Re: go interceptors!

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Mon Jul 16 2001 - 08:24:53 MDT

On Monday, July 16, 2001 12:53 AM John Clark wrote:
>>if a rifle could shoot another bullet out of the air, i would be pretty
>>impressed with it, even in a staged arena.
> I'd be impressed too, it would be a wonderful show. What would it
> have to do with defending your land against an enemy army? Zilch.

Why the focus on a land invasion here? The possibility of one for either
the US or Europe right now seems quite low. (For the US, it's very low.
Canada and Mexico hardly seem capable of such an invasion and have no reason
to. Nations that might want to [threaten to] mount -- China? -- an
amphibious invasion don't have the capability and are a long way from
developing it. In fact, very few nations have this capability.)

The stated purpose of the current ABM program is to stop either rogue state
missle attacks or accidental missle launches (from former Soviet nations and
China). I'm not saying I think this is the best way to go about this, but
this is a lot different than "defending your land against an enemy army."

>>defensive technology has lagged behind offensive tech since crossbows went
>>through medieval armor.
> I agree,

I disagree. Defensive technology was doing fine until about 1918 with
invention of the tank.:) (Some might argue that early German successes in
WW2 actually set them up to believe the tank and offensive warfare could
solve all problems.) Even now, it's debatable. We haven't seen nations
that are roughly militarily, technologically, and economically equal go up
against each other. If, e.g., Iraq or Serbia had the US level of
technological and military development would the recent wars with them have
turned out the same?

> I wish it were different but that's the way it is and I see no signs of
> changing for the better. H bombs are just too big, too numerous, and too
> there is no defense against them.

This last point might true, but the current ABM program is not billed as
being able to stop a massive attack.

>>blowing one up is a big reduction in enemy asset
> Not so, most H bombs would just shake the charred bones and rubble around
> If 99.9% fail to reach their target it doesn't matter, .1% is more than
enough to kill a nation,
> any nation. The defense must be virtually 100% perfect or it's not worth
> Conclusion: it's not worth building.

Let's talk about a more realistic example. Suppose Norh Korea were to
launch three or four nuclear armed missles at the US's West Coast, say,
targetting Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. Stopping one
of those missles would save one city from any immediate damage. Ditto for
an accidental launch from Russia or China. That's the kind of scenario it
appears the new ABM program is built around. Whether it's possible or worth
the effort is another matter.

This is not to say I'm completely behind the program. I just see a few of
John Clarks' criticisms of it, for the most part, as non sequitirs. I do
see some relevance for his point about antagonizing current nuclear powers.
Even so, IIRC, the Soviets continued to build and upgrade nuclear weapons
after the signing of the ABM treaty. The Chinese, IIRC, build their entire
arsenal afterward. It's not so clear that the current state of affairs is
optimal or that achieves what its current supporters claim it achieves.

What I think would work better against rogue states or in general for peace
would be for the US to disengage from regional conflicts -- e.g., from the
Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, and East Asia -- as well as to actually
embrace laissez faire capitalism. The former would make it less likely for
regional conflicts to turn global or to involve the US, making terrorism,
nuclear or not, less likely against the US. Also, not pouring money, for
arms or to prop up unpopular regimes, into the regions would make them more

The latter would make it more likely that goods and armies would cross
borders. If the US stopped backing bad bank loans to the Third World and
funding some of the international institutions that promote economic and
political instability -- the UN, the IMF, the World Bank -- a lot of these
problems would be mininized and might disappear.


Daniel Ust
    See "The Many Births of Free Verse" at:

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