What were the reasons for Canada to join the missile defence plan, anyways?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Lord_Phoenix, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. Stokes Pennwalt Nuke them from orbit. Registered Senior Member

    So enlighten us. Let us see your cost-benefit analysis, weighing tens of thousands of dead Americans and a hollowed out metropolis against the prospective cost of the NMD system.
    Please. This is the same revisionist bullshit you posted on the last page, to which I responded with:
    I'll correct you again: The threat is far more salient now than it ever has been, and will only continue to grow as the Soviet-runoff ICBM technology proliferates and the global threat climate evolves into something more homogeneous than what we have now.

    Now we are accelerating the effort because times have changed. Ever since 1998, when North Korea demonstrated a nascent capacity to build and launch indigenous TBMs and ICBMs, we have been looking for a countermeasure. Iran has recently, in 2004, followed suit and demonstrated the capacity to lob an ICBM 2,000 kilometers, which puts the better part of Europe within its reach. And of course, both regimes are also either in pursuit or in possession of nuclear weapons.

    Here are the facts:
    • There is a growing IRBM/ICBM threat.
    • It originates in nations with ill will toward the United States.
    • We currently have no mode of defense against such an attack
    • Such an attack, if successful, would be devastating
    Do you dispute any of these facts?

    NMD is designed, when fully operational (in other words sometime between 2007-2009) to be able to mitigate around three incoming effectors at once. The ideal engagement ratio of interceptors to effectors is 3:1. So if there are two incoming birds, we launch at least six interceptors. Three yields nine, and so forth. Most ABM systems function this way, such as the PATRIOT missile system.

    Decoy discrimination is different though. The conflation of data from the ground-based X-band radar and the interceptor's onboard infrared telescope is enough to filter out all modes of countermeasure and allow the interceptors to attack the actual target. We've covered this in tests several times and it works impressively well (IFT-8 and IFT-9, in March and September of 2002, specifically).

    Basically, the XBR can penetrate mylar balloons, while the I2R telescope onboard the EKV can pick effectors out of clouds of chaff. The sensors employed are more than accurate enough to burn through decoys.

    Don't worry about the numbers, I agree with you on this point.

    It's a red herring argument though. Like I said, this thing won't protect our cities from surreptitious delivery any more than a flak jacket will protect you from a baseball bat to the face.

    The real argument is whether or not NMD will function in its designed role - interception of ICBMs outside of the atmosphere - and none other. Every other mode of delivery/threat is tangential.
    Not the number one expert by far, but I try.

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    Don't take my word for it. I'll bring to the table what facts are in my possession and not classified. That's all. It is not my goal to change anybody's mind, and I have no illusions of being able to do so, especially on an internet message board. However, this being a high intensity, complex technology, it is necessarily difficult to explain to the public. So there are a lot of popular myths and distortions surrounding it. This obfuscation is only exacerbated by the fact that the entire program is also highly politicized. And we all know that science falls to shit when politics come into play.

    So, I will offer what facts I can, and what my security clearance allows, and you can draw your own conclusions from them.

    Actually, I don't either. If the government has to spend billions on things, I'd prefer it be something like fusion research or expanding the space program.

    I don't really see this happening though, because unlike the Cold War, the unsavory regimes sporting ICBM programs are not at a technological or economic parity with the United States, and therefore cannot compete in an arms race.
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  3. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Not a lot of people are doubting any of those facts. The problem is that those same facts do not necessarily lead us to the inevitable conclusion that we should invest in programs that are being seriously debated as mostly useless at best.
    One could agree with the facts and rather see that it is time to invest in different things such as international policies based on ethical principals rather than indirect domination, better border control, helping the U.N. instead of halting it and simply work on prevention rather than reaction (especially since reaction could potentialy be useless if the time arised).

    Hard to swallow? Try this point of view:
    Lets start with the fact that rogue nations hate the U.S. (addressing fact 1):
    Nations don't just hate each other based on love of freedom or love of theocracy (as some would dumb it down to); they hate each other because one wants to control foreign energy reserves and will stop at nothing to do it while the other one is trying to disassociate itelf from imposed culture clashes.
    Defuse that "political bomb" by creating alternative energy sources and leaving the medieval cultures to themselves and you won't have to worry about ICBM's and nuclear holocausts.
    (By doing so, we remedy our incapability of defending ourselves, for the oppressor has been silenced and there would be no point in having a catastrophe occur; facts 2 and 3 resolved)


    I was going to comment on investing in the space program, but I'll just leave you with the general idea of people not eating 3 times a day because they can only afford 2 or 1.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2005
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  5. zanket Human Valued Senior Member

    Already gave it. Cost-benefit involves not just the cost and the effectiveness, but also the risk. "tens of thousands of dead Americans and a hollowed out metropolis" is no more meaningful than "an asteroid piercing the planet" if the risk is the same.

    Obviously, huge projects need continuous re-assessment to ascertain ongoing cost-effectiveness. You can't make a commitment in 1993 and never review the cost benefit. Unless you're a Republican bigwig looking to buy that shiny Gulfstream.
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  7. Roman Banned Banned

    Mr. Pennwalt, you are an asset to these forums.
  8. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Roman, you could be one if you bothered to back anything up.
  9. newjesustimes Registered Member

    I appreciate your responses.

    Now I don't dispute your list of facts, however, I find the scenario that one of these nations launching a first strike against America as being highly unrealistic, since considering the capacity to respond, it is pretty much assured suicide. I think they have these weapons more as a last resort; that if they're going down, they're going to take an American city with them, and having that thought out in the world might just be enough to dissuade an American invasion, a la Iraq.

    I think we're talking about different kinds of decoys. Maybe I have a misconception, but I'm specifically talking about a MIRVed ICBM with several warheads (some support up to 12 or more!), some armed, some not - how do you know which to go after, or you have to take them all? What if there are 100+ in the air at once - can you handle them all? What is the absolute upper limit? All our theoretical east-asian dictator needs is n+1 warheads and the missile defense is beaten...

    As far as a prospective arms race, my understanding is that it would not only be between the US and perceived adversaries. I would expect that both China and Russia would feel the need to increase their arsenals sufficiently to overpower the defense thereby discouraging a potential first strike. Not too mention a race to do the same by Pakistan, India, N. Korea, Israel, and the rest. This is my understanding of how arms races work. Just because a country is your friend this year, doesn't mean that you don't need a defense (overwhelming offense) against their potential first-strike offense, for next year. And once one country upgrades, all of their rivals and potential adversaries also need to upgrade as fast as possible...

    It's tempting to think that if we just have this defense, then everything will be safe. But the fact is that the world is not safe, never has been, and never will be... there will always be threats, and there will always be ways for the weak to strike the strong. If US has NMD, their enemies will find other ways. Indeed, if the US has a functioning anti-missile system, the world very well may become more dangerous, overnight.

    I'm pretty certain that the nations harboring ill will towards the US do so not because "they hate our freedom" and more because they feel threatened by America's imperialist behavior. Stop the imperialism (ya, right?) and the world becomes safer overnight.

    Probably my biggest concern is that it could (will?) embolden future American rulers to become even more aggressive. So all in all, my opinion is that the world is better off without a successfully functioning anti-missile system. And America is better off investing that money elsewhere in more benign applications. But I know I'm just a dreamer. Eisenhower wasn't joking around;

    " In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

    We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. "
    Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

    Are we all feeling ALERT AND KNOWLEDGEABLE today?
  10. Roman Banned Banned

    What if an attack comes from the Eastern Seaboard or South America?
  11. Stokes Pennwalt Nuke them from orbit. Registered Senior Member

    Of course. I have no problem with the argument that we could change our foreign policy and secure the same (or a better) measure of security. It is a sound one, and I agree with it depending on how far you want to go.

    If all the critics took the path you mention, it would open the floor to honest debate and do away with the distortions and outright lies that currently muddle the issue. I wish they would. It might not be the easiest path, but it's the most on-point. It does honesty no justice to minimize the threats facing us, to lie about what the technology is capable of, or to ascribe all gaffes of the program to just one political party.
    Are you asserting that these two threats are the same?

    It won't take much to saturate and overwhelm NMD. It is completely incapable of dealing with any sort of MIRV because that is beyond the scope of the technology used (20 interceptors is the eventual goal, which is not much), but MIRVed ICBMs are also beyond the technological scope of nations such as North Korea. So for now we don't have to worry so much. I can't really say what it "can" and "can't" do, not only because we are still not at the point where we know for sure, but also because that kind of stuff is classified. What I can say is what we plan to be able to do.

    Also, there are many different systems within the Missile Defense Agency that compliment the NMD:
    • The Airborne Laser can fly near a threatening nation and intercept ballistic missiles during boost phase as they rise up through the atmosphere - slow, large, and radiating lots of heat - well before they deploy their countermeasures.
    • NMD (no link since we all know by now what it is) is a midcourse system which intercepts in the cold hard vacuum space, outside of the atmosphere but it is joined by:
    • The US Navy's SM-3 - exoatmospheric interceptors launched from AEGIS cruisers and destroyers
    • The US Army's THAAD - a lot like AEGIS BMD, but launched from mobile trucks on land
    • Finally, anything that makes it through those four, can be fired upon using terminal defense systems like PATRIOT, MEADS, and the Tactical High Energy Laser (go here for a cool video of MTHEL in action). Each of these have a very small (under 20km) radius of lateral coverage but can strike virtually anything that comes within this. As the warhead plummets down through the atmosphere, small, fast, and hot, it is strikingly visible to a FLIR on the front end of a hypersonic missile or the IR telescope of a megawatt-class laser weapon.

    This isn't all available right now, but it is all planned to be part of the eventual overall defensive gauntlet by about 2008 or so. We'll be able to engage offending targets no less than seven times during their entire flight times if everything works out as it's supposed to. This is why you will sometimes hear the all-encompassing term "missile defense" referred to as a "tiered system", because an ICBM will have to penetrate several tiers of countermeasure to make it to target.

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    As far as China and Russia are concerned, even China's arsenal is large enough to overwhelm what NMD will eventually be. Russia by several orders of magnitude more. This is a very limited system and China and Russia are smart enough to realize it poses no threat to their own strategic deterrents. Now, they have made grumblings that they will produce new missiles to counter it, but I don't see the need for them to do this. I don't care if they do though, because as I said, they already have enough firepower to do all kinds of damage, so what's a little more?

    Now as far as North Korea, Iran, et al. are concerned - if they try to out-produce us in an arms race they will lose and lose hard. I also think they're smarter than this, and will look elsewhere to expand their offensive capacity. If they don't then it's probably a good thing, at least as far as the security of the United States is concerned, because they will waste their money on useless weaponry.

    Eisenhower, between that quote you posted and the Interstate Highway System, was one of the most visionary politicians in the 20th century. We do have a MI complex here in the US and NMD is a perfect example of it in action. I'm not saying that's not bad. I'm saying it's not all bad. We can debate back and forth about the merits of our foreign policy, and how, if altered, the purported necessity of these systems will be completely obviated, but I'm not here to do that. I'm an engineer, not a diplomat, and claim no special degree of expertise outside of my own little niche.

    We'd pretty much be screwed. Thank you for your comment btw.
  12. newjesustimes Registered Member

    Well, they don't need to "out-produce us" - they just need to out-produce the anti-missile system's capacity to defend. Once they achieve n+1, they have the invasion deterrent they'd need to launch a suicide strike on their way down.

    I think America would have been a lot less likely to invade Iraq if a nuke hitting LA was the expected response. Maybe I'm wrong...
  13. zanket Human Valued Senior Member

    I'm asserting that the low risk of either threat is obviously not worth a huge cost to mitigate, all things considered. I'm asserting therefore that the money spent on NMD is for the purpose of Republican payola.
  14. Stokes Pennwalt Nuke them from orbit. Registered Senior Member

    Your assertion is false. Read the 1998 Rumsfeld Commission report.

    This is also false. These efforts have received overwhelming bipartisan support under both Democratic and Republican administrations over the past two decades or so.

    Really, it's people like you who are only muddying the waters on this issue. As I said to Prisme, the real debate is ignored in favor of the more pedestrian arguments that circulate popular channels, almost every one of which you have parroted in this thread so far.

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