. Nunn opposing the Dole Act because to commit ourselves now to deploy a system which could cost up to $60 billion would do two things which are bad in Gen. Shalikashvili's view, one, it would spend resources, up to $60 billion for unproven technology, but two and probably even more important, it would undermine our agreement with Russia, which is that we will not deploy these systems, and to go ahead now and commit, as this bill would do, to the deployment of these systems will cause Russia, we've been told directly this by the Russian leadership, will cause Russia to not proceed with the, the dismantlement of weapons under START I and will cause them not to ratify START II and both of those agreements result in a great reduction of nuclear weapons. So if we pursued--proceed now to deploy this system, we will, in fact, be increasing the number of nuclear weapons in this world because Russia will no longer comply with START I, as she's entitled not to if we go ahead with this illegal system, and she will not ratify START II."

7/07/2006 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

2164th, this probably won't help.
---
RUSH:
All right, so nothing went wrong during the Clinton years, according to Wendy Sherman in the two sound bites today on Fox, but then two years ago, almost two years ago, Madeleine Albright actually said,
well, they were cheating.
Imagine that.
They were cheating.
I also know that on -- I think it was on -- Hannity & Colmes, I don't think we have this bite, but she actually used the word "duped" on Hannity & Colmes is to describe this.
What you have to understand is the Clinton people, Wendy Sherman and Madam Albright have been trying to establish for the last four years that North Korea only became a nuclear power after they left, and now Madeleine Albright started up this big company of hers, and of course it's mandatory that that spin and that that false, obviously false story that North Korea was held at bay during the competence of the Clinton years, has to maintain itself, others Albright Group, Limited, or LLC, whatever it is, is going to have a much tougher time getting off the ground.
So there you have it, Madam Albright admitting, they cheated.

Now, even after admitting that they cheated, she says, "Well, they just cheated. They put those rods back into gear." Well, they promised they wouldn't put those rods in anything nuclear weapon-wise, but they did, they cheated.
So you can draw your own conclusion from this, but we are in the midst, ladies and gentlemen, of a giant flood the zone on the part of the Madam Albright and Wendy Sherman and willing accomplices in the Drive-By Media to create a version of events that is 180 degrees out of phase

7/07/2006 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Maybe if you think about her leg-pressing 400lbs, it will get all that ill-gotten money out of your mind.

7/07/2006 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Glenn:
"I told him then that I thought that was nonsense because when we decided to do the Apollo Project, we knew all the engineering"
---
I had a friend working for Lockheed Missiles and Space at the time, and I remember him telling me about a technique they were using (can't recall what it was called) that relied on looking forward on the basis of estimated times that certain problems that had not yet been solved would Get Solved, in order to schedule other work.
That 10 year Goal plus a lot of smart, dedicated folks, plus money did the trick.
Just like Manhatten did with very little money by today's standards.

7/07/2006 01:15:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

In my 6:24 PM, today's Democrats raising that toddler would conclude he'd need lifetime welfare, since no-one could predict for sure exactly when or if he would ever become 100% competent at walking!

7/07/2006 01:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

*otherwise* Albright Group,...

7/07/2006 01:26:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

If you guys want to watch a Burke-derived Japanese Kongo class in action, complete with a Hans Zimmer like soundtrack, visit this link.

Sometimes I think the chief mischief that Kim Jong Il is creating is getting the Japanese cranked up.

7/07/2006 01:41:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"The really amazing part was the "moral authority" position taken by some - that we had no business trying to defend ourselves anyway. The Europeans were big on that idea."

Yes, that IS amazing! We have no RIGHT to live! We have NO right to know love, or love knowledge, or enhance the knowing and loving capabilities of ourselves and others!

Amazing, but a natural development of the "humans are born in sin" concept...

"Noble have I created thee, wherefore dost thou abase thyself?"

7/07/2006 02:26:00 AM  
Blogger John F. Opie said...

Hi -

I was in Germany in the early 1980s when SDI, aka "Star Wars," entered the picture, studying political science.

Sometimes it was fun shooting the baby lambs who would bring their carefully prepared arguments that they had learned in the newspapers and the political pundits of the day, as others have already noted (won't work, will upset everything).

Nuclear deterrence was - and continues to be! - a complex calculus of abilities and capabilties. Intent plays a role, but it's secondary. More fundamentally, it's a system of systematic unravelling the enemy's ability to wage war and to impose your will upon him by being able to destroy any and all assets that he needs to wage war with. Once your enemy is convinced of that, he won't attack and is deterred. The system works both ways: if you believe the enemy can do the same thing, you won't attack either.

The Sovs were great pals of systems of equations that would tell them when the correlation of forces would enable them to achieve military superiority, which would then be used by their politicos to force the West to behave the way the Sovs wanted it to.

The brilliant thing about SDI was the introduction of uncertainty into what the Sovs saw as a constellation of certainty. The Sovs had their military planning to attack this target with these assets, which the West also had. The war plans were complex analyses of targets, conditions, what other targets had been eliminated in order to reach these targets, etc.

Hence you'd plan (hypothetically) along these lines: you knew that to take out target alpha, you could calculate that you'd need three missiles with 2 warheads each, since there was a 30% risk you'd lose at least one missile during launch; given the target size, you'd need three warheads to damage the target itself, and four to really ensure that the target was completely taken out (I'm simplifying, of course). So that's how you planned.

Introducing SDI meant that you couldn't do this sort of planning, but rather had to figure out how first to ensure that one missile went through, let alone two. It made the planning move from assessing actual war plans (hit target alpha with assets x and y) to figuring out how to create completely flexible planning (i.e. if in an attack on targets alpha, beta and gamme, using assets w, x, y and z, ensure that all three targets are at least attacked despite the probability that 30% of w, 40% of x, 90% of y and 10% of z assets would not reach their targets).

That means war plans went from a simple linear algebra to complex stochastic systems (again, in the eyes of the Sovs) that did not entertain a single solution, but rather was multi-state with differing degrees of local minima and maxima.

And that, dear friends, is what broke the Sovs. All their fine Soviet engineering (and I'm NOT being facetious here!) and all their sunken capital suddenly became more or less useless for their goals: of intimidating the West into subservience.

The West didn't have this problem: their systems were much smaller and massively more flexible. There was no belief in using a correlation of forces analysis to figure out when to attack: instead, flexibility of response and force application were the fundamentals of force development and military tactics and strategy.

SDI was worth every damn penny, and it really is looking like it'll be the most farsighted technological development.

What should truly be intimidating for our enemies is that this has been developed not as a major policy and the dedication of a major part of national income to realize it, but instead it's a relatively small program that the US is doing with what basically, for the US, amount to spare change.

7/07/2006 03:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/07/2006 04:38:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Where would we be if Ronald Reagan had not worked tirelessly for years to become president, in order to put to use even more years of study and thought about the Commies?

7/07/2006 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

john opie,

A very interesting post. It is pretty early hear and I discover I am out of coffee. I need a bracing cup to get the brain functioning for a re-read. But thanks for un-doing damage done by doug and his generic brand beer.

7/07/2006 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Opie: You are pretty much right, but let us not forget the powerful psychological effect of not having to just sit there and hope they did not shoot at you.

And let us not forget the powerful psychological effect of realizing if you did shoot it might not work.

The Left especially hated SDI because it turned the moral arguement against them. In the words of Robert Heinlein "Morally, it is the same as buying a bullet proof vest."

I thought that the entire "moral" arguement against SDI as well as the "Impact on Deterrance" argument went down the tubes the day that Gorby admitted that yes, indeed, the USSR had the same kind of program going. Of course, he did not mention that theirs had been going on for years before ours began in earnest.

But one of the best aspects of SDI is that if it works it gives you the option to not respond in kind. They shoot, you knock it down and then Pres Bush goes on TV and says "Here is the list of our demands. If they are not met within 24 hours, well, YOU don't have a missile defense system, do you?"

Wretchard: the astonishing thing is not so much that people like the N. Koreans cheat on their agreements - it is like giving a cutpurse or brigand your wallet to hold while you play basketball and expecting to get it back untouched - it is that people continue to insist that we give them yet another chance.

7/07/2006 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Nice post, john opie!

Doug, loved that quote from John Glenn "we hadn't INVENTED the physics yet." That's a funny statement coming from an astronaut, you don't invent physics. I believe the method you are talking about is Critical Path planning, where you look at future developments and realize all of the other pieces, inventions, technologies, engines, etc. that you need to get to that capability at that time.

People focus ont the ray gun aspects of Star Wars, when the most reliable elements were things like Brilliant Pebbles, which could almost be built off the shelf. Also, during the build up to Star Wars, I don't remember hearing about these new radars that are weapons. I guess the physics hadn't been invented yet.

"This is no longer just an engineering exercise," Dennis says. "You are actually taking true performance on the same architecture--the same software--and being able to extrapolate that to the power and aperture of the WAS [wide-area surveillance]" radar. The large array could also offer the ability to direct radar energy onto a cruise missile to disable its electronics in flight. Dennis declined to discuss these capabilities.

7/07/2006 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

By the way, let us not forget the one country that has been an active and enthusiastic partner in SDI for quite a few years now.

The place that the French elites refer to as "that shitty little country":

Israel.

So now Europe thinks that they want a piece of the action?

It is amazing how "the threat of death focuses the mind." Katyuskas and Scuds raining down on Israel? The Euros said "Good enough for ya. Don't come crying to me."

But IRBM's from Iran? And it's "We want our SDI!"

7/07/2006 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Polybius said...

Wretchard said: "Sometimes I think the chief mischief that Kim Jong Il is creating is getting the Japanese cranked up."

Conservative militarists comprise a small but doggedly vocal political minority in Japan. The potential for re-militarization is there, if the Japanese ever feel sufficiently threatened to overcome their rejection of military force.

The repercussions to the region would be profound. Even the most Western-aligned countries DEEPLY dread a resurgent imperialist Japan.

Remilitarization does not necessarily mean a return to imperialism, but it's hard to convince neighbors with long memories.

7/07/2006 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

It looks like Israel is ready to cave in, releasing prisoners in exchange for nothing more than Hamas stopping the tactics they used to get the prisoners released. That is Hamas will give up the Israeli prisoner and (temporarily) stop rocket fire.

Israel is strong in many ways, but very weak when its people are captured. I can't imagine why. No wonder the Islamists think they can win the war. Capture a single soldier and they can get whatever they want.

7/07/2006 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Interior Minister Avi Dichter was quoted by his spokesman on Friday as telling a conference that if Shalit was freed and attacks stopped then Israel "knows how to carry out a release of prisoners as a goodwill gesture."

"We did it in the past and we know how to do it," Dichter said

7/07/2006 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Whitehall said...

The anti-SDI faction did have one serious argument during the USSR/USA nuclear posituring - saturation. MIRV'ed warheads did look cheaper than anti-missile missiles so offense was cheaper than defence. Directed energy weapons were an option that needed development to technically rebut that point.

Today, we're NOT looking at massive swarms of incomings and we're much richer in any case compared to our adversaries. Directed energy weapons also have been fielded although their role is one of support to an undisclosed degree.

The book discussed in the post shows the desparation of the anti-SDI crowd. Lacking substantiative arguments, they were reduced to ad hominem - an actor/cowboy can't be serious about military science.

I wish I could understand the leftist assumptions better. They are so different from the world as I experience it and the means I use to understand it that it is difficult to find common ground.

When that happens, conditions are ripe for civil war or at least continued and increasing political and cultural acrimony.

7/07/2006 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Here's another way to stop a missile. Reminds me of the Texas Rangers motto: One missile, one Ranger.

from washtimes.com

We have no evidence that the U.S. was able to sabotage North Korea's Taepodong-2 missile, which malfunctioned 42 seconds into launch on Tuesday and crashed.
But we do note that special operations forces (SOF) are playing an increasing role, overt and covert, in the world under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's rule. We also note that one of the reasons that SOF procured the powerful .50- caliber Barrett's sniper rifle was to have the capability to disable ballistic missiles. It's a scenario for missile defense you won't see in any literature from the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency: insert a commando behind the lines, who positions himself within shooting range of the launchpad.
"One of the original reasons for procuring the .50-caliber sniper system was to disable missiles," a SOF source says. "A round pumped in prior to launch, or during to cover the noise, in the right place would cause a catastrophic malfunction."

7/07/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

RWE - By the way, let us not forget the one country that has been an active and enthusiastic partner in SDI for quite a few years now.

The place that the French elites refer to as "that shitty little country":

Israel.


Israel is useful, but it's enthusiasm for US military technology has not been limited to acquiring it by means fair and foul for it's own use - but selling it to our rivals like China. Of course they are keen on SDI - they made millions selling the secrets of the Patriot missile system (that we had put in Israel as their for defense plus billions in extra aid - as their price for staying out of the Gulf War and thus wrecking our Coalition). After also discovering F-16 avionics sold to China for its fighters, advanced sidewinder missile technology, and US cruise missile electronics - plus the continuence of a large, aggressive spy program inside the US despite our protests. We had enough of their treachery. We did not buy their excuse that they were unable to control greedy Israeli individuals that would sell their own mothers for a buck. In retaliation, we listed Israel as "untrustworthy" and barred them from the Joint Strike Fighter program we are doing with 11 other nations, and barred them from participation in anti-missile programs we wish to keep out of China or Russia's hands.

We deal with the Israelis in a limited way on our most valuable programs these days - purchasing some of the products they make we find useful - some Israeli software and advanced comms-computer interfaces....but not letting the Israelis have the access to top secret US programs they once did through the favors of influential Congressmen beholden to Jewish-American votes or money.

They are not our partners, but our albatross. Overall, a diplomatic, economic, geostrategic liability for the USA.

Unlike our real allies like Europe, Australia, and Japan - formally bound to us by defense treaty and from common cause in past wars - Israel is not our ally. We have no defense treaty and despite the efforts of the Israel Lobby - no amount of their proffered money or threats have swayed a President or Congress to commit the US to a treaty obligating us to war to defend Israel.

They have their uses, but Israel is an untrustworthy nation. In many ways the "crappy little country" another group of backstabbers, amoral money-making spies, and parasites on US defense capabilities - the French - call them. The pot calling the kettle black.

7/07/2006 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

If the prisoner deal is real, it's absolutely incredible. Israel will retreat with its tail between its legs, giving Hamas all it wants and getting nothing in return besides the prisoner.

It's even worse because of all the bluster and the invasion. Their prime minister going on about how Hamas would pay and they'd never negotiate a prisoner swap. Giving in is bad enough, but talking the talk and not following through will really hurt them in the future.

7/07/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Griswel said...

Reagan must have been quite an actor - he convinced the Russians we could make SDI work.

7/07/2006 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Looks like the deal either fell through or never was

Israeli Interior Minister Roni Bar-On, speaking on Israeli television, said no prisoners would be freed.

"There will be no negotiations. There will be no release of prisoners," Bar-On said, adding he had just spoken to Olmert.

7/07/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger ed said...

Hmmm.

Frankly I've always felt that Rumsfeld has missed a serious career opportunity in writing original and evocative Chinese Fortune Cookie blurbs.

7/07/2006 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

Even in the 80's, when I was still in high school, I could see the value of SDI as a make-work program as well as a prod to force the USSR to spend even more money on defense programs it couldn't afford. It was, even if nothing came of it, a brilliant tool for speeding up the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Now, things have changed. The 747 ABL aircraft has over 50 successful intercepts to its airborne laser to date. As some have already stated above, saturation is no longer an issue. We won't have hundreds of warheads along with several times that many decoys raining down on us. We'll have a warhead or three, probably without ANY decoys. We have a flying example of a system that has proven effective at shooting down missiles in the boost phase.

Within a year or two, a version of this same type of laser will be installed in C-130 aircraft, for use on a more tactical level. It will be able to destroy soft-skinned vehicles from dozens of miles away.

All of these developements have their roots in SDI, as do countless other significant technological advances that came out of that program. We may not have particle beam satellite networks, or 'kinetic kill vehicles' that work, but we do have systems that do. All those billions will become money well spent if they are used successfully for their intended purpose . . .ONCE.

What man in his right mind realizes he can build a better shield than his neighbors, would then decides not to do it just because they cry out, "not fair!"

7/07/2006 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Yo Yashmak, where are you getting your info?

The Boeing ABL has not been flown, or flight-tested.

But it’s on its way!

7/07/2006 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yo, Tony:
I see you're still here:
Did you see this?
---
The Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader

"This is really the hottest new technology to be developed for blind people in the last 30 years," said Gashel, who calls it "the camera that talks."

About three decades ago, Kurzweil invented the first device that could convert text into audio. It was about the size of a washing machine. That gave way to software that could be used by a computer and scanner to perform the same function. The latest device, about the size of a paperback book, introduces portability.

7/07/2006 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Hey Doug,

Thanks for the pointer. It's not small enough to fit in your Wayfarers, but it will be soon.

One small correction, with the original machine, the scanner itself was the size of a washing machine. The brains was a Data General mini-computer, the size of another washing machine, and then you usually needed the tape drive sitting next to it, a third washing machine. But hey, that was 1978.

Meanwhile, don't tell C-4 about this:
"Did you know that just over the past 11 quarters, dating back to the June 2003 Bush tax cuts, America has increased the size of its entire economy by 20 percent? In less than three years, the U.S. economic pie has expanded by $2.2 trillion, an output add-on that is roughly the same size as the total Chinese economy...."
The Big-Bang Story of U.S. Private Business
By Lawrence Kudlow

7/08/2006 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger raymondshaw said...

Imagine, Madie has her own sweet little think-tank/lobby firm. Turns out one of her clients is DP World:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=DP_World

If I wasn't quite sure how I felt about how that episode played out before, I'm felling pretty good about it now.

7/08/2006 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

That this is news, the discussions regarding a missile defense system for Europe, proves, for me at least, that a nuclear armed Iran is now considered a foregone conclusion, that the situation has gotten too far down the road for actually being reversed, either by diplomacy or by "the other option putatively sitting on the table".

Now the leaders of the West are reduced to trying to deal with the fallout (pun intended).

7/08/2006 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

One final note:
"....worry that the unity of the alliance could be fatally undermined if some but not all of the members were protected."

France, Belgium and Germany sure were not worried about that when they denied support to Turkey at the time of OIF, now were they?

7/08/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger joe said...

Just as long as the US does not provide protection for the members of the chocolate summit and Spain

7/08/2006 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

We should tell the normal footdraggers on Iran, i.e. Germany, France, and company, that if Iran goes nuclear, they'll purposely be left undefended by any future ABM plan.

Likewise for anyone else in Europe who does not help us.

No more free rides.

7/08/2006 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger JM Hanes said...

Lordy, lordy, lordy. I'm nearly overcome by the fascinating irony of it all. So, the umbrella is suddenly starting to look good again, eh? For some reason, I find myself thinking about the Oreo Cookie guy....

7/09/2006 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger TM Lutas said...

One thing that should not be overlooked is that even if N. Korea and Iran were to fall tomorrow, we'd still need BMD because private rocketry is coming both for satellite launch and for tourist flights and the players in the field aren't necessarily going to be just in the 1st world. Hijacking a tourist rocket and aiming it for the White House is going to be well within reach of AQ or their fellow travelers in the terrorist set. It would be nice to be able to shoot them down.

7/11/2006 01:06:00 PM  

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