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    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

Earliest Messages Previous Messages Recent Messages Outline (65 previous messages)

kgblankinship - 05:19pm Jun 9, 2000 EST (#66 of 11858)

Regarding Patriot effectiveness. True, the success rate of Patriot was overstated, but after closer investigation of all launches during Desert Storm (including Israel) by DOD and by the contractor, that despite Postol's claims, it was found that the success rate was actually 65 % (as published in a detailed early 1990s article in Foreign Affairs). Not bad for the first US ABM system, and Patriot was not originally designed for this role.

vic.hernandez - 07:02pm Jun 9, 2000 EST (#67 of 11858)

Right now the President has a choice to two responses should a missle armed opponent attack. First, take the hit, declare war and try to go after the perpetrators with conventional forces. Second, retaliate with nuclear force, killing millions in the process. Either way, a lot of people on both sides of the conflict are going to die. You notice I haven't said we just sit back and take it. The pressure on the President for revenge after we have lost a city to a nuclear strike will be irresistible. War will follow, and will be prosecuted to the end.

A missle defense system, even a basic one, will complicate any attack scenario. The attacker could never be sure which targets would be destroyed. He would have to launch enough warheads to be sure that the defense was overwhelmed. Such an attack would not be a message, but an attempt to totally devastate.

Adding decoys adds to the complexity of the system. The more complicated a system is, the more likely it is to fail at some point. Therefore, the system will have to be tested. Testing reveals the existence and the capabilities of the decoys. Decoy systems do not come cheap. They cost money, intellect, and throw weight. All of which are in much in demand. How much of a budget will be devoted to achieving the goal? Is it going to be enough? Can the effort be overcome by the opponent?

Once an ABM system is deployed, it will be continuously improved. As an example, the smart bomb of today is not the smart bomb of the Viet Nam War. It has been tested, and incrementally improved over the years until it is now a highly reliable weapon. That is what will happen to any ABM system that is deployed. Year after year, incremental improvements will be made to sensors, manuvering systems, computing systems, and other elements. We are not talking about a static situation.

An ABM system needs to be developed and deployed. How much will it cost to replace downtown Anywhere, USA? Not to mention the lives of the citizens there at the time of impact. Let's give our warriors tools they can use to deflect an attack, not just avenge our dead. The President needs to be given the opportunity to have more than a choice between becoming a killer on a fabulous scale or becoming known as the man who allowed American Citizens to be slaughtered.

longiiland - 07:05pm Jun 9, 2000 EST (#68 of 11858)

By perusing a concept that attempts to survive nuclear warfare you give nuclear warfare a ‘chance’. That ‘chance’ of survival destroys the very essence of the worldwide deterrence model. That is why the international community has overwhelmingly tipped the scales in opposition to this system. That is why SALT I and the ABM protocols exist between the two largest nuclear powers. Deployment of such a system embraces the theoretical perspective of Nuclear Utilization Theory. It may not be the intent of those who deploy-but every rational state views the system as a total embrace of a theory designed to win a nuclear war. That perspective (NUTS)(grin) implies that not only will nuclear war be fought-but it mussed be fought to survive and win. In such a pursuit, you lower conventional warfare thresholds and lower the crossover points at which conventional conflict goes into nuclear conflict. This is due to the very fact that one has added a chance to something in which no chance existed prior. You cannot posture yourself against the irrational actor- the minority of this world. Doing so only requires the majority if this world (rational actors) to balance against your own actions. You cannot thwart the irrational actor because the irrational actor has no limits or boundaries. The very name implies that the irrational actor is impossible to deter. As noted by the CIA of May 19th 00, the terminology of ‘rogue’ state has no significant in the course of debate regarding missile deference because ‘rouge’ implies that such states are irrational and every state America has labeled rouge is rational. The rational/irrational actor model is core issue regarding deterrence. As the CIA pointed out, rouge state has ‘more political significance then true value to the structure of deterrence’. In short the largest nuclear power embarking on the deployment of a system designed to survive nuclear strikes creates the impetus for every rational actor, depost to allie to do the same. All at varying levels of technological development all at varying levels of effiencey. In doing so-you destroy nuclear deterrence-the very concept that has maintained no use of nuclear weapons against states since 1945. If one recalls our operational experience in Desert Storm is that while missile defense did not work very well, deterrence did work very well. Saddam Hussein had poison gas-tipped Scuds that were available for launch at the time of the war, and he did not use them. Subsequently, after the U.S. military interrogated some defectors and some captured Iraqi leaders, it became clear why not: Saddam Hussein did not want to get blown up. Before the war, the United States, Britain, France and Israel had all stated, both publicly and privately, that if he was the first to use weapons of mass destruction, he would not be the last to use weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein and his kindred despots in other countries that we are worried about have not survived for extended periods of time by being stupid or careless. They are ruthless and cruel and sometimes reckless, but they don't remain in power, despite our repeated attempts in the case of Saddam Hussein to dislodge him, by being careless about the survival of their regime. Saddam Hussein understood very well that if he initiated the use of weapons of mass destruction, our retaliation would annihilate his regime. So the notion that missile defense is the only bulwark we have against weapons of mass destruction attacks from these regimes simply flies in the face of our actual experience, in which deterrence has worked very well and missile defense has not worked very well at all.

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