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Nazi engineer and Disney space advisor Wernher Von Braun helped
give us rocket science. Today, the legacy of military aeronautics
has many manifestations from SDI to advanced ballistic missiles. Now
there is a controversial push for a new missile defense system. What
will be the role of missile defense in the new geopolitical climate
and in the new scientific era?
(494 previous messages)
- 07:11am Nov 13, 2000 EDT (#495
Earth vs <^> <^> <^>
I would hate to see a World Government, but unless the causes of
war are removed, and with them any reason to use nuclear weapons,
how would you like to see responsibility delegated for the
supervision of a force sufficient to dispense with any forseeable
threats (those small enough to be dealt with by nuclear weapons)?
We can calculate the threats posed by comets and asteroids
(except for chaotic gravitational resonances)......but how do we
know what the entire range encompasses of possible threats from
- 11:00am Nov 13, 2000 EDT (#496
I've advocated getting rid of nuclear weapons, not getting
rid of militaries.
It will take me a while to go back and find all the statements,
from senior U.S. military people, stating that nuclear weapons are
not reasonably useful military weapons, and that military stability
does not need them. That's what you are asking for.
I am for a strong national defense.
The desire for a strong national defense is no valid argument for
maintenance of nuclear weapons - especially in the ridiculously
large numbers now maintained, that threaten the existence of the
- 10:58pm Nov 13, 2000 EDT (#497
In the controversy over the proposed missile defence system might
we be overlooking something?
If I were an Iranian or Iraqui leader or a terrorist who came
into posession of atomic weapons, I would not spend more years and
billions developing a reliable missile delivery system in order to
attack the U.S. Indeed I might not have the capability to do so.
I would pack a bomb in a container and ship it to the U.S. from a
neutral third country. Once in the U.S., I would have it trucked to
within a few miles of any civilian or military target I desired. I
would then have an agent activate a timed detonation mechanism.
This delivery method would bypass any U.S. missile defence
systems and have the advantage of preserving my anonymity, something
a missile attack would not do.
In my opinion, this scenario is more probable than a nuclear
missile attack from a rogue state. Has the Department of Defense
done any studies on what measures we may realistically take to
defend ourselves against such an attack?
- 09:35am Nov 14, 2000 EDT (#498
Mr Briscoe, that is my fear. I can see some Pakistani religious
fanatics dutifully rowing a nuke laden skiff into an american
- 07:49pm Nov 16, 2000 EDT (#499
kalter.rauch (#495) and I agree that nuclear charges would
be useful for deflecting comets or asteroids from collision with the
However, no military can reasonably respond to any and all
hypothetical threats a science fiction writer might come up with.
Even if it could, responses would seldom take the form of nuclear
kalter asks “how do we know what the entire range
encompasses of possible threats from beyond?” Of course we don’t
know what we don’t know. --- But the argument that nuclear weapons
would fit such yet unforseen threat scenarios seems farfetched.
kalter also suggest that we can’t hope to get rid of
nuclear weapons so long as the causes of war persist. That doesn’t
follow. Nation states can be responsible, with their allies, for
their own defense. With nuclear weapons outlawed, and information
flows becoming faster and better, conditions would favor the defense
rather than the offense, and therefore favor stability. “World
government” isn’t necessary.
For most threats, probably including unforseeable ones, the best
responses are likely to be directed in a sharp and aimed fashion.
Nuclear weapons, in contrast, are sloppy area weapons, the opposite
of ideal military responses.
- 07:59pm Nov 16, 2000 EDT (#500
robertbriscoe (#497 ) makes an interesting point, seconded
by jorian.s . I agree with that point.
Any missile defence system would be useless in defending against
the most probable form of delivery of nuclear weapons, because the
most probable form is the delivery of such weapons to cities by
simple uses of existing shipping arrangements.
The U.S. does not monitor freight coming into the US nearly well
enough to defend effectively against these attacks, nor do other
countries. Nor could it easily do so.
It is not only possible, but pretty straightforward, to bypass
any U.S. missile defence system. And doing so could preserve
anonymity or the attacker, as a missile attack would not.
General Charles Horner has considered such dangers, and has
suggested that it is likely that a nuclear weapon would be
exploded on a US city in the next decade by some such means.
Nor would it be easy to defend American ships at sea, or in
foreign ports, as jorian_s points out.
No missile defense system can help any of this.
Well, how can nuclear terrorism be made less likely? We can make
nuclear weapons harder to obtain (and an absolute prohibition would
be best here.) And we can reduce the moral arguments for such
terrorism, by refraining from extermination threats ourselves, and
by making clear to all how terrible and reprehensible use of nuclear
Nuclear weapons should be anathema – that would be safer for us
all. We can’t make them so, until our own nuclear arsenals are
either eliminated, or radically smaller than they are.
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