Re: eeyore and tigger

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Wed Jun 14 2000 - 20:56:55 MDT

John Clark wrote:

> Cruse Missiles. Stealth technology. Cheap balloon decoys. Armored warheads.
> Warheads in orbit. Electro Magnetic Pulse Bombs. Suitcase Nukes. And most
> important of all, quantity.

Bring em on, we'll bust em all! {8-] You bring up a good point: there
are plenty of ways to deliver a nuke. The systems that are being proposed
do not deal with everything, just the ICBMs. For that reason, they do not
violate the ABM treaty of 1972. They are not designed to defeat a massive
attack by an advanced foe, but rather a limited attack by crazies and
terrorists. The current systems are just a start.

Actually I myself doubt the WMD of choice will ever be a nuke.
Plutonium is just too hard to get, too hard to make, too hard to
handle. Uranium is not that much easier. I suspect we will be
looking at bioagents sooner than we would see a nuke.

Of course, I am straying from the original argument here, which
is the question of whether national missile defense is even possible.
I argue that it is feasible, and will leave the politics to the politicians.

Speaking of which, I was amused and alarmed to hear some of the
arguments being used by the anti-NMD senator on the TV news
this morning. He said that the NMD was so vulnerable that it has
a number of soft radar sites, so that if any one of these is taken out
the whole system is useless. Nowthen, it doesnt take an extropian
to figure out that *no* weapon system is designed with multiple
single-point failure modes and zero redundancy. That would be like
the scene from Star Wars where they knocked out the control
system and all the fighter droids went dead. {8^D My amusement was
at this senator's ability to tell such a tale with a straight face, alarmed
that we have an elected decision maker who might be dumb enough
to believe his own story.

> You've already admitted that defense is much more expensive than
> offence so just building more defense is simply not going to work unless your resources
> are infinite. They're not.

I could have made this clearer. In an ABM system, the cost is in the
design and development stages. Production is cheap, way cheap in
comparison to that. Once we design a space based laser system, an
airborn laser system, a THAAD, they can crank out copies by the
zillions. It is pretty much analogous to building the first copy machine
as compared to the cost of making copies on it afterwards.

> >>if I just buy some paint at Home Depot and paint my warhead white you'll have to
> >>increase the power of your LASER about a hundred times.
> I'm sure that somebody involved in the project had taken Physics in High School so the
> idea must have been tossed around.

Roger that. Recall that the photons that come out of the business end of
a laser have *already* passed thru a highly reflective surface. {8-]

> However they concluded, quite correctly, that it had
> nothing to do with the main function of the system, to provide employment for themselves
> and their friends.

Ah, a conspiracy theorist among us. I have a hard time buying that
for the following reasons:

1) those who design and build missile defense systems are not hurting
for employment. They could make waaay more money elsewhere, but

2) there is not huge profit in most of the missile defense systems for
aerospace companies, reason: the profitability of the phases of pretty
much any space program increases as you go along. The first phase,
bid and proposal phase is usually a dead loss. The early development
stages are a breakeven if all goes well. The prototype and test phase
makes some money, but the real money is in the manufacturing. Thats
why all the headlines from the aerospace companies are about who
will get the staggeringly profitable F22 contract and the Joint Strike
Fighter. Both LM and Boeing consider it a win or die contract.

THAAD is so-so on the profitability scale, since it is a lotta
development, not so much production. But the real heart of national
missile defense is almost totally low-profitability development and very
little high-profit production. That might explain why they havent been
lobbying for it much. Makes sense to me.

> I mean, if the system is ever actually needed nobody expects to be held
> accountable afterward when it fails to work as promised.

Thats right. If that system is needed and fails, being held accountable is
the very least of our worries. I would do everything I can to make
sure the thing does work. spike

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