Re: SDI was Re: Expanding the "United States of America"

Date: Thu Jul 12 2001 - 19:02:55 MDT


I'll admit that your description makes it sound like there's a research
path that would lead to a deployable system. My point was that it's far
away, and selling us such a system now is sheer hype. Your message
reinforces my feeling. You've convinced me that it is still several 5-10
year research and development projects away.

If it were something Microsoft or IBM wanted to do, I'd believe that they
could plan, pay for, and manage several of these research projects in
parallel. But in the US government, such undertakings are vastly more
political. Getting reliable funding for any one of these for the life of
the project is problematic. Getting funding to work on integrating the
systems doesn't even make sense until some of the systems work.

> The point of a defensive system is not to eliminate every missile that
> gets through, it is having a system that is good enough to eliminate
> enough missiles that any actual damage done is not worth the cost of
> all the lost missiles.

The point of a defensive system in a military theater is as you describe.
The point of a population defense system against WoMD has to be to stop all
or probably all incoming missiles. If you stop 90% of 20 missiles, the
threat has not been countered. The technologies of the future will make it
cheaper to deploy scores of copies of any weapon someone can test.
Incoming missiles don't have to coordinate their actions. A coalition of
defensive systems do have to coordinate, and this is one of the hardest
problems if you have to be close to %100 successful to be useful.

> Hostile powers work on developing weapons of mass destruction because
> they are economical means of holding people hostage. Discouraging them
> from engaging in such development simply requires making the return on
> investment too high for reasonable use.

A system in development that stops 20% in five years and 40% in 10 years
and 60% in 15 years doesn't deter attacks on population. It may serve to
deter attacks on hardened military targets promising retaliation. If we
build hardened military targets promising retaliation, any enemies we have
will notice that those tools can be used for offense as well as defense.

I'd like to hear how developing a system like this promotes stability in
the period in which it's an imperfect shield.


Chris Hibbert                 protecting privacy in the computer age is            like trying to change a tire on a moving car.             --Colin Bennett
Yahoo Instant Message: ag_cth

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:44 MDT