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return of the soviet union - the empire strikes back
May 29, 2007 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Russia on Tuesday test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile The points to note are:- It could penetrate any defense system, the statement did not specify how many warheads the missile can carry, it's either a decoy or something that has been developed in complete secrecy.
posted by chrisranjana.com (54 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
*panics*

Oh, no, wait -- we've been here before.
posted by dhartung at 10:30 AM on May 29, 2007


Thank god we've got the same sort of rational, level-headed leadership on both sides of the pond that we've had in the past!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:34 AM on May 29, 2007


ARMS RACE!

I'm gonna start by putting all my troops in Australia and then working my way up Indonesia to India where will hold for a while while Russia and Europe fight it out.
posted by tkchrist at 10:36 AM on May 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Soviet Union? I thought you guys broke up."

"Yes... that's what we wanted you to think!"
posted by Krrrlson at 10:37 AM on May 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


If elected I will counter this FPP with posts about U.S. weapons tests, to prevent a MissileFilter gap.
posted by gubo at 10:38 AM on May 29, 2007 [5 favorites]


When we commissioned the Schmectel Corporation to research this precise event sequence scenario, it was determined that the continual stockpiling and development of our nuclear arsenal was becoming self-defeating. A weapon unused is a useless weapon.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:41 AM on May 29, 2007


Hey, the space under my desk isn't very large. Oh, don't panic you say?

*ahem*
posted by ninjew at 10:43 AM on May 29, 2007


*Invades Kamchatka*
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2007


Someone needs to mod DEFCON to account for this new technology.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


awesome!!! of please god, let there be a new red scare so hollywood will see the wisdom in making a red dawn sequel. oh please, please, if not a proper sequel then maybe a remake or spike tv reimagining tv series? i know, call the show WOLVERINES!!! man, that would be sooo cool.
posted by andywolf at 10:50 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not to mention that, quite honestly, the best Bond villains were Russians. With the Litvinenko poisoning, I was optimistic that there would be a comeback to the good old days. This is another step in the right direction.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:51 AM on May 29, 2007


*Yawns*

It's just an upgrade of Topol-M, designed to cope with W's ballistic missile defense organization, which is currently driving Soviet Russian military planners wild with paranoia.

This is absolutely no surprise at all ... if you've been following the increasingly worried signals from Moscow for the past couple of years, turning to outright anger in the past 18 months, about the proposed US siting of anti-ballistic missile radars on former Warsaw Pact territory.

The Pentagon planners ain't sticking ABM targeting radars in Poland to stop missiles from Iran (that don't exist) coming over the north Atlantic towards the USA. Draw a great circle line from Iran to the USA: Poland isn't anywhere near the shortest route. The BMD program exists -- and always has -- because of Russia, who still have about 2000 missiles and 7500 warheads capable of reaching the USA.

Remember, Cheney et al are Cold War retreads -- they're not terribly good at changing gear, and given the way the debacle in the Middle East is proceeding, firing up Cold War 2.0 again must seem like a pretty good fallback plan for keeping the sheeple in line.
posted by cstross at 10:56 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no thoughts on the missle but have to say that a Red Dawn remake would be beautiful. It would have to be written with a multicultural twist. The EU, Russia, and China get tired of our warmongering shenanigans and invade, and then proceed to learn the same horrific lessons from the guerillas in Colorado, that we learned in Anbar.

Ultraviolence for a while, then everyone putting down their weapons and singing 'Kumbaya' for a while. Both liberals and conservatives would love this flick. Everyone wins!
posted by pandaharma at 10:56 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Guys, guys, enormous nations with vast stores of nuclear weapons are not a threat! A few stateless terrorist organizations who haven't been able to cobble together so much as a dirty bomb are the greatest threat this nation has ever faced!
posted by callmejay at 10:58 AM on May 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


See you in the shelter, beeyotchez!
And to hell with Emma; the pastrami, kraut and bagels are mine!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:59 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


"It's just an upgrade of Topol-M"

It's the Topol Gigio.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:59 AM on May 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wasn't the defense of the ABM system that it couldn't shoot down Real Missilestm i.e. a real barrage from a nuclear superpower like those funny-talking russkies? Isn't the whole idea that it's targeted towards a single-launch by rogue-state at best technology? Or am I drinking the kool-aid again.
posted by Skorgu at 11:04 AM on May 29, 2007


awesome!!! of please god, let there be a new red scare so hollywood will see the wisdom in making a red dawn sequel. oh please, please, if not a proper sequel then maybe a remake or spike tv reimagining tv series? i know, call the show WOLVERINES!!! man, that would be sooo cool.

Yeah! and Patrick Swayze will have a small part in the 2 hour pilot.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:05 AM on May 29, 2007


Makes sense... if you were in charge of the national defence of a nation and you determined that the most powerful state on earth was pouring funds into a system that could render your weapons (which you use to deter aggression against you) useless, wouldn't you respond by trying to find a way around that?

Seriously, so long as the US devotes half its GDP into the military, and then throws that military might around the world in defence of its interests and at the expense of others, it is always going to provoke other nations to try and compete on some level.
posted by modernnomad at 11:05 AM on May 29, 2007


My theory on the new system:

One of the warheads beams a variety of internet memes, celebrity sex videos and trolling AI's into the internet... While the country grinds to a halt as people are enthralled by the magic internetz, the real bombs come down, warning lights ignored while NATO defense stations are instead occupied by folks watching the newest starlet in a poorly shot home sex video.
posted by yeloson at 11:30 AM on May 29, 2007


Well, that explains the plethora of Russian porn on the internets. Perfecting the system?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:32 AM on May 29, 2007


People, repeat it with me now.

There will never be a US missile-defense system that would stop a real attack by Russia or China. At best, it would decrease the damage from complete obliteration to complete obliteration with two fewer craters.

No matter how much money we spend, no matter how many brilliant minds waste their time on the subject, it will not happen. The nature of ballistic missiles is so heavily weighted in favor of the offensive that to pretend otherwise is ridiculous.

Note: It is also very unlikely that we could effectively stop missiles from North Korea or Iran, but given their more limited development resources I'm willing to give a qualifier.
posted by uri at 11:47 AM on May 29, 2007


No matter how much money we spend, no matter how many brilliant minds waste their time on the subject, it will not happen.

That's just silly. Current technology is not yet at a level where such a system is feasible. Within a few decades, it will be.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:10 PM on May 29, 2007


The empire backs strikes?
posted by pax digita at 12:21 PM on May 29, 2007


Thank you for this single link AP Yahoo News item, chrisranjana.com. Your colorful history of quality posts will be sure to inspire countless others in your wake.
posted by prostyle at 12:25 PM on May 29, 2007


Within a few decades, it will be.

Assuming offensive missile technology never, ever advances, and that no new kinds of long-distance WMD's are ever developed.
posted by mkultra at 12:32 PM on May 29, 2007


Krrrlson,

It is not simply a matter of current vs. future technology. There are limits based in simple physics that preclude truly reliable and effective interceptors and tracking radar. This is why basic countermeasures built into ICBMs are so very effective, and will remain so, no matter how much money goes into R&D.
posted by uri at 12:42 PM on May 29, 2007


Well thank god for that. I was getting worried that with how calm and violence free the world has been, that the United States would use this as an opportunity to start scaling back it's defense spending.

The Russians having a weapon like this will ensure that we are well protected into the next half century.

As a completely unrelated query, who is selling this National Missile Defense Shield, and can I buy stock in their company?
posted by quin at 12:46 PM on May 29, 2007


Do these physical limits hold for more advanced (i.e. laser-based) interceptors? And what limits do you have in mind, anyway?
posted by Krrrlson at 1:03 PM on May 29, 2007


That's just silly. Current technology is not yet at a level where such a system is feasible. Within a few decades, it will be.

Today Iran's got hundreds of conventional Sunburst missiles that can sink any ship in the Persian gulf. Side mounted thrusters create a quasi-random lateral motion which makes them as unhittable as a knuckle-ball.

Against such a threat the Aegis weapons platform is useless. The U.S. flexes its naval muscles in the Persian Gulf, but it's all for show. If the shooting starts most of that tonnage will be sunk within a few hours.

In the three decades it will take to develop and deploy a new Aegis (I worked on the current one in the 1980s), the missile guys will still be two steps ahead.

What is silly is the idea that the nuclear upper hand can be maintained forever. The NPT - which requires ALL nations to disarm - is the only way forward.
posted by three blind mice at 1:10 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait, a missile that can penetrate a shield? This must be an unprescedented historical step in weapons technology.
(I’m with TBM et.al, missile tech will be more economical to advance, and thus more advanced, than any shielding for some time in the future, barring radical change. Hell, most armor was outclassed by the longbow even before gunpowder. It took the internal combustion engine to make armor somewhat feasible again, even so the modern emphasis is still on mobility)

“Isn't the whole idea that it's targeted towards a single-launch by rogue-state at best technology?”

Which is where it still fails. The presumption is they couldn’t get their hands on evasion and decoy technology, even though they could garner some nuclear tech. Pipe dream really. Gotta go with the NPT and conventional enforcement of it. Really, one of the few circumstances in which I see it worth going to war over.
(But that’d be a more generally agreed upon sort of sanctioned war, not the go it alone “we think this guy is nuts so were gonna geddim” kind.)
And you still have enough nukes in play that a rogue state would be a wasteland if they launched.
The scary scenario is a group launching a missile from an otherwise innocent country (or a dupe, etc.). But there are plenty of pro-active things going on to prevent that. I’d be more in favor of an augmentation of special forces and the state department and basic manpower in espionage that I’d be for this program.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:29 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have to step away from my computer for a bit, so I'll have to go with the short answer:

Yes

With laser systems, the energy output required is enormous and very range-limited due to diffraction, particularly inside the Earth's atmosphere. Still, for the sake of argument, I'll set aside the monumental nature of those hurdles.

The basic mechanism of interception: heating up the warhead until it is destroyed, is at best questionable. Both time and beam resolution are significant variables, as is the material of the warhead itself. This last point is the most important, because even if the current development problems are overcome, additional heat shielding on the warhead will nullify the effect, at a fraction of the cost of the missile "shield."


When it comes to the physical limits, they vary based upon whether you're dealing with boost-phase missile interceptors (in-atmosphere velocity, command-and-control time constraints), exosphere missile interception (radar resolution), or terminal-phase interception by either lasers or ballistic missiles (basic math: # of targets vs. # of interceptors).
posted by uri at 1:34 PM on May 29, 2007


It could penetrate any defense system

Except for the ones it can't. That's a really stupid claim by the Russians. It's like saying you've invented a computer that is the most powerful computer that the world ever has seen or will see.

The best defense against an arsenal controlled someone like Putin is a good offense.
posted by oaf at 1:52 PM on May 29, 2007


Gotta go with the NPT and conventional enforcement of it. Really, one of the few circumstances in which I see it worth going to war over. (But that’d be a more generally agreed upon sort of sanctioned war, not the go it alone “we think this guy is nuts so were gonna geddim” kind.)

The NPT doesn't mean disarmament, it means that everyone agrees to give up nuclear weapons and everyone agrees to enforce it. As long as some nations want to maintain their advantage over others, the NPT is dead in the water.

Frankly, considering those countries that do have nuclear weapons, it will never happen. Not at least until a few nukes are set off on their home turf. I'm just hoping I'm not near ground zero, or downwind from it when it happens, but I pretty certain it will happen in my lifetime. I don't expect NYC or London or Tel Aviv to be there in 50 years.
posted by three blind mice at 1:59 PM on May 29, 2007


The best defense against an arsenal controlled someone like Putin is a good offense.

oaf are you prepared TODAY to draft an army of a few million, devote 50% of GDP to "offense" and launch an all-out war on Russia lasting several years to deprive Mr. Putin of his missiles?

If not, then the pursuit of diplomacy based on common interest might be a better approach.
posted by three blind mice at 2:06 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


launch an all-out war on Russia lasting several years

TBM: are you kidding me? you think we could take out russia in several years when it's taken us 5 years just to make a complete disaster of iraq? russia's an exceedingly difficult country to attack (as many other armies throughout history have learned the hard way) and even despite the collapse of the soviet union, i guarantee you russia's military capabilities would make iraq's look just plain silly. not to mention the fact that china would no doubt get involved before long.

oaf: your name is pretty damn appropriate. ever met a pointless war you didn't want to fight?
posted by saulgoodman at 2:33 PM on May 29, 2007


your name is pretty damn appropriate. ever met a pointless war you didn't want to fight?

It actually doesn't describe me that well, either online or offline. I'm not sure what you're talking about with your second sentence there. Did you read my comment?
posted by oaf at 2:58 PM on May 29, 2007


No matter how much money we spend, no matter how many brilliant minds waste their time on the subject, it will not happen.

Pssh. Obviously you're not keeping up with HAARP!
posted by Roman Graves at 3:34 PM on May 29, 2007


Don't understand why you all have so little faith in our ability to defend against Russia's offensive missiles.
We certainly had no trouble defending against the Iraqi
IED's. And they were a hell of a lot more sophisticated than a simple Ruskie ICBM.
posted by notreally at 3:35 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


And to think that just the other day I was pondering Iraq vs. 25 years ago and musing to the old-timer next to me at the diner, "Y'know, sometimes I sort of miss the Cold War." Stupid thing to say. I really don't want to see, on top of everything else, the US have to renew a major commitment to NATO when the military is already pretty heavily tasked elsewhere.

Seems like the state of the art of defensive combat systems pretty nearly always lags behind that of offensive ones -- necessarily, because you have to know the capabilities of what new threat you're defending against and develop to that level -- and there's a practical limit to how heavily you can harden a site or armor a tank or ship. I think we have an arms race of sorts going on in Iran between IEDs and US armor.
posted by pax digita at 3:44 PM on May 29, 2007


Did you read my comment?

Your comment is stupid no matter how many times one reads it.
It's the same argument that was used to attack Iraq. Look what happened. The nation that spends on its military more than all other countries in the world can't pacify a bunch of flip-flop wearing guys fighting with nothing more than some rusted AK's and RPG's. What makes you think US is capable to go against a real nuclear power? This isn't some stupid Bumfuck HS football game, you may want to look up some other motivational poster phrase to use.
posted by c13 at 3:58 PM on May 29, 2007


The nation that spends on its military more than all other countries in the world can't pacify a bunch of flip-flop wearing guys fighting with nothing more than some rusted AK's and RPG's.

Are you actually serious, c13? Don't fool yourself, the United States can't pacify that "bunch of ... guys" in Iraq not because we lack the capability, but for numerous reasons, we lack the will to do so completely, thoroughly, and utterly.

I'm not by any means advocating for this (my opposition to the Iraq war from the very beginning should belie that), but if the US had the will to fight a full-mobilization no-holds-barred war in Iraq, it would be quiet as a sleeping baby in a month.

Of course, at the cost of several million dead Iraqis. But make no mistake -- the US isn't losing Iraq because it can't win. We're losing in Iraq because, ultimately in the final calculation, what it takes to win -- TRULY WIN -- is worse than losing.
posted by chimaera at 4:35 PM on May 29, 2007


Yes, I actually am serious. The only thing US can do to Iraq with any measure of success is to turn it into a parking lot from the air or from space. It cannot win a partisan war. It does not have enough will to take on the number of dead such type of war will require. Hell, there is a whole bunch of people bitching and moaning even now about how those damn ragheads don't fight fair. That comes from people who call a B-52 to destroy a sniper in a densely populated neighborhood! Anyway, back to my point, yes, we can easily bomb lightly armed disorganized bands, women and children from 30000 feet, or run them over with tanks, but that is not the same as pacifying them. Now then, if it took 4 years, hundreds of billions of dollars, and stretching the military almost to the breaking point to get rid of nonexistent WMD's, what would it take to go for the real ones? Do you really think we can afford it?

We're losing in Iraq because, ultimately in the final calculation, what it takes to win -- TRULY WIN -- is worse than losing.

Well, now take that and apply it to a real nuclear power.
posted by c13 at 5:06 PM on May 29, 2007


I don't think you understand what pacify means in the military sense, c13.
posted by IronLizard at 5:23 PM on May 29, 2007


Maybe, maybe not. But whatever it means, we sure as hell are not accomplishing it. Which is really the crux of the matter. If we cannot do the "easy" tasks, that whole going after Putin's arsenal idea is just retarded.
posted by c13 at 5:45 PM on May 29, 2007


Assuming offensive missile technology never, ever advances, and that no new kinds of long-distance WMD's are ever developed.

Exactly. Anybody that believes ABM and Lasers are going to be sufficient "shields" against strategic ballistic missile attack is an idiot or works for a defense contractor that makes these things.

First off you can fill the sky with dummy warheads infinitely cheaper and more efficiently than you can shoot them down. The defensive technology doesn't matter that much. It's a losing game.

What these supposed "missile shields" are for is NOT defending an entire continent against ballistic missiles but rather "theater" regional defense for a limited shorter range non-MIRV warhead like in the case of a small errant missile attack from like North Korea or Iran. Even then they won't work all that well when you examine the logistics closely.

Anyway. Against US interests it is far more likely somebody like Iran will use it's missiles as stand-off weapons on carrier groups. Not for first strike.

If they want to deliver a nuke as FIRST STRIKE and be SURE it will reach a target they will use more surreptitious means than via easily traceable missile delivery.

The REAL point of these programs is political and economic. To create an expensive arms race that, theoretically, only we can sustain. They are paper tigers.
posted by tkchrist at 6:05 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


“The NPT doesn't mean disarmament, it means that everyone agrees to give up nuclear weapons and everyone agrees to enforce it. As long as some nations want to maintain their advantage over others, the NPT is dead in the water.”

Not seeing the disagreement here.


/“It does not have enough will to take on the number of dead such type of war will require.”

Not when the political goal is bullshit, no.

“We're losing in Iraq because, ultimately in the final calculation, what it takes to win -- TRULY WIN -- is worse than losing.”

I agree with you in spirit, but the old ‘no holds barred’ canard just doesn’t fly in practice. You had well trained German Stormtroopers - perhaps some of the finest troops in the world at the time - who balked at wholesale slaughter of people. Certainly enough people pulled the trigger, but even then - one can argue - any country that engages a political policy of genocide will have problems operationally.
Any military requires political support to achieve it’s goals. That’s precisely the problem in Iraq.
And it was precisely the problem in Vietnam. Even given the military was willing (and it wasn’t) to engage in wholesale slaughter of the populace, that was not the goal of the war. It would not be a “win.”
Military victory is always linked to political objectives. It’s what Clausewitz meant when he said that “war is a continuation of politics by other means.” It’s not merely a question of the degree of force application or kind.

So while you’re correct that the U.S. is fighting a war it can’t win, it is not because of a lack of will. Or rather - the apparent lack of will is a symptom of the blurring and inconsistiency of objectives.
It’s not that a lack of will has lead to a loss of full mobilization and such, but rather that such applications were never on the table because there were no objectives requiring them.
Or as I said above - the political goals there are all bullshit. And the troops have been given only lipservice as tools. Obviously then something other than “freedom” is the objective. Ergo whatever the “win” is, is manifest in what’s going on now. You don’t keep dumping money into a losing operation.
It’s just not us who’s winning.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:47 PM on May 29, 2007


All excellent points, Smedleyman, and I generally agree.

My point about "winning" was in response to c13s poorly thought-out contention that we cannot pacify Iraq, and my point is that the US can definitely pacify Iraq, but the cost would be unimaginable. I would contend that the reason Japan and Germany were as passive as they were at the end of WWII had as much to do with the total demoralization of the nation as it did with the fact that a huge percentage of their young fighting-age men were dead.

Among the reasons I opposed the Iraq war in the first place was that there was no clear objective. "Get the WMDs" didn't hold water for me even if Hussein had actually had any, because he had no credible delivery systems.

Anyway, to get back on the topic of ABM "shields" it simply is beyond our technology today and in the foreseeable future to create a viable system. A not-insignificant portion of that system relies on LEO assets as it is, and any nation with an orbit-capable delivery system and a boxcar full of ball bearings can take out that capability.
posted by chimaera at 8:19 PM on May 29, 2007


Your comment is stupid no matter how many times one reads it.

No, it's not. I really wish you'd read it—it probably doesn't say what you decided it said before you gave yourself a chance to actually do some thinking. I guess it's beyond you.

There's a reason the U.S., for its own self-preservation, should not disarm, and it's precisely that people like Putin also have nuclear weapons, and mutual assured destruction has worked for a pretty long time as an effective deterrent. Star Wars can't do that.
posted by oaf at 10:35 PM on May 29, 2007


It could penetrate any defense system

Except for the ones it can't. That's a really stupid claim by the Russians. It's like saying you've invented a computer that is the most powerful computer that the world ever has seen or will see.

The best defense against an arsenal controlled someone like Putin is a good offense.



Well, maybe the words that you used mean something else to you, but you're probably better off sticking to their conventional meaning. Russian missiles can penetrate any defense system. Maybe potentially there is a system that can defeat them, but it does not exist at the present. Therefore, a rational person would not have a problem with this statement. To use your analogy, the Russians have invented the most powerful computer the world has ever seen. This DOES NOT mean that a faster one will never be invented, however. And no one here claims that. What people are saying, and you will hopefully understand that if you re-read the comments, is that it is a lot easier for the Russians to upgrade their computer than for US to build one from scratch. Is this really such a hard concept to grasp?

Smedleyman and chimaera, saying that the "cost of victory is unimaginable" is really not that different from "the victory is unachievable". Ultimately, it does not matter why you failed to reach an objective. Whatever the fuck it is we're doing over there, it is not working. And if it is not working there, it will probably not work in Russia. Or do you disagree? The reason oaf's comment was stupid is because we have neither the moral authority, nor will (yes, will), nor the stomach for the sacrifice. Am I missing something? Do you guys think that spending billions on a system that , at best, will not be effective and, at worst, will endanger us all because it will give a false sense of invulnerability to idiots like the present Administration? You really think that it's a good idea to go after Putin's arsenal, or that somehow we'll have the will to engage in full-scale slaughter in Eurasia? Because that's what it will take.
posted by c13 at 6:00 AM on May 30, 2007


Errr, I meant we don't the the moral authority, etc, to go after Putin.
posted by c13 at 6:04 AM on May 30, 2007


If Microsoft is doing their marketing, no worries, but if Putin is wearing a black turtleneck and says, "Oh, and one more thing," I am digging a hole.
posted by MapGuy at 7:04 AM on May 30, 2007


Russian missiles can penetrate any defense system. Maybe potentially there is a system that can defeat them, but it does not exist at the present.

They're claiming that there's not a defense system capable of defending against these. They can't know that. You can't know that.

The reason oaf's comment was stupid

Please don't go on about my comments being stupid. It's really hypocritical of you.
posted by oaf at 9:52 AM on May 30, 2007


“Am I missing something? Do you guys think that spending billions on a system that , at best, will not be effective and, at worst, will endanger us all because it will give a false sense of invulnerability to idiots like the present Administration?”

Two different arguments here. The latter first - I don’t think the missile defense program is a good idea at all. My earlier comment being there are plenty of other better and (I hate the word, but it works here) proactive methods.

/That aside, no, it does matter why you did not reach an objective. You never learn anything if you don’t examine your failures, the how and whys. In this case there is no clear objective and to a lesser degree, no tools. And there is a win happening in Iraq, it is simply that the ulterior objectives aren’t clear to us (or indeed, to the troops), so it looks like a loss. Someone is getting something out of having our people over there and they’re plenty willing to spend other kid’s blood for it. The people actually making the sacrifice aren’t seeing anything tangible from it, so they’re a little disheartened.
This “stomach for sacrifice” concept is misguided. It’s not a matter of fighting spirit, Americans and the American military in particular is flooded silly with it. Indeed it is a valid criticism of our culture to say we’re over militarized. Most people knee jerk ‘yes’ to just about any war.
I myself had deep misgivings about Iraq, but enough people with enough solid reputations came forward and said there was an actual credible threat, so I bought into it.
It’s notable that most of those people are either no longer in possession of their solid rep, or they’ve resigned (either in disgrace or, more common, in protest).
At this point continuing to fight in Iraq seems like compounding the error. The only reason I can see to stay there is to attempt to undo the damage we’ve done and make some amends. That, I would agree, there is no will to do (other than among the troops). I suspect because it doesn’t profit anyone. Doing the right thing rarely has a direct manifest benefit. And almost never benefits the money guys behind the scenes. Even beyond that, we would have to actively work on behalf of the Iraqi people (e.g. let them run their own resources) and that runs contrary to the current political will. That can change, that’s not going to happen during this administration, and probably not under the next one either.
But again - force application and political objectives are separate but linked things. We’re not failing because we’re unwilling to shove more bodies into the meatgrinder. Hell, if I thought this was a worthy cause I’d be there myself. And I’d be more than willing to die, for example, to rid the world of nuclear weapons. As it so happens I see no scenario where my death could aid such a thing. So my seeking death for that reason is not a lack of will to sacrifice. Same thing here.

Also, there’s no reason to go after Putin. We had a long standing policy of retaining our vulnerabilities to the Soviets and - whatever the criticisms of MAD (and there are valid ones) the world did not end.
While there is a case to be made that conventional and nuclear dominance does deter aggression by nations - it does not (manifestly) prevent terrorism or guerrilla action (which can be well-supported although disavowed by any given national actor).

Additionally, since we’re unopposed with our global nuclear reach we can threaten other nations (Iran comes to mind) with nukes and act more aggessively conventionally (Iraq) with little consequence.

Which one might find moral problems with, but I suspect we will overreach ourselves economically, as all empires ultimately do.

The big Magilla for me is that - small external (disavowed) group action or false fronting aside - you can have other nuclear powers looking to restructure their own commands in response (like any good guerilla) and give control of their nukes to less than staff level commanders. That’d make an unauthorized launch much more likely and would create crisis instability. Which is lots of fun for them, but gives us massive headaches in response formulation.
(Which IMHO looks to be what Pakistan is doing, whether their top guys like it or not).
This, in the case of Russia, would be catastrophic, and is exactly what a good deal of work was done to prevent.
So, bastard that he is, it’s probably good that Putin is there and probably a good idea to - whether they can or not - act as though the missles can penetrate the shields.

Given the suck level of the shield program though, I’d suspect they can anyway. And as I said, we should be putting more money into proven operations instead of these kinds of Frankensteins.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:38 PM on May 30, 2007


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