Missile Defense is a stupid idea

Bush’s new Sec of Defense, Rumsfeld or something, is a huge advocate of the Missile Defense system.Such a system would be in direct violation of the International Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. I think it was signed in '72 or '74. Rumsfeld’s reconciliation for breaking this treaty is that the major country that we made the treaty with, the USSR, doesn’t exist anymore. The Soviets are not the only who signed the worldwide treaty. Putin, Prez of Russia, believes that the treaty should still be intact. I am not here to debate the merits of this system.

Is Rumsfeld’s explaination viable? Should we keep a treaty with another country even if they are under another leadership?

It seems everyone in the World is against this treaty breach besides the US.

What do y’all think?

Personally, I think we had no business signing the treaty in the first place. I mean, what were they thinking? We’re talking about something intended purely for self-defense - something that, if it were needed, could save thousands, possibly millions, of innocent lives. Why should we leave ourselves vulnerable? Threre’s no telling who might be willing and able to shoot a few ICBMs at us in the future.

The problem with anti-missile missile systems is they look just like nukes so how do you know its for defence ?

Lasers and stuff are ok because you can’t use them for attack ?

Perhaps it would be better to spend the money on spreading democracy and peace ?

I have a better idea. Let’s have Sabrina the Teenage Witch cast a spell to create a safety bubble over the entire nation. That would save the same millions of lives at a fraction of the cost. And, it is much more likely to actually work.

In all other respects, I believe, Russia is considered the “successor nation” to the USSR, and all treaties the USSR signed are binding on both Russia and the other signatories. I don’t know if the other former republics have similar responsibilities, but there are certainly diplomatic carrots and sticks to make sure they do. Anyone with more detailed knowledge of international treaty law, please step in.

Assuming this is so, the people who are so infatuated with Reagan’s Star Wars missile shield don’t seem to be aware of the full consequences of unilateral abrogation of the ABM treaty. It would be the first time that the US government had ever done that, and it would throw our commitment to all of our other treaties into question in the eyes of the other countries we often claim to “lead”. If we’re willing to ignore that treaty because we feel like it, what other treaties might we come to see as inconvenient? Would our word be good for anything anymore with anybody, if our signatures demonstrably weren’t? Haven’t we been laughed at enough recently, and for good enough cause?

Throughout the Cold War, it was common for the right-wing hardliners to talk about how the Soviets/Russians couldn’t be trusted, they’d look for ways around any treaty, and we alone stood for truth and justice and morality. It’s ironic and sad that they now advocate doing something morally worse, so billions can be spent to defend against an enemy that no longer exists, and in ignorance of the full consequences.

The doubtful usefulness of a system with any less than 100.000 percent reliability (inevitably the case for any real-world technology) in stopping incoming nuclear-warheaded missiles, if there were any, is enough reason not to proceed with fulfilling this holy vision of Saint Ronald.

About the system: While what the idiots now are trying isn’t likely to hit a missle(shoot a bullet with a bullet), if they smarten up and just send powerful explosives to hit the ICBM’s they can make a shockwave that would send the missles off target. That would have a much better chance of working because the field of contact would be greatly increased.

I would like to see ABL’s,however, in the future but we’re years from having a truly affective ABL on us. We’ve got too many nations who want world dominion(China is the biggest threat) so we better protect ourselves. The funny thing about that stupid treaty is it was enacted for the purpose of us NOT being able to protect ourselves. 1970’s: Right during the hottest of the cold war, so we make a treaty that stops us and them from protecting ourselves.

Fight fire with fire…or water.

      • Most of the original technical* reasons opponents had against Reagan’s missile defense system have in fact been solved. Certainly not everything, but for striking at distant targets, constructing missiles is far cheaper than constructing airplanes. (-Or just buying them: you ever notice how China keeps selling missile systems in the middle east?) Aquiring or building missile systems is what rogue states are most likly to further their efforts in, so it’s what US efforts should be furthered against. War has been changing as technology advances, and US research in this area has never been halted since it was begun. Other countries too.
        Reagan’s star wars system broke the USSR’s financial back. Of course they don’t want another arms race. Tht doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to build space-lasers too, though.
        {quote]The problem with anti-missile missile systems is they look just like nukes so how do you know its for defence ?
        Lasers and stuff are ok because you can’t use them for attack ?


  • For technical reasons, satellite lasers are intended to destroy missiles when they are high in the atmosphere; the satellites aren’t intended to strike directly at ground targets. And even if they could, and the US had the only working system, it wouldn’t be hard to figure out who was responsible. By the by, there are already ground-based lasers that can disable satellites, and both the US and USSR has them. Countries that have the ability to conduct research into particle-beam weapons, are doing so. -Purely in the interest of research, you understand.
  • You’re kidding, right? - You may never have been told this, but it is a liberal illusion that you can make someone be nice to you by being nice to them. Eventually the treaty will be broken by some country, and whoever does so is likely to do it by using the weapon system. Nothing personal, but I’d much rather have my country doing the aiming rather than being the one aimed at. - MC

In addition to the very good points raised by Elvis L1ves, isn’t there likely to be an even greater threat from terrorists with suitcase-sized nukes? Why spend all of your national budget developing a missile system (not easy to do, not easy to get right, and detectable to satellite reconnaissance) when you could put together a warhead, smuggle it in by boat or plane or across the border, and leave it in a city park somewhere? The ABM system is bugger all use in that scenario; I’m sure the most likely enemies of the US have considered that.

I read a article in Popular Science about a design for a 747 fitted with a powerful chamical laser which could destroy missiles almost immediately after launch. It sounds much more practical than trying to hit a missile in flight with another missile, and easier to maintain than satellites.

With the caveat that all of this is for explanatory purposes and does not represent my own viewpoint:
The thinking behind this treaty, as I understand it, was that while this defense system may not work now, and it may not work any time in the near future, it is quite possible that eventually it will work. If any one country were to perfect this system, then that country could nuke other countries with impunity, as no retalitory strikes would be possible. Therefore, if country A sees country B building this system, country A has two choices: allow country B to finish the system, making country A at country B’s mercy, or make a first strike before country B can finish. In this way a system meant to protect a country from nuclear war could actually cause nuclear war. This treaty was meant to prevent that.

Besides, IIRC the 72/73 ABM treaty contains provisions for either side to nullify it, with only 6 months warning. So it’s easy to see why Nixon would sign it.

Though, IM-not-so-HO, Star Wars is an awful idea.

  1. It’s expensive. Arms races are expensive.
  2. Small powers (Iran & Iraq) can bypass it by merely installing a small a-bomb in the basement of a building in or near a US city.
  3. Bigger powers such as Russia or China (and perhaps smaller powers as well) can defeat the system with decoys.
  4. So far the system hasn’t done too well during its tests. I have no idea what MC means when he says that most of the technical problems have been solved.
  5. It’s expensive.

[hijack]Another note to MC: Chernobyl and the Armenian earthquake had a lot more to do with the USSR’s collapse than the largest peacetime military expansion in US history did.

In fact, Reagan may have delayed the USSR’s collapse. When Andropov died in 2/94, the Politboro could have chosen a reformer (such as Gorbachev) as head. Instead, they chose an elderly henchman (Chernenko), thus delaying reform for a couple of years. Given the saber-rattlers that they were facing, it’s unsurprising that the Soviets made a safe (sclerotic) choice.[/hijack]

I’ve got a doctorate in physics. I’ve worked in defense-funded R&D and Big Science. “Star Wars” missile defense is an incredibly stupid idea.

When Reagan first announced his idea for SDI in March 1983 I though “He must know smething I don’t”, because it seemed like a really bad idea. Now that I know what he knew, it still seems like a bad idea. I haven’t seen anything to change my mind since.

Mind you, I have followed developments closely since, and I have great admiration for the acomplishments people have made, and I thin work on anti-missile defense should continue. But I certainly don’t think it’s a practical idea. The number of unproved asmptions and undeveloped ideas is staggering.

It’s commonly claimed that SDI drov the Soviets into bankruptcy. THat’s very hard to believe. Some of the most detailed and perceptive driticisms came from behind the Iron Curtain. The Russians knew perfectly well what he technical challenges were, and how ar we were from realistic solutions. To believe that the Soviet leadership was bamboozled into overspending, you have to assume that they didn’t listen to their advisors at all.

mattk, What the hell are you thinking here? How the hell are Lockheed-Martin and all those other good aerospace defense contractors supposed to make an honest (?) buck if you keep throwing in logic like this!?! Geez!!!

Actually, one of the more humorous descriptions I have seen of one of the most recent tests was given by Robert Park who is something like the public affairs person for the American Physical Society and write a weekly e-mail thingy one can subscribe to that doesn’t mince words. (The disclaimer at the bottom of it reads, “Note: opinions are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.”) At any rate, he wrote something like, “The Pentagon announced that the latest test of the antimissile system had met 12 out of 13 of its objectives. Translation: It missed the target.”

By the way, thanks to The Ryan for interjecting some “Deterence 101” here to explain the rationale for why defensive systems cause instability in an arms race. Don’t they teach this stuff in school anymore? I mean, it is one thing to criticize the whole deterence rationale, but quite another to be completely ignorant of it! I feel old all of a sudden!

  1. It won’t work
  2. It costs too much
  3. It’ll piss everybody else off
  4. It costs too much
  5. It won’t work

The decision seems pretty obvious to me. You’d think these guys would have learned their lesson when Reagan tried it.

A missile defense system might have have done more harm than good during the Cold War, but things are different now. AFAIK, we are not enemies with any major nuke-capable country. The major threat is that someone like Saddam would get his hands on an ICBM, load it with God-knows-what, and threaten us with it. We must develop something to protect ourselves before that happens. IMO, the military would probably have better luck if it abandoned the idea of trying to hit a missile with another missile and focused its resources on chemical laser-based systems.

Safire made that argument. The response is that 'ol Saddam can bypass our ICBM defense by delivering the nukes via other means: eg suitcase bombs or direct installation in a US city.

There’s another issue:

During the Cold War, the Chinese appeared to be convinced that the US/USSR arms race was nuts. They felt that a relatively small number of nukes were a sufficient deterrent.

A star wars defense that screens out a small number of missiles would change that calculation: even a buggy missile defense would require some sort of response by the Chinese, probably in the form of an expanded nuclear arsenal.

That would worry India. So they might decide to build a few more nukes.

That would worry Pakistan…

An Asian regional arms race is not in the best interests of the US.

A viewpoint from someone in the next generation of people (People from my generation are going to be the ones running things in 40 years or so): I’d much rather be protected by some sort of ABM system than risk MAD. I don’t think we’ll have a viable system for several years (I’ve been reading Popular Science and other stuff like that). However, how are we supposed to prepare for future systems if we don’t start new research now and continue old research? Haven’t the most technological advances come from military research?

And, no offense to non-US peoples…I’m looking out for my safety, my friends’ safety, and the safety of other US citizens.

This is somewhat of a non-issue. Some research on anti-missile defense was going on before Reagan started Star Wars and some will continue going on even if we don’t rush to deploy something. The real question on the table is whether we embark on a money-intensive effort to actually try to deploy something in the relatively near future. Clearly, if we do, it will be a winfall for the aerospace defense industry, a boondoggle for the American people, and a potentially destabilizing action for the world as a whole. (It will also piss off adversaries and allies alike.)

Personally, if we could get one right now that works, I’m all for it.

However, right now we CAN’T get one that works. Research should just continue looking into the possibility.

When one becomes viable, I will be all for it. Right now, I don’t feel there is anything viable.

This might be a little naive, but what about sharing the technology? This wouldn’t diminish the defensive capabilities of the system, and wouldn’t give other nations the right to complain since they would have the same technology.

Just a thought.