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

From: Chris Hibbert (
Date: Fri Jul 20 2001 - 01:02:52 MDT

Peter said:
> > That doesn't have to be the point of a population defense system.
> > Stopping a single accidentally launched missile doesn't sound like a
> > frivolous goal.

I argued that while not frivolous, it doesn't remove its value as a threat.

Mike Lorrey responded:
> Yes it does. Terrorist groups and the rogue nations that support them
> operate on limited resources. All they get from an attack that fails so
> miserably is a local rally of support from fellow extremists who only
> respect the fact that they tried an attack. They surely won't stick
> around for round two, when we decide to strike back.

I'll try again. If they have twenty missiles and we have a 90%
effective system, they get two nuclear missiles through. They didn't
intend to defeat us in a war, they intended to inflict heavy casualties.
 They did so. I don't think you would say "we stopped most of their
missiles, so they failed miserably." The point of having twenty
missiles wasn't to do twenty times the damage of a single missile, it
was to make it more likely that at least one would get through. They
don't care about round two.

> Chris, what makes you think even a country like Russia, which went broke
> once before trying to outspend us, could possibly succeed at the same
> game?

We aren't playing that game anymore. The current game has several
players who have nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and no players
who have effective defensive systems. One of the players announces that
it intends to start to develop and deploy defensive systems that will
start out not very effective against some currently possible attacks and
get better over time. If any of the other players are worried about the
intentions of the player developing defenses, they can invest in more
and better offensive tools and stay ahead of the other player's
defenses. They don't have to be able to win a war in order for it to be
valuable in some cases to be able to inflict losses.

There are many countries in the world that hate us or are afraid of us.
I understand why you want to be safe from some missiles. My claim is
that trying to get there gives some of the countries that are afraid of
us or that hate us a reason and an excuse for arming. We can reduce
some threats, but making that move may increase others.

I think it's possible that the threats that will be reduced are unlikely
to be exercised (a suitcase nuke is easier than a single missile.) I
think the threats that may be increased in response to our actions are
more worth avoiding. I also think it's a lot of money that doesn't
benefit us.

Spike wrote:
> Regarding the billions to deploy a partially effective system, most
> of that money has already been spent. The research and development
> of *current* EKV, THAAD and PAC3 has already been spent.
> Building a few thousands of these and parking them somewhere is
> the cheap part. I dont see why not go ahead and do it.

The money that's been spent is sunk costs. It's water under the bridge.
 How much do you think building a few thousand will cost? How much to
operate them over time? How much to develop the next layer of systems?
(I thought we had agreed that the current technology is not very
effective, and we have to continue to spend money in order to keep up
with the obvious counters to our first move.)

Spike continued:
> If we do not defeat nukes, they will eventually defeat us.

Why do you believe this? And what do you mean by "defeat"? I thought
we were talking about a system that for the next twenty years will only
let a few nuclear missiles through. If we don't deploy SDI, then worst
case, a few missiles hit us. (Why would anyone invest to build more if
the first few are likely to get through?) If we do deploy, then worst
case someone delivers a few suitcase nukes. Or (their choice, not ours)
we get into a arms race and have to spend lots of money trying to defend
against more and more sophisticated missiles. How did we benefit from
starting the race?

I'm more willing to believe that most of the people that might decide to
join us in an arms race (if we start one) would also be willing to join
us in a world wide market for developing and delivering high tech toys.
I'd rather be in a commercial race than an arms race.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:50 MDT