Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 19, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

USE OF FORCE....After reading tonight's story about North Korea preparing to test fire a new missile, it occurred to me that this would make a good real-life test of the "use of force" question. That is, when is it justifiable to use force against dangerous or unstable international regimes? Windy theorizing is one thing, but the rubber hits the road when you have to decide what to do in real time in an actual case.

Here's the background: the North Koreans are supposedly fueling their new Taepodong-2 missile, which is a sign that a launch is imminent. The State Department has taken the unusual step of directly contacting the North Korea delegation at the UN to warn them against performing the test. The missile could reach the United States and is probably capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

So: would we be justified in launching an attack on the North Korean test site? What does a neocon like Bill Kristol think? An old-fashioned super-hawk like Dick Cheney? A reformed liberal hawk like Peter Beinart? An unreformed liberal hawk like Hillary Clinton? Or would they all say the same thing and demonstrate that behind the rhetoric there's not really much difference between them?

Or how about this suggestion from James Robbins?

Sounds like a great opportunity to test our missile-defense technology. North Korea has no right to test weapons over other countries, so they won't have a leg to stand on legally. And it would be a great statement of our resolve to stand up to their aggressive behavior. Finally, it would be a high-profile way to demonstrate the effectiveness of our missile-defense systems. For example the Airborne Laser system is up for a flight test this year. Why not make it count?

Hell, I could almost sign up for that. After 20 years, it's time for the missile defense guys to put their money where their mouths are. Of course, Boeing doesn't even pretend that ABL is operational yet, so that particular suggestion is probably out. But how about GMD? Anyone up for finding out if it really works?

Kevin Drum 12:39 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (115)

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"Their" money?

Posted by: gar on June 19, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, good point.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on June 19, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Shoot down a missile. You're funny. :)
Sure the Republicans talk tough, but the very last thing in the world they want is to rid the world of terror threats. The administration started an abortive attempt at portraying the Chinese as our replacement for our Cold War enemy, until that ended in humiliation (anyone still remember that?)
Then 9/11 happened. Bush let bin Laden go at Tora Bora and passed on several opportunities to kill Zarqawi before the war because they needed bogeymen to sell the war in Iraq.
The GOP slashed DHD funding for New York (dead Blue Staters and a huge rally-around-the-flag boost in the polls was win-win last time, right?) despite revelations that al Qaida has specifically targeted the NY metro. (al Qaida supposedly called off a cyanide attack in the 11th hour for unknown reasons).
The Bush administration also turned down Iranian overtures in 2003 to recognize Israel, stop funding terror groups in Iran, work to secure Iraq's internal security, and possibly even put an end to enriching uranium.
Stop North Korea? They're cheering them on. The Bush administration would love nothing less than a successful, long-range flight for the North Korean missile to help resell their hollow War on Terror nonsense for the midterm elections.

Posted by: Augustus on June 19, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum >"...Boeing doesn't even pretend that ABL is operational yet, so that particular suggestion is probably out..."

Uh Kevin "operational" doesn`t mean it isn`t functional, just that it hasn`t jumped through certain bureaucratic hoops; not that I`m suggesting it is actually "functional" since I have no solid info one way or another

Yes, I do think this might be a good test of any ABM system that might be sitting around doing not much at the moment tho I tend to believe that N. Korea is mostly doing this to yank our chain to see how our system works so as to gather useful intelligence & to, maybe, flight test their latest toy of course

"...playin with matches in a pool of gasoline..." - Swamp Mama Johnson

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

actually, daCascadian, we do have a good idea: every test is either rigged or failed. and we'd fail this time too. it's amazing that robbins thinks we would demonstrate anything other than ineffectiveness.

Posted by: howard on June 19, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Forget the faith based missile defense system its odds of working are somewhere between slim and none. Its purpose is to be a PR initiative and a corporate welfare program, not to be an effective weapon system.

It is interesting that the Clinton administration was able to back North Korea down with a military threat. Rather than making a public statement that North Korea should not recycle fuel from its reactors, which would have forced Kim to move ahead or lose face, Clinton sent word through diplomatic channels that it would be a very bad idea while simultaneously moving the U.S. fleet up off the Korean coast. It worked; Korea did not remove the fuel rods from their reactors. Of course all this changed when the tough talking Texas Cowboy became president.

Posted by: fafner1 on June 19, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

The inclusion of North Korea in the "Axis of Evil" was just a politically correct gesture. The Bushies don't believe that regime is a threat (and they're probably right), but were too afraid of being ass raped in the press for Islamophobia to only include Arab-Muslim regimes. If they had been truly honest, the "Axis of Evil" would have featured the House of Saud at one end, Mubarak's government in the middle, and Pakistan at the other.

Posted by: Linus on June 19, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

How about testing a few of our missiles in Pyongyang? If they can test in another country, so can we. And if their capital dome gets in the way of our missile test, that's their problem.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 19, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

deCasdadian --
the Koreans don't have the ability to collect signal/electropnic intelligence like the US. What they need to know is if their missile works. The sooner it explodes the less they know. We'll learn more than they do. We're right there in S.Korea.

After all the billions spent on anti-missile defence the last 20 years we shy away from a real test to minimise our opposition's intelligence collecting? Tells me right where our billions went. Good deal! Money well spent!

Augustus -- basically right. This administration is always about a hidden agenda, dissimulation, and power/money for their subset.

Wonderful country! Wonderful governmemt!

Posted by: notthere on June 19, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

howard >"...we do have a good idea: every test is either rigged or failed..."

You are SOOOOO in over your head; tests of the ABL system have gone well

It is also clear you have no idea how the intelligence game is played in the real world so keep swallowin that propaganda

"Proof depends on who you are. We're looking for a preponderance of evidence, and some people need more of a preponderance than other people." - John Kantner

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

First we have to stop pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the military contracting graft and corruption industry, and start paying engineers to actually solve problems and develop technologies. Apparently, barring Republicans from public service is required for this to happen.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 19, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

"The missile could reach the United States and is probably capable of carrying a nuclear warhead."

Might be of concern if North Korea actually had any nuclear warheads.

.

"it would be a high-profile way to demonstrate the effectiveness of our missile-defense systems."

Yes it would. Too bad they don't work. Almost two dozen tests and they all failed.
.

Posted by: VJ on June 19, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

"You are SOOOOO in over your head; tests of the ABL system have gone well."
I'd like to see some credible evidence which supports that claim. Do you have any to share with us?
As someone who never bought into our adventures in Iraq and thought the problems in Iran & North Korea were of a much greater threat to our national security, I too would like to see some kind of hawkish response to any attempt by the North Koreans to test a missile which could reach our shores.

Posted by: Nathan64 on June 19, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

notthere >"...We'll learn more than they do. We're right there in S.Korea..."

Ha Ha Ha, you ARE funny

Look clown, "We" are real close to the launch site (right now real time 24/7) with several multispectral sensor platforms watching from many angles & "We" don`t need S. Korea to use as a sensor base tho it is helpful

notthere >"...we shy away from a real test to minimise our opposition's intelligence collecting?..."

What the heck are you bloviating about ?

Obviously you didn`t read what I actually wrote

Boy, talk about notthere...

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

By all means, burn up a billion or two by firing an interceptor. I saw one a few years ago in California. The fourth stage is beautiful if they launch at twilight. I'll burn a few dollars of my own just to celebrate.

With Rumsfeld's luck we'd probably hit a sky scraper in Tokyo by accident.

Just wondering: Are there really any international treaties that they would be breaking? I know they have a self imposed moratorium, but I don't think they have ever signed a treaty limiting their ability to launch a rocket such as this. Of course, it would probably be impossible to launch a satellite with a trajectory that wasn't provacative.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 19, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

You are SOOOOO in over your head; tests of the ABL system have gone well

You have no idea what you're talking about.

First of all, there is no such thing as an ABL 'system' - it's not a system yet.

It's a laser on a plane. It's not integrated with any kind of missile-tracking assets yet. The plane has to be within a few hundred miles of the launch site, so the missile can be targeted while it's still travelling slow, which means that those radar assets, plus the plane, are in the enemy theater, and vulnerable to attack themselves.

The ABL has fired at stationary targets successfully, but not moving targets, and certainly not a missile. I don't think it's publicly known whether the laser can even be fired on short notice in combat conditions, and it's effectiveness is tied to weather. If it's not clear, it may not be able to tag the target at all.

Then there's the liability factor. NK may be completely within their legal rights to conduct such a test, but even if we could successfully fire, track, hit, and destroy the booster, the debris could fall over a populated area - which is desirable in wartime, but not in peacetime.

Finally - if an intercept were tried, and FAILED - consider what a blow to US credibility that would be. And if anyone were to fuck up something like this and make the US look stupid, George W Bush is certainly up to the task.

Some of the difficulties in the "boost-phase" method of ballistic missile interception were recently outlined in a report by the American Physical Society:
http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Boost_Phase_Blues_Impact_Missile_Shield_Developments.html

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 19, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Nathan64 >"...I'd like to see some credible evidence which supports that claim. Do you have any to share with us?..."

Since I have little idea what is "credible" to you I`ll just suggest that you might want to do some research of information in the public record (never mind AvLeak since it is a difficult source to filter if you don`t follow it regularly & don`t have some background knowledge in the fields)

Nathan64 >"...would like to see some kind of hawkish response to any attempt by the North Koreans to test a missile which could reach our shores."

Well once the N. Koreans actually flight test such a vehicle I will be more concerned about the potential for them to strike parts of the U.S. other than Alaska; note that I live in an area that is very obviously a bulls eye & within reach of any such system

I am actually interested in having them test their latest most up to date toy so real data (instead of hysterical propaganda) can be dealt with in the public sphere

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day," - Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

The test will fail.
It's not in anybodies interest even N. Korea's to have it work.

Posted by: patience on June 19, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

I saw one a few years ago in California. The fourth stage is beautiful if they launch at twilight.
Posted by: rewolfrats on June 19, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

No you didn't see an interceptor.

If you're talking about the West coast (probably 1999 or 2002), what you saw was a target, launched from Vandenberg AFB. The interceptor is launched from Kwajelin.

The booster of the dummy warhead is a solid, so it tends to leave a nice trail of white smoke in the sky, which does catch the colors of the setting sun in a most beautiful way. It's really very striking. The upper stage will then create a large hazy patch in the sky, and the trail will linger for 15-30 minutes.

Most of the targets are launched in the middle of the night though.

Now this is a completely different approach to missile defense (compared to ABL) - neither system is remotely mature enough for deployment, let alone a publicity stunt like Kevin suggests. The interceptor warhead has problems, the booster has plenty of reliability issues too. The good folks working these programs surely have a nice fat budget - but it's a small fraction of that which has disappeared into the black hole that is Iraq. If NK does develop a means to deliver a nuclear warhead unimpeded to a US city, you can damn well blame Bush.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 19, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

osama_been_forgotten >"...First of all, there is no such thing as an ABL 'system' - it's not a system yet.

It's a laser on a plane. It's not integrated with any kind of missile-tracking assets yet (more such froth deleted)..."

I am surprised that you appear to be so uninformed since usually the information you post is much better

[part of the problem I think is some difference in how the term "system" is defined; I`m not using it in some rigid Cold War bureaucratic sense]

Note that no where have I suggested that the ABL IS actually ready to shoot down Commie missles of any sort in any phase of their flight; I simply stated that "operational" has a special bureaucratic meaning in defense systems & that not being labeled "operational" does NOT mean a system is not functional & as an example I`ll note the various UAV programs that have been used in combat far ahead of schedule because of certain tactical considerations/needs (their readiness tests turned out to be actual battlefield use)

"Operational" has a Cold War sense that is being bypassed here in the 21st Century 4th Genration Warfare environment we live in

"Proof depends on who you are. We're looking for a preponderance of evidence, and some people need more of a preponderance than other people." - John Kantner

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2006 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

"The missile could reach the United States and is probably capable of carrying a nuclear warhead."

Good example of stating a falsehood using two true statements. Yes, the TD-2 can (probably) reach the US, and yes it can carry a nuclear warhead.

However it can't do both at the same time.

At the end of its range, the TD-2 probably has a payload of a few hundred kilograms. That is not enough to carry any nuke that the N. Koreans have yet developed.

The CEP (accuracy) of this missile is unknown, but it is probably very high - possibly as much as two miles.

It is also worthwhile noting that the TD-2 is liquid fueled. Liquid fuel is corrosive and unstable: such missiles cannot be kept fueled and ready to go. Fueling takes about 24 hours and the missile is immobile and an easy target during that time. It also makes it very difficult to have more than a small few of missiles launchable at the same time.

I think I would agree with the CIA and call this threat overrated.

Posted by: mcdruid on June 19, 2006 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

Finally, it would be a high-profile way to demonstrate the effectiveness of our missile-defense systems.

HAHAHAHAHA!

Yes, I bet we're really anxious to do that.

How about when we detect a launch, we throw Cheney up into the night sky - nothing could fail to hit an ego as big as that fat bastard's.

Posted by: craigie on June 19, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

In connection with Kevin's question about what a hawk of any stripe might do, I'd like to suggest from the start that any preemptive action on that rocket site is out of the question at this point. If the North Koreans say they want to launch a satellite, that's their right. Bombing a site inside another country just because it *might* be a threat, without any hard evidence, is itself a provocative act of war. On the other hand, if NK lobs a missile that hits us here in Japan, for example, that would be an act of war requiring appropriate international action. I just don't think they are that stupid.

Posted by: wataru on June 19, 2006 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

...tests of the ABL system have gone well

It is also clear you have no idea how the intelligence game is played in the real world so keep swallowin that propaganda

"Proof depends on who you are. We're looking for a preponderance of evidence, and some people need more of a preponderance than other people." - John Kantner

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

...Obviously you didn`t read what I actually wrote

Boy, talk about notthere...

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

Marvellous posts, deCascadian. Refute without any evidence, proof or real comment. Real Republican Vacancy.

per daCascadian:
Read all this for real logic and reality. How cogent:

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2006 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

...Note that no where have I suggested that the ABL IS actually ready to shoot down Commie missles of any sort in any phase of their flight; I simply stated that "operational" has a special bureaucratic meaning in defense systems & that not being labeled "operational" does NOT mean a system is not functional....
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I think we're all familiar with this language, particularly in regards to "Star Wars". Still as unrealistic, underperforming and draining revenue as in 1988-89.

deCascadian, cite performance of your ANL compared to the distinctive failures of the missile program.

Nice propaganda.

Posted by: notthere on June 19, 2006 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

ANL = ABL = (I assume) Anti-Ballistic Laser.

Who really knows? They'll claim somthing else.

Posted by: notthere on June 19, 2006 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, "da," do us all a favor and turn off your random quote generator. It makes you look like a pretentious asshole.

Posted by: Ken on June 19, 2006 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

No you didn't see an interceptor.

Correct. My memory was fuzzy. It was the October 2002 launch of a Minuteman II from northern California. They say the test was about 100 million dollars.

My main problem with the program is the dramatic cost differential between advances in interceptors and advances in ICBM counter measures. After boost phase, a simple tether system could fuzz the target. Decoys could also be used as cheap insurance.

If you want to stop a NK attack, hit the fricking missile on it's launch pad. If you want to stop a Russian or Chinese attack, well, that's just too bad.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 19, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised noone has mentioned Aegis. Wouldn't positioning a cruiser in the Sea of Japan and nailing the missile during the booster phase be much more likely to succeed?

Posted by: cunning linguist on June 19, 2006 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

Cunnning linguist, the Aegis system isn't yet operational for intercepts of ICBM class missiles. They've conducted "intercept during boost" tests on MRBM and even IRBM class missiles but none on ICBM class to my knowledge. Even then, they've had only a few tests and just recently. No operational enhanced Aegis missiles appear to have deployed to the Fleet to support such an intercept.

More important, this NK missile is a classic kerosene-LOX fueled bird. No one in their right mind is going to keep LOX in this missile for anything more than a day before terminating the test. Our own government is just beating the wardrums with this noise that the Koreans have been ready for a launch for the last three days. Washington is just trying to make it appear that the North Koreans have the same response time our missile fleet does so they can justify a preventative attack and claim preemption. It's classic fascist noise.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan on June 19, 2006 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

> Sounds like a great opportunity to test
> our missile-defense technology. North Korea
> has no right to test weapons over other
> countries, so they won't have a leg to stand on
> legally.

Cause, ya know, our space shuttles and stuff NEVER fly over evil countries. Or even France.

By the way, the ABM tests _have_ been successful. That milestone was achieved by retroactively redefining "success" to mean whatever actually happened during the test, including the one where the interceptor shut down 3 seconds before launch and just sat it in the tube. I kid you not: that too is in the public record.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 19, 2006 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

It strikes me as a foolish notion to attempt bringing down NK's missle if we aren't reasonably sure we could do it. It would be a strategic blunder were we to fail. (current discussion about readiness aside)

Posted by: ww on June 19, 2006 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

No-one in their right minds would ever actually use the ABM systems in a situation like this. The damn thing doesn't work. It just does not work. Everyone knows that. The only value it has is in providing

1) a tiny deterrence value that comes from the nagging doubt an enemy might have that an ABM shot might get lucky

2) propaganda to the American people that they can be protected from rogue states with ICBMs.

If you use it and it fails, and it will, you lose even these pretty tenuous uses for the thing.

Posted by: still working it out on June 19, 2006 at 7:23 AM | PERMALINK

We currently can't intercept long range strategic ballistic missiles. They come in too fast. Saddams Scuds were tactical ballistic missiles nothing even close to Taepodong 2. The tests of THAAD missiles have been mostly failures.

Three shorter range tactical ABM systems are currently operational: the U.S. Patriot, Navy Aegis combat system/Standard SM-3, and the Israeli Arrow. The longer-range U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is scheduled for deployment in 2011. In general short-range tactical ABMs cannot intercept ICBMs, even if within range. The tactical ABM radar and performance characteristics do not allow it, as an incoming ICBM warhead moves much faster than a tactical missile warhead. However it is possible the higher performance THAAD missile could be upgraded to intercept ICBMs.

Posted by: Notany on June 19, 2006 at 7:26 AM | PERMALINK

This whole discussion demonstrates the fundamental strategic imbecility of the entire ABM program.

The North Koreans have been fueling a test rocket. This gives us days notice. Hitting the rocket on the ground during this time period would be trivial. The debate over hitting it in flight is between those who think we cannot hit it now and those who think we will never be able to hit it.

But we CAN hit it now -- on the ground.

With no risk of debris falling on Japan.

With absolute certainty.

We don't need hawkish liberals challenging Bush to attempt a foolish test to prove his foolish strategy. We need a hawkish liberal challenging Bush to blow the missile up as it sits there.

Thereby proving once and for all that all the money spent on ABMs for the last three decades was wasted.

Posted by: scotus on June 19, 2006 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Thereby proving once and for all that all the money spent on ABMs for the last three decades was wasted."

And they sure as hell don't want to do that. Better to let it be launched. Do nothing. And then blame doing nothing on liberals and ask for extra funding for the ABM.

Posted by: still working it out on June 19, 2006 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

Hopefully someone will consult the Japanese, whose nearby cities will be prime targets for North Korean nukes.

Posted by: bob h on June 19, 2006 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

This dangerous and wasteful 'Start-wars' nonsense is a great way to sort the roots rock democratic goats from the Vichy democratic sheep.
If they are for a ' straddle' position on the occupation/war, take a 'no investigations' line and will keep paying out on the Start-wars then its safe to say they are Vichy scum
(like Kevin Drum? )
But if we want to get all hairy chested why not agitate for a big saber rattle at the Bumese junta?
Scared everone will just yawn and ignore ya?
Americans - from hero's to zero's all in five short years.

Posted by: professor rat on June 19, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, a fine idea. We prove that the missile defense systems don't work, and the liberals can have a good I-told-you-so moment and a hearty chuckle over their lattes. Of course, it makes the US look even more weak and ineffectual worldwide, and probably makes the world a more dangerous place, but what's that next to some nice liberal smugness?

Posted by: Shag on June 19, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

What's in your coffee, Shag ? Or is Bush the strawman liberal you're maundering over ?
Mostly you guys seem well into reality today.
I'd like a "heads-up" reaction to a really weird post in the comments section over at Ezra Klein's under the silly piece about Bush's Gut.

Posted by: opit on June 19, 2006 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't missile defense being developed by the same guys that test marketed muffler bearings?

Posted by: steve duncan on June 19, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

A miss might be embarrassing is one problem
But the policy could be:
- Deliver the message that proceeding with this test will lead to unannounced counter-measures
- Proceed with a plan to get effective counter-measures in place by let's say 1 year from now
- So, you may not stop the first one, but can be positioned well for the second or third

Posted by: Jim on June 19, 2006 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Bombing a site inside another country just because it *might* be a threat, without any hard evidence, is itself a provocative act of war. --Wataru

I can think of at least one prominent example of us doing exactly that in the recent past, though.

Posted by: DrBB on June 19, 2006 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, a fine idea. We prove that the missile defense systems don't work, and the liberals can have a good I-told-you-so moment and a hearty chuckle over their lattes. Of course, it makes the US look even more weak and ineffectual worldwide, and probably makes the world a more dangerous place, but what's that next to some nice liberal smugness? --Shag

Um, I think you just agreed that SDI is a multi-decade, multi-billion $ boondoggle with no chance of success. Welcome to the liberal side of the aisle, brother. Can I fix you a latte?

Posted by: DrBB on June 19, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

The anti-missle systems, and similar GOP boondoggles, are merely a means to funnel taxpayer dollars to GOP contributors and then back again in part to GOP campaigns after the defense company CEOs take their cut - they are not meant to be effective systems for anything other than partisan money-laundering of taxpayer dollars - in a word: GOP graft.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 19, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

> We prove that the missile defense systems
> don't work, and the liberals [blah blah
> liberals blah]

Thanks to the Radical Republicans, the newest iteration of the ABM system has not only failed physically at tremendous cost, but due to the Radicals' mismanagement of the propeganda of perceptions it has ALSO failed as a pure game-theory ploy.

It hasn't failed to put $10 billion/year into the Radicals' favorites' pockets, though. $1 billion of that would have been more than enough for the game-theory head games with ole Kim buddy, leaving $9 billion for the badly needed upgrades to the M1 tanks. You know, the ones that are actually being USED by "the troops" in Iraq. But for some reason we can't get those tank upgrades funded...

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 19, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

American Hawk: How about testing a few of our missiles in Pyongyang? If they can test in another country, so can we. And if their capital dome gets in the way of our missile test, that's their problem.

What AH and others who would like to hit their missile on the ground miss is the entire reason why we went after Iraq but have only saber-rattled with North Korea.

Iraq didn't have WMDs, and even before the war it was clear they didn't have a nuke, or a serious set of weapons that could do a lot of damage to a civilian population. (I thought maybe some chemical agents, they aren't hard to make, just hard to deliver and make effective.)

North Korea may or may not have working nukes - hard to say what they might have managed to build or buy. No tests yet.

But they have something almost as good. Seoul, South Korea is the fifth largest city in the world, with a fairly dense population of over 10 million. It lies within fairly easy artillery range of North Korea, with an estimated 13,000 artillery peices in secure bunkers, aimed squarely at the city. Estimates I've seen indicate that if a war started, one million South Koreans could be dead within 24 hours. Personally, I doubt NK could come even close to a successful invasion, but they could kill a hell of a lot of folks. If Kim feels threatened enough, he seems crazy enough to go for it.

Taken together, as others have noted, Iraq and North Korea have shown nations how to deal with the U.S. If you want to keep your crazy little regime intact, have the certain capacity to kill millions of innocent people.

Posted by: Fides on June 19, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, the Safeguard ABM system was shown to work back around 1962.

Of course, the only way they could get the P(k) high enough to do any good was to back up the long-range Spartan missiles (similar to the ones the new system uses) with short-range, nuclear-tipped Sprint missiles. Even Dr. Strangelove realized that detonating /your own/ nuclear warheads over the target you were trying to /save/ wasn't going to do you much good.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 19, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Being that I live in Seattle, which is within handy range of the No Dong III, I would greatly appreciate a Star Wars defense, especially one that involves a Boeing 747 with a shoot-down laser aboard. Any missile climbing out of North Korea is extremely vulnerable to this type of anti-missile system. During climb-out missiles are easy to detect, it is hard and expensive to disguise them among dummy missiles, and they are very vulnerable as they still have a lot of fuel on board for the laser to ignite.

Suppose the star wars laser "only" shoots down five out of six? That still probably saved millions of lives.

The main thing is to never let North Korea think that they have some type advantage or threat with which they can threaten us. Besides, we have to develop this Star Wars laser thing to deal with missiles climbing out of Iran heading towards Israel or Europe anyhow.

It is much more difficult to shoot down warheads once they are on their final, plunging trajectories. Fortunately, as long as we have airfields in Iraq and Okinawa we don't have to let the problems get that high or reach that far.

Posted by: Mike Cook on June 19, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like a great opportunity to test our missile-defense technology.

Thats just sad. There is no worse "missile defense" test imaginable! Thats assuming there actually are interceptors anywhere near where North Korea might shoot its missile (Its all speculation, which heaponed about North Korean test before) which I cant think of, maybe some else has an idea?

There is no doubt the test would fail (seriously, I am not a betting person but this is one safe bet). But this time everyone would see it failed! Especially North Korea and China. They would no longer have to wonder if the previous spectacularly failed tests are maybe some clever psyops campaign to get China and Russia comfortable with the Idea of rockets in Poland and Japan! (I am joking, but there is a reason even the Washington post calls this embarrassing)

Oh, and the US would look like an a%% which spend billions of dollars on failed weapons projects, most likely due to corruption and incompetence....

The midcourse interceptors are no longer getting tested under (cheated) test using US launched target missiles because they always fail thus "lower the deterrence value" (That is no longer scaring anybody, in plain English)!

Missile defense is nothing but billion dollar StarWars props! If only wasting money was an Olympic sport

Posted by: e on June 19, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

The real trick to the ABL is being able to get high enough energy density on the platform which is carrying the laser. The ABL needs to target an incredibly high energy density on the target missile to be successful. Otherwise, the system fails. If the enemy even decides to rotate their missiles it helps to defeat the ABL unless the ABL can score a burn through with its first strike. Only very energy flows can support that and that will likely mean either enormous capacitor, battery or reagent tanks to provide the initial energy source. How long before the USAF asks for funding to buy that nasty new AirBus monster transport as a platform for their ABL system?

Posted by: PrahaPartizan on June 19, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody here seems to be asking the question that seems to me to be at the core of any decision. How does a test harm us?

It seems to me that we should consider interfering with such a test if (a) the missile can reach us (b) carrying a nuke that North Korea could plausibly have in its possession and (c) we assess North Korea as a government whose decisions are wholly rational.

North Korea could be testing a missile as a way to rattle our cage. Or, in the alternative, it could be testing a missile in order to know whether it can be confident that it is a weapon that will be effective.

If their motive is the former, are we not well served by ignoring them?

The latter motivation rests on an assumption that North Korea has or shortly will have a substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles and will make rational decisions about their use.

A compelling case can be made that they do not have many missiles, do not have many nukes and that they are unlikely to make rational decisions about their use. Put more bluntly, in a crisis North Korea may fire a missile at us whether or not they are confident that it will work.

Preventing a test is not very likely to cause North Korea to decide not to use a weapon.

On the other side of the coin, if we try to prevent a launch and fail, we change the calculus for other countries that do have substantial capacity to harm us.

On balance, interfering with the launch looks to me like a venture with some downside and very little upside.

Posted by: ursus on June 19, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

PrahaPartizan is right: an ABL stands only a small chance of being sufficiently effective, and even then only because we have DAYS of notice of a launch. If it were a real crisis situation, with missiles being readied in a hurry and in multiple locations, we'd be SOL.

Sorry, Mike Cook. There at present is no technological genie in a bottle. We're gonna have to rely on tired old "diplomacy" and "nation building" and other latte-liberal pursuits.

Somewhat OT, what IS it with Republicans and penis-substitutes? Our ABM penises have NEVER failed. And once we develop a super-duper laser-powered penis, we'll be invincible manly men.

Posted by: bleh on June 19, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

The N. Koreans do not have the skills to build a guided ICBM. They probably don't have the skills to build an ICBM. The warheads the simplest part of that equation.

The previous multi-stage missile they launched was like an over-budgeted high school science project, was launched randomly and fell into the ocean.

Posted by: JeffII on June 19, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Um, I seriously doubt they are going to test it over the U.S. That's an act of war. If they did, we'd have to paste them. But they won't. So blowing up that missile would be an act of agression on our part. If they do test it over the U.S., we'd have no way of knowing whether it was live or not and we'd have to let them have it.

Posted by: Rob W on June 19, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Being that I live in Seattle, which is within handy range of the No Dong III,

You know No Dong III is the name the US gives to an assumed/predicted development program, not an actual missile, right?

Suppose the star wars laser "only" shoots down five out of six? That still probably saved millions of lives.

However many lives it saves, with being succesfull in one of five cases it allows for four times as many to be under threat Thats of no strategic value. And How few nukes did North Korea have again?

The main thing is to never let North Korea think that they have some type advantage or threat with which they can threaten us.
I guess you are among the fans of moving Seoul south, because that the treat the north thinks it has now, has had for a while and will keep for a while

Posted by: a on June 19, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Rob W
Um, I seriously doubt they are going to test it over the U.S. That's an act of war. If they did, we'd have to paste them.

Their test will most likely transit over Japanese territory, and without Japan's permission (to say the least). How should that be perceived by Japan?

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 19, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

The idea that you would test an ABM system against their missile is kind of clever at first glance, but ludicrious in analysis. The last thing you want bad guys to have knowledge about is your defenses.

We'll of course diplomatically protest the test, but I promise you our techie folks are thrilled to get a close look at an NK missile test, and this thing will be more closely watched than Brad and Angelina on a visit to a public nude beach.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 19, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans talk big on national missile defense, so shoot thie thing down.

If we cannot shoot down an annouced test of a long range missile with a dummy waread, aimed toward us, then what are the Republicans talking about national missile defense for? This thing will head east over the pacific. After $200 billion spent on star wars, we should have something to shoot it down.

Shit or get of the pot.


Posted by: Matt on June 19, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike. Your exactly right about us getting to see that missile, that's why they won't launch it over our territory. Even the remains of the missile would be useful to us. I'm not sure about firing a missile over other's territory. Obviously some of our missiles fired at a bunch of countries flew over some others, i.e. Sudan when we hit that factory at the same time we tried to kill bin Laden with 50 cruise missiles. Those cruise missiles must have flown over Pakistan. And those missiles were live and used in an attack. This will be a test.

Posted by: Rob W on June 19, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

rewolfrats:
Of course, it would probably be impossible to launch a satellite with a trajectory that wasn't provacative.

wataru:
If the North Koreans say they want to launch a satellite, that's their right.

Do you guys really not understand the difference between a ballistic missile and a satellite? Missiles are supposed to land somewhere, usually exploding on impact. Satellites keep going round and round. It isn't exactly rocket science. Oh wait....

Posted by: wahoofive on June 19, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Aegis. Wouldn't positioning a cruiser in the Sea of Japan and nailing the missile during the booster phase be much more likely to succeed?
That's a Tom Clancy novel you're thinking of. Not reality. Posted by: Peter on June 19, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

> Do you guys really not understand the
> difference between a ballistic missile
> and a satellite? Missiles are supposed
> to land somewhere, usually exploding on
> impact. Satellites keep going round and
> round. It isn't exactly rocket science.

Any high-powered ballistic missile can be used as a satellite launcher by lifting a lighter payload and/or adding a booster to the satellite. Both the US and Russia's most successful satellite launchers are derived (several generations ago now) from ballistic missiles. Most countries that try to launch their own satellites (that is, not contract with NASA or Airiannespace) use a dual purpose rocket for the task.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 19, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

> That's a Tom Clancy novel you're thinking
> of. Not reality.

Actually, it is a Stephen Coonts novel, and the Navy is modifying the Ageis software to allow the possibility as we speak. IMHO the chances of that working are a lot higher than the ABL!

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 19, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

911 Changed everything.

Missles in Korea don't matter.

Losing elections does.

Remember, fearmongering keeps Republicans in power. A disorderly world frightens people. The reaction to fear is conservativism.

Korea could be dealt with diplomatically if they wanted a solution, but they don't.

They need bogey men.

Posted by: Bubbles on June 19, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK
Do you guys really not understand the difference between a ballistic missile and a satellite?

Sure. A ballistic missile is a launch vehicle, a satellite is a payload.

Missiles are supposed to land somewhere, usually exploding on impact.

The thing that is supposed to do that on a long-range ballistic missile is called a "warhead", its a different kind of payload than a "satellite", though often the same launch vehicle is usable to deliver either payload.

Satellites keep going round and round.

Yeah, different trajectory; the same rockets can be used, however, to put those payloads on the desired trajectory.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 19, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that you would test an ABM system against their missile is kind of clever at first glance, but ludicrious in analysis. The last thing you want bad guys to have knowledge about is your defenses. Posted by: Red State Mike

Actually, that would be revealing our lack of defense in that regard, as the rat hole down which we've poured much sand, I think it's amusingly called a "missile defense system," doesn't work, even when rigged with a homing beacon.

Posted by: JeffII on June 19, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Aegis. Wouldn't positioning a cruiser in the Sea of Japan and nailing the missile during the booster phase be much more likely to succeed?

That's a Tom Clancy novel you're thinking of. Not reality. Posted by: Peter

Actually, hitting during boost phase is the ideal. It's bigger, slower, huge signature from plume, very hard to decoy, a tail chase intercept, and you know where it came from. Parking Aegis off of NK would work.

As for ballistic missile versus satellite, the big diff is in choice of trajectories. What's good for lofting a satellite is typically not the same as a ballistic weapon toss. But otherwise, delta-V is delta-V, and ballistic missiles have been used for satellite launches many times over.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 19, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky Observer:
"That milestone was achieved by retroactively redefining 'success' to mean whatever actually happened during the test . . . ."
Sounds like the germ of an Iraq War exit strategy.

Shag: "Yes, a fine idea. We prove that the missile defense systems don't work, and the liberals can have a good I-told-you-so moment and a hearty chuckle over their lattes. Of course, it makes the US look even more weak and ineffectual worldwide, and probably makes the world a more dangerous place, but what's that next to some nice liberal smugness?"
Well, don't blame us latte-sipping liberals for taking the FIRST step in making the U.S. look even more weak and ineffectual worldwide. Bush and the neocons did the hard, hard work of making a spectacular failure of invading Iraq, and appear to be closing in on accomplishing the mission of failing in Afghanistan also. Have they also failed to use defense dollars effectively in creating an anti-ballistic missile defense? They'd better say so then, and we liberals won't ask to be defended by it. We'll just sit quietly while our taxes disappear into two quagmires and a useless missile defense system, because that's what patriots do, right?

Posted by: cowalker on June 19, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: The last thing you want bad guys to have knowledge about is your defenses.

Let's get out of Iraq, then.

We are exposing our capabilities, or lack thereof, for the whole world to see.

In fact, let's never use any defensive systems at all, including our airport scanners, because that may show the enemy our capabilities.

Isn't it conservatives that are always clamoring for the US to blow something up as an intimidation tactic - hey, look what we can do if you mess with us?

Why are they against it now?

Because it might reveal that these defensive systems are no more than a scam to launder taxpayer dollars into partisan conservative pockets.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 19, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, the North Koreans are probably just trying to launch a satellite to study global warming. Probably some experiments designed by school children on it.

Since there seems to be some confusion on the power source of ABL systems here is a linke to the wiki on COIL:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_oxygen_iodine_laser

It doesn't say how heavy or tempermental the ground systems are. The fact that it has never gotten off the ground and tried to hit a real missile doesn't bode well.

The Japanese have at least one Aegis equipped destroyer in the Sea of Japan, so they at least should get some educational radar data. They could try Red Mike's experiment with their Aegis system if they wanted.

If we really believed in missile defense (or wanted others to treat it seriously) we'd at least do a flyby and collect some actual radar/spectral data. If the interceptor fails we wouldn't have to mention it, and if it succeeds in getting close we could do a lot of chest thumping about how we gathered valuable intelligence.

That said, in the case of North Korea it seems rather straight forward to hit these targets on the ground, and in the case of a more advanced nations, countermeasures to missile defense are probably shockingly effective.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 19, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

ballistic missiles have been used for satellite launches many times over.
Posted by: Red State Mike on June 19, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

satellite launches and pioneering human spaceflight.

The entire Mercury and Gemini programs were accomplished using repurposed ballistic missiles. (Redstone for Mercury, and Titan for Gemini).

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 19, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

'ww' posted:

"It strikes me as a foolish notion to attempt bringing down NK's missle if we aren't reasonably sure we could do it. It would be a strategic blunder were we to fail."

You mean like illegally invading and occupying another sovereign nation that was not a threat to us and attempting to defeat a guerrilla resistance, given the track record of insurgencies against occupiers in Algeria, Vietnam, Angola, Mozambique, Rhodesia, Afghanistan, and the Belgian Congo ?

FOOLISH NOTIONS are this administration's hallmark.
.

Posted by: VJ on June 19, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

North Korea is so scared shitless of a country that can't even catch a man that was behind an attack within the US that killed 3000 US citizens-Osama bin ladin. And North Korea leaders know that given the Bush mentality of war that an attack by North Korea would most likely bring an attack on a country having nothing to do with the attack, say New Zealand. Yes, North Korea is shaking in it's boots-all right.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 19, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

If we really believed in missile defense (or wanted others to treat it seriously) we'd at least do a flyby and collect some actual radar/spectral data. If the interceptor fails we wouldn't have to mention it,

Don't be silly.

No nation on earth can launch a missile secretly.
Every country with a space program has satellites that can detect ballistic missile launches (and interceptors) from space from the IR heat signature of the plume.

I do know that some captured Iraqi scuds were transported to the US and launched, and their flight-profiles studied to improve interceptor technology. The newer Iraqi scuds captured in the first gulf war apparently "wobbled" on takeoff. There was some concern that this was a counter-interception technique, when in fact, it was just a result of shoddy manufacturing, and resulted in a nearly uselessly inaccurate missile.

Because it might reveal that these defensive systems are no more than a scam to launder taxpayer dollars into partisan conservative pockets.
Posted by: Advocate for God on June 19, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

There *is* real work being done on missle defense, but you are also right that we're spending huge amounts of money supposedly for defense contracts (Iraq reconstruction for example) that is being wasted on fraud and corruption aimed at putting more money into the pockets of Republican donors.

That is why the #1 issue Democrats should be addressing is electoral reform, including campaign finance.

The fact that they haven't mentioned any of this in their new platform, just tells me that they're all idiots, and they most certainly will lose seats this November, and nothing is going to change.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 19, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

The Japanese have at least one Aegis equipped destroyer in the Sea of Japan, so they at least should get some educational radar data. They could try Red Mike's experiment with their Aegis system if they wanted. Posted by: rewolfrats

It's good to introduce a Japanese angle to all this.

The Japanese, arguable the most techonologically advanced country in the world after the U.S., have fail miserably in their space program. In particular, they've spent years trying to make a successful launch of a copy of the U.S. Saturn V rocket.

The lesson here is that if the Japanese have difficulties with more sophisticated launches, the N. Koreans aren't even close to having a "target-able" ICBM. The CIA and the DoD both know this, but the Bush administration needs to keep the fear racheted-up since they tagged N. Korea as part of the axis of evil.

BTW, whatever became of our cute color-coded terror alert system?

Posted by: JeffII on June 19, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

No nation on earth can launch a missile secretly.

The most likely failure is on the launch pad, OBF.

The missile defense scientists that I know are good people doing good work on a very expensive program that will never be effective against a country with comparable resources. With respect to third world countries, it will allow countries like the US to ignore diplomatic solutions and avoid inexpensive conflict resolution techniques (i.e. the face saving diplomatic out). With the help of missile defense we'll probably still be sitting in trenches along the demilitarized zone 50 years from now making jokes about "Dear Leader" and his obsession with Shiloh Pitts.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 19, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Their test will most likely transit over Japanese territory, and without Japan's permission (to say the least). How should that be perceived by Japan?
Posted by: Red State Mike on June 19, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Japan has publicly stated that it will be perceived as an act of war. Such an event will be far more valuable, politically to the Japanese, than us shooting the missile down preemptively with a hollywood-style imaginary interception system, or prelaunch air raid.

Being that I live in Seattle, which is within handy range of the No Dong III, I would greatly appreciate a Star Wars defense,
Posted by: Mike Cook on June 19, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that the former inhabitants of what used to be known as "New Orleans" would have appreciated a flood defense.

Imagine how politically convenient a North Korean nuclear strike on either Liberal city of San Francisco or Seattle would be for Conservatives in America.

If I were you, I'd move. Conservatives are currently, quietly, shitting their pants with glee over the possibility of American being 10 million Liberals lighter.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 19, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

On North Korean missile-building capabilities:

Where do you think Saddam's SCUDS came from?

To be sure, they were kinda sucky as missiles go, but the NK's have had a missile manufacturing industry for decades now--which Japan has not.

Posted by: pbg on June 19, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that if I were in charge of technical intelligence I'd be more interested in carefully observing the flight of this missile (assuming it doesn't blow up on the launch pad) rather than messing up the sky with our own ABM launch.

In order to calm down Seattleites's nerves a bit, readers also might want to keep in mind that as North Korea has never actually tested their atom bomb (not, at least, as far as the public is allowed to know), we have no reason to believe that North Korea actually could detonate a nuclear bomb even on a test-stand, much less successfully "weaponize" one to mount on an ICBM.

scotus: ...We need a hawkish liberal challenging Bush to blow the missile up as it sits there.

Are you nuts? What justification could the United States present to the rest of the world for an unprovoked unilateral attack on a sovereign nation? Do you really believe the United States has the right to bomb anybody, anywhere? Especially in this case, where the attack would not even be justified as some kind of pre-emption, but would be carried out in the service of domestic political considerations!

Posted by: W. Kiernan on June 19, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

No Dong III

Prime example. The name of this hypothetical missile was certainly not dreamt up by the State Department.

Conservatives are currently, quietly, shitting their pants with glee

Is that not an unusual response to happiness? I'm from a blue state and am unfamiliar with this behavior.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 19, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

The most likely failure is on the launch pad, OBF.

True. And most such failures are recoverable (ie. don't result in the destruction of the missile).

Or in the first few minutes of flight.

But my point is, any interceptor launch would be detected, probably not by NK, but by other nations. The US would not have any plausible deniability.

Plus, NK will have dozens of tracking radars and optical instruments (ie. telescopes) pointing at the launch vehicle during ascent. Unless our interceptor is radar-invisible, any collision would be spotted.

Really - I find it hilarious that anyone is terrified at the prospect that NK might be approaching the technological sophistication that the US achieved in the late 1940's.

If a US city were nuked, do you have any doubt that the US would be allowed, with the UN's blessing even, to burn the entirety of North Korea into a radioactive cinder? The threat of massive retaliation was enough to deter the Soviet Union. It's not like the North Koreans believe in an afterlife with 72 virgins.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 19, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Leaving aside any question of whether it is morrally justifiable to use force, the question exists of whether it would be - from some Machievellian, realpolitic viewpoint - appropriate to use force.

I would assert that it is only appropriate to use force when, from an objective viewpoint, we are suffciently well-informed and sufficiently in control of variable factors - that we can determine the consequences of using force and have the ability to navigate these consequences to a satisfactory conclusion.

Yesterday, I deployed the use of insect spray against a nest of wasps in my house. I successfully eradicated the wasps without ascertainable environmental damage - at least in the short term. Whether - from an animal rights standpoint - my conduct was correct is a deeper question.

Posted by: Thinker on June 19, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I was suggesting that proponents of missile defense should be in favor of a flyby (not a hit). If missile defense is to actually work (and isn't only meant as theatre), there is a need for real world close range radar/spectral data of your potential enemy's ICBM.

I too don't buy the unhinged suicidal nation model that the scaremongering media tends to assume when discussing Iran or North Korea.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 19, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII: BTW, whatever became of our cute color-coded terror alert system?

Did you ever hear the story about the president who falsely cried wolf too many times and used his flock protection system to falsely frighten the public right around election time or each time his poll numbers started dropping?

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 19, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Some reality testing (things seem to be settling down in the last 20 posts but you never know) would help. Our ABM capability right now is several-fold, mostly in testing/advanced testing stages.

1) The 'Standard'-3 missile has tested well: 6 successful launches in the past 3 years, the latest being able to hit a test missile fired from a Pacific island. It's a mid-flight attacker; it can hit an ICBM after boost phase and before terminal (coming down) phase. This missile fits on an Aegis-class ship, and at least one such ship is on station off North Korea at all times now (since 2004). The hope is that you could hit an ICBM in boost phase with this. It is not clear that the SM-3 will do this, but it's the best we have for an early hit. The Aegis system is seen as a moderately-priced system since you already have the ships and crews.

This system also integrates with the GBI systems: the ship-board radars that detect a launch transmit the data to the GBI controllers in Alaska and Vandenburg while simultaneously trying to engage the ICBM.

2) Ground-based interceptor system. Tested and apparently works. Parts are operational in very limited deployment in Alaska with interceptor missiles on the rails ready to go and working radar systems. These can track and hit a warhead in terminal phase. More interceptor stations are planned for Alaska and California. The system has been very expensive and it's being upgraded on a continual basis -- in particular, the radar systems are getting a big upgrade in 2006. Testing continues and there's big argument as to how effective it's going to be. This is the system being offered to Europe if they sign on to the whole ballistic missile defense idea.

The GBM and SM-3 are the ones you'd depend on right now to stop a NKor missile aimed at the U.S.

3) The 'Arrow'-2 missile is more useful against regional missiles (e.g., Scud, etc). It's a proven design developed in concert with the Israelis. It works.

4) The 'Tactical High Energy Laser' (THEL) system is in development/testing stage. It uses a radar system to track an incoming missile and fires the laser to hit it. It too is more of a regional defense system not suited for ICBMs, and variants are also used to shoot down artillery shells. Some parts of the project were recently cancelled by the Army as it proved to be too bulky and impractical in a battlefield environment.

5) Airborne laser systems, mounted on a 747 jet. Over-budget, in trouble but promising. It would shoot down an ICBM in boost phase which is the major enticement. Scheduled for big dollars through 2011. A big test in 2004 was successful: they got the system to work airborne in the 747, coordinated with a test missile -- the system successfully tracked and aimed the laser, and the laser could hit the missile but only for a fraction of a second (not long enough). Now the issue is to get the laser to fire longer with power in the megawatt range, which introduces all sorts of new problems to solve.

6) an upgrade of the venerable Patriot missile system, called PAC-3, has been tested to destroy a tactical ballistic missile. Apparently it works, and will complement the Arrow system.

That's the tech side.

Posted by: Steve White on June 19, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

More reality testing, from the political side:

1) If the NKors launch their missile, and it gets off the ground, and tracks over the Pacific such that it doesn't violate airspace of any other country, legally there is nothing we can do about it. We shouldn't do anything about it other than track and learn everything we can. This is as much an opportunity for us as it is for them. The Aegis class ships in the region with SM-3 missiles (see earlier post) will find this a useful 'dry-run' exercise.

2) If the NKors launch and the missile tracks over another country (e.g., Japan), but not the U.S., it's a dicier situation. They did this once before. If the trajectory indicates a fly-over to a landing the Pacific, in the short-term we do nothing except learn. But longer-term, we and the Japanese would have every reason to a) accelerate our SM-3 and GBI systems b) offer both to the Japanese at cut-rate prices c) make clear to the NKors that no further fly-overs will be tolerated -- any such missile will be intercepted and brought down. We might then stage a demonstration of the SM-3 system near Japan and let the Chinese track it -- be sure they'll pass on the info to the NKors.

3) If the NKor missile tracks to hit Japan, all bets are off.

4) If the NKor missile tracks to hit American soil, ditto. Even if it doesn't have a nuclear warhead (and you don't know for sure until it lands), it's a clear act of war.

What would we do? Legally, since you guys are the ones who believe in international law, let's make clear that an NKor military missile hitting American soil is an unprovoked act of war. We're legally entitled to obliterate them at that point. Whether that's the smartest thing to do is another consideration. The biggest problem is political, and it's spelled C-H-I-N-A.

There's no clear evidence that China would step aside and let us wipe out their lap dog. The last time this was attempted (November, 1950) we had a problem. We'd need a clear assurance from China that we could retaliate against the NKors without causing a wider war, and I see no reason why China would provide that assurance (short of an actual nuclear strike by the NKors; if the NKors nuke American soil we won't be asking anyone's permission for whatever we do).

Ditto Russia, though I think Putin wouldn't be bothered by this too much as long as he was well-paid and no radiation hit Russian soil.

Further, the NKors have an effective deterrent, as noted by another poster: over 10,000 artillery tubes, 155 mm and larger, aimed at Seoul. These are very well dug in to mountains just north of the DMZ. Even though we know where most of them are, hitting them, particularly in time to stop the devestation of Seoul, is another matter (consider 4 shells per minute per tube and you begin to see the destructive power at hand).

This forces our hand on a retaliatory strike against a non-nuclear NKor missile that hits American soil: it either needs to be a) surgical to remove the NKor leadership, with obvious problems in knowing where they are at that moment (remember, the Air Force tried to whack Saddam at least twice and missed), or b) total nuclear strike to destroy the NKor military forces. No in-between military strike works, because the surviving artillery tubes wipe out Seoul and (perhaps) a couple million civilians.

And for a total nuclear strike, you're back to the China/Russia problem.

So those are the obvious constraints.

Posted by: Steve White on June 19, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Where do you think Saddam's SCUDS came from?
Posted by: pbg on June 19, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

They came from the Soviet Union.

NK sold Iraq technology that allowed Saddam to upgrade them marginally.

But at the end of the day, they're still an intermediate-range ballistic missile that can be shot down by PAC-3, or Israel's Arrow system.

Taepodong-2 is another ballgame altogether. But still, not even as capable as the US's retired Titan.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 19, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Why missile defense is a joke 1

Why missile defense is a joke 2


Why missile defense is a joke 3

Posted by: JeffII on June 19, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The Taepodong-2 may not be an equivalent of the Titan, but it doesn't need to be.

A missile delivers a payload from point A to point B. If the payload is a warhead, and point B is American soil, it doesn't matter how sophisticated the missile is.

The issue is 1) what are the NKor intentions, as best as one can tell; and 2) what are their capabilities?

intent x capability = threat

That's the issue.

Posted by: Steve White on June 19, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II, your links to the Union of Concerned Scientists provide one side of the story. There are others.

The most important issue is, do we provide ourselves with an imperfect defense or none at all? You seem to be in the latter camp.

Not me: I intend to live past 100 and die in my sleep. The NKors, with their technically limited ballistic missile program and their nuclear capability, create a threat to that. If it takes a few ten billion dollars to provide some semblance of a shield, fine with me.

It's easy to throw bricks at a technically difficult, expensive, hard undertaking. If it was easy it would have been done already. Constructive criticism is important, of course, but criticism designed to de-rail something that's needed isn't helpful.

Posted by: Steve White on June 19, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

If it takes a few ten billion dollars to provide some semblance of a shield, fine with me. Posted by: Steve White

It doesn't work (probably can't in my life time) and we don't have the money. Alternately, we could spend a few hundred thousand million and just, for all intents and purposes, buy N. Korea from Kim, and sell it back to S. Korea for pennies on the dollar. Even at a loss, that would be money well-spent.

Posted by: JeffII on June 19, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II, several systems do work. The SM-3 works. The GBM has had enough success to justify limited deployment. Their ability to stop a rogue/limited ICBM attack is by no means 100%, but it's also not 0%. We take what we can get.

I know of no other approach that deters an NKor attack right now, other than a) obliterating them or b) capitulating to them. Option (a) is not feasible and would entail the deaths of millions of innocents. Option (b) is not feasible. Therefor, I'll take option (c), imperfect as it is. We work to make it better and do what we can in the meantime with diplomacy and sanctions to defang the NKors.

Posted by: Steve White on June 19, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

And Jeff: if we don't have the tens of billions to deploy a proper ABM, how do we have the hundreds of billions to 'buy' North Korea?

Posted by: Steve White on June 19, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

Never mind. You're nothing but a polite troll. You don't even understand how ridiculous you sound.

Posted by: JeffII on June 19, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Not me: I intend to live past 100 and die in my sleep. The NKors, with their technically limited ballistic missile program and their nuclear capability, create a threat to that. If it takes a few ten billion dollars to provide some semblance of a shield, fine with me.

Good for you. I suggest avoiding processed foods, smoking, drinking in excess, driving cars, associating with crowds, and having sex in proximity to a hard headboard. You should also support federal funding to create a strong national healthcare system, ameliorate global climate change, identify and intercept large meteors, and figure out how the human race can survive a nearby gamma ray burst (live in bunkers?).

criticism designed to de-rail something that's needed isn't helpful.

Unless it won't work, isn't needed, and/or isn't a cost effective way to save lives and eliminate national threats in comparison to other uses of the same money. This is where the argument stands. You can tell me it works (against scuds) until you are blue in the face. Until they declassify OTA reports (and others) on the potential effectiveness and cost of countermeasures I don't believe it could work against anything but a 1990 era third world missile, and then only part of the time.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 19, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Any missile defense system needs to be utilized with a non-proliferation component. Missile defense, at best, can possibly have some effectiveness with few targets or missiles as enemies. Thus some defense may be gained where the foe lacks the ability to send more than just a few missiles and then are out of bullets. Raytheon indicates some major issues that they are continuing to work on:

SM-3 has flown and demonstrated fundemental discrimination capability for unitary threats.

Regarding testing: a need exists for greater operational realism.

Defensive missile techniques based upon the potential inability of the SM-3 to destinguish the correct target can be done at low expense by the enemy rendering the entire issue a financial race matter of throwing money into the air and incenerating it faster than your opponent.

Intelligence would indicate that with the current form of US government that all the enemies of the US would need to do is produce cheap ineffectual missiles, threaten with much bluster, and watch as the US spent themselves into oblivion, borrowing most of it from the Chinese, until the US met the same sort of fate as the USSR. The rest of the world can now see how easy it is to get the US to basically chase ghosts with vast amounts of money that is borrowed. Especially with current leadership and their managed paranoia.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 19, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

So far, at least from what I can find out, the laser system has not been tested when installed in a 747 as of this time. It has been tested mounted on the ground and has had some effectiveness. Operation in the air in a moving jet is another factor altogether. The system weighs 300 tons so in order for it to be effective, have some weight left for fuel, crew, etc then the weight of the laser would need to be reduced. The expensive is extremely high. It could cost over $1 billion for each 747. Again it's like throwing borrowed Chinese money into the air and exploding it. Our enemies laugh as we spend ourselves crazy as they so easily manipulate us like Pavlov's dogs. The laser must penetrate the fuel compartment of the enemy missile with the strength and duration necessary to cause it to ignite. The laser consumes fuel so either the weight must be reduced radically or the 747 must return to reload.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 19, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

> let's make clear that an NKor military
> missile hitting American soil is an
> unprovoked act of war.

Without a declaration of war, hostile effects from the remains, or hostile acts in other theatres that is generally known as an "accident" (and also an "intelligence opportunity").

Unless you are arguing that the Soviets were justified in shooting down the KAL airliner?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 19, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

Not only do we have a Russia/China problem if we attempted action against NK, we'd have an SK problem.

Seoul is only 40 miles or so south of the DMZ, and most of the artillery is just north of the DMZ, and as you note solidly dug in. Any attempt to destroy those peices with nukes would involve big bombs, or a bunch of tactical nukes. Neither would be popular in Seoul.

I also don't think China is that protective of NK, except as a way to keep the US off balance. I get the feeling that to them, NK is kind of like that embarrassing friend from childhood, the one who it was okay to hang with when you didn't have other friends but now seems boorish, backwards, and potentially dangerous. Sure, it was fun to hang out and talk about crazy out there ideologies when the two of you were young and foolish, but NK never seemed to grow up and move on.

One problem with China (and Russia) is every time we use pre-emptive force, we lower the bar for them on their own use of force, just as every time we violent human rights conventions we lower the bar for them.

But I think the big problem with China is that they don't want their crazy former friend to blow his brains out all over them. They try and keep friendly enough to direct the blow southwards, but once nukes start getting tossed around, things can get unpleasent for all neighbors quickly.

Oh, one note on the missile being tested: it's probably not very accurate at max range, that's a given. But if they have purchased or developed a nuke it can launch, it doesn't have to be. If it can get anywhere on the west coast, it becomes much harder to act against them. So what if they can't hit Los Angeles, so long as they get somewhere between San Diego and Vancouver, we're severely constrained.

Posted by: Fides on June 19, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Fides
One problem with China (and Russia) is every time we use pre-emptive force, we lower the bar for them on their own use of force...

A tapeworm already couldn't get underneath their bars. See Tibet for China and lots of places for Russia.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 19, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK
So what if they can't hit Los Angeles, so long as they get somewhere between San Diego and Vancouver, we're severely constrained.

If the CEP on the missile is so bad as to be unable to be more specific than that north to south, that suggests that there is a fairly good chance that, in the event of a crisis, even if they managed to fuel and launch the missile without it being detected and destroyed, it would be extraordinarily likely to drop a warhead somewhere in the Pacific if they tried to hit the US with it.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 19, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

A tapeworm already couldn't get underneath their bar

I'll bet a tapeworm could get over it.

Posted by: B on June 19, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Steve
As I pointed out before, they can't both put a nuke on that missile and hit the US.

China isn't going to risk its biggest market over a two-bit embarrassment like N. Korea.

Much of the assessment of N. Korea's military is predicated on the assumption that it is kept functional. More likely, a great number of the artillery tubes will not work and the shells have severely deteriorated. See the Maginot line in 1939.

The best way to deal with NK is to open up full economic ties with them. No nation has yet managed to stand up to that kind of pressure.

Posted by: mcdruid on June 19, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

shorter daCascadian:

"That all the tests have failed is proof that they have all succeeded."

Posted by: Disputo on June 19, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Fides,

I agree that the range and CEP of a Taepodong-2 may well be 4,000 miles oh, 4,000 miles. You're correct in noting that whether it's LA or Vancouver is almost beside the point, but you're missing what our response would be.

If a Taepodong-2 or -3 comes flying at American soil, and the track looks to be 500 miles or so, we're going to respond. The Cranky Observer is incorrect thinking that this is a KAL situation: we don't know whether the Taepodong-2 has a nuke on it or not until it hits, and we won't take the chance. We'll launch all interceptors, and then we'll respond to the provocation.

McDruid: today they can't put a nuke on a Taepodong-2 and hit the U.S. Clearly their trajectory (pardon the pun) is to a) get a nuke b) get a nuke small enough to fit on a missile and c) build a missile that will carry that nuke to the U.S. That's how a reasonable person would have to read the intel of the last 20 years or so. That's what they want. I again point out the standard equation for this situation:

intent x capability = threat

As they ratchet up their capability, the threat becomes larger -- even if we don't know their ultimate intent. A successful test flight of the Taepodong-2 increases their known capability. Right now they don't have a nuke of sufficiently small size, with sufficient explosive power, to put on that missile. Next year? Three years?

And when do you respond to that? Remember, the intel on this whole situation is murky. It's hard to get good human intel, and technical intel has its limitations. You can argue (as a good liberal progressive) that this means we need a diplomatic solution. I argue that we tried that once and they lied. So now I'm looking for a sterner solution.

Posted by: Steve White on June 19, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still curious what people think we should do to neutralize NK's most devastating weapon, starvation and refugees. I don't think you people realize the real threat to taking action in NK is. It's not their convential or even non-convetional violent weapons, it's the people themselves.

Posted by: aaron on June 20, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,
Given intent x capability = threat, where capability =0, then threat equals? (OK, for most trolls here, this solution will have to wait until they get out of grade school.)

So save us the Chicken Little BS, NK is nowhere near deploying an ICBM nuclear threat to the US. Not this year, not in three years. Their missile technology is stretched to the screeching point, and they do not have the precision facilities or calculators to shrink their nukes to a usable size.

In conservative cloud fantasy land maybe they will be able to leapfrog the German assisted Agni project to produce a better ICBM than the incredibly richer and more advanced Indians, but the rest of us live in the real world.

By the way, SCUDS originally came from Germany. But back then they were called V-2s. The Russians managed to improve the payloads marginally, but even the specs on Saddams 1991 missiles are nearly indistinguishable from those used in the Blitz.

Posted by: mcdruid on June 20, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

We need to have more faith in Boeing. If you are ever going to shoot down a missile, the climb-out phase is when to do it. It just isn't that hard to detect a liquid-fueled rocket being prepped for launch. If NK decides to bury the launch pads of a few of them, they have tremendous problems (expensive ones) to overcome in digging suitable silos that will be ventilated enough not to blow up.

The effectiveness of a 747-based program is predicated on keeping at least one of the airplanes in the air 24-7. This isn't that hard to do, as we kept a "Looking Glass" command center aircraft in the air continuously for some 40 year. With a few day's warning from satellite or drone surveilance, mid-air refueling can keep more big 747's on station continuously.

As for the power factor you need to burn through the thin skin of a Taepodong 2 or 3, let me mention that Boeing is readying a new 747 that can handle more weight. It might not be that bad an idea to buy a few A-380's as the price may be going down on them for passenger use due to wing shredding problems.

It just isn't that hard to detect missiles during the ascent portion of their flight because they are putting off tremendous amounts of energy and moving relatively slowly. They are also still big targets, as the warhead has not separated from the booster. A major problem may be the thick cloudiness over NK some times of the year. The airborne sentinel needs time to re-charge if there is more than one target.

A bigger nightmare would be NK adapting a stealthy hypersonic Russian cruise missile design. This challenge would require keeping lots of human eyes airborne in individual interceptors.

If we really think the NK glorious leader is nuts enough to do a nuke strike on Seattle or Tokyo just for the glory of it, pre-emption is absolutely, far and away the best option. This need not be nuclear. Bush has insistently pushed bunker-busting bombs in the one to five ton range.

It is a better idea to use all the old large airliners the U.S. has in boneyards around the Southwest made-over to be huge fuel-air bombs.
An old 747 or DC-8 can pack 100 tons of fuel air mixture. It is not that hard to replace the autopilots with cruise missile guidance systems.
A 100 tons of fuel-air mix flying bombs will do the best imitation of a nuclear explosion you've ever seen. Every time one lands in NK it will be heard in Tokyo, if the wind is right.

We'd have to take down some of the NK air defenses to do it, but a fleet of 200 converted airliners attacking simultaneously probably insures that 100 get through. Ten on one position will level a small mountain. Even if all the NK hardware is not destroyed, all the trained crews will be as the pressure effects of fuel air bombs are famed for killing entrenched personnel.

I can answer the political question as to whether a Republican administration would allow downtown Seattle to be eliminated just to get rid of the leftists. No, George Bush would never allow such an attack to succeed, even at risk of his remaining political reputation. It's the same impulse that makes our society do frantic CPR on a bank robber whom the police have just gunned down. If we don't do such things, we become THEM.

Posted by: Mike Cook on June 20, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Mike Cook: No, George Bush would never allow such an attack to succeed, even at risk of his remaining political reputation. It's the same impulse that makes our society do frantic CPR on a bank robber whom the police have just gunned down. If we don't do such things, we become THEM.

I have seen no evidence that conservatives like Bush embrace these principles.

Yes, there are people within our society who would respond in this manner, but there is a whole slew of others who would in fact either try to prevent such life-saving efforts or be disdainful of those who performed them.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 20, 2006 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Dunno if anyone's still reading this, but the Administration has decided to follow the advice in the OP. The missile defense system has been switched to "operational" mode.

Posted by: ArkPanda on June 20, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ Mike, you sure are crazy. Residents of Seattle = bankrobbers. It would be understandable to let them die because 55% don't vote for Republicans but you and Bushie would save them because of your moral code. Kudos.

What if North Koreans take a dead goose that died from avian flu and use commercial restriction endonucleases to randomly hybridize the virus with every other flu sample they can get hold of in an attempt to create a super flu that will kill 10's of millions of Americans and ensure Dear Leaders ascent to heaven? Maybe we should just kill them all now.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 20, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

McDruid writes, Given intent x capability = threat, where capability =0, then threat equals?

You're looking at this in a static way. Consider the history, consider the trajectory. It's not hard to see where the NKors want to go.

So save us the Chicken Little BS, NK is nowhere near deploying an ICBM nuclear threat to the US. Not this year, not in three years. Their missile technology is stretched to the screeching point, and they do not have the precision facilities or calculators to shrink their nukes to a usable size.

They have a few things that will help them on this. 1) They have a road-map. They know it can be done, so now it's on them to find out how. That's different than the problem we and the Soviets had in the 1950s. 2) They've had friends in China and Pakistan to help them with technical problems, and they have some technology base of their own. And they aren't stupid.

I'm suspicious every time someone tells me, "oh, those people could NEVER do THAT in a year or two." We frequently get proven wrong in these estimates, and when dealing with nuclear weapons, you only get to be wrong once.

Posted by: Steve White on June 20, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Let me ask again, do you seriously believe that NK will be able to make a better ICBM than the Indians have? Again, the Indians had help from advanced countries in the west, they have a strong industrial base, good education, free access to western data and industrial parts, and boatloads of money. NK, trivially, has none of these.

I doubt China is providing much - or any - material or technical support. They prefer well behaved neighbors, and have little to gain and a lot to lose from a strong NK. As for Pakistan, you have the flow wrong, Pakistan gets it from NK: the most advanced Pakistani missile is a variant of the Taepodong-1.

Posted by: mcdruid on June 20, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't have to be a better ICBM than the Indians have.

It has to be good enough to deliver a payload from point A to point B. That's the issue: a Taepodong-2 missile may be nothing more than a gussied up, two-stage version of an old German V-2. If it can deliver a nuclear device to Los Angeles, we're in trouble.

They don't have that today. They're working very hard to get it. They don't have the relative advantages that India, and they may no longer have China's active cooperation. They have some smart people, they have a certain technological base, and they have a leadership that demands this.

It's idiotic for us to ignore it, and it's equally idiotic to dismiss it.

In the late 1930s we believed that the Japanese could never hurt us in an attack, that their ships were slow, their airplanes flimsy and their pilots cowardly. The result was Pearl Harbor. We do not want to make that mistake again.

Posted by: Steve White on June 20, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

"If it can deliver a nuclear device to Los Angeles, we're in trouble."

Are you being purposely obtuse? India does not have this capability today. Even if NK were to make tremendous strides and equal India, they would not be a threat. It is by no means likely that they will be able to reach this level.

There is no point in worrying about mostly hallucinagenic threats. If you are worried about every possible threat, then you are merely paranoid. It is quite possible that, say, Venezuela, could develop a credible nuclear threat before North Korea. Why don't we worry about that and try to strong arm them? (More than we are, I mean.)

Your attempt at a threat assessment here is just plain lame, I'd have to give you a grade of a "D."

Posted by: mcdruid on June 21, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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