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Bull's Eye!
July 15, 2001 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Bull's Eye! $100 million well spent or the first steps on the road to hell? (via matt drudge)
posted by kliuless (35 comments total)

 
I feel safe and secure now. And forget Social Security and medicare. How's about biological shit sneaked into the country and chemical stuff brought in by drug mules, who manage with ease to get about? Do we have a program for that as yet?
posted by Postroad at 12:34 PM on July 15, 2001


In other news, a gigantic moat was dug around the White House today, in order to keep those g'dang Mongol hordes at bay.
posted by dong_resin at 12:43 PM on July 15, 2001


Actually the anti-missile program, be it star wars or land based, has been around since the 80's and Clinton quitely signed pentagon spending bills to drop 6 billion into it. Remember that failed attempt to knock out a missile last year?

Bush's fault isn't so much the spending (as its been going on way before he got into office) as it is telling the world leader's he's going to build this thing which everyone but defense contractors know is a load of crap.
posted by skallas at 12:45 PM on July 15, 2001


How's about keeping a briefcase bomb out? Would the new technology stop that? Think that would be too hard? How hard was it to park a rental truck filled with fertilizer and other explosives in front of a federal building in Oklahoma City?
posted by raysmj at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2001


Catching a ball that you throw is usually easier than catching one someone else throws. And much easier than catching one that's flown in on a 747.

Anyway, Ted Postol, the MIT expert who built the Trident has already described NMD as unworkable, and Tony Blair is facing a full-scale revolt from within Whitehall and on the Labour back-benches. Even David Clark, punted upstairs at the general election, is emboldened enough to come out with this comment, with the tacit FCO seal of approval:

Never in history has any country enjoyed the same degree of military superiority and territorial security. But instead of leaving Americans at ease in the world, their unassailable position seems to have induced a mentality bordering on national paranoia.

The outside world is seen as incomprehensible and threatening. They want, as the mood suits, to isolate themselves from it or lash out at it. NMD cannot be understood in any other terms, except possibly as an expression of national virility and a determination to do it because they can and no one can stop them.


So Genoa is going to be interesting in many, many ways.
posted by holgate at 1:12 PM on July 15, 2001


But will it protect my precious bodily fluids?
posted by machaus at 1:34 PM on July 15, 2001


man, the bush family has the biggest issue of penis envy i think the american political system has ever had to deal with.
posted by jcterminal at 1:46 PM on July 15, 2001


Frankly, I'm impressed. Everyone on Metafilter that has successfully done this before, please raise your hand. Nuclear missles are going to be around now, even if they are in cut back numbers. Is it such a bad thing to have a system to take them down before they reach the U.S.?
posted by howa2396 at 1:54 PM on July 15, 2001


howa, the Maginot line seemed like a good idea at the time...
posted by machaus at 2:04 PM on July 15, 2001


Is it such a bad thing to have a system to take them down before they reach the U.S.?

If it encourages another arms race then yes. Which it very well could, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy that we need a missile shield because we're building a missile shield.
posted by skallas at 2:08 PM on July 15, 2001


It blowed up good. Real good.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:09 PM on July 15, 2001


Am I the only one who figures there was no way this test would have "failed"? After all, the P-gon has been found to have faked tests before, and with NMD occupying a greater public attention than it has in some time a test as high-profile as this couldn't afford to fail. I'm not saying it's impossible this worked well, this particular test, but I am saying it's not exactly implausible the test was somewhat rigged or set up to ensure the desired outcome...
posted by hincandenza at 2:59 PM on July 15, 2001


Anyone remember the Cassini? To recall, just in case you don't, the issue was that the sattelite was supposed to launch, loop back towards earth, and use earth's gravity to slingshot it out towards Saturn. The problem was, as some would argue, that it was fueled by radioisotopes which, if it were to enter the earth's atmosphere, would pulvarize and drop a cloud of deadly radioactive dust. Why is no one talking about this issue when it comes to NMD? While yes, a city may not get leveled, an area, perhaps larger because of wind, may still be unihabitable. And lots would still die.
posted by crustbuster at 3:05 PM on July 15, 2001


Oh, and just in case you didn't hear, Cassini made it around earth just fine. No atomic death cloud that day.
posted by crustbuster at 3:14 PM on July 15, 2001


Personally, I don't want to be here the day we find out if it REALLY works or not.
posted by briank at 3:49 PM on July 15, 2001


Am I the only one who figures there was no way this test would have "failed"?

Nope.

He said it would take many weeks to analyze all the test data...

Any cynics want to run with this idea, knowing that the Minuteman missile was fitted with a self-destruct? (That's how previous failures were aborted.) I'm just reminded of the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics, when the flaming arrow that was meant to light the torch actually missed by a fair distance...
posted by holgate at 3:54 PM on July 15, 2001


Ever get a feeling of deja vu?
posted by ljromanoff at 4:06 PM on July 15, 2001


yeah, i was surprised that it worked. i read on plastic that the second test had been fitted with a homing device. maybe this one had one, too? i'm reminded of snake eyes :)
posted by kliuless at 4:43 PM on July 15, 2001


How many people believe the missile tests (missiles shot down in space) were really successful? I was with a group of people (of mixed political leanings), and of 6, all 6 didn't believe the report. (After all, we pretty much have to accept the govt on its word.)
posted by fleener at 4:51 PM on July 15, 2001


Okay I'll play devil's advocate just to see how people feel about anti-ballistic missiles in general.

I believe Bush's current plan is to set up 10 stations with a limited number of ABM's at each base. Can you justify the expense and possible shake-up of MAD by promoting a limited NMD for missiles sent over by accident, rogue commanders, rogue states with limited means, etc? Is one ABM base one too many?

Let's say this technology is perfected in 10 years, wouldn't the next step be to set up new treaties giving every nuclear power x amount of bases per x amount of square miles. This way a balance of power is restored and everyone benefits from the new technology.

Right now its starting to look more like a technological issue (pandora's box) than purely a political one. If the technology gets copied, reverse engineered, or right-out sold to nations that can afford it why wouldn't they buy in?

Personally, even under the most civil argreements possible its going to cost the nuclear powers lots of money to set these things up in the first place when the world should simply continue disarmament and tracking of weapons grade plutonium.
posted by skallas at 4:56 PM on July 15, 2001


If this concept is technologically faulty, what are all those foreign countries bitching about? Wouldn't they encourage the US to pump it's limited defense budget into a money drain?
posted by Witold at 6:01 PM on July 15, 2001


What we really need is a missive defense system to keep that pesky spam out of our inboxes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:27 PM on July 15, 2001


How's about keeping a briefcase bomb out? Would the new technology stop that? Think that would be too hard? How hard was it to park a rental truck filled with fertilizer and other explosives in front of a federal building in Oklahoma City?

Those are all valid concerns, but if this missile defense thing can make us all a little safer without pissing off our allies what's so wrong with it? I've always been a huge critic of "Star Wars," however, I try to remain open minded.

Although we may not be hearing about them, I have a feeling that all avenues of defense are being explored. We hear a lot about "Star Wars" because it scores a lot of political capital with the consultants of the Republicans (I am not among of them for the record). A detection system or strategy for stopping a car or briefcase bombing isn't as sexy, so we don't hear about as much.
posted by Bag Man at 8:34 PM on July 15, 2001


As much as I dislike the current adminstration, I'm not sure I get this one. If they would just describe the thing as an experimental, long term kind of thing, would it be so disturbing?

Also, why does such a system have to be 100% effective to be useful? Isn't some defense better than none? It's not like we don't already have millions of megatons of armament for retaliation. In other words, if China or North Korea shoot three nuclear warheads at the West Coast, and only one is knocked down, why is this bad?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2001


Good insight, ParisParamus. Some defense > no defense.

Another thought: other nations that don't necessarily have our (USA) best interests at heart are working on similar programs, as well as programs to "bust" our SDI. Trust me - there are plenty of people in this world who hate Americans. We need to be prepared to defend ourselves, and this is only one of many avenues being explored. Costly? Yeah. So was the B-2, the C-17, the M1A Abrams tank, and every other advance in technology that has made our nation practically the safest in history. Sleep tight tonight - because you can. That is not a luxury some others have, and have never had, throughout history.
posted by davidmsc at 9:13 PM on July 15, 2001


Yes, even mildly left of Center people should realize that jealousy and hatred color much of Europe and the world's feelings on the USA. You can detest "W" and still acknowledge this: you won't explode in the process.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:49 PM on July 15, 2001


Good insight, ParisParamus. Some defense > no defense.

That's great on the small scale, but following that line of reasoning to its end you will end up with an arms race. That destabilizes the relative safety of all nations. If you think the world is a better place with tens of thousands of nukes on call and ready to go please raise your hand. Not to mention the missing nukes out there.

You can ignore the lessons of history all you like, but the little defense gained isn't worth destabilizing the balance the nuclear powers have carefully crafted.
posted by skallas at 10:32 PM on July 15, 2001


skallas: noted. disagree. next!
posted by davidmsc at 12:10 AM on July 16, 2001


I won't be happy until America's anti-missile defense is deployed from Bradley fighting vehicles.
posted by rcade at 5:40 AM on July 16, 2001


skallas: noted. disagree. next!

Pity that world diplomacy doesn't quite work that way.

The tone of these discussions reminds me of the equations of destruction from the early 80s. And chimes with what I've read of the early 60s. Perhaps it's a 20-year cycle of bellicose paranoia.

Put simply: if the US is worried about North Korea, it would be cheaper to buy the damn country than develop NMD. If it's worried about Russia or China, there are smarter ways to diminish the risks. And if Bush thinks that sweet-talking Blair will break the Foreign Office's opposition to early-warning bases in North Yorkshire, then he may have second thoughts as soon as he gets off the plane in London on Thursday.
posted by holgate at 5:47 AM on July 16, 2001


Put simply: if the US is worried about North Korea, it would be cheaper to buy the damn country than develop NMD.

I know this is a bit of hyperbole, but I wonder if there actually is an amount that South Korea and the US could actually buy North Korea for? They're headed for reunification eventually anyway.
posted by ljromanoff at 6:27 AM on July 16, 2001


One of the things the missile shield boosters seem to be missing is that only a very limited number of countries have the technology to create ballistic missiles. A long range ballistic missile basically needs a rocket powerful enough to make it to outer space. All our possible attackers fall into two groups: Countries like China and Russia that have ballistic missiles and plenty of them to wipe us out missile shield or no and rogue states like North Korea, Afghanistan, etal that won't attack us with ballistic missiles becuase they can't build them.

So to correct the equation:

No defense ($0) > No defense ($100B)
posted by boaz at 6:50 AM on July 16, 2001


if the US is worried about North Korea, it would be cheaper to buy the damn country than develop NMD.

The idea of bankrupting North Korea via MD is a good idea, except North Korea is already bankrupt.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:51 AM on July 16, 2001


i was just thinking it'd be cheaper to promote peace and world stability by giving the money to james cameron and see if he couldn't knock off another titanic. who'd want to nuke the place where titanic came from? hollywood = more effective missile defense :)
posted by kliuless at 7:57 AM on July 16, 2001


If you really did buy a country like that, who would the money go to? And where would the deposed government go? Club Med? Do we put them in the Witness Protection Program a la My Blue Heaven? I can just picture the North Korean government en masse in the grocery store. "Excuse me ma'am, but you could totally melt all this stuff."

I think what we should do is convince North Korea that their country is haunted, by making glowing footprints with phosphorescent paint, and using an old movie projector hidden behind a....damn! We would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids!

rooby-roo, raggy!
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:42 AM on July 16, 2001


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