Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Missile Defense hawked in response to Korean tests



A good friend of mine asked, in reference to this absurd PR report that appeared on Fox: "I thought Missile Defense does not work (or is not finished)" Well, it all depends on the meaning of what "it works" means.

First, though, let us note in passing that we're missing the more obvious point, which is that Bush's "axis of evil" has greatly energized the three countries he named: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. In particular, by invading one of the three countries, he has created an energetic response in the other two to survive our forthcoming invasion. Iran should be our ally, not our enemy.

However, we are here, and it is now, and the North Koreans are testing a missile that could reach the continental United States. Will the U.S. Missile Defense system work?

If you mean, "can this system stop a single ICBM in scenarios where the time and direction of attack are signaled beforehand, and no counterdefense measures are taken?", then the answer is sort of. There are six deployed systems currently. In eight tests since 1999, they've hit their targets in just five times. The two of the last three tests in 2004 and 2005 were unmitigated disasters, where the interceptor rockets did not even launch. The most recent test was a success.

If you mean "can this system stop a realistic missile attack, where multiple inbound ICBMs are fired at multiple targets with no advance warning, multiple missiles per target, and a large variety of countermeasures such as chaff, flares, full-scale decoys, and ECM?" then the answer is no, not even theoretically, not for years. It's a very, very hard problem. ICBMs might be traveling at 15,000 mph, and they might be launched from submarines just a hundred miles away from your borders. This is one reason why MacMamara and others came up with Mutually Assured Destruction.

If you mean "does this system supply a broad, flower-lined highway upon which many ripe sacks of gold can caper into the pockets of large military-industrial companies?" then yes, it works extraordinarily well, thank you. Thank you very much indeed!

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