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Subject: we have ballistic missile defense: over 3000 ICBMs sitting in the Midwest
rmz5@cornell.edu    1/26/2001 9:47:12 AM
Any pissant country tries to launch a few missiles(which is all the NMD could handle) we'd respond by turning that country into a large radioactive crater. we'd probably have to violate the ABM treaty(that's bringing values back to the White House). Concentrate on preventing nukes getting smuggled into the country. ICBMs can hold the line against rogue and large states. "They also serve who only stand and wait."
 
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Axtmann    Old solutions don't always work against new threats.   1/26/2001 11:21:28 AM
Deterrence works against organized, large scale opponents (Russia). The threat of nuking a country is often hollow if that country's government isn't even responsible for the attack (foreign terrorists etc.). Besides, wouldn't it be nice to know there's at least a chance an incoming nuke being intercepted? Why let any nukes fall on the west if they don't have to? Current strategic nukes cost a fortune just to maintain and do little good now that the USSR is out of the picture (China isn't a big threat, yet). So why not shift all that capital into missile defence (both strategic and theatre) that can double as a superior air defense net as well? Keep in mind that a cost-effective military is a better military.
 
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rmz5@cornell.edu    RE:Old solutions don't always work against new threats.   1/27/2001 1:22:27 AM
"The threat of nuking a country is often hollow if that country's government isn't even responsible for the attack (foreign terrorists etc.)." terrorists will not be using ballistic missiles, they'll most likely smuggle them into the country "Besides, wouldn't it be nice to know there's at least a chance an incoming nuke being intercepted?" no, because the chance of hitting a missile seems so remote with the program in place "Current strategic nukes cost a fortune just to maintain and do little good now that the USSR is out of the picture (China isn't a big threat, yet)." 'they also serve who only stand and wait.' if we maintain the ability to annihilate countries, then other countries will be unlikely to flip even one of two at us. "So why not shift all that capital into missile defence (both strategic and theatre) that can double as a superior air defense net as well?" it hasn't shown itself to have the potential to be a superior air or missile defense system. plus all that capital would probably not be enough to pay for even a few years of r&d. "Keep in mind that a cost-effective military is a better military." the most expensive military is the one that's second best. why not take the cash from the nmd and put it into training and anti terrorism and catching nukes from entering our country? not only that but the new crusader(?) mobile artillery gun system that the bush administration is planning to cancel?
 
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Axtmann    Off topic. They're cancelling Crusader!?   1/27/2001 9:44:44 AM
If they're shutting down the crusader project, they're making a big mistake. Missile defense will eventually be a reality (the tech is very close), but I agree that there is risk in devoting money to R&D so soon. But there's no risk in the Crusader other than politics! Anybody who says that mobile artillery isn't valuable deserves a laser-guided Copperhead round on the noggin! I knew I'd hate the President whether it was Gore or Bush, but if this is true then GW can kiss my Canadian Ass!
 
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br0die    RE:we have ballistic missile defense: over 3000 ICBMs sitting in the Midwest   5/8/2001 3:29:27 PM
Actually, we have fewer than 1000, not 3000 ICBMs, along with a substantial number of SLBMs at sea... The more salient point is, however, that simply smuggling a bomb into the country (we cannot stop shipments of cocaine and heroin, it strikes me as relatively simple for a well-organized group to smuggle the pieces in over time), a strategy that makes far more sense, particularly for terrorists and third-world kelptocrats who find ballistic missle technology difficult to obtain. For that matter, a freighter carrying a bomb could easily enter any number of ports, or simply launch a Cessna from safely offshore. As one wag put it, 'they could even fedex it'... All of that said, this worship of the ABM treaty strikes me as equally misguided. I too oppose NMD for the reasons outlined above (and the horrific cost, which I think would be far better applied to any number of pressing military needs after the locust years of Bubba), but the idea that we should forever foreclose strategic options because this treaty exists is puzzling. Giving ample warning that we were going to remove ourselves from the treaty regime is of course necessary, but beyond that, there is hardly a reason to allow our strategic thinking to be dictated by what the Russians, Chinese or French (horrors!) are willing to tolerate.
 
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jfd    RE:we have ballistic missile defense: over 3000 ICBMs sitting in the Midwest   5/9/2001 3:29:58 AM
Quite right. Enthusiasm for an ABM "solution" comes from the fact that, no matter how much it costs, it is possible to stop a nuke this way. Given the constant drug smuggling going on, it is obvious that stopping a smuggled nuke is rather more difficult. Worse, the smuggled nuke is the preferred delivery method, for that way you are much less likely to get nuked in return. The last thing you want on your nuke is a return address, and a missile will be spotted and it's launch site quickly calculated.
 
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Dan Masterson    RE:we have ballistic missile defense: over 3000 ICBMs sitting in the Midwest   5/9/2001 12:30:14 PM
Several of the Republicans are suggesting that we need to work on both threats. The main way to stop the smuggling on a nuclear device into the country is via superior intelligence. I think working on stopping both threats is only prudent. You don't want to send something with a return address and thus you might send it from a different city than you live in.
 
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br0die    RE:we have ballistic missile defense: over 3000 ICBMs sitting in the Midwest   5/9/2001 12:59:17 PM
In reply to Dan: Indeed numerous NMD proponents have acknowleged the issue of a 'suitcase bomb', and pointed out that we should do something about that too. The problem is, however, that once one accepts the dangers inherent in such a threat (which is orders of magnitude more difficult to cope with, as the 'barriers to entry' are such much lower), then the rationale for NMD is critically weakened. After all, if our main justification for NMD is rogue states and terrorists (which is precisely what the supports of NMD have claimed, as against any other potential threat, NMD lacks any viable credibility at all), why wouldn't those actors (who have fewer resources, and are most vulnerable to retailiation of unmasked) use the far cheaper, easier, and more reliable technique of smuggling the bombs? For that matter, why wouldn't China, for instance do the same thing? I am reminded of a short story I read many years ago called "The Whirligig of Time", which starts with a vignette of an ABM laser/missle system defending LA, only to have its hard-fought victory ruined by a bomb planted within the city. Once one acknowleges the viability of the suitcase threat, the cost vs expected benefit of NMD makes it a far less prudent choice. Now theatre missile defense (as well as the associated tactical systems) makes good sense to me, but given the (literally) astronomical costs of NMD, I would rather see better air/sea transport, better personnel policies/pay, and upgraded readiness/deployability measures.
 
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