TCS Daily

Star Wars: The Sequel

By Alan W. Dowd - June 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Quietly, almost imperceptibly, outside the glare of the Beltway and beyond the daily chaos of the war on terror, the US military is continuing to piece together an international missile defense system (IMD). Indeed, spring 2006 has brought with it new support and new partners from Europe, deeper cooperation in the Pacific, hopeful signs from friends in North America, steady advances on the technology front, and ever more ominous threats in the Middle East and Northeast Asia.

First, the good news.

Early in his presidency, George W. Bush vowed to begin operating the IMD's "initial capabilities in 2004 and 2005." Making good on the president's promise, the Pentagon started deploying the first interceptors at Ft. Greely, Alaska, in July 2004. Today, there are nine interceptors online in Alaska and another two at Vandenberg AFB, California. As the decade moves forward, the Pentagon will stand up a total of 30 interceptors at the two bases.

Still, the key word here is "initial." Missile defense remains a work in progress. For example, a highly sophisticated X-band radar is being towed by sea from Hawaii to Adak, Alaska, which sits some 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage. Once activated, it will discern between decoys and warheads as small as a baseball, and keep a watchful eye on inbound traffic from Beijing and Pyongyang.

Elsewhere on the high seas, May saw the Navy fire an SM-2 anti-missile missile from the deck of an Aegis cruiser and kill an inbound threat in its terminal phase (the final few seconds of flight). "It was the first sea-based intercept of a ballistic missile in its terminal phase," according to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

Likewise, the MDA scored a land-based success in May, when rocketeers at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico test-fired a high-altitude interceptor missile designed to seek out and destroy inbound threats in their final minute of flight.

In the skies, the Airborne Laser -- a missile-killing laser mounted on a 747 that can loiter outside enemy territory and destroy a missile long before it threatens American soil -- continues to hit its marks. Ground-based testing of the laser was completed in December, with a new round of flight-tests scheduled for this coming fall, all building toward a full-blown missile-intercept above Edwards AFB sometime in 2008.

Finally, in space, the MDA plans to begin deploying a "Space-Based Interceptor Test Bed" by 2008, which could give the US the ability to launch missile-killing satellites.

As the technological pieces fall into place, so too does the IMD alliance: The Polish and Czech governments are negotiating with Washington on the deployment of anti-missile bases on their soil, enabling the IMD system to peer deep into Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The Poles have even expressed a willingness to open their territory to missile interceptors. The Pentagon is ready to invest an estimated $1.6 billion in what will be the IMD's easternmost outpost in Europe. With plans to deploy ten missile-killers in Europe by 2011, the Pentagon is expected to choose a site this summer. (Given the Poles' strong and open support for the program and the Czechs' more low-key approach, the smart money is on Poland.)

The IMD's blossoming support in Poland and the Czech Republic follows crucial decisions in Britain to approve upgrades at Fylingdales (in 2003) and in Denmark to approve similar upgrades in Thule, Greenland (in 2004). Once used to scan the skies for Soviet bombers, the bases in Britain and Greenland will now monitor the European horizon for accidental or rogue missile launches.

And this is just a microcosm of NATO's newfound interest in missile defenses: After completing (in May of this year) a four-year, 10,000-page study on missile defense, NATO officially believes the program is technologically and financially feasible. And a growing number of NATO members believe it's necessary. Spurred by events in Iran, governments in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway are cooperating with Washington on elements of missile defense. Turkey is also investing in missile defenses. Stephen Harper, Canada's no-nonsense prime minister, wants to re-engage with Washington on missile defense. The previous government held an agnostic view of the system, opting out of full participation in mid-2005.

Elsewhere, Australia signed a 25-year pact on missile defense cooperation in 2004; Israel has already deployed its link in the IMD chain, the Arrow anti-missile system; and now the US and India are opening the way toward IMD cooperation.

But no member of this amorphous IMD coalition seems more serious about the threat than Japan. With Kim Jong-Il just next door, that's understandable. According to the MDA, the Japanese system already includes a network of new ground-based radars; SM-3 interceptors, which attack incoming missiles at their highest point; missile-tracking Aegis warships, which patrol near rogue countries; and Patriot PAC-3s, which serve as a last line of defense. Last month, Japan agreed to deploy a new X-band radar near Misawa to support US and Japanese anti-missile assets. The two allies also agreed to establish a joint air and missile defense base at Yakota Air Base by 2010.

Plus, as the Claremont Institute's project on missile defense reported last month, the US and Japan have agreed to deploy new batteries of PAC-3 interceptor missiles at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. "Japan also plans to deploy PAC-3 batteries at bases in the Saitama and Shizuoka prefectures near Tokyo," according to Claremont. The two nations are also committed to co-developing a newer version of the SM-3.

Why the rush? The answer to that question leads us to the bad news.

Three decades ago, there were eight countries (not including the US) that possessed ballistic missiles. Today, there are 25. By my count, 15 of them are unfriendly, unstable or uncertain about their relationship to the US. With their twin terror programs that seek to match rockets with nukes, North Korea and Iran fall into that first category. (While their leaders may be unstable, their regimes are anything but: One has held power for almost six decades, the other for almost three.)

Over the past three weeks, North Korea has been methodically preparing to test-fire a missile known as the Taepodong 2 (or TD-2), with a range of perhaps 2,600 miles. That's good enough to hit parts of Alaska. In fact, by the time you read this, the launch may have already occurred.

Carried out in plain view of US satellites and other reconnaissance assets, preparations for North Korea's first rocket test since 1998 have drawn sharp warnings from the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The New York Times reports that US officials have even taken the "highly unusual" step of phoning North Korean diplomats at the UN to underscore Washington's sincerity. In addition, US and Japanese forces have reportedly redeployed reconnaissance aircraft, Aegis warships and radar-jamming warplanes.

It makes no sense for Pyongyang to be provocative, even bellicose, at this moment; but when was the last time the North Korean regime made sense? Trying to divine Kim Jong-Il's thoughts, some say he is rattling his missiles because he's tired of Iran getting all of the West's attention. Whether or not he fires off the TD-2, the US and its allies should disabuse him of the notion that his regime is off the radar screen. If he wants attention, the allies should give it to him. One way to do just that is for Japan to go through with plans to bring North Korea before the UN Security Council. If ever there was a threat to peace, it is Kim Jong-Il's regime.

Speaking of threats to peace, Iran's missile program is marching forward. The Claremont Institute reports that "Iran has conducted four missile tests since the beginning of 2006," including tests of a modified intermediate-range ballistic missile known as the Shahab-3 and the longer-range Shahab-4. The former brings US allies and assets (and troops) in Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan into range. The latter could strike targets as far away as Europe (approximately 1,250 miles).

Finally, amid all the bad news and good news that is propelling IMD, missile-defense center at Vandenberg AFB was re-christened this spring. It's now called the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site -- a fitting name for one of the nation's first anti-missile bases. After all, if Vandenberg's interceptors are ever called to duty, they will be ready thanks to Reagan's farsighted vision.

Alan W. Dowd is a senior fellow at Sagamore Institute for Policy Research.



Reagan's Star Wars
Should the U.S. and/or its allies ever successfully deploy a missile defence system that actually saves lives, I wonder whether the old-line leftist media and the Democratic Party politicians will apologize to Ronald Reagan's memory and the American people for deriding missile defence as a "pie in the sky", unworkable, unaffordable "star wars" system that will only benefit the fat cats of the defence industry. On second thought, I guess I know the answer. These people never apologize for being wrong. I guess you really can't blame them. Otherwise, they'd spend all their time apologizing.

Does it work?
Maybe some of you can post links to articles reporting tests that show this stuff works. I've read a bunch of failures and rigged tests. Recall that the Patriot missile "successes" defending Israel from Scuds turned out to be inaccurate.

I guess you haven't been keeping up with the news.
There have been many successfull tests. want a successful test?
Easy: We shoot down the ICBM right after NK launches it. That's as close as one can get to having a realistic test.

Here you go:,+2005

This one has alot of good information:

The point is that a missile defense system is a good thing to develop and spend money on. The technology is constantly evolving and innovation is assured as long as we keep testing. Today's missile defense is nothing like what began with Reagan.

It should be noted that all the testing in the world doesn't prepare you for reality. Anything can happen once NK launches its missile.

What I would do is use their launch as a opportunity to test our defenses. They want to launch a rocket? Cool. We'll attempt to knock it out of the sky.

Failures and Rigged Tests
Of COURSE "Liberal" Goodman has read of "a bunch of failures and rigged tests..." Everybody knows that defence industry companies routinely "rig" test results so that they can reap ill-gotten gains from the government. And everybody knows that the Republican Bush Administration simply goes along with the "rigging" of said tests so that it can reward its cronies and look better to the public. Oh those Wascally Wepublicans! Like I said in my earlier posting, Liberals never apologize for being wrong. They just ignore the facts and continue to make eronious statements. Liberals never apologize -- Reagan was wrong to even suggest this nation should attempt to defend itself from missile attack and so it follows that Bush must also be wrong. You just keep telling the same lie and if you repeat it often enough, it becomes the truth. And when we knock down a North Korean missile in bound to Liberal Goodman's home town, it will all be just a lucky shot.

Great idea...
Great idea, Tlaloc! Let's go even further and work with Japan to see whether we can jointly knock down the NK missile before it can generate any useful knowledge for the Koreans. At the same time, let's work with Israel to do the same to any missile launched by Iran. But of course, the Liberals would come unglued since such an act would be too "provacative" and might lead to hard feelings on the part of North Korea and Iran. The U.N. might not like it! Heavens to Betsy, we don't want to offend the rest of the world!

While the concept of missile defence is fundamentally a good one, there have been a few notable failures in military acquisition and particularly in QA and testing procedures over the years. Two examples will suffice, the Sergeant York gun and the development of the Bradley AFV. The development of both were accompanied by flawed and/or rigged test results. Wascally Wepubwicans and Dastardly Democrats had a hand in both, i.e. defense contract boondoggles are a non-partisan issue.

I'd love to shoot down the missile before it can be launched.

But that would probably be to provocative.

Why hasn't the system been deployed in a greater arc?
The system defends the arc facing Asia but leaves the East coast and most of the Gulf defenseless. It would seem that the US should make an agreement to deploy this system to Iceland.

The article forgot KEI

The Kinetic Energy Intercept program is building new, faster interceptors and ground station processing to intercept ICBM's in their boost phase. This system can be very effective against launches from NK and Iran.

Both KEI and ABL are scheduled for a first full test in 2008. May the most lethal system win.

A very good point - this is not a partisan issue except in one sense
U.S. contractors supplied defective equipment for the Civil War and Roman contractors no doubt supplied defective equipment for wars 2000 years ago.

We will really know whether missile defense works after the first time someone actually fires a missile at our homeland by surprise. Going by history it will be a surprise if the system and the people running it are truly vigilant enough to react effectively and perfectly when taken totally by surprise.

Missile defense until the first attack is mostly a psychological weapon which prevents a foreign nut from blackmailing us. Going beyond that the research and deployment are valuable because they will set us up to be prepared to react to the second attack after the first attack wakes us up and be pound the hell out of whoever did it.

The partisanship comes in because virtually all Republicans want the U.S. to survive as a constitutional republic while the same thing cannot be said of Democrats, a significant minority of whom would have preferred that the Soviet Union win the cold war in the past, and would prefer the Islamofascists win the current war.

I know how to protect the Eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.......
In addition to land based missile interceptors we can install them on Aegis class cruisers and destroyers. The newer SM-2 missile is already on US cruisers so anywhere between 15-18 ships spread along the coasts from Texas up to Maine would provide maximum coverage from any launch on our eastern seaboards. We are currently developing the SM-3 missiles so when tested and proven to be reliable they can be installed on most or all of our Burke class destroyers and Aegis cruisers. The SM-3 missile reportedly has a range of 90 nautical miles so it does have the reach and power to knockdown any "rogue" missiles. Using land and sea based capabilities is the way to maximize our protection from any launches.

Why wait until the missile is launched?
It would be a real tragedy if a stealthy reconnaisance drone were to accidentally crash into the fueled missle on the launch pad while it is being swarmed over by technicians, but that would result in a significant setback to the North Korean program.

sm-3 range

Actually the SM-3 is advertised to have a range of over 200 nautical miles.

Missed by a Mile
Missile defense does not protect against ground-hugging cruise missiles that can be fired from small sea platforms, like fishing vessels, or even commercial airliners. Furthermore, laser-based defense remains a decade or more away. So relying upon a Missile Defense system in the near- to mid-term is foolish policy.

Toward A New Laser Era
Air Force Magazine, June 2006

...Chemical lasers are able to achieve much greater power than solid-state lasers, as the YAL-1A Airborne Laser's (ABL) megawatt-class COIL demonstrates. However, because they are powered by large volumes of toxic chemicals, they present obvious logistical problems.

ABL, for example, is powered by 6 SUV-SIZED CHEMICAL "BATTERIES" that must be housed in the back of the 747. Solid-state lasers, however, are powered by electricity, which is used to produce energy that is passed through a variety of solid media -- usually crystal or a glass compound -- to produce a laser. On an aircraft, electricity for powering a solid-state laser can be generated by burning jet fuel.

In addition to being lighter, the fact that they are electric means that solid-state lasers have a "deep-magazine," requiring only aircraft refueling in order to rearm.

...Yet another technological obstacle to the near-term deployment of laser weapons is beam control—ensuring a laser beam maintains its strength and quality as it shoots through the atmosphere ... The bottom line is that there is no simple solution to guarantee beam control. Though AFRL is making progress on all technological fronts, Hamil predicts it will be at least 10 years "and PROBABLY 20 YEARS" BEFORE SOLID-STATE LASER WEAPONS ARE FLYING AROUND, usable in combat.

My book is old........
BUT the range is still good for our protection of the eastern coast.

No Subject

The Taepo-Dong is a long range ballistic missile, not a cruise missile. Iran's Shahab's are ballistic missiles, not cruise missiles. Your argument that because interceptors can't hit cruise missiles we should ignore the threats from ballistic missiles is a "Democrat" argument: i.e., it makes no sense at all.

Front Door Locked but Window Wide-Open
Cruise missiles are much, much cheaper to build and deploy, but have an even more important advantage. It's easy to trace an ICBM to it's country of origin, but much more difficult if it's a cruise missile launched from a fishing vessel which then destroys itself. Was it sponsored by North Korea, Iran, Al Qaeda? It's a brilliant tactic because it freezes U.S. response for some length of time.

Furthermore, the possibility of North Korea attacking us with an ICBM is very limited, whereas the possibility of Al Qaeda attacking us with a cruise missile is much more plausible.

cruise missile defense

Yes, the asymmetric threat is indeed a threat; and we're working on it. In due course we'll have a defense against it, assuming lunatic politicians don't cut off the funding.

That' must be why we had ballistic missiles 50 years before we had cruise missiles
Because cruise missiles are so much easier to build.

No Defense is Perfect
So let's not even try.
Hang it up. Throw in the towel.
Communists, come on in, Rhampton thinks defense is too hard.

wrong again Mark the tiny
Cruise missiles were invented before Ballistic V1 then V2.
Ballistic missiles get to there target quiker that's why they are used.

PS it's easy to negate any defences with new tech. Defence is much harder then offence.

Tactical Triage
No, it's about priorities.

It doesn't make any sense to install a $10,000 stainless-steel door with a 6-pin master ring lock if you're in the habit of forgeting to close and lock the windows before leaving the house. In much the same way, investing TOO many of our dollars to protect against a very low-probability attack while neglecting a mid- to high-probability attack is foolhardy.

In time, the price of laser defense systems will drop to where the investment makes ECONOMIC sense. Until then, however, it would be best to concentrate defenses against our BIGGEST VULNERABILITIES.

ABM Treaty
The ABM Treaty restricted our ability to perform complete system level tests. (That is why a transponder was placed on targets in early GBI tests, so less powerful ground radars could track the target. The kill vehicle uses optics to detect the target, not radar.)
Which party supported the ABM treaty and which got us out?

Kinetic Energy system
Has always been the most likely system to be developed and deployed. Whether or not they have ironed out the problems of the nineties is unknown to me but I doubt it will be ready for deployment in this decade.

Low probability?
DPRK launched a missile over Japan a few years ago.

DPRK claims to have nuclear warheads which could cause $Billions in damage and lives.

With NO missile defense, there is NO chance to shoot them down.

Cruise missiles are slow and could be shot down with AAM, and are technically challenging to build and fire.

Smuggling warheads is possible, but not %100 successful, or it would probably have been done by now.

The only safe and sure way for an enemy to attack is with ballistic misslies, unless there is a defense. Then it is not so sure, and maybe not so safe.

The US would like to develop non-nuclear ballistic warheads. 50-100 pounds of tungsten hitting the ground from space would leave a pretty big hole and nearly impossible to stop.

Ever read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"?

Nice try geek
You're correct on the cruise missile versus ballistic missile deployment.

Unfortunately in the race between defense and offense neither side enjoys an advantage. I suggest you look at the Civil War or WWI and tell me again that offense enjoys an advantage. I suggest, this is why tens of thousnds of French officers died wearing their white gloves because someone told them the machine gun was vastly over rated, in August 1914.

Buzz Bombs and Kamikazis
Rockets were used centuries ago.

But Germany's buzz bombs were more for terror than real effect.

Tomahawk type cruise missiles can be programmed to fly into the window of a headquartes building several hundred miles away and be launced from a submarine. Not quite the same.

More double talk
There is no advantage in talking about a weapons system that may be developed compared to the one that's available. There is no comparison in effectiveness nor impact. This is just another straw man argument.

In case you haven't noticed ity our greatest vulnerability is the weapons system that can destroy this nation, the ballistic missile.

What logic!
Whenever someone tells me that whats available isn't good enough, and that if I just wait the perfect solution will be available I know that I am dealing with someone who doesn't understand the threat and hasn't the slightest intention of dealing with it.

Using Hampton's logic he'd say a bullet proof vest is useless because it doesn't protect the entire body!

21st Century V-1
Sure you can shoot down a cruise missile with AAM -- assuming 1) you know that one has been launched, and 2) you just happen to have an air-defense weapon system along the flight-path of the missile. That's a VERY FLIMSY defense.

But the really important thing to note is that an enemy DOES NOT NEED a cruise missile with extraordinary guidance capabilities. That's because it's used as an instrument of terror, not precision -- just like the Nazi V-1 buzz-bomb. In fact, it's EVEN MORE TERRORIFING if even the enemy can't tell where exactly where it will land.

Now consider that a fishing vessel in international waters off the coast of New York or Los Angeles needs a "missile" capable of covering 12 miles with a 20-50 pound pay-load...

DiY $5k cruise project shut down, missile goes into hiding
The Register (UK), December 10, 2003

...Essentially, any self-respecting terrorist with some aeronautical knowledge, a garage and a mail-order catalogue could knock together a cruise missile and use GPS navigation to steer it to the target of their choice. Other options include souped-up RC models and modified commercial aircraft; it's more a matter of whether or not the terrorists have the will to do it than of the technology being in any sense special. As we recall, one of the issues is launch, as cruise missiles are ordinarily fired or air-launched. But a roof-rack and a straight stretch of highway can be used to overcome this...

Greatest Vulnerability
"In case you haven't noticed ity our greatest vulnerability is the weapons system that can destroy this nation, the ballistic missile."

If that were the case, then President Bush would have invaded Pakistan or North Korea instead of Iraq.

The War On Terror
"But Germany's buzz bombs were more for terror than real effect."

Precisely! Now you're starting to get it.

Ok, Which war are we fighting? Who is it against? Is the threat real? HOW MUCH $?
This sounds like the Cold War? I thought our enemy was the scum bag terrorists? Appearantly I did not get the memo?

So now it is not Russia, although they might be back on the radar, the real threat is from North Korea and China.

China? A threat? The US and China have a trade relationship worth TRILLIONS!!!! The amount of information moving between the countries can be measured in TERABYTES. Both economies are completely dependent on one another. There is no way in hell that the US or the Chinese for that matter are going to start a nuclear war.

So we move to the second best threat, North Korea. The country that starves people and builds nuclear reactors. I wonder how safe they are? Here the old MAD concept works real well because the North Koreans have some nukes while the US has lots of them.

This missle defense is nuts. It is a complete waste of money and extremely valuable technical resources that could be deployeed elseware. Don't give me that spinoff argument. That is a bigger bunch of crap than all the above.

Peace is a much better alternative than missle defense. We could pay the North Koreans off with the money we are wasting on it.

Live on West Coast or Japan?
How lucky do you feel?

Would you be willing to risk millions of lives that DPRK won't launch a nuclear weapon?

Also, what does DPRK have to loose? The are truly mad.

Like the Swiss, I believe they have prepared deep undergound bunkers for the leaders, at least, to survive.

DPRK blackmailed the Clinton administration and if there were no missile defense system they would be blackmailing Japan and the USA.

Hmmm contacting spirits again are we Hampton?
Glad to see you can read the president's mind. Care to tell us what nuclear threat Clinton was defending us against when he invaded Bosnia and Haiti?

Bray on troll.

Ever notice the Left never sees any threats?
What sort of idiot thinks a fishing boat can carry let alone luanch a cruise missile. Do you have any idea of how large they are, especially the ones that can carry a nuclear warhead.

Just what we need, another military expert who learned about the military from playing with his GI Joe dolls in his sandbox.

The Bush Doctrine
President Clinton wan't defending us against any threats because those were humanitarian missions. That's why a good many conservatives (like Pat Buchanan) were against U.S. operations in Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia. But President Bush has repeatedly said that the U.S. will premptively strike any nation that threatens the United States.

Do you think North Korea's nuclear warheads and long-range rockets were more or less of a threat than Iraq? Are they now more or less of a threat than Iran?

There's always one who doesn't get the notice
Thanks for demonstrating that the hippies didn't die with the seventies, they just gathered mold and mildew and post comments like yours.

My cat has a better grasp of national security issues than you do.

Tell us about your defense expertise Hampton
Filmsy defense? Based on your extensive knowledge of air defense systems or long military service?

Might as well ask my dog his opinion on french 18th century literature, I'd get as informed an opinion.

Humaritarian crusie missiles to the Sudan!
Yeah ace, that's why Clinton wasted about four hundred cruise missiles in the Sudan, delivering humanitarian messages to the lonely. I forgot why he hit those camels in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

But when there's no threat the Left will wage war with the best of them. Too bad Clinton ran whenever he found a fight, just like Carter.

And if these morons had a backbone maybe they wouldn't have sanctioned the overthrow of an ally or allowed Bin Laden to escape. But the Left lacks both brains and a spine, its a prequisite to being a Marxist sock puppet.

Not lucky at all, I do not believe in false senses of security. The DPRK has everything to lose.

I am not taking the better financial risk of my alternatives of not spending hundreds of billions deploying a missile defense system vs. building one. Moreover, I doubt that the missile pointed at my hometown will be a higher priority to intercept than the one aimed at Bush's hometown and current living quarters.

I just do not believe that the DPRK simply can threaten the US simply because of the difference in size and complexity of the strategic defense systems already in existence. The DPRK is one of the worst off countries in Asia, a real accomplishment. Their leaders are holding on to power by a thread. I doubt their chances will be better after a hail storm of returning nuclear bombs.

Me, a hippie? No way. A skeptic, YES! I have been accused of many things but never a hippie.
I am a Freedom Loving, Libertarian, Generation X'er and extremely skeptical of government at any level solving the problems of society both internally and externally. Recently, I have become especially skeptical of the threat or use of violence to solve problems.

More pragmatically, I am convinced that we have enough "strategic" stuff to handle any threat at this time. What we (The citizens of the US) do not have is a handle on the terrorist scum. Therefore the US should be investing our resources to dealing with that and the government should return any excess to the tax payers.

Bet Your Life?
Or the life of millions on that?

Albright had champagne with the leader of DPRK. Peace in our time, no nukes.

DPRK lied. Built nukes. Sells missiles. Might be selling nukes. Very trustworthy

Self Defense
As a Libertarian, you support my right to unrestricted self defense.

As a Libertarian, you support the right of the USA to unrestricted self defense.

MAD works when those threatening you have something to lose.

The leaders of DPRK feel they have more to gain by threats than they have to lose from an attack from the USA. And they are correct.

Maybe you did not read this in your history books, but DPRK attacked the USA in the 50s. A cease fire agreement was signed, not a surrender.

Destruction of Moscow, Kiev, and Leningrad would have done serious damage to the USSR. Destroying Pyongyang would do little to change the DPRK.

Bluff Called
" North Korea said Wednesday it wants direct talks with the United States over its apparent plans to test-fire a long-range missile, a day after the country issued a bristling statement in which it declared its right to carry out the launch."

DPRK wants attention. If Japan and the USA did not have way to counter a missile launch the USA would be begging to talk (oh, yeah, Clinton tried that).

Laser defense systems?!?

"In time, the price of laser defense systems will drop to where the investment makes ECONOMIC sense. Until then, however, it would be best to concentrate defenses against our BIGGEST VULNERABILITIES."

ABL hasn't been developed or even proven yet. Its first test is scheduled for 2008. What we do have is interceptors on land and on ships. You might want to read about the subject before posting nonsense.

Agreed, Sully, except
for the last paragraph you wrote. Speaking as neither Dem or Rep, both parties want a constitutional republic but both define what it should actually do in different terms. Part of the problem with political partisanship in the U.S. today is that too much public opinion is swayed on both sides by a handful of extreme loudmouths holding opinions not reflective of the majority of their constituency. Michael Moore no more represents mainstream thought for the Democrats than Pat Buchanan does for the Republicans.

Americans can disagree about policies and means to achieving them, but we all lose when we start throwing accusations of treason. No group is immune from having a lunatic fringe. Remember there were a significant minority on the far right who thought that Nazi Germany humbling Britain and France was not a bad idea just a few decades past.

This isn't an economics issue, it's a materials issue. Lasers as weapon systems, as opposed to just spotting and rangefinding systems are miles away from practicality. You just can't deliver that much energy with a coherent light beam and the scattering effects are enormous.

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