Silly anti-ballistic missile defenses...

…Bush (a simpleton you know) has been going on and on since the campaign of 2000 about the need for the USA to develop some sort of anti-ballistic missile defense.

WHY would he want to do this? I mean, no one wants to nuke us. That would be, well, CRAZY, knowing that we would retaliate. No sir, no crazies out there with nuclear weapons that can reach the good ol’ US of A. Another bad Bush idea…if we ever need them, we can deveolop them then…

…oh, check out this link…

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63598-2003Feb12.html

The problem is not that it wouldn’t be good to have missle defenses, but rather that building ones that actually work against a determined enemy is almost impossible. We’ve poured billions into the program… and we still can’t create a system that can hit a real missle with counter measures… and it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll be able to for some time and billions and billions of extra funding.
The problem with that is: ballistic missles are probably the least of our worries these days when it comes to nuclear attacks and security threats. So it’s not clear at all that they are worth all the time and money.

Although I am a vociferous Bush supporter, I doubt that ABMs will ever be practical. At best, they might provide some psychological deterrence. An enemy might hesitate to attack, not knowing whether or not their missile would get through. I’m far from sure they’ll ever even do that.

Suppose we solved all the many technical problems, including distinguising a missile from some debris designed to fool the ABM. Then, our enemies might find some other means of getting a bomb onto US territory. Like driving it across the border in a car. Or, bringing it on shore in a motor boat. Look at all the drugs illegally brought in to this country. To smuggle in a bomb would not be that different from smuggling drugs.

Frankly I don’t like to think about this stuff. It’s too depressing. :frowning:

If they can threaten us with other means, then why would a cash strapped country like NK spend the money to develop them?
At some point, someone said:

Getting usable light from a glass bulb and filament…

Powered flight…

A successful Allied invasion of Normandy…

Beating the 5 minute mile…

Building a wall across China…

Overthrowing the Czar…

                                                ...is almost impossible.

But no one remembers who said these things.

Nope…too late then. If you haven’t already noticed these things take many years to develop (assuming they are possible and it should be at least possible albeit hard).

An ABM system is never meant to stop a concerted attack from, say, Russia flinging all they have at us. It is meant to stop countries like China, North Korea and who knows who else in the future, from seriously threatening the US with a ballistic missile strike. The countries that only have a few to a few dozen ICBMs can be seriously deterred with a workable ABM system. Certainly they could count on getting a few through but the ABM system is there to avoid wholesale destruction of the US.

Od course, it is far cheaper and simpler to spoof the ABM system then it is to make the ABM effective but you still are making it a little tougher for your enemies and making them a bit more unsure that they can do you in completely in a quick strike.

I admit the whole thing is a boondoggle so far but I also admit I’d feel better if we had a credible one working. Yes, I’ve heard the arguments that’ll it’ll merely spur an arms race in our ‘enemies’ so they can overwhelm the system. Fine I say…that bankrupted the USSR so let them have at it. If they overwhelm our ABM system I don’t see how we’re really any worse off then if we had no ABM system.

look.

It is depressing.

I’m not totally aware of all the technical issue involved, I’ve heard many conflicting opinions. Until a nuclear war involving missiles and anti-missile defenses is fought then the system will remain truly untested, as we all prefer.

I do think exploring a defense system is worthwhile. Whether it will ever work is under debate and besides the point. Just because a nuke may easily be smuggled via ship or plane doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to prevent one via ICBM. N. Korea is starting to worry me. I think they are convinced we are going to attack them. If they do something stupid like attack us with nukes, then we’d be forced to destroy them. I’d prefer a method to destroy the incoming nuke, so a nuclear response wouldn’t be necessary.

Oh, it was a whoosh. Sorry. Should have read your link before I posted mine. Feeling stupid, tactical withdrawl. Bye.

I was being facetious. Thought it was clear, but maybe not!:smack:

It is clear once you get past the first sentence in your second paragraph. I just got to that point, thought “damn, how ironic,” posted that link, came back. I’m used to “stupid Bush, (whatever)” topics. DOH!

Limited missile defense makes sense. It does not upset deterrence with the major powers, just keeps all the new guys from nuking you.

The Missile Defence Shield would be like the Internet.

It’s starts off as a cheesy technologically crud system of the US military…

…and then finally evolves in a cheap high-tech system that covers the world.

I don’t think it is wildly impossible. This was first brought up during the Regan administration (Why is it that republican president are the ones that seek new and better ways to defend the country. Being this is the primary responsibility of the president should they not all consider this?) With our eyes in space we can see missile launches from anywhere on the globe. Given the 30 minutes or so it would take a missile to reach the US an F-16 could rendezvous with it where it is likely to re-enter the atmosphere and blast it out of the sky. This seem possible now if we are to defend ourselves from a North Korea attack of only one or two missiles.

Deploying a weapons system that doesn’t even have a working prototype yet - that would meet my definition of “silly”, sure enough. How about making Raytheon et al. show that they have the goods before handing over the taxpayer dollars ?

Building a nice and shiny Maginot line absorbs ressources that could’ve been spent better. A dollar spent on NMD won’t track down bin Laden, won’t help the INS getting its act together, won’t put better weapons in the hands of the troops that do the fighting on the ground.

I actually do think that NMD can be brought to work, if one were to define “work” as “perform as specified”. I very much doubt it’ll ever make a tactical difference. Oh, it’ll get China to develop MIRV and better decoys. Great.

I doubt that anyone of any relevance to the issue used this line of reasoning against NMD. You wouldn’t happen to have a cite, would you ?

Wow, cheap and easy. Sadly, NMD doesn’t work that way, mainly because F-16s do not carry any weapons that’ll intercept an RV. Those are small targets travelling at blinding speed - the NMD tests operate with closing speeds at about 15000 MPH, and that is considered in the low end of the perfomance envelope. I’d like to see some sort of cite for the feasibility of having an F-16 at any designated spot within 30 minutes, too.

newscrasher: You are creating a very nice straw-man. While some of us may think that even doing research on a missile defense system is likely to be money down the drain, the fact is that such research has enough bipartisan support that it has continued under Republican and Democratic Administrations and Congresses.

What Bush is proposing is not just to continue research but to start deploying. And, herein lies the big problem because we simply don’t have anything capable of doing the job.

Also, an ABM is the least likely way an adversary would deliver a nuclear weapon since it comes with a return address saying, “If you want to know who to counterattack with some of your several thousand nuclear weapons, it’s us.”

So why is North Korea building a ballistic missile at all? Most likely so that they can use it to deter us from attacking them (and perhaps do things we wouldn’t like with the threat that they could attack us if we try to stop them). In fact, this “freedom of action” for the U.S. argument is one of the main arguments put forth for us building an ABM system. However, one has to ask if this really realistically gives us freedom of action! I.e., would a President really gamble and say, “Well, we are going to do what we want to do even if it means you fire the missile at us because we might be able to shoot it down.” Bloody unlikely unless he is damn sure we can shoot it down! And, will North Korea, considering this say, “Well we were going to threaten the U.S. with this missile but now that we think they might be able to knock it down, it’s not really worth it. I mean, it would be worth our total nuclear devastation if we knew they weren’t going to be able to knock it down, but now that they might be able to…”?

Two points here:

(1) Finite resources: If we spend money to build such an ABM system rather than spending money on other more realistic and preventable threats.

(2) Other non-monetary costs to missile defense policy: You make the question simple by assuming that only thing that changes is our chance to knock down a missile. However, our building of missile defenses has consequences for nuclear proliferation. For example, China has threatened to modernize and increase their nuclear missile force so that they are sure they can overwhelm our defenses.

Your technological examples there involve things where nature wasn’t trying to fight back, as the country we’re defending against can. The point is that in ABM defense, the advantages are so overwhelmingly in favor of the offense that it seems unlikely that we can ever overcome them. Nonetheless, like I said, I see little reason to argue with you about whether ABM defense should continue to get research dollars because it is an academic debate…They will continue to get research dollars. The argument is about deploying a system that is not ready just to score political points and to commit the nation to a certain strategic path that forecloses negotiation and treaties in favor of attempting to have overwhelming military superiority.

(The examples you gave that did involve an adversary didn’t really involve large technical obstacles.)

newscrasher: You are creating a very nice straw-man. While some of us may think that even doing research on a missile defense system is likely to be money down the drain, the fact is that such research has enough bipartisan support that it has continued under Republican and Democratic Administrations and Congresses.

What Bush is proposing is not just to continue research but to start deploying. And, herein lies the big problem because we simply don’t have anything capable of doing the job.

Also, an ABM is the least likely way an adversary would deliver a nuclear weapon since it comes with a return address saying, “If you want to know who to counterattack with some of your several thousand nuclear weapons, it’s us.”

So why is North Korea building a ballistic missile at all? Most likely so that they can use it to deter us from attacking them (and perhaps do things we wouldn’t like with the threat that they could attack us if we try to stop them). In fact, this “freedom of action” for the U.S. argument is one of the main arguments put forth for us building an ABM system. However, one has to ask if this really realistically gives us freedom of action! I.e., would a President really gamble and say, “Well, we are going to do what we want to do even if it means you fire the missile at us because we might be able to shoot it down.” Bloody unlikely unless he is damn sure we can shoot it down! And, will North Korea, considering this say, “Well we were going to threaten the U.S. with this missile but now that we think they might be able to knock it down, it’s not really worth it. I mean, it would be worth our total nuclear devastation if we knew they weren’t going to be able to knock it down, but now that they might be able to…”?

Two points here:

(1) Finite resources: If we spend money to build such an ABM system rather than spending money on other more realistic and preventable threats.

(2) Other non-monetary costs to missile defense policy: You make the question simple by assuming that only thing that changes is our chance to knock down a missile. However, our building of missile defenses has consequences for nuclear proliferation. For example, China has threatened to modernize and increase their nuclear missile force so that they are sure they can overwhelm our defenses.

Your technological examples there involve things where nature wasn’t trying to fight back, as the country we’re defending against can. The point is that in ABM defense, the advantages are so overwhelmingly in favor of the offense that it seems unlikely that we can ever overcome them. Nonetheless, like I said, I see little reason to argue with you about whether ABM defense should continue to get research dollars because it is an academic debate…They will continue to get research dollars. The argument is about deploying a system that is not ready just to score political points and to commit the nation to a certain strategic path that forecloses negotiation and treaties in favor of attempting to have overwhelming military superiority.

(The examples you gave that did involve an adversary didn’t really involve large technical obstacles.)

It isn’t a question of whether it will work or not, but whether it’s worth the cost compared to alternative things we could fund that are equally important to our security. You can’t just run around throwing billions at everything you can think of: you have to figure out what’s worth the money to face the biggest and most important threats.

—Fine I say…that bankrupted the USSR so let them have at it. If they overwhelm our ABM system I don’t see how we’re really any worse off then if we had no ABM system.—

You’re right: I sure feel safe now with a collapsed, corrupt Soviet Union that can’t even keep track of its thousands of deadly warheads.

—Why is it that republican president are the ones that seek new and better ways to defend the country.—

Why is it that Republican Presidents are spendthrifts that balloon the size of government with unproven programs that have never accomplished or produced anything useful, but have dumped billions and billions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of their buddies and contributors? Oh wait, that’s both parties: just different buddies.

Sorry about the double post…I really didn’t think I hit “submit” twice but I must have.

As Spiny Norman has pointed out, just because you can dream up a cockamainy scheme that you think seems possible does not mean that it is possible. On the other hand, you might try submitting this idea to the folks at the missile defense organization. I think they were accepting proposed ideas from the public. (No, I’m not making this up!)

Why is it that Republican Presidents are spendthrifts that balloon the size of government with unproven programs that have never accomplished or produced anything useful

Cite please.

Point #1 I buy and that makes sense. Of course, our military doesn’t seem to want for much NMD or no NMD but the point is still taken.

Point #2 I don’t buy…or rather I don’t care. China can fling ‘low-tech’ ICBMs at us now and we could do nothing to prevent them. We build an NMD and they build ‘high-tech’ ICBMs and we can do nothing to prevent being hit. How has anything changed? Further, China will always wonder just how many we might be able to get. The US and the USSR built vast stock piles of nukes to always ensure MAD would work. China has what…30 warheads? A far cry from the few thousand they’d want to have to ensure success.

Also remember that this is a drain on Chinese coffers…they are perfectly happy to possess the threat they do and not spend another dime. Developing new ICBMs and housing them and maintaining them would eb quite expensive. Again this is partly what did in the former Soviet Union. The US spent them into oblivion.

Maybe it’s because the democrats have more respect for international treaties signed in good faith and ratified by the US Senate prohibiting the development of ABM systems than Republicans do.

A few thousand to insure success!?! Give me a freakin’ break! When we have a defense that could defend against 30 missiles, you let me know. Hell, if we have one that can likely shoot down one in realistic circumstances, let me know! Personally, I think they would be over-reacting to go beyond their 30 but those military guys in China, like those the world around, are paid for worst-case scenario thinking.

As for the change, some of us believe that the world is more dangerous when there are arms races and there are lots of nuclear weapons around that could get into the wrong hands…or that might be on hair-trigger alert and got launched accidently or in an unauthorized manner. That is where negotiation and treaties, and the other such stuff that the current administration seems to think are for sissies, comes in.

It is a fundamental world-view difference. Some people want to use diplomacy, negotiation, and treaties in combination with overwhelming military superiority to insure our safety whereas others would prefer to just use overwhelming military superiority and damn any sort of international treaties or negotiation that might conceivable restrict our “freedom of action.” I think that is extremely short-sighted.

Wonderful. And, I’m sure it was good for us too. By the way, offense in this game tends to be easier and cheaper than defense.