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The Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle 289

Hapster writes " Raytheon has developed the most expensive weapon ever. This ICBM killer hones in on an oncoming missile and, like a bullet hitting another bullet, hopes to smash into it before it smashes into us. " On a sheer technology level, devices like this are some of the most intrinsicly interesting around, although I'm still not quite sure who's the enemy.
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The Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle

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  • Discore dun said:

    i mean seriously whos gonna launch a bomb containing the smallpox virus to anyone? thats just insane

    Who'd bomb abortion clinics, or bomb gay clubs, or bomb churches, or blow the bejeesus out of civilians? Who the hell would set up crematoria and extensive transport networks and accounting systems and even new forms of poisons specifically so they could kill mass numbers of people in the shortest amount of time with minimum fuss? Who'd pay out upwards of three hundred thousand dollars to become mentally ill, then to find all their problems are supposedly the result of an evil alien having thrown them in a Hawaiian volcano some time before dinosaurs went extinct? ;)

    No, I'm not stating that to be facetious. I am stating that...well...there are a lot of Very Crazy People out there, and a fair number of them have in essence given up their minds and free will to authoritarian leaders who pretty much keep them in a state of fear, loathing, and self-guilt.

    Go read up sometime on coercive tactics and tactics of mind control for starters. A good start would be reading on the mind-control stuff Scientology uses against members, and read how exactly Hitler rose to power in Germany.

    Another good source--and this is REALLY relevant for you in the US, and in the Middle East, and possibly other places--is reading up on fundamentalist movements in general. (As an aside, an awful, AWFUL lot of fundy movements do use coercive tactics. In essence, a fundy who bombs a building does not see what he's doing as wrong; he sees himself as a member of the Chosen People, frequently sees the world outside of his cluster as deluded at best and outright Satanic and worthy only of extinction at worst, and thus terrestrial law is not to be obeyed as it is preempted by "God's law"; many think they will either become martyrs or will be Raptured or receive reward in the afterlife; many are taught not to question their leaders as "thou shalt not judge a man of God" and are told to avoid all media outside the group.)

    A real good example of the kind of person who just MIGHT be nuts enough to set off a smallpox bomb would be Eric Rudolph, or some of the folks who work for the godhatesfags.com people...I expect they would think NOTHING of setting off such a device in Las Vegas or in a gay nightclub, because they'd think they were "delivering God's vengeance". Hell, you see this in MAINSTREAM fundy churches in the US; I've heard preachers make excuses for people who killed abortion providers ("It's wrong to kill, but they were baby-killers and had it coming to them so we can't shed too many tears...") and damn near erupted all over themselves during both the Gulf War and the crises during the Cold War because they were convinced a nuclear war would take place, that it'd be over Israel, and it would mean they would be raptured and be able to sit in heaven as all the sinners perished in nuclear hellfire [yes, they literally believed this, and they didn't care that all life might be destroyed because they were going to get a "new heaven and new earth"].

    Most of those are, for some reason or another (either because they are nuts, malignant, or are being led by the nose by people who are nuts or malignant), are not in their right minds to begin with. They don't CARE about this world because they think it's evil anyways...so they would probably drop a smallpox bomb without a thought. They might even see it like God is using them to unleash a plague, like the plagues mentioned in the story of Passover. They've stopped seeing everyone outside of their group as human, and see them as The Enemy.

    Then again, at least speaking for the United States...these people would not use ICBMs. They'd likely use suitcase bombs or something similar, and odds are the US would not even suspect it was an act of domestic terrorism till weeks afterwards, if ever. (Both the OKC bombing and the Olympic bombing were thought to be the work of foreign terrorists at first; turned out in both cases it was domestic terrorism, in at least one case linked to a particularly hateful offshoot of fundamentalism known as Christian Identity. [I've also heard this about the other case, but it's also likely he's a regular foamin' fundy and not the race-baiter flavour. "Christian militias" that are as dangerous as the hate-group linked kind, but have nothing to do with "Christian Identity", do exist; most see themselves as "Entime preparation" groups. I'm rather worried about what a few of these groups might pull if Y2K doesn't mean Armageddon, especially since a fair number of them are the ones pushing "Y2K Survival Communities" and Y2K shelters and Y2K food barns and survival camps and whatnot.]

    The two most likely countries to use ICBMs with biological weapons, methinks, would be Pakistan and India; they've been in a shooting war since 1948, are both nuclear, both have received assistance from Russia in past, are dancing every bit as close to a nuclear war as the US and USSR were over those Cuban missiles in the 60's, and are the two countries most expected to eventually have a nuclear war. They pretty much see each other as the Enemy at this point, both countries have raving fundies as their leaders [the BJP in India is essentially a fundamentalist Hindu party; Pakistan is run pretty much by fundy Muslums--Pakistan is pretty much the ONLY country right now on good terms with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and provide training for the Taliban], they damn near see getting Kashmir as the Holy Grail...it wouldn't shock me if the idea of anthrax-bombing or smallpox-bombing one or the other comes in their heads eventually, if it hasn't already. [This would be a Really Bad Thing, too--pretty much at least a billion people would die (Pakistan and India's combined population, roughly) and if it spread to China kiss another billion goodbye...not to mention it'd REALLY destabilise the area and increase the risk China and the US could go to a shooting war.]

    Another possibility is South and North Korea, but I'm not so sure on this seeing as North Korea would likely want the food reserves uncontaminated; they've been through a rather severe famine where anywhere from 200,000 to 2 million people have died (depending on who's statistics you believe)

  • The US has never spent most of the annual Federal budget of Defense. Even at the height of the Cold War, when Reagan was catching up from the dangerously wussified Carter 70's, Defense never consumed more than 35 or 40 percent of the Federal budget. Of course, it really doesn't matter. You should spend what is necessary. A newly-freed Eastern Europe and a much-diminsihed threat of nuclear war are both worth a lot of billions. Your numbers a way off. Carter spent the average of 5% of the budget on defense each year of his term. (in 78 it was 4.9 and in 82 it was 5.3) Reagan spent about 6.2% of our budget on defense, his later years it the % began to decline. Bush spent even less than Carter % wise. We were fighting a ground war overseas, for most of the time in two hemispeherically separated theatres. Of course, it was very very expensive. The Cold War, however, was never that expensive in terms of a percentage of the Federal budget, or of the GNP. Yes it was. In 1979 the debt was 34% on our GDP by 1992 it was 67%. No, totally wrong. First, NASA is obsolete and mostly useless. Private companies will soon so far surpass NASA that it'll just be another very expensive joke. First of all NASA has done and is doing a lot more to improve our way of life than most agencies. No private company has really done anything to try and take its place. NASA and the USPS are the only two agencies that bring in money to the gov for their services. IRS is required to do it so they don't count. We did not 'create' any of the dictators you mentioned, or any other, for that matter. Sometimes we dealt with them when our interests coincided. Sometimes we hoped we could convince them to open up their countries. We also allied with Stalin during WWII to defeat Hitler. Do you think that was a bad idea, too? Actually we did put most of these people into power and turned our back on them or made them our enemy when we found them to be in our way. That is why so many people hate Americans. We cant be trusted. Our past is full of backstabbing more so than most countries.
  • I mean, unless someone learns how to set fire to smog, how are you gonna do it? Will China use ALL its nukes? And get some friends to help?

    If you gave us enough time to evacuate, Angelinos might ask if the US itself could help out with this innovative urban renewal. I can see it now - proposition 3..2..1..

    The more I think about this, the better I like it. Great weather, lousy city not-planning. Throw a couple extra on the downtown, and we even solve the cable & pipe problems the subway's having! And once the LA freeways are gone, who knows how much national oil consumption will drop!

    Yeah, we'd lose Hollywood and a large portion of the entertainment industry, but...no, never mind, that's not a negative. I guess there are no real downsides...

    Man, this could be the greatest urban renewal program of the century! Let's pick a fight with China before they realize they'd be doing us a favor!
  • We probably don't need another missle defense system, especially since Star Wars' funding has passed. The problem is that the enemies that we have to fear probably won't be using ICBM's. Our enemies in the 21st century are going to be: 1) Terrorists - if they got their hands on a nuclear weapon, their delivery mthod of choice would be a Wonder Bread truck, not missile. 2) Unstable nuclear powers - Either those who have built them or those who have bought nukes, these countries (india excluded) aren't going to bother with building an ICBM that can be shot down. They'll use a surplus cruise missile that can be fired from any cheap aluminum MiG or a short range balistic missile that we cannot shoot down. 3) Unstable major nuclear power - Honestly, if you get enough missiles, be they ICBM or SLBM, it won't make a lick of difference what you have to shoot them down. A victory through something like that would surely be the death of us. Honestly, it won't matter how many cool new toys we can come up with, the offense will always have the advantage of the first strike. The only real solution is to get rid of nuclear weapons altogether, something that will not happen in any of our lifetimes. I've had the benifit of growing up predominately without the threat of nuclear war, but others have lived with this hanging over their heads for their entire lives. We must remember the collapse of the USSR does not mean the collapse of all military enemies. The only viable course of action is eternal vigilance...
  • Has anyone else out there read "Lady Slings The Booze" by Spider Robinson? He makes a good argument as to why missiles in general are a LOUSY way to deliver explosive force. Why not just use nuclear mines? Smuggle them in to the country in question, locate them so as to do the most damage, and then detonate them remotely (or even in person if you've got kamikaze-type fanatics). This gives a much-reduced chance of interception, no warning beforehand to launch counterattacks, and makes it darn near impossible to determine who did it. Its scary enough that I can't believe nobody is using it... Chris

  • Any small nation that develops ICBM nukes is only
    going to use it against the US as a bargaining

    "see, we now have ICBM nukes. You must admit
    us into the nuclear club, and you can't just
    police us like you police other nations."

    In other words, they would use it to get the
    respect that China and Russia have, but that
    Kosovo, Haiti, Somalia, Sudan, and Indonesia
    do not. (W can run roughshod all over these
    countries and there's nothing they can do.
    We can not do the same to China, Russian provinces, or in the future, Pakistan.)

    However, they know that any launch would surely
    result in their assured destruction (they can't
    destroy the US), so it's a pure terror weapon.

    However, they know they can still gain some
    negotiating room with the US and other countries
    as long as they have the threat. The presence
    of ICBMs in North Korea alone would vastly boost
    their position in foreign policy at the
    negotiating table. You can see it today as
    North Korea uses the threat of missiles or
    building a weapons reactor to simply get

    Having a credible missile defense allows the US
    to say "fuck your ICBMs, you must comply with
    your agreements, we can shoot down the few paultry
    ICBMs you have."

    Now, whether or not the US can actually do this
    100% is irrelevent. As long as the US has the credibility of doing it.

    So why not simply announce a new defense system, announce 100% accurate tests, show phony demo tapes, stage phony sales to Israel, Taiwan, Japan, and other allies, and no country could
    falsify the reality of the situation without
    actually launching a weapon, which they would
    never attempt.

    The US policy should be "launch a missile, if it gets shot down, you still die."

    The only thing that truly matters in this world is perception. As long as Kruchev really believed the US was prepared to go all the way at Cuba, there was a chance for removal. If he felt the US was bluffing, the situation might have been worse.

  • Hi!

    I won't comment on the rest of your post, but your references to Aum Shinrikyu aren't correct.

    First, they weren't trying to attack Tokyo in general--they were specifically trying to attack the National Police Agency in Kasumigaseki. They were depending upon the legendary reliability of the Tokyo subways to deliver all the nerve gas (sarin) to the proper parts of Kasumigaseki at the same time. (Don't laugh--there is a entire form of fiction in Japanese literature devoted to the precise scheduling of the Japanese railway system.) They pretty much succeeded--all but one of the trains arrived in Kasumigaseki at the right time. The one train that did not arrive in Kasumigaseki on time was inbound on the Hibiya Line--the sarin was released in the Kamiyacho station (the station before) instead.

    As I mentioned above, they used a form of sarin gas, not anthrax. This was a chemical attack, not a biological attack.

    How do I know? I was there. I was living in Japan for most of 1994 and 1995, and worked in an office adjacent to Kamiyacho station. My major client in Japan imports a form of phosphene trichloride (a feedstock of sarin) into Japan (it is used to make LCD displays). The Ministry of Social Welfare, in the aftermath of the accident, noted that an importer of POCL3 was adjacent to one of the sites where the gas was released. They were all over us. We were able to demonstrate that we could account for every drop that we had imported--but that was definitely the most tension-filled meeting of my entire career.
  • If we just let them starve, the problem would go away. Thank you for enlightening me. This philosophy solves just about any problem in the world anyway: -If your child, mother, or girlfriend is ill, let them die. The problem will go away. -Ecological problems? Nonexistent. If we destroy the planet too much we will die. No ecological problems any more. Problem solved.
  • There is one problem with your whole argument: you are only thinking one step ahead. Yes, for one strategic moment an ABM system would make (parts) of the world safer. But, when the next moment rolled around (in a year or so) the whole world would suddenly be a much more dangerous place.

    Instead of having a whole bunch of nuclear weapons around which noone can use, you would now have a whole bunch of nuclear weapons around which a few people can use.

    Now, in general, I would not think of the current U.S. to be the one to first use a nuclear weapon (although there is an historic precedent). But, once the technology has been developed, it will leak to other, less sane countries. We've seen this this before. Even if the technology itself doesn't leak, just the knowledge that it is possible is a huge help to someone who wishes to replicate it. This is exactly what happened with nuclear weapons...the Manhattan project proved that they were feasable. The Soviets stole the technology. The British used a little US help, but basically did it themselves. The French and India did it entirely themselves; South Africa almost did the same. China did it with a little Soviet help, and then passed it on to Pakistan... The same thing will happen with ABM technology.
  • All right, I'll give you that. In fact the hit would almost certainly be a glancing blow. The simplest anti-ABM defence is to encase the warhead in some kind of light weight tent structure, to give the ABM kill vehicle a big, mostly empty target to fly harmlessly through.

    I still think that a glancing blow, at these speeds, will most likely set off at least some of the HE implosion system. That should vaporize any of the remaining core.

    But you're right, it's certainly possible for larger chunks to make it to the ground. Of course, the result of this whole situation will alomst certainly be full-blown thermonuclear war...so it probably won't make much difference..........
  • by The Ancient Geek ( 67131 ) on Sunday September 26, 1999 @12:35PM (#1658855)
    Hi All!

    Of all the likely nuclear scenarios, I think the two most likely are these:

    North Korea nukes Japan

    Sound crazy? Understand this--the history of Korea can essentially be defined by alternating periods of subjugation by the Chinese and the Japanese. The centuries of Chinese rule were generally benign--the decades or centuries of Japanese rule (including 1914-1945) were characterized by incredible brutality interspersed by periodic episodes of unbelievable brutality. It may sound nuts to Westerners--but North Korea would be viewed sympathetically by many South Koreans if they could plausibly launch a nuke at the Japanese.

    China flips a nuke at the U.S. over Taiwan

    The Chinese have already threatened to do this. In 1996 a Chinese military official--in an astonishly blunt statement--pointed out that the PRC had the capability to deliver nuclear warheads on Los Angeles. (Digression: in Asia you only speak this directly to inferiors or to people you have absolute command over. The statement is regarded by many who are knowledgeable about Asian affairs as strong evidence that the Chinese have compromising information on the Clinton Administration, and speak in this tone to remind everybody of the fact.) The PRC goes nuts any time anybody even talks to the Taiwanese--they continually object to U.S. airlines flying to Taipei, and they harass travelers entering the PRC if they also have a lot of Taiwanese visa stamps. (A lot of Asian travelers "lose" their passports and get replacements, so they have one passport for the PRC and Hong Kong, and a different passport for Taiwan.) How nuts are they? The "diplomatic incident in 1996" that the NY Times refers to in the article was the attempt by President Lee of Taiwan to attend an alumni reunion at Cornell. Yup--Lee was permitted entry into the U.S. only by a resolution of Congress, and the Chinese baldly hinted at nuclear war.

    Why would either the NKs or the Chinese do this? Both countries have leaders that are contemptuous of American politics and American public opinion. They believe (and they may be correct) that they could "accidently" flip a nuke and start apologizing up one side and down the other. And they believe that the U.S. does not have the political resolve to respond with nukes. It's all well and good to talk about "anybody launching an ICBM would quickly be glowing in the dark"--but I doubt that it is true. I don't think the U.S. military has what used to be called "independent launch authority" any more--nobody can launch without permission from "National Command Authority." And the "National Command Authority," in case anybody has forgotten, is a sex-crazed dipstick who is regarded as spineless by the leaders of every other nation in the world.

    An Exercise:

    Taiwan declares independence. China attempts to launch an invasion flotilla. Taiwanese subs and torpedo boats ravage the armada--but suspicions rise that some of those submarines are actually U.S. Navy boats, or perhaps E-3 Sentry aircraft provide tactical information to the Taiwanese. China "accidentally" launches a nuke at Los Angeles--and fortunately, it turns out to be a dud. It destroys a block of downtown L.A., but that's the extent of it. They apologize profusely, and they mention in passing that accidents can happen--just as the U.S. discovered in the "accidental" bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

    Pretend you're "National Command Authority." Do you nuke back? Or do you quietly get the hint, pull the U.S. assets out of the theater, and let the Chinese take Taiwan--with nukes, if need be?

    The amazing thing about nukes is that they are one of the only weapons systems in history that have practically never been used. The more countries that have them, the greater the likelihood that somebody, somewhere, will decide it is worth the risk to push the button. I'm all in favor of humanitarian aid and economic development. But to ignore the very real likelihood of ICBMs being used in the future is unrealistic in a SlashDot reader. In a U.S. politician it is simply criminal.

  • You're taking this far out of context.

    "Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime". I'd add to that -- Give a man no fish, and if he's worth his keep he'll teach his own $@#! self how to to fish. Or be a farmhand. Or take any of the low-paying jobs that so many Americans would rather be on welfare than hold (ever wonder why there are so many immigrant laborors doing farmwork?).

    Give a man a guaranteed paycheck when he's old, and he'll count on it being there. Tell him if he wants not to starve he'd damn well better save -- and he'll save.

    If my child, mother or girlfriend is ill, I'll pay for their treatment (gf at least -- I have no children, and my parents are fiscally able to handle themselves). I may have to sell my house or equipment, sign away the copyright to some software I'd really rather own, take out a few loans and Get A Real Job (no more freelancing) to do it, but I damn well would.

    If I couldn't, I could count on my church back home for help. I spent much of my time as a teen helping out there -- putting up the building they're now in, tearing down another previously on its land for the wood, running the sound board and advising on technical issues, but more than that coming over to peoples' houses and helping them out. Others there did the same for me.

    In short, people can damn well handle themselves, without some huge organization controlling things (and, in its scope and power, inviting corruption and waste). If there are people who truly can't handle themselves... well, this harsh system gives them motivation to learn.


    To respond to another point you made... If we destroy the planet too much, yes, some of us will die. Not everyone, though; The population will simply be reduced to maintainable levels. If we, through science, can alter the balance (finding better food sources, means of cleaning the atmosphere or preventing atmospheric damage from doing harm, etc), we can sustain more people. Otherwise, yes, some will die. But life will go on. So why worry? :)
  • Actually this weapon is quite usefull in that it can totally disrupt communications to an errant satellite until the owner falls back into treaty compliance.

    How would it do that? Lasers aren't used for satellite communications very often. Just a couple experimental things.

  • Though I don't agree with the "let 'em starve" philosophy, I don't agree with your "health care and welfare" too.

    Throwing money at the poor isn't gonna help 'em any. To improve their lives, they need jobs. To get jobs they need skills. A few well placed skill development centers will do a whole lot more good than a lot of soup kitchens.

    Free handouts don't encourage people to improve themselves - they can still survive, right? Giving 'em skills to get a job will both improve their lives, and more importantly, get them to pass these values on to their children. (i.e. hardworking parents tend to produce children who also see the value of work. Parents who sit around the house, living off welfare will produce children who see nothing wrong with living off handouts).
  • by David Ham ( 88421 ) on Sunday September 26, 1999 @04:09AM (#1658864) Homepage
    Know what they're really using this for?

    "His location is 55 degrees 10 minutes 3 seconds lat, 75 degrees 21 minutes 9 seconds long"


    "Where'd Saddam go?"

  • Besides, when did knocking out Dallas contribute to armageddon?

    Daiktana would ship even later, if that is possible... :)
  • I've got a really old post on this topic (archived long ago) which I can't find, so I'll try to summarize it here.

    Major Doug Adams (Last name correct? I always just called him "Doug"), who lead the Patriot battery in Kuwait, is a friend of mine (he presently teaches at CSU, Chico). He, through direct experience, places the effectiveness of the Patriot at 50%.

    During the war, the Isreali military took credit for several missile kills made by one of his two batteries, and afterwards they attempted to discredit the Patriot in order to push their own missile system (intended for sale to the US). Furthermore, the Isreali reporters he spoke with were unwilling to publish anything negative about their government due to the threat of being subscripted to the military.

    Interesting, that. No?
  • Sigh. Perhaps it will be useful for deflecting those pesky Earth orbit-crossing comets :)
  • A few million dollars in geigercounters for customs agents should be sufficient to detect suitcase bombs, shipping bombs, airplane bombs, etc.

    "Uh Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to open this rather large lead-lined crate..."

    And, honestly, its not like just anyone can build a suitcase sized nuclear device... The Russians said they built a whole pack and now a bunch are 'missing', but, in communist USSR, it was not uncommon to write that you had twice as many in inventory as what you had (of practically anything...) - but soon you'll be able to buy old Russian ICBMs at the local garage sale down the street if they don't do something about controlling the damn things.

    And I still figure that some major center in the world is going to get nuked by 2010.
  • and, let me guess:

    they operate on the same principle as wooden ducks, i.e., they attract the anti-missile to themselves as opposed to the actual missile, so that the anti-missile wastes itself on the decoy and the real deal keeps on chugging.... no?
  • well its a interesting article.
    great technological advance, i suppose.
    one thing i dont like about the article is how the writer makes it sound like the fate of the world is in that thing that smashes into things. i mean seriously whos gonna launch a bomb containing the smallpox virus to anyone? thats just insane.
    maybe i dont think like that government does.

    eventually there will probably be advances where it is possible to lauch a big missle and we won't even know its there until lets say... all of new jersey pings out.

    one thing i wonder is the consequences of using this thing, in a real situation.
    flying missle derbis? anthrax spores floating from the sky? we will just have to wait and see

    under the bomb drops,
  • Although, in fairness, the SCUD missle was never a tactical threat at any point during the war, and never posed any military threat of any significance to forces in theater.

    Actually, I understand that SCUDs actually _did_ pose a threat at one point to one of the two US Patriot batteries lead by a friend of mine, Maj. Doug Adams (last name?). He tells me that, while the second battery was being set up, there was an equipment failure on the first, which was (as luck would have it) in the path of an incoming SCUD. Had the second not been able to get operating in time and knock the missile off course, things might have been bad.

    It's been a year since I've talked to him last, btw, so this might be slightly inaccurate.
  • by shambler snack ( 17630 ) on Sunday September 26, 1999 @04:30AM (#1658879) Homepage
    You mad a comment that you're not sure who the enemy is. Let me come up with a short list for you:

    Mainland China, which fields one of the largest, if not the largest, standing armies in the world. They may not be the best, but their sheer numbers will make you stop and pause. They're still a threat to their own people, imprisoning desenters, and they have stated they will use force against Taiwan (and think how expensive your cheap computers would get, and how less successful the Internet revolution they drive would become).

    North Korea, which despite being closed and near total starvation, has managed to launch two new ICBM missles, the second of which has the range to reach the West Coast. Everyone seems to think that Cuba is the only Stalinist regime left, but Korea makes Cuba look like a workers paradise.

    Pakistan and India have been at it for a long time. Both have tested regional ICBMs capable of carrying nukes. They may not be a direct threat to us, but they can upset their region, which is bad enough.

    Iraq still ain't our buds. And with holes in the embargo and no UN inspectors, it won't be long before we get a rude awakening from that part of the world.

    What's left of the USSR is very unhealthy right now. A war with southern Muslums in Chechnia has heated up, with Muslums blowing up Russian apartment buildings full of people. We went through hell when we lost the Edward R. Murrow building in Kansas City, but they've lost the equivalent of four over the past few months. This type of terror and the economic and political instability are just the ingrediants needed for demagogues and dictators. Think of Berlin and Gernany before the Nazis and WWII.

    We've had the Bomb since 1945, and ICBMS with Russia since the '50s. That technology has had a half century to percolate around the world, both as hardware and knowhow. Internationally, the world is as politically dangerous now as it ever was. And we need whatever it takes to protect our borders, and our way or life, including slashdot.

  • One of the few constants in the human experience is war. We're reminded constantly that huge groups and even governments believe human life is cheap. I'd rather the Anti-ICBM be designed, prototyped, and brought on line before we need it, instead of not having one during crunch time. No, it won't be 100% effective, but it would give a few million people a chance, if ever it had to be used.

    This country already cowers in fear and pays off North Korea whenever NK threatens to (name whatever they threatened last). A good defense isn't a replacement for a foreign policy, but under current management, it is just going to have to do.
  • Well now instead of coding DB clients at least some people can build something exciting. We're probably in a lot more danger of nuclear attack than the TV says. If a top secret spy satellite shows nuclear missiles in India they're not going to broadcast it but they will spend a lot of money on defense. There's a big difference between military intelligence and microbiology.
  • Exo Atmospheric Kinetic Kill Vehicles have been around for a loong time. Same case with the alpha "death ray" and assorted star wars shit. nothing new here..move along.
  • Many times the effectiveness of these systems is highly overblown or exaggerated. See, for example

    Technical Debate over Patriot Performance in the Gulf War [gbhap-us.com]

    The Patriot Missile. Performance in the Gulf War Reviewed [cdi.org]

  • The reason that the KGB were so successful in the us was the americans were easily persuaded. Either by ideological arguments or by straigt cash payoffs(or both). If a nuke detonates inside the us. It will probably have been smuggled in rather than carried by a missile.

    LINUX stands for: Linux Inux Nux Ux X
  • The interception happens above our atmosphere, so I'm not sure how much you'll actaully see.
  • There is a weapons distributor that had these advertised on their website, but I don't remember if it was Raytheon's model. Silo, launch vehicle, and control system are sold separately. I wonder if I need a Class IV license to get one...
  • How the standing armies of China can be used as justification for the anti-missile is beyond my understanding. And the main effect of a US shield over Taiwan would be further destabilization of the region.

    Are you kidding? China DEFINITELY has nuclear capabilities and DEFINITELY has PLENTY of reason to use them against us. Our bombing of their embassy would be A START...the government-controlled media in China has been telling their people that the bombing was DELIBERATE and that China will seek RETRIBUTION for this act.

  • I like the idea of an balistic missle defense system. However I don't think the technology exists (yet) to make one effective.

    Detonating a warhead in front of the main warhead force would either destroy or at least blind every satelite in the area. Encasing the warheards in liquid nitrogen colling them to evade IR detection. Hell even inflating a metalic balloon would cause radar wave to be deflected. (Remember, Echo (The first communication satelite) launched by the US back in the '50s was simply a balloon.)

    If you were content with a bio-chem attack, you could overwhelm the defensive screen with lots of little mini-warheads and use those to distribute Anthrax, or Beubonic Plauge, or whatever.

    If you made the warheads manuverable you could get them to evade incomming anti-missles.

    Until these shortfalls can be overcome (and I'm sure they will be) we shouldn't give ourselves a feeling of false security. Afterall, MAD has worked so far. (I kind of wonder about how effective it will be in the future. Afterall death isn't a deterant for a suicide bomber (but that's tact-nukes which this doesn't defend against.)or a country's leadership with a suicide bomber mentality.)

    (FYI: The US has signed a treaty stating that it would not develop a missle defense program back in '70s.)

    References: "Why National Missile Defense Won't Work" Scientific American [sciam.com] August, 1999
  • Doesn't matter, they'll just home in on the magnetic strip on your Driver's license.

  • a treaty has never really stopped anyone from doing anything. getting caught? well, that's another kettle of fish.
  • Do you have any evidence for this, or are you just trolling? And no, "it's a well known fact" isn't evidence.
  • Yeah, why do you think the Shah was overthrown? Maybe because he was a brutal oppressive dictator who only survived as long as he did because of US backing. When you support regimes like this, and revolution happens, it's not likely that the formerly opressed people will look kindly on their opressors.
  • You don't understand how deterrance works. To deter someone, you to let them know that you know how powerful they are, and let them know that the consequences of them using their weapons would lead to their own destruction. In this case, it pays to make your enemies missiles public.
  • So you're saying "It's all a Zionist conspiracy"?

  • Surely the point of an anti-missile system is to prevent those warheads reaching their intended target? Which means if, as you say "most Pariot engagements were hits they just did'nt have any effect of the missile's trajectory and so the missiles warhead hit its tatget anyway" they failed.
  • Or Massachussetts, after the Ryder Cup! :-)
  • It looks like some people still didn't realize one fundamental thing -- everything that works, can fail, at least in some cases. And I am not talking about anti-ICBM missiles.

    Once a manager asked me, why my program has abort() in it. The program had to be reliable, however I knew that if some, completely insane condition will happen, it will be more dangerous to keep it running than to kill it, let external script restart it, do whatever data recovery can be done and continue working while leaving core dump to get any idea, how such an "impossible" thing happened. Yet program was long, more than one person worked on it making not always well thought out changes, and in some case that abort() actually was called -- and it was good that it was abort() and not horrible corruption of data that would follow if it tried to continue instead. I could make it a goal of my life to make this program unable to fail, but it would take years of constant work and huge amount of checking of libraries that the program used for possible failure conditions such as buffer overflows. I could make the program hide definitely detected inconsistencies and risk all the data that it will process after such a failure. Instead I have chosen a point where nothing can be done within the program, and it should admit that it screwed up, restart everything and recover whatever is recoverable, minimizing the damage.

    Things of the same kind happen in all areas. People at some point die, and no efforts of doctors can keep them alive. Banks can be robbed. Students can be killed at school by two seriously disturbed gunmen in trench coats or any other kind of clothes. Group of terrorists can nuke major cities of US, or any other countries. Some country despite all efforts for the opposite including massive military campaign by US, can refuse to release American prisoners that it holds. You can be hit by meteorite, or Earth can be evaporated in few seconds by some very fast moving large rock that happened not to be orbiting Sun and therefore never seen by astronomers. Combination of radioactive decay events in memory chips can produce exact pattern necessary to launch a nuke at Washington, DC. We may find out that Borg or something very close to it exist, and time travel doesn't.

    All those situation, however wildly differs their probability, have one in common -- they can't be prevented, and not much can be done about them. If large part of resources of, say, this country, will be spent on development of immortality, the goal could be achieved -- after all, sufficiently modified organism (centuries of constant, heavily funded uninterrupted research!) can develop some form of at least physical regeneration, and something can be done to enhance brain to make it capable of dealing with changes in the culture over the year of life of such an immortal individual. But the fact that merely none of 6 billions-something people on Earth is happy to die, yet all of them at some point will, does not justify making lifes of those people much more miserable to achieve this goal in foreseeable future.

    Banks security can be increased, yet it can reach the point when cost won't justify the benefit, and customers won't use such a bank because security measures will make it hard to use.

    The same applies to schools plus since school should be suitable for learning, and disturbed gunmen are less concerned about their lives than robbers, the whole exercise can become pointless much sooner.

    The only sure way to prevent terrorists from nuking a modern city is to nuke it before them.

    American diplomacy and military power can fail, be abused, sabotaged or place US in the situation when every other country will be against it, and local citizens will be very unhappy, too.

    A system capable of defending the Earth from small meteorits better than atmosphere already does, will be probably as big as atmosphere and its development will kill more people than ever was killed by meteorits in the whole history.

    Large fast-flying rocks never seen by astronomers theoretically may exist, and no other solution than spreading humans across multiple star systems can make sure that mankind will survive an encounter with such a thing.

    Increasing the reliability of military computers is definitely a good thing, however if "what-if"-based development won't stop at some point, such computer will cover all available surface without reaching the goal of being absolutely reliable and absolutely invulnerable, not to mention that life in the country completely covered by military computer's guts will be much worse than after a nuclear war.

    And I will rather face the theoretical possibility of being assimilated by a race of baddies with cool spaceships than devote all my and all people of the Earth time to the development of the suitable defense against it, and have no life outside of that.

    Why am I giving such a ridiculous examples? After-WWII history of arms race shown that US relied on its possible military superiority reach its political goals, yet consistently the most likely enemies managed to restore balance, including efforts made in pretty hard situation immediately after the war in Russia and despite Russian government not being the most efficient (or democratic, or whatever) thing possible. I see no reason why it won't happen again, except that in this case US not only tries to outdo possible opponents for some time, but tries to prevent thing that can't be prevented by any reasonable or unreasonable effort -- even if it will work, it means switching from missiles to planes, trucks, submarines or even horses and, who knows, even pigeons. Tried to prevent a threat that can't prevented, pissed half of the world off, broken treaties and lost credibility, spent huge amount of resources that desperately are needed locally (ex: education), and accomplished another lap in the race with no change in the score.

  • If your scenerio is true, it is most likely that a terrorist organisation would seize an American missile sight, and attack the former USSR - provoling massive retaliation against the US.

    In which case, you should give this technology to the Russians! :-)
  • You don't know how much any of the above countries are spending on missile technology. However, what we do know is that the majority of that spending is going towards more accurate medium-range missiles, to hit local enemies. Saddam would get a big cheer from many quarters if he nuked Tehran. If he nuked Chicago, it'd be the end of him - and he knows it. And the one thing all of the evil scum you nam have in common is a need to remain in power. All of them will tweak the tigers tail, but none of them really want to see its teeth.

    As we also know that several Russian "suitcase bomb" tactical nuclear weapons are unaccounted for, we'd probably be better off tracking them down than trying to perfect ABMs.
  • My estimate would be that very little debris will come raining down. What would come down will be in very very small particles. Should see from the next test on October 2nd.


    Robert Wright
  • Yes, of course, China has only aimed ICBM's at the US since Clinton became president.
  • Why didn't they bomb us back then? If they had the capability and a reason (motivation) what are they waiting for? If they could have they would have something must be holding them back.
  • Does this "THIS REALLY WORKS!!!" tone of this remind anyone else of chain-spam??? :-)
  • If they are so evil why are we falling all over ourselves to trade with them?

    Because we're so evil.

    Evil people have the most to fear from other evil people. It's not like all evil people are friends.

  • Actually, I think that's already happened: Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

    And we all know who dropped *those* bombs, don't we?
  • I am sure that all this made great sense to you when Rush said it but...

    Your biggest worry is not some Muslim in Russia or an ICBM from India. Your biggest worry is some right wing wacko with anthrax. It is well known that the fringe militia movement has biological and chemical weapons and are not afraid to use them in some racial/religious holy war.

  • Boeing has a really cool Real Video of this thing in action (kinda), you should check it out if you have the Real Video plugin working...

    Exoatmosph eric Kill Vehicle - Boeing in Motion 98 [boeing.com]

  • "Freeing our conventional response options"?

    Oh, so you mean you can bomb baghdad like the Allies bombed Dresden?

    That'd be progress, wouldn't it?
  • Yes, of course, China has only aimed ICBM's at the US since Clinton became president.

    No, that was just a guess as to why. However, in the state of the union address where Clinton proclaimed "For the first time, there are no weapons of mass destruction pointed at out children", not only was he lying, he was helping them aim.

  • Meta reply:

    Pros for missile defense:

    It will create many jobs
    It will lead to interesting technologies
    It will help Raytheon's stock price, various senators kickback schemes, and the bank accounts of various well placed lobbyists groups.

    Cons for missile defense:

    It won't ever work. If by some freak chance it manages to be able to shoot down ICBMs (doubt it, but remotely possible), would be aggressors will just find a less expensive way to deliver their weaponry. In the article, one researcher points out "you lock your house knowing that a thief could use a window." Maybe so, but this is like electrifying the roof without bothering to lock the front door. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
    At least we'll have jobs & neat technology as the shiny new system fails around us. Maybe.
    Those of us that are not Senators, do not own any stock in Raytheon, and are not lobbyists will pay for this for the rest of our lives, at $25 million a pop, ad nauseam. But at least a few hundred will have jobs.

    Other points:

    • India was believed to have nuclear weapons since at least the 70s, but sat on them until recently. Part of their motivation was to get the primary nuclear powers to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which all of them except the United States are perfectly willing to do. I might add that missile defense systems are also a violation of various treaties, and are sure to only further destabilize nuclear relations.
    • Re Stonehand's "leading by example" comment: read up on your game theory before coming back to the table, kid. The only way we are ever going to make progress here is if nations do lead by example. Someone has to show a level of trust or no progress is possible. (By the way, Leejay, you make an amazing number of moronic points. I'm impressed.)
    • Technical correction: the US & UK are indeed the world's biggest arms exporters. They are followed by Russia, China, and France. Astute readers will note that these five nations just happen to be the five permanent members of the UN security council, the body responsible for maintaining world peace and stability. I'm sure this is just a coincidence though.
    • Substrate seems surprised by what s/he calls Cold War Two. This shouldn't be a surprise. The end of the first Cold War threatened many people's jobs, hurt alot of people's wallets, and in fact threatened to undercut the engine that lies underneath America's economic (and incidentally military) superiority today. War is big business, and many people stand to benefit from it -- including every one of you that is using a computer with Cold War derived technologies (e.g. DARPAnet...). Finding a new way to have a great big bloodless war ("Blood & gore go over so badly on CNN...") could be the impetus for US success in the next century and beyond.
    • "God_Almighty" (hahaha) makes many good points, and while s/he ignores the benefits we get from military research (many we rely on daily), s/he is spot on and I add my <AOL>me too!</AOL> to his/her point.
    • "Newly freed Eastern Europe"? Oh you mean those satellites we redistributed to Germany for good behavior? Oh yeah I remember them. "Free". Heh. Cute way to put it.
    • Re: complaints that the defense budget is "too low" as a portion of GDP: when your military is more powerful than that of several continents worth of other countries' militaries combined, and when your nations GDP accounts for something like 25% - 50% of global GDP (those numbers are old -- it peaked at 50% after WW2 and has been falling off. 25% seems reasonable but needs to be verified), and when you have companies that can't even make any money [amazon.com] that are worth more than frickin' Norway... ...after all these kinds of things, you may realize after stepping back that maybe, just maybe, you can afford to have an ever so slightly smaller military than you would otherwise, and maybe GDP isn't the best yardstick to work with here.
    • Delicon writes "at an impact ... of 10 km/s, vaporization is the usual result." Seems reasonable, but can you back that up, cite some studies of things that we've managed to even hit at 10 km/s, nevermind damaged? Seems like your point is built on a flimsy assumption...
    Ahh yes, another patented Slashdot flamewar. Too bad I'm jumping in on this one so late...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Your percentages are % of GDP, not % of budget. Here are some numbers you may be interested in. See my post "Here are the official budget stats" below for a link to the source.

    Here are the minima and maxima of defense spending as a percentage of the federal budget:

    1940 17.5% (1.7% of GDP)
    1945 89.5% (37.5% of GDP)
    1948 30.6%
    1954 59.5%
    1965 42.8%
    1968 46.0%
    1980 22.7%
    1987 28.1% (6.1% of GDP)
    1998 16.2% (3.2% of GDP)
    2000 15.5% (3.0% of GDP) - estimates

    Next, here are the maxima and minima of the gross federal debt as a percentage of GDP (debt in real dollars in parentheses):

    1941 50.5% of GDP (debt = 57,531 million)
    1946 121.6% (270,991 million)
    1974 33.6% (483,893 million)
    1976 36.3% (628,970 million)
    1981 32.6% (994,845 million)
    1996 68.6% (5,181,934 million)
    2000 62.7% (5,711,380 million) - estimate

    Since 1940, there have only been five years where the gross federal debt declined in real terms, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1956, and 1957. Since then, we have been trying to reduce the debt not in real terms but as a percentage of GDP through economic growth.

    It is interesting to look at how much Reagan's defense buildup contributed to the huge increases in debt during his term. From 1981 (Carter's last budget) to 1989 (Reagan's last), defense spending increased from 157,513 to 303,559 million in real dollars. During his term, the total amount spent on defense was 2,024,667 million and the total federal spending was 7,555,172 million. Reagan spent on average 26.8% of the federal budget on defense. In the last budget of the Carter administration, 23.2% was spent on defense. If Reagan had frozen military spending at Carter administration levels (as a percentage of the budget), the total amount spent on defense during his term would have been 1,752,800 million.

    Therefore, you could say that the Reagan defense buildup resulted in 271,867 (2,024,667-1,752,800) million extra defense spending during his term. During the same period, the gross federal debt increased by 1,873,194 million dollars. My conclusion is that Reagan's military buildup only accounted for 14.5% of the increase in debt during his term. Nevertheless, most people still try to blame Reagan's defense spending for the debt.

  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Monday September 27, 1999 @05:30AM (#1658933) Homepage
    ...but I wish we could just protect humanity in general.

    Ah, yes. I also wish that we all lived lived to at least a thousand years, had a nifty nanoreplicator each, could fly, and take vacations on Sirius. Strange, I am wishing all these things and nothing happened yet...

    If only the US can afford these things it will be unjust that others should die.

    First, you probably mean "equality", not "justice". I don't see what justice has to do with having an equivalent number of people die in each country. Second, are you saying that I cannot have anything that everybody else doesn't have as well? Enforce a lowest common denominator on everybody? When out of "justice" you reduce your lifestyle to that of Indian beggars, I'll listen.

    Or do you advocate that every time a Chinese guy dies because there were no, say, coronary bypass operations available near his village, we kill off a patient in a US hospital just to keep things even?

    I imagine the Indians and Pakistanis will be the ones most in need of these kind of defense systems,

    No. They need defence against theatre-range systems (medium-range missiles, fighter-bombers, etc), not against ICBMs which, as it was pointed out, stand for InterContinental Ballistic Missiles.

    but somehow I doubt they'll be able to afford them,

    Didn't stop before, I don't see why it should stop them now...

  • Star Wars defense of this type is nice for Star Wars, the Movie. But that's as far as it goes. That's why nearly every physicist who is not receiving an SDI paycheck from the government is against SDI. It is also opposed by economists and most arms negotiators.

    The facts in this matter are very simple. In economical terms, it is called "The Law of Diminishing Returns." When you use a 10 million dollar bullet to shoot down a 1 million dollar missile, the opposition only has to build and launch more missiles to overwhelm and defeat your system.

    The latter fact makes SDI very destabilizing. The advantage to the opponent is to just build more weapons and adopt more agressive targetting profiles. This forces the SDI builder to devote more and more resources to counter the threats either by building more missiles themselves or by deploying more defense. Obviously, with the expense of the latter, it isn't long before the SDI deployer is bankrupted (not the opponent). For these reasons the story that the U.S. SDI program bankrupted the Soviet Union causing its fall is ridiculous. This argument is a great example of post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    SDI will have no effect on the most likely nuclear attack, a terrorist weapon smuggled into the country via ship and triggered at a static ground location or in a tall building.

    SDI is a waste of money. Always has been, always will be.

    Boom goes London.
    Boom Paree.
    There's more room for you.
    There's more room for me.
    They all hate us any how
    So let's drop the big one now.
    Randy Newman, Political Science

  • I seem to remember an American anti formation bomber missile called the Phoenix (?). Launched from the Delta Dagger it would fly in a straight line from X miles, then POP....
    The nuke in the missile would wipe out all aircraft for X miles, and give the Delta Daggers pilot's arse a hell of a sun tan.
    Anybody know if these things were deployed? If so why (if they have been ) were they withdrawn? (sounds like a dumb question, but what other choice is there?)
  • It doesn't take a rocket scientist to build countermeasures. Effective countermeasures can be cheap and use simple technology--much simpler than the technology required to build long-range missiles.

    This is something of an understatement. A while back I scanned an article in an IEEE Spectrum on the subject (anyone have a reference?). They cited a study where university graduates (i.e. no special training or experience) were tasked to develop countermeasures. They were given only publically available documentation (i.e. no specs, just textbooks and published papers) and were restricted to off-the-shelf components.

    Needless to say the results were a rude awakening for defense officials. The suggested countermeasures could easily overwhelm current (and proposed) ABM systems. The only non-trivial cost to the missile designers would be a slight reduction in payload.

    Makes you wonder why they're bothering to throw so much money at this problem when a handful of clever co-op students with a catalog could get probably defeat it.

  • The latest Russian nukes 'wobble'.
    The west only 'officialy' found this out last week.
    hiting anything that wobbles unpredictably is damn near impossible. I recon this project is money down the drain. Personally I think that some kind of huge fuel/air device would stand the best chance of success. Hell, you wouldnt even have to ignite it.
  • isn't this what the patriot missle is supposed (albiet not very well) to do? i understand that they were not perfectly suited for missle to missle combat when they first rolled off the assembly line but that was (mostly unsuccessfully) remedied in the next few revisions of the weapon. why do we need these new missles? the patriot system just needs a more accurate tracking system. that is a whole lot less expensive than developing an entire new missle system that will do the same thing (and probably just as well as) the old system that works reasonably well anyway.

    not that this little bit of ranting will change anything, but i just had to say it.
  • Not _all_ of it. 50% is still quite a bit less than the kill rate first claimed. But the claims that the Patriot was completely ineffective...

    You can certainly doubt this -- you're getting it thirdhand. I got it secondhand from a man I trust, who was there and had firsthand personal experience. Laugh it off as a conspiracy if you like; I'll need something more convincing to change my mind.

    PS. Just remembered the last name correctly -- it's Campbell, not Adams.
  • I can see it now, the next US weapons project will be arming existing missles with anti-anti-missle missles, so that the missles can shoot down the anti-missles with their anti-anti-missle missles and arrive at their target, causing as much confusion as tactical damage.

    For sake of scalability, the anti-anti-missle missles will have to be the size of a common pencil. They'll then be picked up by the NRA as the next great super-weapon for hunting deer.

    -- TrevorB, who thinks there should be a "Silly" moderation attribute.
  • The last name was Campbell, not Adams. Not sure where I got that from.
  • by LL ( 20038 ) on Sunday September 26, 1999 @04:56AM (#1658950)
    I'd hate to rain on anyone's parade but wouldn't this military wet dream be superfluous? Let's suppose I'm one of these countries with tac-nukes. Why would I bother announcing the launch site and invite retaliation by using balistic missiles? Better still, just to ship it into a anonymous cargo hauler and detonate it within some strategic harbor or even Panama canal. That way the source (assuming you can disguise the origin of the manufactured weapon) can be anonymous. Given the gung-ho way the US been acting around the world in the last few decades, I'm sure there's no shortage of splinter or fanatic groups to spread the net of suspicion. If people are interested in the military mindset, take a look at their parameters magazine [army.mil], in particular the article by Peters [army.mil] on "Our New Old Enemies". Very interesting.

    People don't go to war for no good reason. If you create a threat, then people will respond in kind. Defining enemies through an arms race might be good for the military-industrial complex (correct me if I'm wrong ... I believe US and Britain are still the largest exporters of arms) but does little to create long-term goodwill. Exporting organised violence seems to be a self-fufilling prophency as it propagates a climate of fear. Afterall, if you think someone is an enemy. then what are the chances that every action you perceive is hostile? Psychopaths are not the only people with a warped mind-view [salon.com], a entire culture can be infected in rather subtle but destructive ways (Andy Grove "Only the Paranoid Surive", Bill Gates "Technogy is great, but 90% market share is better"). Very successful but at what cost?

    This century has seen 2 world wars, numerous regional conflicts and ongoing bushfires. I would hope the next century has a better record.

  • Actually, my question would be "Who's gonna launch a bomb or a virus canister or whatever?" There are easier ways to deliver a weapon of mass destruction.

    ICBMs are good at delivering lots of weapons, quickly, on short notice. But if your object is, say, commiting a large-scale terrorist act, you don't have the same kind of time-pressure. A boat, a truck, a private aircraft -- or in the case of a virus, a bunch of followers with spray cans and airline tickets.

    Would the EKV have stopped Timothy McVeigh? Or Shoko Asahara?

    It sounds like people are a little overly-focussed on one delivery method.

  • I so *totaly* agree. we spent 392billion a year on defense, to improve our ability to kick other contries asses... To keep the war machine on it's toes.. to be able to justify spending that much.. it all fits together, and yet everyone chooses to ignore this as if it does not exist. Funny little messed up reality we all occupy.
  • I think that the sheer incompetence of third world governance is going to remain long after third world scientists generally figure out how to make nuclear warheads and ICBMs. Would it be in the interest of the US to allow a regional nuclear exchange if we had the satellite intercept capability to knock out the missiles on both sides? Would it be moral to forego this defense knowing that millions will lose their lives if we are wrong?

    Right now, if an accidental launch happened from the USSR, China, North Korea or anybody else who has developed nukes all we could do is to watch the radar screens and count the casualties. No thanks. I would prefer that we spend our defense dollars assembling a defense if possible and apparently the technology is either there already or easily modified to make it there (Aegis for example).

    Nobody really knows how bad the command and control capabilities are of the North Koreans, the Chinese, or the Russians. If a silo goes off by accident or by a mad launcher scenario, is it really in this nation's interest to lose a city because Nixon and Brezhnev thought it was a good idea a quarter of a century ago under a completely different strategic situation?

    Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is something that we should be deploying now.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Okay I agree with the list of nations for the most part, but some corrections are needed. Pakistan and India are not currently a threat outside of regional stability. They do not have "regional ICBMs". An ICBM is an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missle. Shoot a short-range missle from India to Pakistan is in no way Inter-Continental. The missles involved would not fly anywhere near high enough to be shot by the EKV. As for the building in Kansas City.. Umm.. that was in Oklahoma City.
  • Almost as soon as they cry "The Russian menace is dead, the cold war is over!" the government and military find a new threat in small countries that they couldn't bother worrying about before. Some of it might be real and I for one wouldn't argue that the defense budget should be cut to zero (or even to the level of NASA's budget) but I can't help think that much of the indicated threat is made up. I expected to see much of the piece wrapped in subliminal fnords to help generate a low grade panic in the populace.

    India has the bomb, their most likely target would be Pakistan. The same goes for most of the other countries they listed. When you're at war with near neighbours other potential conflicts take the back seat. Well, except that we're pointing things at them and saying "they're benign if you don't bother us", which ensures that they're going to point something at us.

    The biggest threat is probably terrorist attack. Why bother with biological tipped warheads when you can deploy the biological agents on US soil? That would strike much more fear and paranoia into the general public than a missile attack. Missiles are tangible. Warnings about seeing 'suspicious persons' at public events isn't. You could generate a lot of terror among certain segments of the population just by waiting for the next especially dangerous flu and claiming responsibility for it.
  • Neither Israel nor the U.S. resembled "neutral parties" at the times you mention. Consider that the U.S. conducted embargoes against the Axis Powers prior to its military involvement in World War II, and it was actively involved in the intelligence community on behalf of the Allies.

    You might as well argue that the Japanese strike at Pearl Harbor was its own version of the pre-emptive strike, since it could expect an American version eventually, anyway. The winners write the history books, but we got involved in a war that was none of our business, period.

    Using the Civil War as an example of a justified war is in poor taste, indeed. That war was about little more than a demonstration of governmental power and its legitimization through the use of overwhelming force. After the Revolutionary War, it was probably the most important political lesson of the 19th century. Unfortunately, it told the opposite story.

    It certainly can be moral to kill: in defense of one's family, one's home, and one's country, in that order.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It really saddens me to find talk of nuclear war and "Stalinism" on /. .

    "we need whatever it takes to protect our borders, and our way or life, including slashdot."

    I agree with your sentiments, and I'm not criticizing you but I wish we could just protect humanity in general.

    If only the US can afford these things it will be unjust that others should die.

    I imagine the Indians and Pakistanis will be the ones most in need of these kind of defense systems, but somehow I doubt they'll be able to afford them, even if their government's were willing to buy them.

    It's all rather sick.
  • The NYT and other liberal papers hung the 'Star Wars' moniker on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). They hated the idea of defending American lives against nuclear destruction and they still do, thus the snide comments, the hatchet job via implication, innuendo. It's quite a bravura performance that doesn't quite reach the level of defamation, but it doesn't miss by much.

    The facts are that millions of people would die from one single accidental launch of an ICBM. Furthermore, the command and control systems of both Russia and China are suspect. We also shouldn't forget that the North Korean regime has a long standing history of craziness, secrecy, paranoia, and dishonesty. These are the 'partners' that we have to dance our Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) tango of the absurd.

    The New York Times' allies in the Democratic party have adopted a party line that we should delay any deployment of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) as much as possible if they can't kill BMD in full.

    The Republican party has adopted a party line that saving US lives and property via BMD is worth a lot of money and we should invest heavily and deploy as soon as possible. Even if the system doesn't work, the increased strategic uncertainty can enhance deterrance because none of our potential opponents has the money to crank up their arsenals to overwhelm a thin BMD system.

    Personally, I don't want to watch my newborn son die of radiation poisoning because somebody in a silo in Siberia who hasn't been paid in a year flips out and decides to nuke Chicago and there was nothing the US could do because there were no defenses.

  • I bought stock in Boeing a couple of weeks ago, and on a lark decided to visit their web site to see what, besides passenger aircraft, they made. You'll find an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle on their site as well -- unfortunately, they haven't set up an e-commerce server yet, so you can't buy one on-line. :(
  • Two major problems with using the Patriot for stopping long range strategic nuclear weapons:

    1) Contrary to popular belief, The Patriot is a Theater Based Anti-Aircraft missle defense system and not an Anti-Missle Defense System (it was designed to shoot down planes, not missles). It was retrofitted to engage missles in the gulf war - which explains its interesting performance in the gulf war. It was not designed, or originally intented as a anti-missle defense system. The retrofitting of the Patriot was a lucky break, given that military planners had totally missed the boat on that type of expected threat. Although, in fairness, the SCUD missle was never a tactical threat at any point during the war, and never posed any military threat of any significance to forces in theater. It was a political tool used by Iraq to scare the world, and little more. So it's understandable that the original military response to the SCUD attacks was "So what?" Nevertheless, we had no real anti-missle defense system to speak of at the time. (And we still don't.)

    2) The Patriot is a Theater defense system (effective only within a single geographic region). ICBMs are strategic weapons systems (effective globally). What this means, in a few words or less, is that in the best case: You have patriots installed in every single theather of operation you expect a nuclear attack to come from, the Patriot will not engage the ICBM (shoot it down) until its too late. The Patriots maximum effective range makes it only useful for engaging targets within a single theater of operation, or basically only as high as you would expect a typical military aircraft to fly and only as far away as the planners expected an inbound to pose a threat (say a hundred miles or so). In short, the patriots range is too short to be effective against weapons that, when detonated, would encompass the Patriots entire range. So you have the problem of needing thousands of patriot batteries to cover a country like the US, and even then it would be too late for them to be of any use in most cases.

    What does this all mean? We do not possess a real ballastic missle defense system. We can not, today, stop any inbound ICBM from reaching any target, unless we destroy it on the ground.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, I happen to work for Raytheon (not Defense Systems, though), so maybe I'm biased... but...

    There are a lot of things that we have done in the past that you could've said were "a waste of our tax money"... hey, why explore space and send probes to get land/survey (or get lost) on mars? Boy, what a waste of money, right?

    Why did we bother to send a man to the moon, or even enter the space race... just a big waste of money right?

    Why does the government provide "IR&D" funding through agencies such as DARPA? Research??? Just a waste of money right? I mean, you've got your Car, TV, Microwave, Stereo... who needs research?

    Oh... except that your microwave oven and CD player probably are by-products of DARPA research and a lot of technology used by NASA has since tumbled back into commercial/personal use.

    The technology we develop today will seem to be childsplay 50 years from now. Perhaps the guidance software algorithms used by the anti-missles will wind up in your car... as your car drives itself to Boston with you as a passenger. Perhaps it *will* at some point be used to deflect/destroy one of those "pesky Earth orbit-crossing comets".

    At any rate, it keeps a lot of people employed, from the engineering people to a lot of small job-shops that stuff gets parted out to... And it develops a technology that we *should* have in this day and age, with nuclear weapons getting to more and more countries hands every year.

    Trust me, if a nuclear missle was headed toward me and you had a defense that was 25% effective, I'd feel a lot better about my chances than I would with *no* possible defense.

    Oh, and if you see it in the paper... its certainly *not* anything really secret/sensitive, or you'd never even see it. There's a lot of "black" jobs out there that ended 20 years ago and *still* have not appeared in the news because of the sensitivity of the technology. Imagine what you don't know about today...
  • You're right, Oklahoma City.
  • I won't argue with you that the whole thing is sick. None of the nations in my list can afford them, but they will anyway because that's the attitude of those in charge. We really can't afford them either because the money would be better spent on healthcare and education. One of the requirements of a successful democracy is a well-educated people, and strong minds need strong bodies.

    As for Stalinism, keep in mind that the world's most successful Stalinist-like coporate entity resides in Redmond, Washington.
  • You know, I'm beginning to think that the web-based Dan Quale Political Writing Course I took isn't turning out too well...
  • This is just me replying to me, but I find it interesting that all replies to this thread (at least by me to others replying) is starting out with a score of 2. Is this a Bug or a Feature?
  • Boeing's is called the Airborne Laser. They won the contract a few months ago, and already progress looks amazing.

    Now if only you could get one hooked up to your 737 business jet...

  • \begin{economics professor}

    The increase in revenue in Reagan's tenure (yes, it went up, not down, following his tax *rate* cuts [1]) was much more than would have been necessary to cover the increase n defense spending. But in order to get these approved, the price in Congress was signing onto the huge increases in social spending--the largest increases in social spending in U.S. History (later eclipsed during the Bush administration).

    [1] There was a single year in which revenue failed to grow at prior rates--the period between the announcment of the cuts and their effective date. Also, the portion of taxes paid by the "rich" went up.

  • Arms like these are not designed to kill people. Nevertheless, they kill every day - indirectly. The vast amount of resources put into destructive technology can't be used for technology that could help reducing the output of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, that could provide drinking water for everyone, or help the desertification of cultivated land, problems which hurt everyone on the planet and lead today - or will lead - to the death of millions of people. How can there ever be peace as long as there are so many people working on destruction? Another point: Countries like India would sign the non-proliferation treaty and stop their nuclear programs if the big nuclear powers would commit themselves to disarmament. Indeed, this would be a good plan. Not everyone in the world thinks that nuclear weapons are good if the NATO countries have them but bad if in the possession of other countries.
  • At an impact speed of 10+ km/sec. Vaporization is the usual result. Should kill biologicals. Flying missile debris or flying missile... difficult choice..

    Robert Wright
  • And you think those things are what the govt. would spend their money on if they didn't spend it on "national defense". That's quite humorous, as there's no chance of it.

    If it isn't spent on missle defense or NASA (The only two govt programs I believe are worth keeping), it'll be spent on subsidizing the "Gay Rights Activists Federation of Lower South North Park" or something.

    Spending money on developing weapons helps everyone. The tech that they develop to boost these anti-missle thingies into space could be used for any number of other purpoises, many of them non-military.

    It'd be better if the govt just didn't spend any money at all, but if they've got to spend money National Defense is a good one to spend it on. Do you want *your* city to be hit with an Anthrax bomb?

  • You remember that peace dividend we were supposed to get after the cold war? Remember when Reagan was pumping most of our annual budget into the military to outspend the Commies? We were supposed to be able to cut back that spending dramaticly after the Cold War was over. After WWII the US military budget dropped by 90%. Most of that $ went to the Marshall plan to rebuild Japan and Western Europe. It also went to the GI Bill which produced the most romanticized and idyllic time in most American's memories.

    But didn't we cut back on military spending after the Cold War and close all those bases? Yeah, about 15% of our top Cold War spending levels. During 1998 we spent over $321 Billion on National Defense. We currently have over 8,600 combat aricraft, 10,000 tanks, 18 aircraft carriers, 120+ subs, 3600+ Ballistic Missiles and over 725000 other missiles. Source [gao.gov]

    Now compare that to the 50 Billion we spent on education and training, the 23 Billion NASA got and the fact that China, only spent 40-60 Billion on their National Defense. As a percentage of our GDP we spend 6 times what countries in Western Europe (England, France) who have also been participating in our policing operations around the world.

    We need to take a chunk of that money and invest in the public infrastructure (education, health care, public utilities, small business resources) in our country and many 'pontential rogue nations' in the former Soviet Union, Africa, Asia and South America. Once our people and other people are able to trade with one another, make a living for their families and provide a future for their children, I garuntee that the liklihood of war is 0.000000000000000000001.

    History has shown that we have created many of the dictators we have had to overthow (Noriega, Suharto, Sadam) and we have managed to help countries get on their feet (W. Europe, Japan). We are at that crossroads again and must decide how to spend our money. Investing in Peace is always a better idea than investing in War.
  • The following is from the web page of the Union of Concerned Scientists regarding anti-ballistic missile defenses and why they are a waste of money. (www.ucsusa.org [ucsusa.org])

    The only true security from nuclear weapons is their absence from the world.

    Countermeasures: The Achilles Heel of Missile Defenses

    All ballistic missile defenses are vulnerable to countermeasures. Despite decades of research, dealing with countermeasures remains the key unsolved--and likely unsolvable--problem facing missile defenses. It is far easier for the attacker to deploy effective countermeasures against defenses than it is for the defense to respond to such countermeasures.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to build countermeasures. Effective countermeasures can be cheap and use simple technology--much simpler than the technology required to build long-range missiles. Among other possibilities, the attacker can overwhelm the defense; make the warhead hard to detect, leaving the defense without enough time to intercept it; or prevent the defense from identifying the true warhead. If the United States deploys a national missile defense, it must expect that any developing country that would build or buy long-range missiles to deliver an attack would also make sure these missiles had countermeasures to penetrate the defense.

    Accidental or unauthorized attacks from Russia or China would include countermeasures. Russia and China almost certainly have already deployed countermeasures or could readily deploy them if the United States builds a national missile defense. These countermeasures would be equally as effective for an accidental or unauthorized launch as for an intentional attack.

    The job of the defense is inherently difficult even without countermeasures. Building an effective defense against long-range missiles is intrinsically difficult even in the absence of countermeasures. First, the ground-based radar or satellite-based sensor must detect and track the attacking warhead early enough for the interceptor to reach the warhead. Second, the defense must accurately calculate the projected intercept point and launch an interceptor toward it. Third, the infrared sensor on the interceptor must detect the warhead far enough away to give the interceptor time to maneuver. Finally, the interceptor must maneuver accurately enough to hit the warhead--a small object--at a closing speed of greater than 10 kilometers per second (22,000 miles per hour). The difficulty of this task is revealed by US tests of high-altitude hit-to-kill interceptors (the type that would be used for national missile defenses) against cooperative targets: as of mid-1997, only 2 of 14 intercept attempts have been successful.

    Effective use of countermeasures would make a difficult job essentially impossible. The attacker does not need to do much to make intercepts all but impossible. To defeat a defense, the attacker needs for only one countermeasure to work. But for a defense to be reliably effective it must work against all countermeasures the attacker might use, and must work the first time it encounters them. Many countermeasure techniques, each working to defeat the defense in a different way, are available and the attacker can use a combination of these. Some examples are

    The attacker can overwhelm the defense. Chemical and biological warheads can be divided into many small parts--called submunitions--that can be released early in flight, just after the booster stops thrusting. This creates so many reentering targets that it overwhelms the defense and would therefore defeat any midcourse or terminal defense. Moreover, dividing the warhead into submunitions is also beneficial to the attacker because it distributes the chemical or biological agent more efficiently over the target area. US intelligence officials have stated that they believe North Korea will be able to deploy submunitions, and that this technology could be available on the world market by 2000.

    The attacker can make the warhead hard to detect, leaving the defense without enough time to intercept. The infrared sensor on the interceptor, which guides it to the final intercept, detects the heat emitted by the warhead. Cooling the surface of the warhead thus makes it more difficult to detect. A small amount of liquid nitrogen in a thin shroud surrounding the warhead could cool the surface enough to reduce the distance at which the infrared sensor could detect the warhead by 10,000 times--from the hundreds of kilometers needed down to only tens of meters. The interceptor would have only a few thousandths of a second to react, in which time it could not maneuver enough to have any chance of intercepting a warhead traveling at 7,000 meters per second.

    Such cooling would also make the warhead much less visible to the infrared detectors on satellite-based sensors such as the planned Space and Missile Tracking System, giving the defense less time to work. Similarly, the warhead can be made more difficult to detect by radar by reducing its radar cross-section using simple techniques such as adding a sharp nose, curving its back end, and covering it with radar-absorbing material.

    The attacker can prevent the defense from identifying the true warhead. Above the atmosphere, where long-range missiles would be intercepted, objects of different weights and shapes travel at the same speed and follow the same path. This allows a missile to carry a large number of lightweight decoys to confuse the defense. Moreover, these decoys do not need to be aerodynamic and need not even look like the warhead since the warhead could also be disguised. Such decoys would force the defense either to launch interceptors at all the false targets or to wait until the atmosphere strips away the lightweight objects, by which time it could be too late to launch interceptors against the warhead.

    A simple and effective countermeasure is to place the warhead in a metalized mylar balloon (similar to those sold in florist shops) and release it within a large cloud of empty balloons. Each of these targets would move at the same speed and could not be distinguished by the missile defense radar. Moreover, adding a small heater to each balloon to heat each one by a different amount would prevent infrared sensors from detecting the real warhead. And, if desired, the attacker could also add a small vibrator to the balloons to mask any small motions the warhead might cause. The lightweight balloons would be stripped away by the atmosphere late in flight, but by that time they would already have done their job.

  • So the government has spent $50 billion on an ICBM defense that isn't hitting its targets yet in tests. I'm going to go way out on a limb here and grant that they may actually get it working someday.

    There is a funny thing about ICBM attacks, you can trace them back to the country of origin, and several satellites should notice any launch anyway. Please name a country that could fire an ICBM at an American city without developing a serious glow in the dark problem. MAD is still our ultimate insurance no one is that stupid, except if they only fire a few ICBM's it won't be mutual. The sad truth is that a world where everyone believes in anti-missle defenses is one where nuclear war will actually happen. This is destabilizing.

    Any self-respecting terrorist or pissed off country is *not* going to be so stupid as to telegraph their intent and location by lobbing an ICBM at us! Please! It will arrive here quietly in the cargo of a ship, in a car crossing the border, or carried in a briefcase. Anti-missle defenses are not too useful for these very credible threats.

    And of course, within a year of completion of this program, everyone will have counter-technology to make it useless again, and will have stolen the design for their own use. Don't worry just spend a bunch more billions to fix it. Then again, and again, until some fool actually thinks a launch is possible and tries it. You really want to go down this road any further?

    I'm not opposed to military spending, just spending money stupidly. This money could have gone to space. Even if it were for orbiting nuclear monitoring and interdiction platforms (rather more difficult to shoot down) it would be a huge improvement over this boondoggle, and would at least be beneficial, even if hopelessly paranoid.
  • Please specify East or West with you longitude, and North or South with latitude. Failure do do so in these circumstances could spoil your whole day.

    Feed he hungry. Save the whales. Free the mallocs.
  • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Sunday September 26, 1999 @07:46AM (#1659045) Homepage
    Bah. Why would India and Pakistan sign onto disarmament if the big powers would? Their enemies aren't generally the big powers (and, if we WERE being, for some reason, evil bastards bent on ruthlessly destroying them, we wouldn't need nuclear weapons to do it...). No, it's that Pakistan and India happen to be neighbors with territorial disputes and a long history of conflict.

    Suppose, say, Canada were a deadly enemy of the United States. Further suppose that it had comparable conventional forces, of at least sufficient power to stall any invasion but not really enough to successfully mount a hell-bent drive towards Washington. Would, oh, Israel admitting that it had nuclear weapons, but then disarming, have any impact on the US/Canada theatre? No.

    Face it: there's really no justification for trying to "lead by example" here. Remember how badly Wilson botched trying to "be nice" w/ the Treaty of Versailles? or, how numerous Lefty traitors/spies apparently wanted the US and UK to demilitarize completely -- but to build up the Stalinist forces, both conventional and nuclear? Does North Korea follow the South's example of sanely leading a similar state, or does it persist in being confrontational by sending commandos for infiltration missions via submarines, and starving its people so it can build nuclear missiles?

    And so forth.
  • It's possible to launch a ballistic missile in such a way that the target -- even if nuclear-capable -- would not know where to counter-strike.

    First, there are mobile ICBM missile launchers. These include those mounted on railroad cars, and those in submarines. The former are fairly cheap, but have the disadvantage that the host country is most likely the source, and that movement is constrained by needing rail. The latter has the advantage that it can be superbly stealthy (it's hard to track a submarine in the middle of the ocean...), and that it might be unclear whose it is (although there probably aren't that many nations with this capability); the disadvantages are that its expensive and rare.

    Second, it is possible that control of a silo or other launch system could be seized by a third party, such as a state-sponsored terrorist group. In such a situation, it may be quite unclear who's responsible... if, say, a silo near a major Russian city such as Vladiostok were seized (I don't know, off-hand, whether they place in bases near cities, or whether they're in more secluded areas. Pardon my lack of specific intel re: Russian military deployments...) by a third party, we would arguably not want to launch. Heck, by the responsible folks would probably be gone by the time that a counterstrike could be launched.
  • That's, ermm, quite interesting. I could be quite wrong about this, but the only reason that comes to mind that requires this degree of precision is to hit certain types of targets like hardened silos, seriously reinforced underground bunkers and other heavily protected installations.

    Hmmm. That sort of thing's useful for a first strike, no?
  • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Sunday September 26, 1999 @08:03AM (#1659066) Homepage
    So, er, you would have supported Chamberlain? You do remember Munich, and the Sudetenland, and how a certain Austrian failed artist made Chamberlain look like a complete, utter idiot? (Which, to be fair, he was in this case.) By not acting, you also create rather powerful dictators, who then sometimes seem to make the mistake of thinking that they can invade Russia.

    Another example: Imperial China did not particularly value its military, instead esteeming culture and scholarship. You had, for instance, an Empress deciding that she needed a lovely garden more than the nation needed a navy with something stronger than cheap wooden ships. So what happened when the other nations noticed?
  • Please think a tad deeper. Ever heard of submarines? Or thought about what would happen if a third party subverted a silo?
  • That specific appellation came from the mouth of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, one-time ruler of Iran. He did have reasons to loathe us, such as our support of the Shah whom his Islamic revolution overthrew; if he wasn't going to demonize those who supported his enemies, then he wasn't not being very revolutionary, was he?

    In addition, it helps to focus a people if you give 'em a convenient enemy on which to blame all your problems upon. In this case, if memory serves, it might have also been because the US helped sustain Israel as a viable state when it needed it.
  • If you are going to posit nuclear missile carrying submarines, why not cruise missles or nuclear torpedos on submarines? What's the hit rate on those for this missle? If whatever it is is set up to trigger on anything approaching too fast after being launched then submarines can still kill cities, even if the missile defense proposed worked perfectly.

    As to the hostile silo takeover, my supposition is that a takeover could not be instantly accomplished, and that country would be on the phone to us screaming their head off that they weren't responsible long before the missile even launched. Then we have a tough decision. If it's that easy to take over their nuclear silos and launch without permission while remaining anonymous perhaps they *should* worry about getting nuked in return.

    In order to make the world safe against the use of "nukes" you'd have to cover all the ways they can be used simultaneously, or you just shift the way attacks will be carried out, not the results. Missles are far less useful against biological attacks for example, and those are easier to imagine getting in the wrong hands in the first place. To my way of thinking, shallow though it may be, arms races are futile past a certain point -- where you can credibly say that attacking you is very stupid. It's not much different from school violence, you need to solve the insanity at it's root, not by outgunning the miscreants, or putting kids in bulletproof suits. It's not a question of the world being a safe place, it's where you want to put your money to make it safer.
  • Yeah, that other Dan Quayle.

    I think I'll just go away now...

    Slashdot - A new source of cheap entertainment.
  • by MattXVI ( 82494 ) on Sunday September 26, 1999 @08:13AM (#1659087) Homepage
    You are wrong about almost everything.

    You remember that peace dividend we were supposed to get after the cold war? Remember when Reagan was pumping most of our annual budget into the military to outspend the Commies?

    The US has never spent most of the annual Federal budget of Defense. Even at the height of the Cold War, when Reagan was catching up from the dangerously wussified Carter 70's, Defense never consumed more than 35 or 40 percent of the Federal budget. Of course, it really doesn't matter. You should spend what is necessary. A newly-freed Eastern Europe and a much-diminsihed threat of nuclear war are both worth a lot of billions.

    We were supposed be able to cut back that spending dramaticly after the Cold War was over. After WWII the US military budget dropped by 90%.

    We were fighting a ground war overseas, for most of the time in two hemispeherically separated theatres. Of course, it was very very expensive. The Cold War, however, was never that expensive in terms of a percentage of the Federal budget, or of the GNP.

    Most of that $ went to the Marshall plan to rebuild Japan and Western Europe. It also went to the GI Bill which produced the most romanticized and idyllic time in most American's memories.

    Great! And the Federal government spends much, much more than that now on Federal aid for university students.

    But didn't we cut back on military spending after the Cold War and close all those bases? Yeah, about 15% of our top Cold War spending levels. During 1998 we spent over $321 Billion on National Defense...

    You are not using Real dollars. There has been inflation since the mid-80's. The big complaint right now from bothe parties in Congress is that the military is underfunded. Defense expeditures right now, as a percentage of our GNP, have not been lower since before World War I, when we were just another pissant republic

    Now compare that to the 50 Billion we spent on education and training, the 23 Billion NASA got...

    No, totally wrong. First, NASA is obsolete and mostly useless. Private companies will soon so far surpass NASA that it'll just be another very expensive joke. It's funding should be cut and folded into traditional research funding channels. Second, the Federal money for education and training may be small, but those things cost a lot less than aircraft carriers. Historically, the State and local governments run education and training. And they currently spend hundreds of billions on education and training. On top of that, what makes you think spend for Federal dollars on those things will improve them? There is zero evidence of that, and much to the contrary.

    and the fact that China, only spent 40-60 Billion on their National Defense.

    Well, they don't have to fund their own R&D, since they steal it all from the US. In addition, you really can have no idea how much they spend on defense. They are a closed totalitarian regime. They don't just hand out accurate statistics at the Defense haedquarters to curious foreign citizens.

    As a percentage of our GDP we spend 6 times what countries in Western Europe (England, France) who have also been participating in our policing operations around the world.

    Incoherent, and totally untrue.

    We need to take a chunk of that money and invest in the public infrastructure (education, health care, public utilities, small business resources) in our country and many 'pontential rogue nations' in the former Soviet Union, Africa, Asia and South America.

    First of all, our infrastructure in the US is just fine. We fund all that stuff you mention to the gills. Second, those countries you mentioned would be a lot better off if they quit their bellyaching and freed their economies up and did their own development. It's nice to give advice, and to help sometimes, for sure.

    Once our people and other people are able to trade with one another, make a living for their families and provide a future for their children, I garuntee that the liklihood of war is 0.000000000000000000001.

    Your gurantee is worthless. We have traded previously with every country with which we've gone to battle. We bought oil from Hussein and Ghadaffi, traded with the Soviets all through the Cold War, traded heavily with Germany before both World Wars, and with Japan before WW II etcetera etcetera. History is not on your side.

    History has shown that we have created many of the dictators we have had to overthow (Noriega, Suharto, Sadam) and we have managed to help countries get on their feet (W. Europe, Japan). We are at that crossroads again and must decide how to spend our money.

    We did not 'create' any of the dictators you mentioned, or any other, for that matter. Sometimes we dealt with them when our interests coincided. Sometimes we hoped we could convince them to open up their countries. We also allied with Stalin during WWII to defeat Hitler. Do you think that was a bad idea, too?

    Investing in Peace is always a better idea than investing in War.

    But investing in Defense is the best way to prevent war.

  • Oh, I beg to differ. Are you saying, say, that Israel should have waited patiently for Soviet-backed Syria and Egypt to have struck at it, instead of launching the Six-Day War via pre-emptive strike? Or that the US should have, upon Pearl Harbor, shrugged its shoulders and said, "Eh. You win, we don't care?", and basically kissed Europe, Asia and Africa goodbye by never fighting either Axis power?

    Or, perhaps, the US should have played nice to ol' Jeff Davis, and split the country up? Countries should all yield to separatists, right? And you'll leave tea and Toll House cookies for the next burglar who visits your house, true?

    It ain't a nice thing to say, but I'll say it. Sometimes, it's perfectly moral to kill. {shrug}
  • Collisions at these speeds are not like normal every day car wreaks. Things explode or vaporize at these speeds. Very little of the pit would be in one piece after the collision. Plus, the collision happens very high up, so you also have reentry to deal with. A plutonium core isn't going to make a very good heat shield.

    It's a non-problem anyway. The amount of plutonium is so small, and it will be scattered over such a wide area that it wouldn't even be detectable.

    As a matter of fact, this is probably a pretty good way of getting rid of unwanted nuclear material. Scatter it evenly over the whole planet, it wouldn't even register above the background levels.

    People are so damned scared of anything with the word "nuclear" in it these days. The whole US public seems to think they all know with certainty that anything nuclear related is evil. And yet they're far too stupid to actually go out and READ something about the subject. Most don't even know that every smoke detector in the country has a radioactive substance in it. You can be sure there would be a huge uproar if the media ever noticed......

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."