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NASA Sends One Up; DoD Shoots One Down 401

Posted by michael
from the defense-contractors'-delight dept.
drbrain writes: "They seem to have succeeded again, their Helios is their first success of a remotely, solar self powered aircraft. Looks kinda weird. They plan to use it for research and the military." Meanwhile, Guppy06 and many others sent in stories about a successful test of the Star Wars missile defense system, which will protect us from all those ballistic missiles that foreign nations don't have and would be silly to use, when you can just drive down from Canada with a suitcase nuke.
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NASA Sends One Up; DoD Shoots One Down

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  • As I have explained in some other place:

    The danger is not that the system will work -- it's that US will behave as if it works. If it just worked, no one would care unless nuclear war actually started, but if it affected US' behavior at the extent that US started causing completely unacceptable damage to everyone else, the only possible remedy would be to actually attack US. Missile defense, of course, wouldn't do much, so US will respond with their nuclear weapons.

    So, for US it's a game "give me your wallet!" while for the rest of the world it's damage that US causes by looting everyone vs. damage from nuclear war that will happen if measures that can stop the looting were taken.

    With enough looting (US is unaware of the game rules for others and doesn't put any limits to looting) at least for some nuclear-capable country the perceived cost of looting will outweight the cost of nuclear war, but once one country started a war with US, others can only decrease the amount of damage to themselves by making the war shorter, and that means attacking one of the countries that originally started it. It will be more beneficial to attack US because that would also eliminate the possibility of the subsequent nuclear war if some other country will make the same decision as the originator of the war even if the originator will be defeated, so everyone except extreme US loyalists will have no choice but to attack US. This means that in the long run the global nuclear war is the only possible outcome.

    It may be argued that after the first failure of missile defense everyone would expect that the US would stop the looting, so they will then attack the original aggressor and not the US. This is unlikely because then the US, if it will survive the war, will continue the same behavior, relying on the precieved support of the majority of the nuclear-capable countries, so attacking the aggressor will still increase the probability of the appearance of the new aggressor in the future, while attacking US will reduce it. In any case, at least one large-scale nuclear war inevitably happens.
  • Um, what the hell are you talking about? When and where does the United States Government loot? Is it fashionable to be anti-american on slashdot?

    US being rather selfish in everything it does abroad is a separate issue, however any country that perceives itself as being invulnerable ends up becoming a parasite on everything that it can loot, and then goes into a deep decline after the damage is done -- there were no exceptions in the history, and US isn't likely to create the first one.

    OFF-TOPIC: I remember the origins the net being heavily influenced by libertarian thought. Or, libertarian being disportionally represented on the net as opposed to the mainstream media.

    I remember no such thing. Libertarians just have so many "enemies" that they can attribute to themselves almost any change in ths situation -- whatever side lost something is likely to be opposed to them.

    Either I've just started noticing, or a new trend is showing up on slashdot: Posters are increasingly anti-business, anti-american, anti-profit, anti-car, anti-capitalist.

    Deal with it.

  • Are you stupid or simply that naive ? Show me a country that does not put its interest first and foremost before anything else ?

    First, countries do it all the time -- this is what treaties are for, to make countries do something that is not in their direct interests, in exchange to other countries supporting them in something else.

    Second, US is trying to have its cake and eat it, too -- anything that it does abroad is presented as some kind of act to "preserve freedom", "help", etc., and US demands some kind of special treatment and respect because of some "good" that it does to the world. Then when accused in blatant hypocrisy of those claim, Americans immediately declare that US is acting in US interests and should not be a subject to any scrutiny. If it happened few times in a decade one may be fooled, but when every time Americans do anything at all abroad it's touted like some kind of saving the world and happen to be a support of few large corporations' interests, it becomes way too ugly.

    "Deal with it." He did. On the other hand he sounded too alarmist. These anti-business, anti-America etc posters are very small ( but vocal) minority and most likely 90% will outgrow these silly ideas when they hit 30 anyway.

    If your first paragraph should be taken seriously, everyone in the world must be "anti-American" unless he is in America. In fact, not everyone is because some degree of cooperation with US is still possible. However it isn't much -- for various reasons US remains being the most hated country in the world. As for "anti-business" people being a minority, it worth to be mentioned that in the most of the developed world governments implement some kinds of socialist policies that in US would be declared to be "anti-business", yet for some reason are acceptable for those countries. Americans can argue that they are still right, but certainly they aren't in the majority on those issues, they just have trouble talking with foreigners.

  • Russia ALREADY HAS LOTS OF NUKES! Even if they had to build more, they would do it. They've done it before without worrying about the consequences to their economy.

    Either way, it wouldn't take very many to fuck us up anyway. This missile defense system won't be able to handle very many missiles. And if they decide to equip those missiles with even rudimentary countermeasures, we will be severely fucked.

  • And that jeopardizes our supreme interests how? All the treaties we made with the Soviet Union were inherited by Russia. I fail to see how this jeopardizes us in any way.

  • Don't we have our own nukes in Japan too? Plus nukes in subs all over the place? The US supposedly has over 10K nuke missiles total, and plenty more warheads IIRC. Whatever happens, we have the capability to destroy the entire world if we chose to. We don't need nuclear allies.

  • My previous reservations aside, doesn't the successful test make you want to eat your words?

    In his defense, I don't think a single successful test proves a thing about the viability of the system. The test was most likely done under ideal conditions, and the Military has been known to give their toys less than realistic advantages when the public is actually interested in the outcome. If someone is going to launch at us, I don't see how they can fail to take the system into account. In that case I would think they would use some sort of countermeasures. This has always been the point that most of the system's critics bring up. The system should be pretty easy to fool with relatively simple countermeasures. When it can be shown to deal with such things, then I may start believing it's worthwhile technologically. Politically is a whole other story.

  • That stuff I understand. What I don't buy is that some country is gonna buy the stuff to build a nuke or buy a nuke outright and launch it at us. See, these guys don't have a problem sending some of their people out to die to take a whack at us. But if it was their entire country, and with it their way of life, religion, etc. on the line, even the biggest nuts wouldn't be able to come up with a reason to do it. What we should be fearing is the smaller weapons smuggled that could be smuggled in. That seems to be a lot more likely than someone launching at us and thereby ensuring their own destruction.

  • So a power would indeed threaten to use them--and if the U.S. only lost one city, do you think that world opinion would support the genocide of an entire nation in response? What did the women and children of that country do to merit death, especially when we have not been totally destroyed?

    Same as those in the US city, nothing. But if they launch a nuke first, I think the world would expect us to retaliate in kind. The surprise would be if we chose not to. I doubt we'd take that route though. It would probably depend on whether or not we believe they might have more nukes as well as any other consequences that our launching might have for us, them, their neighbors, etc.

  • If it's a missile, it will come from some country, or from a ship which can be traced. As others have pointed out though, if an individual terrorist group (i.e. not state sponsored) manages to get their hands on everything they need for a nuke, they aren't likely to wait around to try and get their hands on an icbm as well. They'll build the bomb and smuggle it into the country by truck, plane, ship, or some other means. Then they'll detonate it.

  • The simple fact that we have the capability of stopping such an attack would probably do more to halt nuclear proliferation amongst rogue states than anything else ever has.

    This seems to be one of the main points of contention (second only to the likelihood of someone actually launching a missile at us when there are better and much less traceable methods of delivery). How exactly will this halt nuclear proliferation? Won't they just work towards building up more and better missiles so that they will once again have the power to be on equal footing with the US? Is China likely to just give up and concede that the US will be the lone gunman of the world? Hell no. They'll keep working at stealing our tech and creating their own to try to at least level the playing field. There will be another arms race. We'll end up with more nukes in the world rather than fewer. Additionally, if we end up as the supreme nuclear power in the world, and especially if we use that position to try to influence things in the world, wouldn't that be like putting a big "Nuke Me!" sign on our back? Won't we see a huge increase in pissed off foreigners joining terrorist organizations to try to rid the world of the US menace?

    Now, that's the argument I'm putting forth in a sort of devil's advocate kind of way. I'd like to see it rebutted successfully and thoroughly. I have been thinking about this and I can see both sides of it. I like the idea of having a defense against nukes. I don't want the US to get hit anymore than anyone else here does. I just don't think that this is being done in the right way. I think we're going to just end up pissing everybody off and it's going to blow up in our faces (possibly literally).

    The only thing that has really kept us at peace is the fact that we don't want to die and neither do our enemies. We both know that if either of us attacks, we'll both be utterly destroyed. Now, with a defense system in place, we've put China, India, Pakistan, N. Korea, etc. in an inferior position. Suddenly their nuclear arsenals aren't really a threat anymore. What will they do? I think they'll build up until they are a threat again. Either they will have missiles that can fool our system, or they'll have enough to saturate our defenses.

    Now there is the possible outcome that we'll see China and maybe India build up to roughly the same capability as Russia currently has. Then they may feel that they are secure again. They could defeat our defenses. They will likely be pissed off that we forced them into such spending though. But if that happens, then we'll have our defense against rogue missiles, and we'll still have the same basic MAD principle applying to us and our largest possible adversaries.

    If that's the way it works out, fine. I just don't know if that's the way it will work out, or what other consequences we'll face because of that. I just hope the government is giving the same attention to making sure bombs and fissable material are not brought into the country through other means. That just seems to be the most likely method of attack.

  • They hate us because we practice an interventionist foreign policy, which is another issue altogether (and not one I want to debate).

    I think I see your point. This is probably what Bush meant in his speech yesterday when he said that NMD would allow us to continue to "spread freedom" in the world. Basically we will still be able to bomb whomever we wish without facing serious retribution.

  • by Danse (1026) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:26AM (#82938)

    3. You suggest that if out of 100 missiles one got through that the attack would be 100% effective, and the system would therfor be ineffective. This is akin to arguing that condoms should not be worn during sex because they only reduce the chance of contracting an STD to 5% instead of 0%. Your argument is flawed, and the hundred million people that are or are not killed by the 99 missiles intercepted in your example disagree with you.

    I think what he was saying is that if 100 missiles were launched at ONE CITY (e.g. DC), and only 1 got through, that's all it would take to destroy the city. 100% effectiveness. Russia has thousands of nukes. We couldn't possibly survive a full launch by them (and there's no reason for them not to launch everything they've got, seeing as how the world will likely come to an end shortly after that. Might as well get their money's worth.)

    The real problem I see is that the nations that have missiles aren't likely to use them anymore than Russia is. Most of the smaller countries don't even have good enough missiles to deliver a warhead to the US. The thing we should be worried about is bombs being smuggled into the US and/or built here. I think this system will end up doing more harm than good.

  • by Danse (1026) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:51AM (#82939)

    I don't think you're understanding. Yes, China and Russia have nukes. So do India and Pakistan now. So does North Korea. But none of them want their entire country to glow in the dark. So they don't attack us. This has worked pretty well for the last 50 years. Now Bush wants to go and fuck it all up by giving us what looks to everyone else as an edge in the MAD (mutually assured destruction) game.

    They'll continue to quietly build (under cover) until they have enough arms to be a significant threat.

    They already have more than enough to annihilate us and most of the rest of the world. Russia has thousands of nukes. The US has over 10 thousand. If either of us launch, the world is fucked. Get it?

    At least instead of developing more nuclear arms, the US is now trying to render existing arms less effective. Umm.. you mean render EVERYONE ELSE'S existing arms less effective. And they will respond how? By building MORE EFFECTIVE missiles, of course. Plus, they'll be a lot more likely to use them if they feel we're gaining the upper hand. We'll be back in the 50s again waiting in fear for someone to finally push the button.

    Now, as things stand today, we're really not in any danger of another country launching a nuke at us. At least not any more than we've always been. As the previous poster pointed out, it's much more likely that a nuke will be smuggled into the country and detonated. It would be a lot easier to do it that way, and a lot harder to track the source. This system will do nothing to protect us from terrorist attacks, which is the bogeyman dejour these days. Then there's the little problem that the system will not likely be able to deal with more than a few missiles, and if those missiles have even rudimentary countermeasures, it will probably completely fail to hit them.

  • I'd argue that arms reductions don't work.

    This is based on the Washington Naval Arms treaties of the 1920s and 1930s.

    At the Washington Naval treaties, nations (USA, UK, France, Italy, Japan, Germany) were limited to a fixed ratio of warships in various classes of tonnage.

    What resulted from the treaties were navies figuring out how to skirt the letter of the treaty. In the case of the United States and Japan, we turned crusiers and battleship hulls into aircraft carriers. In the case of France and the UK, they built alot of submarines. Germany built "Crusiers" that were actually battleships (Graf Spee, Bismarck, Tirpitz) and submarines.

    In the end, the navies that followed the letter of the treaty the closest, were forced to come up with new doctrines and became much more powerful than the other nations navies. Those nations were the United States and Japan. Even though the US had a 5 ratio and Japan had a 3 ratio, through the first 6-12 months of the war, there was parity.

    Arms Control, like Gun Control doesn't usually work.
  • I'd say that an arms race with China has been building for about 20 years. Just like the arms race with Russia from 1945-1989. China is on an expansion kick right now.

    http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/ops/war/spratly.h tm

    "The South China Sea region is the world's second busiest international sea lane. More than half of the world's supertanker traffic passes through the region's waters. In addition, the South China Sea region contains oil and gas resources strategically located near large energy-consuming countries"

    China has laid claim to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, even though the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan claim the islands in toto, and Malaysia has laid claim to parts of the continental shelf.

    China seeks to take back Taiwan by force, and took the Paracel islands from Vietnam by force in 1976. Not only would Chinese assaults on Taiwan ruin semiconductor and other computer manufacture for years, it would force the United States to act, this isn't something that's come up since W. Bush became President, Clinton sent 2 carrier battle groups to Taiwan in 1995.

  • Technically, it is not the star wars program, but son of star wars... minor clarification
  • Face it, when Saddan Hussein, dying of cancer, thinks that nuking the US or Israel will make him one with Allah... this is a person who is not going to fear any reprucussions from the USA. Such a person is likely to have a very few missiles, and quite likely only one or two. An ABM system would be of immense benefit here, yes? Now if Russia launches 1500 missiles at the US, we're pretty much fucked no matter what.
  • Uranium doesn't put off gamma rays, just alpha (and I'm sure that if I'm wrong, somebody will point it out.) Much harder to detect when the device is shielded with a couple of inches of lead.

    I thought lead is what you'd need to stop gamma rays. The material of a normal suitcase should be enough to stop alpha rays. Of course, the required level of shielding depends on the level of radiation as well as its type, so maybe lead would be necessary here.

  • China - These guys are the only REAL nucleat power left other than the US - ICBM's and well mainitained - huge conventional forces HOWEVER China is the least likely to use the weapons as it doesnt fit with their national Psyche or their view of the world - they are by tradition a defensive nation and thus these weapons are seen as defensive only.

    When the Chinese Communist leadership is up against the wall, are you sure they wouldn't risk it? If Taiwan declares independence (same thing), and the US decides to provide defense for Taiwan, are you sure they wouldn't risk it?

    Another cynical thought - Star Wars #1 took out the USSR Communists, maybe Star Wars #2 will take out the Chinese Communists...
  • a Missle Defense System that will be based off of a network of airborne 747 jumbo jets in similar to that in Real Genius with Val Kilmer.

    Hmmm...I wonder if that could be used to vaporize human-sized targets? Fidel? Sadam? Barney?
  • You think forcing China to build lots of nukes in order to slow down their economy is a good thing? Exactly what kind of crack did you say you were on?
  • Russia can develop countermeasures to Star Wars, meaning decoys and chaff for their ICBMs. If they are smart, however (and I believe they are), they will keep these to themselves.

    Other countries are fscked, however. Saddam isn't going to have a suitcase nuke any time soon. That takes too much effort, with the Israelis ready to repeat 1982 and the US patroling the air. He'll be lucky to build a truck nuke, which is not as easy to bring into Canada, let alone across the border to a population center, with the FBI and assorted other spooks working exactly to prepare for such an event..

    The same applies to ICBMs. Saddam can't add chaff countermeasures or anything else to his ICBMs (if he gets any), because his nukes will still be too large. Now, keep in mind that if Saddam, or Osama, or Moamar, or whatever next lunatic comes around (unpleasant thought of the day - what if Pakistan is taken over by someone madder than Musharaf?), is able to nuke the US and gain something by it, he will. So while Star Wars cannot protect against Pissed-Off Putin, it can protect against tinpot dictators.

  • I'm stealing this quote without giving credit; if someone knows the author please post.

    "How do you smuggle a nuclear weapon into the United States? Simple, just hide it in a bale of Marijuana."

    If a "rouge state" wanted to seriously screw with the US and the world they probably wouldn't even use a nuke, nuke's are so passe. Hire a russian biological warfare scientist and create a nice mutation of the flu then release the bug in the nearest large international airport. The last huge, deadly, flu epidemic (in the 30's???) killed more people than WWI and WWII combined. Lot's of death and no nuclear winter or radiation! Perfect for the aspiring terrorist.
  • his is the same government that has executed more people in the past three months than the rest of the world has in the past three years (yes, that includes Texas, save your lame jokes).

    Ah yes, remind me...

    Which country has a higher percentage of its population in prison? [hrw.org]

    Which administration is more likely to launch a missile attack [cnn.com]? Which may or may not hit its target? [geocities.com]

    Or crash their secret spy plane, for that matter? [washingtonpost.com]

    Which country recently lost its seat on the U.N. human rights committee? [cnn.com]

    In other words, you probably have to buy one from Russia.

    Yes, that could never happen [pbs.org]. With Russia being so stable and all.

    the US is pushing for increased Canadian border security and unified policies on security and entry into North America

    No one ever gets anything past the Canadians [202.84.17.11].

    suitcase nukes are low-yield.

    Uhhhh... Yah.

    After all, look how nice the world is being to China, what with giving them the Olympics and all (worked really well in Berlin in 1936, didn't it?).

    This is Yes, you are absolutely right. [time.com] Jesse Owens' televised humiliation [historychannel.com] of "Aryan superiority" having lead to WWII and all...

    You have to understand that the Mutual Assured Destruction policies of the Cold War don't apply to unstable and fundamentalist regimes.

    Hmm. Strange that the rest of the civilized world [cnn.com] seems to disagree. Of course, I'm sure this is the only time that Bush would dare propose breaking an anti-nuke treaty [nytimes.com]. I mean, any guy who's cutting the EPA by 6.5% while giving an additional 13.6 billion to defense [cnn.com] has his priorities totally straight. That, and his unbiased choices to head the EPA [nytimes.com] show that he isn't swayed by special interests. Which is why ultimately, other countries everywhere love [cnn.com] and respect [cnn.com] and cherish [telegraph.co.uk] him and support [cnn.com] his wise [cnn.com] policies [cnn.com].

    Don't let the facts stop you, though, Michael.

    Yeah, whatever man.

    W
    -------------------

  • The present ABM treaty has helped us assure some peace for the last 30 years.

    Actually, the present ABM treaty has only prevented the US from developing anti-missile systems. The Soviets were violating it the whole time.

    So it can hardly be credited with keeping the peace.

    If you can argue that they are important for people (as opposed to imperialistic plutocrats and the military-industrial complex ) than why wouldnt America, as a memeber of the UN (or some other complete and inclusive agency) ask to have this system built and deployed the whole world over?

    For the same reasons we don't deploy our Army in every country; it's incredibly expensive beyond the point of being possible, and because it's none of our goddamn business.

    For 50 years, we've maintained nuclear peace by being able to thoroughly destroy anybody who attacked us. Now, we're beginning to make steps towards instead being able to defend against the destruction in the first place.

    I don't think the average informed citizen of, say, Switzerland would rather we were able to destroy the world than shoot down some missiles.

    And remember, the opposition to this system in the '60s was based on the (probably correct) premise that we couldn't shoot down every missile in a massive Soviet attack. That was the threat we faced back then.

    The threat we face now is a North Korean attack involving a couple of missiles. A system that is only 1% effective is better than nothing in that case, and a system that is only 99% effective more than good enough for the job, AGAINST THAT LIMITED THREAT ONLY.

    The argument against this defense (it'll result in people building more nukes) is the same kind of fuzzy thinking that argued that cops shouldn't wear bulletproof vests, because it'll lead to criminals buying armor piercing ammo. The actual result was nothing of the sort, because AP ammo is expensive. The same thing will guarantee that Iran, for instance, doesn't counter this by building a multi-trillion dollar massive nuclear capability; they just plain can't afford it.

    -
  • by Detritus (11846) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:03PM (#82975) Homepage
    The USA does not have to "break" the ABM treaty. See Article 15, Section 2 of the treaty. The text of the treaty can be found here [tufts.edu]. Either side can withdraw from the treaty after giving six months prior notice.
  • getting Country X's population reduced to single digits

    How, exactly, do you track a suitcase nuke back to its country of origin after it's been denotated?

    It would seem to me that you would need either:

    a) for someone to claim responsibility (real dumb); or
    b) to know it was coming

    Contrast this with ICBMs, which will be picked up on radar at some point, and can easily be tracked back to their point of origin just by looking at their trajectory. (True, they could have been sea-launched, but the risk of being found out is considerably higher)

    I agree with Michael; small surprise attacks are, imho, much more likely that an ICBM. On the other hand, I am biased - I dislike the entire idea of this defense system. Seems to me that other countries which find themselves no longer on an equal footing with America are going to take steps to redress the balance.

    Cheers,

    Tim
  • Here's an idea: Why not spend that money on health care and education? Those industries employ lots of people too!

    The Military-Industrial Complex as a good thing becuase it employs people is such a load of crap! What you're talking about is welfare! You're giving people money, and the country recieves little benefit in return. (Have bigger penile-substitutes than other countries is not a good thing IMHO)

    Every study ever done on the subject has shown that kids learn better when there are fewer of them per teacher. Lets hire teachers, doctors, nurses, and while we're at it, instead of spending $50 Billion on a system that *might* protect us, why not just give the money to the countries if they promise not to nuke us?
  • The NY Post is owned by a subsidiary company of the Moon cult.

    No it isn't, you idiot. The WASHINGTON TIMES is owned by the moonies.

    -jon

  • Could be, but aren't. The NY Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. It's been owned by him for the last 8 years.

    This is easily verifiable by going to http://www.nypost.com/posthistory/37314.htm. Checking your fact is, of course, a feat beyond the capabilities of 99.5% of all /. posters.

    -jon

  • It's not Star Wars, and from what I recall, earlier tests failed, and the current one succeeded. That's why they are TESTS. You can only do so much in the lab, and in simulation.
    IF earlier ones failed and current ones succeed, that means that the earlier tests achieved their purpose.

  • Scary? Kind of. But that IS what a permitier is for, no? To provide a margin of safety?
    To define the edge of the controlled land?

  • Who smuggles drugs into Canada? Aside from the (legally obtained) airplane glue you've obviously been huffing, there are LOTS of drugs in canada. Aside from the marijuana, EVERYTHING is smuggled in. You don't see any poppy or coca fields, do you?

    Booze is cheaper in the US; I fail to see why it would be smuggled from Canada.

    Cigarettes are cheaper in the US; ditto.

    Marijuana? Of course it's smuggled into the US... it's an export. That proves nothing.

  • I like the US and all, fine neighbor to have... however. Regarding this 'border' with Canada.

    In all my travels, I have *never* had more hassle at a border than simply driving south into the US. Talk about getting grilled 'Why do you have that laptop? Are you coming down here to work? How do we know you aren't entering our country to work illegally?' 'Because I don't like it there'

  • I understand your problems with 'immigrants'. Forgive me if I have little sympathy; The US spends a great deal of effort telling the whole world what a great place of freedom and prosperity it is... is it any wonder you get people sneaking in? Now.. I'm not saying you should like it.. but on one hand, your contry tells the world to become American, and on the other hand, bitches about it.

    I think part of the problem, forgive me, is that the assumption is that anyone crossing into the US must like the US better than where they are coming from, which may be true of some places, but certainly not Canada. Having travelled all over the world, I have never experienced as much hassle as I have visiting the Leader of the Free World. Just something to think about.

  • by mindstrm (20013)
    Yes, that's the attitude I was talking about.

    I don't dislike the US; I think the US is, as a whole, a great nation.

    Also, I'm glad you feel happy in living where you are, and that America is the best nation on earth. I feel the same way about my country, and I won't debate it; neither of us is wrong, we are both happy with where we are.

    No, it's not your fault the US is a good place to live; the point I was making is, it's hypocritical to whine about illegals coming in when, at the same time, you encourage everyeone to be like you, move to the US, adopt your way of life. The US is not an innocent bystander in this.

    ANd what do you mean by that nafta comment? I don't understand.
  • We tried that in Europe, just before WorldWarII. The result was that one modern, well armed and organised army ran over all other states' armies.

    You may not like it, but when someone decides to threaten you, your only option is to be able to hit him where it hurts, and have him now that you can.

    That said, I don't think an arms race will cut it against fundamentalistic islamic states. Hit them where it hurts isn't just killing them. They would consider themselves martyrs and double their efforts (well, not those you killed, but others).


    ----------------------------------------------
  • As far as nuclear war goes, the first attack that goes through and well...this planet is fuct.

    Oh, the planet will be just fine. Us, on the other hand...

  • does Michael honestly believe that other countries DON'T have strategic ballistic missles

    Actually, they dont.


    Not yet, but soon [cia.gov], for North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and lots of other fun-loving dictatorships out there.

    Why the hell would you launch it at the US even if you had one?

    If nobody is planning to launch nukes at the US or build ICBMs capable of hitting the US, why do they care if the US has an ABM system? The US isn't starting an arms race--they're trying to win the one everybody is already in. China already has 20 or so nukes pointed at the US. What more do you need to realize we're already in an arms race, a few mushroom clouds?

    If you want to nuke the US, you get or make a small bomb, like one of the infamous soviet suitcase nukes

    Suitcase nukes are hard to make, and harder to smuggle than you might think (please see my other post [slashdot.org] for details).
  • Oh, sure, plutonium and uranium decay by alpha decay, but they both still produce gamma rays during the decay process. Look it up...

    Also, it takes a lot of lead to stop all the gamma (and lead is fucking heavy).
  • by tbo (35008)
    Thank you for supporting me in this debate. I haven't had time to step in until now, and it's nice to have some support once in a while.

    I sincerely doubt that particle accelerator lab custodians are being instructed in the finer points of fissionable material detection.

    Actually, they do train custodians if they're working in potentially high-radiation areas, but I'm not a custodian. I'm a senior undergraduate student in combined honours physics and computer science, currently working at a particle accelerator for the summer. I'm conducting an experiment to do range straggling measurements of Lithium-8 in various metallic films. Results will be used to determine the London penetration depth of various superconductors... Of course, that's getting off-topic.

    Somebody else said that plutonium and uranium decay by alpha decay, and therefore wouldn't produce any gamma rays to detect. While it is true that they decay by emission of alpha particles, they (and all other alpha decays) also produce gamma rays. We could detect those through the walls of a truck or shipping container, and possibly even through the walls of a cargo ship, with the kind of detectors I mentioned earlier. Heck, it might even be possible to detect the kind of near-critical arrangement of fissionable material you find in a bomb from satellite, although I don't know. It would certainly have a distinctive signature, with short bursts of intense activity (near-critical produces chains of fission reactions that peter out eventually, instead of increasing exponentially as in a supercritical system).

    China is afraid of NMD because: [snip]

    Yes, yes, thank you for explaining this to these people. Of course, I'm sure they think it's bad that the US would be able to intervene to protect Taiwan from a Communist China attack... Damn Imperialists, trying to protect those evil people struggling for democracy from the kind and benevolent communists. ;-)

    As for the Human Rights Commission

    Yes, another good point. Why does anybody care any more? The UN is masturbation for Euroweenies who think they matter. If Sudan is on the Human Rights Commission, it's pretty useless.
  • ...to build a suitcase bomb and smuggle it in to the US, why hasn't anybody done it? I suspect it's actually quite hard to find the people with the technical know-how to machine the parts (not many people want to work with stuff as toxic as plutonium), build the ultra-fast electronics needed to control detonation, and figure out the physics. I also suspect that the CIA, et al, do a better job than we know at stopping terrorist groups trying to pull that kind of shit.

  • by tbo (35008) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:03AM (#83006) Journal
    I'm going to agree with you about one point--the kinetic kill idea is silly. It's much easier to get close to a moving target than it is to hit it, and using nuclear-tipped interceptors is the easiest and most reliable way to do that. Remember that, in a nuclear missile attack, it's better to have a very small nuke explode 300 miles above your continent than a big one explode in your cities. I imagine the nuclear-tipped interceptor idea was killed because it was politically unpopular or not "green" enough or something like that. It's possible the current test result was faked to cover up that the kinetic-kill idea is stupid, but unlikely.

    On the other hand, hitting something with a laser (i.e., the MIRACL airborne theatre missile defense system) isn't quite so hard, and actually sounds like it might be a good idea. I did some calculations a while back, and it seems quite possible for a laser of MIRACL's power to damage and destroy an ICBM (sorry, I'm too tired to dig up a link to my old post where I do the calcs).

    In order to "work," it must intercept 100% of the incoming targets. If 1, or 5, or 100 nukes are launched at Washington DC, only 1 needs to get through

    The system, as currently invisioned, is designed to work agains small attacks of one or a few ICBMs, and would involve multiple interceptors being launched against each ICBM. The capability to deal with large attacks would require an upgrade (pretty much only Russia has enough nukes to launch an attack large enough to overwhelm the system).

    prevention is much more effective than interception

    Prevention, in many of these cases [cia.gov], would mean a pre-emptive strike, or a conventional war before the country gains nuclear capability. Otherwise, you have no guarantees. Please explain to me how else the US could convince North Korea or Iran not to develop ICBMs.

    This whole fucking mess is just one monstrous pork-barrel: it can't work, it won't work, it'll never be finished

    My previous reservations aside, doesn't the successful test make you want to eat your words?

    They're our bombs and we'll do whatever the hell we want, treaties be damned.

    The US is not breaking the ABM treaty. Either party is legally allowed to withdraw after giving 6 months' notice. IMHO, the US government is doing exactly what it's supposed to--take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of its citizens from foreign powers. If the foreign powers don't like it, that's too bad, because they won't be able to do much about it.

    I know somebody is going to pull out the "suitcase nuke" excuse. Read my other post [slashdot.org] to see why it's not so simple.
  • by tbo (35008) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:44PM (#83007) Journal
    I'm so fucking sick and tired of Slashdot "editors" making blatant political statements when they're supposedly reporting the news. To add insult to injury, the statements are quite often false or misleading. Let's dissect this story's editorial comments:

    protect us from all those ballistic missiles that foreign nations don't have

    China has 20 or so CSS-4 ICBMs targeted at US cities [cia.gov]. Don't think they'd use them? This is the same government that has executed more people in the past three months [amnesty.org] than the rest of the world has in the past three years (yes, that includes Texas, save your lame jokes). Then there's Tiananmen Square, Tibet, Falun Gong, and a whole host of other human rights breaches in China.

    Then there's North Korea, which is quite close to developing the ICBM technology [cia.gov] to hit the US with nukes or biological or chemical warfare.

    Then there's Iran and Iraq, with weapons programs of their own, and possibly also an interest in buying from North Korea, China, or Russia.

    when you can just drive down from Canada with a suitcase nuke

    First of all, you have to get a suitcase nuke. They're not exactly easy to make (remember how big the first atomic bombs were?), and only a few countries in the world can make them (Russia, US). In other words, you probably have to buy one from Russia.

    Second, you have to get it in to Canada. While we do have huge unguarded borders up north, you're going to have a hell of a time getting it from the Yukon or wherever to the 49th parallel. Also, the US is pushing for increased Canadian border security and unified policies on security and entry into North America. I think they're aware of the issue.

    Third, you have to cross the US border. While I don't know for sure, I would bet there are hidden radiation detectors at all the border crossings. Liquid scintillator column-style detectors are incredibly sensitive, and it would be nearly impossible to shield the near-critical fissionable material in a bomb from the detectors (the gamma rays produced have too much penetrating power). I happen to work at a particle accelerator with just such detectors on the shipping gates (to prevent accidental removal of contaminated material), and you wouldn't know they're there if there weren't signs. They just look like part of the fence posts. Of course, it would be silly for the government to make the existence of such detectors public knowledge, because that would mostly defeat the purpose, which is to catch terrorists.

    Finally, suitcase nukes are low-yield (as in around one kiloton). The man-with-the-briefcase approach also doesn't have the same political or military effectiveness that a working ICBM has. Rogue Country X has to actually use a suitcase nuke to convince the world that they have the capability, and then they'll get blown to smithereens by the US. Not much is accomplished besides killing a few hundred thousand Americans (worst-case), and getting Country X's population reduced to single digits. On the other hand, if it becomes known that X has ICBMs in hardened silos, then they're suddently part of the Nuclear Club, and they get to play with the big boys. After all, look how nice the world is being to China, what with giving them the Olympics [theglobeandmail.com] and all (worked really well in Berlin in 1936, didn't it?).
  • What I don't buy is that some country is gonna buy the stuff to build a nuke or buy a nuke outright and launch it at us. See, these guys don't have a problem sending some of their people out to die to take a whack at us. But if it was their entire country, and with it their way of life, religion, etc. on the line, even the biggest nuts wouldn't be able to come up with a reason to do it. What we should be fearing is the smaller weapons smuggled that could be smuggled in.

    No military will have a problem finding people for kamikazi missions. Especially if they having a good chance of being militarily decisive.
    A missile attack on the US would be rather in effective at preventing their being able to fight a war. (As well as giving a rather obvious target for a retaliation strike.) A nuclear truck bomb carries a significent possibility of killing most military and civilian leaders.
  • If a "rouge state" wanted to seriously screw with the US and the world they probably wouldn't even use a nuke, nuke's are so passe. Hire a russian biological warfare scientist and create a nice mutation of the flu then release the bug in the nearest large international airport.

    You can't confine to a specific target though. Doing this would create a global pandemic. Also it's too slow to ensure that you get the people you really want to get. Blowing up Washington DC is far more effective.

    The last huge, deadly, flu epidemic (in the 30's???) killed more people than WWI and WWII combined. Lot's of death and no nuclear winter or radiation!

    You need quite a lot of nukes to create a nuclear winter, viral fallout is a lot nastier than what you'd get from a nuclear groundburst too.
  • Hey, why not build the nuke to *fill* the back of a van? That would give you loads of room for perhaps up to 50kt yield!

    As well as being very hard to detect before it went off. Nor would it leave much in the way of forensic evidence.
  • My point, however, since you seem to have missed it, is even a 4-10km area of damage would not justify the expense and risk of building and smuggling the bomb.

    Depends what (or more likely who) is in that area.

    If you are going to risk the ire of the US, you want to see a whole city bite it, not a couple of neighbourhoods.

    If you pull it off then the risk probably isn't that high.
  • Worst case, the person transporting gets caught and killed and you lose your nuclear payload.

    In which case put some kind of "dead man's switch" on the bomb.
  • Contrast this with ICBMs, which will be picked up on radar at some point, and can easily be tracked back to their point of origin just by looking at their trajectory. (True, they could have been sea-launched, but the risk of being found out is considerably higher)

    An ICBM is very easy to spot from orbit. IIRC NORAD tracks any launch routinely.
  • Do all the US ports have radiation detectors?

    Plutonium is an alpha emitter. Anything thicker than paper will shield the radiation. The only noticable effect is slight heating. But unnoticable next to a person let alone a car/truck engine.

    If a suitcase nuke nuke is too small for you, how big nuke do you think you can put in an oil tanker?

    There is a maximum size you can make a usable fission bomb, fission/fusion bombs are rather more complex. Even then a boat would do...
  • Actually, what would really happen is that after being caught at the border with explosives, you would be ushered through a swift trial.

    Depends if they are carrying explosives or an actual bomb.
    If the latter how do you have a trial for someone who blew themselves to bits?
  • A single nuke in a suitcase is a minor attack. While it might kill hundreds of millions, it won't wipe out the country.

    But might do a good job of wiping out government...
  • So because a defense system wouldn't protect against EVERY threat, we shouldn't build any defense systems to protect against ANY threats? This is logic? Please explain.
  • by marcsiry (38594) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @10:59PM (#83020) Homepage
    On the contrary- Saddam Hussein thought he had the tacit approval of the entire world to invade Kuwait, thanks to some vague language employed by our ambassador to Iraq at the time (April Glaspie).

    He was surprised when we got all hot and bothered about what he considered to be a local dispute.

    More to the point: an enemy ICBM launched toward the United States has a big, flaming return address stamped on it. Any nation foolhardy enough to attack in such a manner would, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist thirty minutes later.

    Even the most hardcore nutjob is likely to think twice in that situation. Most attacks against United States property and citizens come in the form of guerilla, surprise terrorist attacks... why should a nuclear attack be any different?

    Missile defense is resources misspent in a manner that's just going to piss off our nuclear peers (Russia and China) and fail to address the real threat of terrorist nuclear attacks.
  • I don't think you're understanding. Yes, China and Russia have nukes. So do India and Pakistan now. So does North Korea. But none of them want their entire country to glow in the dark. So they don't attack us. This has worked pretty well for the last 50 years. Now Bush wants to go and fuck it all up by giving us what looks to everyone else as an edge in the MAD (mutually assured destruction) game.

    Yeah, but so does little Bobby in downtown Detroit. If he nukes France (and I hope he does!), is France going to retaliate against Washington D.C.? Or perhaps France should have some sort of missile defense that could knock out a stray shot from a rogue state or individual, yet would utterly fail against a concentrated attack of dozens of such missiles?

    --

  • <i>If a <b>"rouge state"</b> wanted to seriously screw...</i><br><br>
    You meant <b>"rougue state"</b> right?

  • by Jay Tarbox (48535) on Monday July 16, 2001 @02:39AM (#83025) Homepage Journal
    "Lots and lots of people are making lots and lots of money off this plan"

    Is that so bad? What about the thousands that are employed by the companies building these things? Many companies and people depend on projects like this to keep them in business and alive. It's just tax dollars coming back into peoples paychecks.
  • Actually, I suspect this would make the world a little safer. If a nation decides to throw nukes at us, we don't have to blow them to bits, as long as we can take care of the nukes.

    If some small country sent a nuke our way now, it's not a matter of just blowing them up. We'd have to blow them up AND everyone they have a treaty with who also has a nuke. Think Iraq/Russia.

    -Adam
    This sig 80% recycled bits, 20% post user.
  • > It's much easier to get close to a moving target than it is to hit it, and using nuclear-tipped interceptors is the easiest and most reliable way to do that. Remember that, in a nuclear missile attack, it's better to have a very small nuke explode 300 miles above your continent than a big one explode in your cities. I imagine the nuclear-tipped interceptor idea was killed because it was politically unpopular or not "green" enough or something like that.

    Yeah, which reminds me - we've had the ability to do that (nuclear-tipped interceptors) for well over 30 years, using all-analog/mechanical computers, but with an accuracy measurable in feet at ranges of 50+ miles and speeds over Mach 3.

    The target at the time was enemy bombers, either alone or in formation. Nike Hercules was also capable of taking out short-range ballistic missiles. The successor programme (Nike Zeus / Spartan) was designed to take out long-range ballistic missile re-entry vehicles at high-altitude. (OK, that still doesn't solve the decoy problem, but hell, it was 1959, give the engineers a break, willya? ;-)

    Geeks in the SF Bay Area with an eye for military history could do with a trip to the Nike Missile Base - Site SF-88 [nikemissile.org] in the Marin headlands. SF-88 is our last such base - it's the one we were allowed to keep as a historical site when we signed SALT I, and has recently been restored by an army of dedicated volunteers. Not only is the surrounding scenery beautiful, but the people conducting the tours of the facility are often the ones doing the restoration -- and therefore, they know the technology inside-out. It's amazing what you can do with some gears, potentiometers, and vacuum tubes when you put a few thousand IQ points behind it. (These guys are "hackers", even if their computers happen to use all the values between the "1" and "0" we're used to ;-)

    Anyways - given the ABM technology we already had in the 50s and 60s, I also find it hard to believe that, after an additional 40 years of R&D on both rocket motor technology and computers/guidance, we can't come up with a "close enough" solution today.

    Kinetic kill is a damn cool idea (read: geek appeal), but if I were really worried about a ballistic missile threat, I'd settle for "close". If close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nukes, then fine - put a nuke in the tip of the interceptor and be done with it.

    (Though, I suppose in defence of the kinetic kill folks, there'd be a horrible political price to pay for shooting down a decoy missile with a nuke at high altitude, so our adversaries would only have to lob decoys, one at a time, while we shot them down and had to clean up the mess from the EMP (possibly) and the mobs of greens rioting in the streets (definitely!). Hell, maybe that prospect is enough of a justification mandate kinetic kill all by itself ;-)

  • Woo, great. The thing is damn near useless. Why?

    How hard would it be to get your attacking missle to "Jink". Which is, to not travel in a straight line.

    We need explosive interception, not direct impact.
  • Better forms of energy would be bad for the economy. It has to go towards something almost totaly useless that doesn't displace something that is already producing revenue.

    By this reasoning development of the telephone, light bulb, and computer should have harmed the economy. You're using the broken window fallacy, which says that deliberately breaking a window is good for the economy, because then somebody gets paid to fix it. The error is that the window not been broken, the money used to fix it would have been spent on something more productive. Likewise, if we develop cheaper energy, maybe it will hurt Enron's profits for awhile, but all the money that consumers save would be spent more productively and would benefit the overall economy.

  • Actually, the present ABM treaty has only prevented the US from developing anti-missile systems. The Soviets were violating it the whole time.


    Actually, the original ABM Treaty had a provision which allowed both the USA and USSR to deploy one battery of ABMs.

    The US deployed the Safeguard/Spartan system around ICBM silos in the Midwest.

    The USSR system was known as GALOSH and was deployed as a ring around Moscow, 64 missiles at first, later expanded to 100 under the 1982 treaty.

    The supposed Soviet violation was the construction of a large phased-array radar complex near the Bering Strait, far from the Moscow ABM ring. This system is similar to the PAVE PAWS at Otis AFB and Shemya.

    (Source: Jane's Weapon Systems 1985-86)

    k.

    --
    "In spite of everything, I still believe that people
    are really good at heart." - Anne Frank
  • India and Pakistan haven't been in a conventional war since 1965. If you wish, the 1971 liberation of Bangladesh *may* be considered to be conventional war, but definitely not after that.

    Pakistan is attempting to bleed India to death by sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir. they have been trying this from ~1989.
  • The rogue nation theory is FUD and W knows it.


    And Iraq didn't invade Kuwait. They knew full well that most (if not all) countries in their area as well as countries dependent on oil (i.e., U.S.) would be very unhappy about it. Heck, some might even retaliate. ;)

    (as if the rest of the world didn't hate the US enough already)

    This is the rest of the world's lack of wisdom. If you continuously blame someone (or some country), they will end of not caring about your opinion. If no matter what I do, I get yelled at, I will just do whatever I want to do.

    Except for W's friends in the military.

    He did not make very many just after the election. Remember that he was talking about increases in pay but not about the bases and such. The top brass did not seem happy during his speech.
  • So am I short-sighted?

    How many fingers am I holding up? :)

    The last SDI helped in many other areas of technology as I recall. I believe some it made it into medical advancements. It was mentioned in some Discovery or TLC program. I bet some of it went into NASA projects as well as aerospace technologies.

    Any scientist or engineer worth his/her salt laughed at the Strategic Defense Initiative when Reagan suggested it, and they continue to laugh now.

    I guess the doctors are laughing at them now as they help people with the failure.

    When we have the technology, and the need, to develop this, I will favor it. For now, though, it's a complete waste.

    With the missle technology Clinton sold to China who knows who holds the ability to build and launch a few ICBM's. The question becomes when would be the right time to develop this. It certainly must be before a threat arises.
  • "What's a few hundred million lives? We have many more."

    -mao, 1972, when told what a nuclear war with India would cost his country (the answer was 263 million peasants).

    If you believe that the leaders of other countries necessarily think the same as you on anything, much less on the concept of human rights or the value of a human life (or a million, or hundred million) you are too naive to bother talking to. You're betting millions of other peoples lives on the fact that no one, anywhere, will be brave enough, stupid ehough, incompetent or insane enough to push a button... when you don't necessarily even know what their concepts of bravery, stupidity, competence or sanity entails.

    And if you think that finding a single submarine in the middle of a big ocean is trivial, maybe you could join the navy and show them how- because i doubt that they think it is. Even if you find it, you will very likely not be able to track it without destroying it- and once you've done that, how the hell will you know whose it was? Every submarine the chinese or north koreans own was built in a russian shipyard.

    No, the only way to stop a rogue missile is with an effective interceptor. The simple fact that we have the capability of stopping such an attack would probably do more to halt nuclear proliferation amongst rogue states than anything else ever has.

    We'll be back in the 50s again waiting in fear for someone to finally push the button.

    That's the whole point- to paraphrase a bad movie, I'm not afraid of the country with 10,000 nuclear warheads. I'm afraid of the country who has one, and decides to use it. And then we would watch it launch, sail across 15000 miles of ocean, utterly and completely helpless to stop it- and watch it explode over San Francisco or Seattle or Los Angeles. Sure, we could shoot back, and I'm sure we would; but that won't bring back the dead people. When an evil of that magnitude is so incredibly easy to prevent, not doing so would be evidence of absolute foolishness.

    Neh
  • It will halt proliferation because countries like North Korea will realize that having nuclear weapons does not give them any additional leverage. Nuclear weapon delivery systems cost a huge amount of money, and if they are not useful they won't be built.

    I guess it won't do much to stop countries like India or Pakistan or Iraq, because those people would have their missiles pointed at places like israel, china, and each other. But it would keep them from pointing them at me, so I support the defense initiative.

    I don't believe that terrorists hate the US because we have nuclear weapons, or because we are relatively free, or even because we don't sacrifice virgin goats to Allah. They hate us because we practice an interventionist foreign policy, which is another issue altogether (and not one I want to debate).

    i agree that nuclear attack via greyhound bus would be much more practical- but such an attack requires a great deal more planning etc than simply pushing a button, and allows many opportunities to stop between conception and delivery. A missile is currently not stoppable by any means.

    -Neh

  • The other problem with this kind of treaty and most arms treaties is that it doesn't take into effect other non signing countries. Was China part of that treaty? They are definately a world power now. The United States is a superpower, because we have the ability to defend ourselves as well as a powerful economy.
  • I don't get moderators here. The above post expresses an opinion, and even attempts to justify the opinion. I disagree with the opinion. I think our government must invest in our defence. I also believe that the designers of the missle defence will take counter measures into account when they design the missle defense. As an example of this the test did include distingushing the warhead from a dummy. This is far from a test against serious countermeasures, but it's a start.
  • Point one:
    A few other countries have NUKES. ... Iraq if they work really hard for a decade.

    If you haven't noticed, a working missle defense isn't that easy to implement. We will still be working on getting the basics working for several years. How long before we get it working well and deployed. If Iraq is a little faster than the 10 years you're guessing, they may beat us there, and if we keep putting it off, then there will be a number of rougue states with the ability to attack us with missles. Iraq calls the US the Great Satan, they don't like us very much, and we've proven in the past that when they provoke us we bite back, but not that hard, they always survive to bite us again.

    Point Two: Why the hell would you launch it at the US even if you had one? A suicide bomber is one thing: you lose one guy and you blame it on a sect you can't control. But launching a missile? In 45 minutes, the US turns every city you have into a nuclear wasteland.

    Do you really think the US would waste every major city of a foreign country? The radiation would likely kill millions in neighboring countries. We could never nuke anything near Jeresulem, the world would neve forgive us. Do you think we really want a radioactive Persian Gulf. The US can make threats, but can they back them up? A neclear counterstrike isn't a very practical thing, and that makes it questionable if we would do it. The US may just go after some of the leaders of that govenment or militant group, capture them if they can, and imprision them for life for crimes against humanity. Many of these people are zealots who would consider that an exceptable price for the holy war they are wageing agains the Great Setan (USA).

    Point Three. If you want to nuke the US, you get or make a small bomb, like one of the infamous soviet suitcase nukes - dozens are unaccounted for. You send a single suicide bomber to carry it across the border from mexico or canada by hand. You lose one guy, there's nothing for the US to shoot down, and you don't have to develop any rocket technology. And a nuke leaves awfully little forensic evidence.

    This argument is much harder to dispute. The United States' borders are not very well closed. The US govenment has caught people bringing bomb making materials into the country. I can't remember the name of the guy, but they caught someone right before the year 2000. I also heard that Osama Bin Ladden's people blew up our Embasies in other countries, rather than attack us on our native soil, because it was much easier. I don't pretend to understand the details of international terrorism, but there's some reason we don't have many terrorist attacks on US soil. I don't know if this would be different if these terrorists or rougue states had missles. I'm willing to bet though that the govenment has other plans to try and thwart domestic attacks. I think the need for a missle defense is likely not immediate, but we're going to need one, and it's going to take a long time to build. Better get started.
  • Yes, but consider this: this SDI, or child of SDI, or whatever its official name is, is out of our reach for the time being.

    You're right. We can't just throw something together with off the shelf equipment and get it to work right now.

    When we have the technology, and the need, to develop this, I will favor it. For now, though, it's a complete waste.

    You could work in the marketing department where I work. If you wait to develop something until you have an immediate need, you're too late.

    If the government doesn't invest in producing the technology, where's it going to come from? Are extraterrestrials going to give us the technology? Is the commercial avation industry supposed to create the technology on their own? Investing billions of dollars on a future technology that is difficult to develop, is going to be low volume, and the government is going to strictly regulate, isn't a very good businees model.
    The technologies that are going to advance comercially, have been advancing rapidly. Processors and DSPs are considerably faster every year. If we want to produce this technology, we need to keep developing prototypes, doing tests, and learning from those tests. If a test fails, it doesn't mean that the goal isn't reachable, it means that you need to learn why it wasn't reached that time, and build a better system. These things take time, and a lot of money, but if we don't do them Millions of people may die.
  • Other than the obvious problems of obtaining these sophisticated devices and smuggling them in, there is another reason why suitcase nukes are not as good as ICBM's for national purposes.

    Suitcase nukes do not have a good command and control loop (although internet encryption may change this :-( ). A country wanting to attack us is taking a huge risk by putting this weapon (and it WOULD be traceable if caught) in the hands of individuals who would have to smuggle it in, and then detonate it at the right time.

    What if circumstances change and the leaders who provided the weapon don't want it to go off?

    What if someone in the plot is captured, or defects?

  • For those who haven't noticed, the Russians *have* an operational ABM system protecting Moscow (as allowed by the treaty). Their system uses a large number of nuclear tipped interceptors. To those who ridicule the hit-to-kill technology (and I am suspicious of it because of decoy issues) - few of those arguments apply to a nuclear armed interceptor.
  • How do you track a suitcase nuke back to its country of origin after it's been detonated?

    Its very easy to determine where it was made. The nuclear test monitors have long been able to determine, from the spectrum of radioactive debris, exactly who made any particular bomb.

    Also, you underestimate the abilities of intelligence agencies in something like this. The FBI and CIA could offer, let's say, $500,000,000 reward for information leading to proof of who sent it. That is a *lot* of money!

    Also, if a suitcase nuke went off in the US, the US just might not care *which* rogue nation set it off. The US might choose to destroy *every* nation which was likely to have done so.

    The use of a suitcase nuke would be an act of nuclear war. The providing of a suitcase nuke to a terrorist would likewise be an act of nuclear war. The US would retaliate as appropriate, or if the villain could not be determined, as inapproprate!

    People should not underestimate the capabilities of the US if we get pissed of enough. Japan made that mistake in WW-II (against the advice of Yamamoto, btw). In fact, that particular case is instructive, because the Pearl Harbor attack was an example of a relatively weak nation killing thousands of Americans, with the expectation of being able to subsequently work out a "rational" peace agreement afterwards. That miscalculation on their part led to WW-II in the Pacific (although the actions of Roosevelt may have been calculated to trigger it).

  • And what are the potential effects Moscow (and surrounding areas) face if this system is ever used? Certainly beats being blown up, but probably not by that much.

    I figured somebody would mention this... It beats being blown up by a WHOLE LOT. The only local effects of significance would be electromagnetic pulse and, for those few who happened to be staring at the sky, temporary or permanent blindness. Hiroshima was only known to permanently blind *one* person, BTW. The radiatoactive fallout, which would be minimal because clean weapons would be used outside the atmosphere, would be diffused all over the world, at a relatively low level.

  • According to Stephen Pinker [mit.edu] overgeneralising a regular past tense is a common error in small children. Howver, 'to succeed' is perfectly reguar. 'Successed' is the kind of error made not by human brains, but by neural networks that don't have the concept of a variable. [mit.edu]

    You have failed the Turing Test again. You are the weakest link. Goodbye.
  • But now that Michael's made mention of it, and Carnivore has logged it, the Feds should be able to haul him in before he helps someone do something about it.
  • You sir, and please pardon my language, are a dumbshit, and no, this is not a troll.

    The post you reference to was not an insult, and none of the people expressing surprise that the arm worked flawlessly were not insulting Canada. If you had bothered to do any research, you would have noticed that the ISS Canadarm2 has been PLAGUED with problems over the last month, and any surprise about it performing well is NOT based in some sort of anti-canadian rhetoric, but instead actual surprise that none of the so-called 'showstopping problems' ever reared their ugly heads during an exteremely complicated assembly sequence.

    Traditionally, a person objecting to an insult is supposed to at least RECOGNIZE whether or not an insult was actually given.
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:37PM (#83089) Homepage
    I offer a point by point rebuttal:

    1. What is the level of evidence you propose to prove that it did happen? The DoD has showed radar tracks, video footage, and allowed reporters realtime access. If they had flown a super duper satellite with a video camera that could observe the impact first hand, you might suggest that was faked as well, so what impossible level of evidence do you need? Your statement is not food for thought, it is a red herring.

    2. The first few airplanes did not fly. If all work on airplanes had stopped because the first couple didn't work, we would be in quite a pickle. Failure is a very real presence in any new endeavour, you would be a fool not to realize it. It is upon the backs of failure that success is born.

    3. You suggest that if out of 100 missiles one got through that the attack would be 100% effective, and the system would therfor be ineffective. This is akin to arguing that condoms should not be worn during sex because they only reduce the chance of contracting an STD to 5% instead of 0%. Your argument is flawed, and the hundred million people that are or are not killed by the 99 missiles intercepted in your example disagree with you.

    4. Any system that rellies on only prevention or only interception is bound to fail. A well structured defense embodies elements of both of those.

    5. Citing a Bloom County cartoon as evidence is not very impressive. You would profit from finding better sources. It is a great comic strip, but a debate tool.

    6. Your being 'scared' is also not data supporting your viewpoint. Additionally, if you have found a One True Definition to the word 'civilized' as you imply, the world will beat a path to your doorstep so you can settle the whole thing once and for all. If, on the other hand, you have NOT solved this world problem, please don't let the virtual door hit your ass on the way out.
  • ...someone in charge who might not have the same definition of the word "silly" (READ: Taliban).

    Lucky for you they can't read this since they banned the internet.

    Seriously though, does anyone believe that any country that can get a nuclear device can't also find a way to deliver it that doesn't involve lobbing it through space? Does anyone believe that any nation that can build an ICBM can't also build countermeasures that could defeat these missile defences?

    I'm pretty sure that this is just another way for the US government to justify its huge military budget and stimulate the economy by buying heaps of stuff. Kind of economic masturbation. Wish I knew how it worked - you borrow heaps of money, spend it useless shit and then benefit from how great the economy is. Its just a pity they can't spend the money on better forms of energy, or better "education" systems, or other projects that would actually benefit people.

  • And then we just get into the whole arms race again !

    We imagine they have weapons, so build bigger weapons, they image we build bigger weapons, so build even bigger weapons, round and round in circles we go, where we stops, nobody knows.

    The only solution is to take a proactive stance, reduce arms ! Now ! Oh and get rid of that George Dubya while you're at it.
  • by Timid_Monkey (125284) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:28PM (#83122)
    I believe that Lockheed-Martin is actively working on a Missle Defense System that will be based off of a network of airborne 747 jumbo jets in similar to that in Real Genius with Val Kilmer.

    More on that project is available here [lockheedmartin.com]. It is in conjunction with Boeing and TRW.

    A space-based laser is planned to follow (also similar to the plan of the plot in Real Genius. Though it is not due to be functional until 2008-2010, it is already in design stages. It is also a USAF & Lockheed Martin project. For more info about it, check here [lockheedmartin.com].

    It's interesting for those of you who have seen Real Genius how closely our Missle Defense System will follow the course of the movie. It is almost a theft of the plot. The main difference is that airborne/space-based laser in the movie was to be used for offensive strategy, not defensive.

  • by legLess (127550) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:22PM (#83125) Journal
    A few points thoughts, just for the hell of it:
    • We have no proof that the test actually worked. The U.S. military is not known for being open and honest about its failures (e.g. Gulf War "smart bombs"). All the reports I've seen said that two missiles were launched, then there was a bright flash of light. No collision was taped or witnessed. Granted, this would require some pretty gnarly cover-up and/or conspiracy, but it's food for thought.

    • GW Bush has said that he'll go ahead funding these tests whether or not they work. William S Burroughs once said, "In government, if something doesn't work, that's the best reason to keep on doing it."

    • This system as conceived (e.g. interceptor missiles and/or Magical Space Lasers Of Death©) cannot work. A priori. In order to "work," it must intercept 100% of the incoming targets. If 1, or 5, or 100 nukes are launched at Washington DC, only 1 needs to get through for the attack to be 100% effective. Even the military, creaming their uniforms in ecstacy at the return of Republican pork-barrel funding, don't claim that this system can work 100% of the time.

    • As a general strategy, prevention is much more effective than interception (e.g. the War on Some Drugs©).

    • The whole thing reminds me of a Bloom County cartoon from the Reagan Star Wars era. Opus the penguin submitted a grant application to the government to stitch $100 bills together by hand and deploy them in space as a missile shield. The grant was accepted, of course, and they started mailing him boxes of $100 bills. (I don't remember what he actually did with the cash - donated it to PETA, knowing Opus). Same idea, though. This whole fucking mess is just one monstrous pork-barrel: it can't work, it won't work, it'll never be finished, and the only end-product will be another house in the hills for some military contractor.

    • There are generally two types of countries with nuclear capability: civilized and uncivilized, or if you will, amenable to rational negotiation and not emanable. What the U.S. is doing here is pissing off and scaring literally every country in the world, and has tossed us squarely into the "not amenable to rational negotiation" pile; we're keeping company with Iraq on this issue. "They're our bombs and we'll do whatever the hell we want, treaties be damned." Christ that scares me.



    "We all say so, so it must be true!"
  • by legLess (127550) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:29PM (#83126) Journal
    That's splitting hairs, and you know it. The political fallout from giving 6 months notice and giving 0 months notice would be identical.

    Here's a news flash: agreements between heavily-armed parties are a Good Thing. Breaking those agreements is a Bad Thing. In this case, everybody loses.

    "We all say so, so it must be true!"

  • by br4dh4x0r (137273) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @10:52PM (#83133)
    which will protect us from all those ballistic missiles that foreign nations don't have and would be silly to use

    Michael, are you naive enough to believe that NO foreign country has, or is in the process of developing, ICBMs?

    Wouldn't most people say that Saddam Hussein was "silly" for attacking Kuwait when he knew he'd have half the world kicking his ass?

    I get kind of nervous when I think about nutjobs running countries that might shoot missiles at us. But maybe that's just me.

    love,
    br4dh4x0r
  • by IdahoEv (195056) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:59AM (#83184) Homepage
    Not yet, but soon, for North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and lots of other fun-loving dictatorships out there.

    Okay, I'll grant you that a bunch of them will have them soon, it was my weakest point. You still haven't explained why any of them would actually launch against the US; witness the "giant flaming return address" theory.

    China already has 20 or so nukes pointed at the US

    Which they haven't changed in years; they've maintained pretty much the same nuclear stockpile for at least a decade. Despite not being a member, they agreed to the MTCR [miis.edu] guidelines in 1991 and 1994. They've been static because they know those 20 missiles are sufficient deterrent since we wont' risk losing a city.

    Now, on the other hand, they've promised to escalate a new arms race if we build the NMD, because NMD threatens the deterrent factor of those 20 missiles. They need more to overwhelm it.

    Suitcase nukes are hard to make, and harder to smuggle than you might think (please see my other post for details).

    See my other post [slashdot.org] for a response to that theory. I'm not suggesting they make one - suitcase bombs already exist and 80+ became unaccounted for in the collapse of the USSR and the deterioration of their military. And while it may not be all that easy to smuggle one in, it's still easier than building a multimillion-dollar ICBM and doesn't carry anywhere near the liability or accountability.

    And it is easy anyway. Thousands of Mexican civilians make it across the border undetected every year. You think a couple of trained terrorists couldn't do it with a 150lb suitcase?

    Ever heard of the Maginot line? The NMD is the Maginot line, except that this time it's actually cheaper and easier for the enemy to go around it. Suitcase bomb or no, a wacko that wants to nuke us is going to find a way with or without the NMD. It's just a big honking waste of money that is guaranteed to piss off the rest of the world.

  • by IdahoEv (195056) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:27PM (#83185) Homepage
    does Michael honestly believe that other countries DON'T have strategic ballistic missles

    Actually, they dont.

    Point one:
    A few other countries have NUKES. But probably only half of these have ICBMs that can actually reach the US. China has a few dozen, Russia has a lot. The other few are our european allies. India is close enough to space tech that they could probably build one. Maybe North Korea, adopted from China. Iraq if they work really hard for a decade. (Remember how proud they were of the SCUD, which had ~300km range? ) The Taliban doesn't even have electricity in 90% of their country.

    Point Two: Why the hell would you launch it at the US even if you had one? A suicide bomber is one thing: you lose one guy and you blame it on a sect you can't control. But launching a missile? In 45 minutes, the US turns every city you have into a nuclear wasteland.

    Point Three. If you want to nuke the US, you get or make a small bomb, like one of the infamous soviet suitcase nukes - dozens are unaccounted for. You send a single suicide bomber to carry it across the border from mexico or canada by hand. You lose one guy, there's nothing for the US to shoot down, and you don't have to develop any rocket technology. And a nuke leaves awfully little forensic evidence.

    The rogue nation theory is FUD and W knows it. This is an excuse to get a start on something that could eventually be a full SDI shield and W, Russia, China, and everyone else knows that, too.

    The real problem, of course, is that it breaks treaties (as if the rest of the world didn't hate the US enough already) and could start a new arms race with China, whose nuclear deterrent of ~40 rockets *could* be threatened by an ABM shield. An arms race is good for no one.

    Except for W's friends in the military. And his friends in the companies that make the weapons. And himself. The truth is, the arms race with China will help Bush because .he needs a big bad enemy [time.com].

  • by isorox (205688) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @10:52PM (#83191) Homepage Journal
    when you can just drive down from Canada with a suitcase nuke. And next time you remember that before making another insult [slashdot.org]
  • So that means we get to protect Boston, but not NYC and Washington!
    And would that be so bad?


    (Disclaimer: I dont live in any of those cities. I don't even live in the US. I just like "Cheers" more than "The district" or "NYPD Blue")
    Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I
  • Of course, now that we've elected two Texans to the executive branch, it could be argued that we're a new nation and treaties the United States of America signed don't apply to us. Welcome to the Republic of Texas!

    To: The people of the Republic of Texas:

    Now don't y'all go bombing the rest of the world or we're gonna come back and kick yer ass again.
    Remember the Alamo!

    Sincerely, the people of Mexico.


    There. Now the world is a safer place.
    Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I

  • "drive down from Canada with a suitcase nuke"

    Thank you for mentioning the utter stupidity of thinking that people who wanted to start a nuclear war would use missiles. They wouldn't. They would bring nuclear weapons in the way cocaine is brought in.

    Missiles are a way for powerful interests to get government contracts that are so secret that the taxpayers cannot see how much money is being made, and wasted.

    Next time, I hope we elect a president who is smart enough to run the country, and not just sell it to the highest bidder.
  • by cheinonen (318646) <cheinonen.hotmail@com> on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:27PM (#83245)
    Nutjob or no nutjob, people are in charge and running those countries because they love power. They like having control over everyone, and what they fear most is losing that power. When your country is below the US, it looks great to your people to attack them, hold them up to ridicule, and try to act like you don't fear anyone, but when push comes to shove, is anyone going to stand up?

    If any of these rogue countries like Iraq or Afghanistan or North Korea ever did get the balls to launch a nuclear missile at us, they have to know that their life is over. Their power is gone. There is nothing they can do to save themselves at that point. For these leaders that thrive off power, do you really think they are going to throw it all away? What will this acomplish for them? Even if, somewhow, they destroyed the United States, don't you think that another country that is an ally (Great Brittian, France, Germany, etc...) would jump in and destroy them? Firing a nuclear missile at the United States has NO political gain for any other country.

    However, a rogue terrorist group does have something to gain. They don't have a country you can nuke. They don't think as logically since, where Saddam Hussein might order his troops to death and he will never see a bullet, these terrorist leaders often get involved in the actions themselves. Far and away the most likely ways for them to attack us is to get a bomb into the US the same way people get drugs in, or to fire a missile from a boat off the coast and fly it in under radar. Can our missile defense shield protect against this? No way. Can it even defend against a large volley of nukes, like North Korea could possibly offer? With our current results, no way.

    Lots and lots of people are making lots and lots of money off this plan. I'm sure lots of those people making money gave lots of money to the Bush/Cheney campaign last year, and now they are reaping the rewards. Of course, I'm sure they would have given the money to Gore/Lieberman as well, since they all sell out to the all mighty dollar here. If you really look at this plan, though, the countries that can send missles at us really have nothing to gain, where the wack jobs would never use a missile, they'd just get a suicide bomber to deliver it for them.

  • by gnovos (447128) <gnovos@@@chipped...net> on Sunday July 15, 2001 @10:51PM (#83257) Homepage Journal
    What they don't tell you is that the star wars test was successfull in shoting down Helios... doh!
  • by The Ultimate Badass (450974) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @11:02PM (#83282) Homepage
    You are making a false assumption that it is easier to bring a small scale nuclear weapon into the US through canada than it is to bring it by sea into a North Western state. The sad fact is, our Northern friends have a much better record of policing their borders than we have of policing ours, having an estimated ten times the amount of successful interceptions to quantity of illegal contraband ratio as we do. Furthermore, the concept of a "suitcase nuke" is absurd. Such a weapon would have a relatively insignificant explosive yield. For a nuclear device to be worth the effort of transporting it to the US, it would have to be about the size of a smallish crate. Finally, if I were Osama Bin Laden, and I wanted to seriously upset the US people, I know exactly where I'd detonate a bomb. I'd place a large one in a cargo ship, and send it to Pearl Harbor. He wouldn't even have to wait for customs to check the ship out before he detonated it.
  • by slasho81 (455509) on Monday July 16, 2001 @04:01AM (#83285)

    I'm from Israel. We have here both the first operational missile defence system (AWS) in the world [fas.org] and suicide terrorists.

    The Arrow Weapon System (AWS) [iai.co.il] isn't perfect and despite our Central Security Service (something like NSA&FBI in Israel) successful afforts to prevent terrorism, some scums get thru.

    Just because a defence mechanism is not 100% effective, or just because there is an alternative way you can get kicked in the balls does not mean you should give up on that front.

    Giving up on a front means you are a destiny-oriented loser.

    -Omer

    You can never know when or where you'll get screwed next. Have some protection for any occasion.

  • by q-soe (466472) on Monday July 16, 2001 @02:48AM (#83314) Homepage
    A further thing, for those who are interested in what this sort of system hides - in other words the real threats to the world these days (now that nuclear weapons are invalidated as a military system)

    Read these links
    http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/bw/index.html - Bio Warfare Facts

    http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/index.html - Primer on Special Weapons

    http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/cw/index.html - Chem Warfare Facts

    Read the Bio Weapons one - the article on delivery systems espcecially - this is the threat to the world that George Bush Cannot build defense systems against

    Quote from Article : -Biological agents have some unique characteristics that make weaponizing them attractive. Most biological weapons consist of living organisms (toxins are the exception) and, thus, can replicate once disseminated. A relatively small group of persons, using single individuals deployed in a military staging area, could bring about the infection of a large percentage of targeted persons. The clinical illness could develop within a day of dispersal and last for as long as 2-3 weeks. The mission and political impact of such a strike on a combat or constabulary force of 10,000 soldiers may compromise operations. In a civil situation, major subway systems in a densely populated urban area could be targeted for biological agent strike, resulting in massive political and social disorganization. Approximately 10 grams of anthrax spores can kill as many persons as a ton of sarin.

    Any country having pharmaceutical, cosmetic, or advanced food storage industries will have stabilization facilities similar to those that could be used for biological weapons. The ability to disseminate the biological agent over a wide area would be limited to those countries having cruise missiles or advanced aircraft. Even the smallest country or a terrorist group, however, has the capability to deliver small quantities of BW agent to a specific target. :-

    Now the major thing to bear in mind about the US govt and this is that (and i bet most of you dont know about this one) The US has the biggest bio warfare article on earth and maintains development of new weapons.

    And the threat is nothing new. After the Aum Shriyinko Sarin attacks in Tokyo the US did a report into biological attack on a US city and its impact (there was a TV doco on this subject) and the results were fucking frightening.

    One story - http://www.sciam.com/1296issue/1296cole.html - The Specter
    of Biological Weapons

    Think about whats being pulled over your eyes with this Star Wars system ?
  • by q-soe (466472) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:01AM (#83315) Homepage
    Do a bit of reading - a suitcase nuke can be made for as little as $100k and requires no special equipment - it would be dirty and you might get radioactive poisoning but if you are on a jihad you wont care.

    Yes they are low yield - you could get up to 10kt - BUT they are DIRTY - you would pack the outside of the fissionable device with More Uranium or spent plutionium (say an old fuel rod which would be easy to buy on the international market)

    The point is you dont want high power in a city bomb - you want LOW yield to cause damage on a scale BUT also illness and sickness (Hence the dirty bit) thus overloading Emergency Services and causing maximum fear and panic)

    this aint hard - as i said do a bit of reading

    http://www.fas.org/nuke/hew/Nwfaq/Nfaq2.html
    http://www.accutek.com/~moistner/nuclear1.htm

    and others

    PS - US still have NUC weapons targeted at all major Chinese and Russian Targets - so your point is invalid and a little redundant as despite the media hullaballo about the plane to the contrary the China and the US have a number of treaties, North Korea cant feed their people and their weapons programme has proven to be a lot of bluster, Iraq hasnt got the money left to make bombs anymore - they are the most spied upon nation on earth, and the US border is so easy to get thru its a laugh - go for a drive to canada, last time i was in the US we went back and forth across the border a number of times and it was all on backroads with NO sign of any customs (oh look were in Canada Again !)

    And last point - I AM NOT TROLLING BUT - dont poke off at China's Human rights record - The US is also criticised (as is my country of Aust) for its record as well, im not going to be seen as US bashing but you have some questionable things as well.

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