February 22, 2004

Bring It On

The Bush slime machine shifts into high gear. And Joshua Micah Marshall approves of Max Cleland's response:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: February 15, 2004 - February 21, 2004 Archives: Said Max Cleland today: "For Saxby Chambliss, who got out of going to Vietnam because of a trick knee, to attack John Kerry as weak on the defense of our nation is like a mackerel in the moonlight that both shines and stinks." Yes, that's the Saxby Chambliss who went down and dirty against Cleland back in 2002. And now the Bush campaign is sending him out against John Kerry.

What else is there to say? Bring it on.

When I knew him in the Clinton administration, Max Cleland was not an especially partisan guy. I guess being told you are the next thing to a communist because you didn't lose all four limbs in Vietnam will change someone. ,/p> Posted by DeLong at February 22, 2004 03:54 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

Comments

I have posted some counter-slime at my URL entitled "Who is Bandar Bush?: Does George W. Bush Have What it Takes to Fight the War on Terror?".

This is sure to be a dirty election -- Bush doesn't have many other cards in his hand. Tit for tat, and do unto others before they do unto you. Krauthammer was already whining this morning. He would have been whining no matter what. Screw him.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on February 22, 2004 04:44 PM

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So, just when did a senator's voting record become off limits in an election campaign?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 22, 2004 04:58 PM

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So have you heard that Republicans haven't cornered the market on October surprises? Yes, this is going to be an interesting summer.

Posted by: SW on February 22, 2004 05:14 PM

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Why do you hate America, Patrick?

Americans lack a racial and a religious basis for Americanism. We run with some variant of nationalism. Policy critiques were never the issue - in fact if we had been sticking to policy from the get go I think the last three years would have been very different.

Cleland was slimed for not being American enough; it never should have been an issue. Bush is plenty American - it never should have been an issue. Throw on a flight suit and prance around like a war hero, impugn the patriotism of those that gave so much - now it's an issue.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on February 22, 2004 05:21 PM

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Patrick wants to pay higher taxes tomorrow for boondoggles like missile defense today. I don't think Mr Bush has a good handle on Pentagon waste and throwing money at them only makes our budget deficit worse without adding to our security. In fact, committing to long term contracts for systems that are not necessary makes it impossible for the military to get the equipment they truly need in the future. For instance, why are our soldiers driving around Iraq in Humvees that lack proper armor??? Why are the funds for Humvee armor not forthcoming, but we can waste $10+ Billion on missile defense that does not work?? Why is Mr Bush wasting our tax dollars? Is our soldier's safety being compromised in order to placate a well connected defense contractor that contributes a lot of money to someone's reelection campaign??

Posted by: bakho on February 22, 2004 05:40 PM

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Nothing like getting kicked out of office after commercials were run with images of Hussein and bin Laden highlighting your vote for civil service protections in a Homeland Security Department the White House didn't want to begin with.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work.

Posted by: norbizness on February 22, 2004 06:09 PM

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Heh, heh, here's the real reason Kerry is pulling this stunt.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1082762/posts

Bring it on, indeed.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 22, 2004 06:25 PM

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Patrick R. Sullivan wrote, "Heh, heh, here's the real reason Kerry is pulling this stunt.

http : //www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1082762/posts"

First, it's funny that you think FR is a reasonable place to find information. Second, there's a lot in the supposed document there to be proud of, if it's accurate---weapons systems that had/have little legitimate rationale, amongst them:
MX Missile: no need given that we had thousands of nuclear missiles targeting the USSR;
B-1 bomber: again, no need;
Star Wars: a lasting waste of taxpayers' money;
Patriot missiles: almost a complete failure in the first Persian Gulf War---and that was against the Scud, a relatively crud theater missile;
Battleship renovation: LOL! taxpayer money right down the rathole.

Oh, but I forget---anyone who thinks that DoD procurement requests should be subject to rational cost/benefit analysis is a traitor. I vote we spend *25%* of GDP on the military rathole! As there's no way to calculate costs and benefits, why not?

Posted by: liberal on February 22, 2004 07:37 PM

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Unprecedented anger against Bush.

"I've never seen anything like it," says Ted Jelen, a political science professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. "There are people who just really, really hate this person."

Could it be that people don't like being lied to?


http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2004/02/22/anger/index.html

Posted by: Kosh on February 22, 2004 07:44 PM

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"Heh, heh,"

Appropriate opener since the whole site reads like a Beavis and Butt-head fan gathering.

"I hate words."
"Words suck."
"If I wanted to read, I'd go to school."

Posted by: ogmb on February 22, 2004 07:56 PM

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The fact that Kerry has pretty much attempted to slash the hell out of our defenses through his whole career in the Senate is not exactly news, and his diversion technique of waving Vietnam around isn't really working.

http://oxblog.blogspot.com/2004_02_22_oxblog_archive.html#107745706061974107

Go over that list of defense systems again, with a little thought this time over the past 20 years of our military history without some of these systems. I have no doubt that the F-117 would also be on that list if Kerry had known about it.

We could also discuss his positions on nuclear freeze, unilateral disarmament, slashing the CIA, and a host of other goodies.

On the subject of national defense, in the Senate where it counts, the man is indistinguishable from George McGovern, and even if he was the biggest Vietnam war hero on Earth, it wouldn't change that.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 22, 2004 07:59 PM

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From The Nation re Ann Coulter's attack on Max Cleland: http://www.thenation.com/outrage/index.mhtml?bid=6

Here's an excerpt:

Never one to let the facts get in the way of a good story, Ann Coulter is standing by her bizarre assault on Max Cleland, the former Democratic Senator. Coulter still insists he's not a Vietnam war hero.

True, Cleland lost both legs and an arm -- but Coulter has done us the important service of noting that those three limbs were not shot off, one by one, with an AK-47 wielded by an actual screaming Viet Cong. Ergo, they aren't combat injuries.

Our political discourse is vastly improved for Ann Coulter's important contribution. This incisive distinction of hers ought to go down in history with such classic formulations as "I smoked marijuana but I didn't inhale."

Coulter also cleverly seizes upon remarks by Cleland and others expressing frustration at the random meaningless of his wounds: In essence he hopped out of a helicopter straight into an exploding grenade dropped accidentally by another American. Cleland has the humility and subtlety to say there was nothing heroic in that, it was just fate, bad luck; Coulter slyly twists such remarks into a blanket statement that Cleland is no hero, he's just a shmuck who blew himself up.

But wait. Once again, here is the US Army's own description of how, four days before he lost his limbs, Captain Max Cleland "distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 4 April 1968 ... during an enemy attack near Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam.

"When the battalion command post came under a heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack, Capt. Cleland, disregarding his own safety, exposed himself to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position to administer first aid to his wounded comrades. He then assisted in moving the injured personnel to covered positions. Continuing to expose himself, Capt. Cleland organized his men into a work party to repair the battalion communications equipment, which had been damaged by enemy fire."

So in building her extremely worthy and important case that Cleland's no hero, how does Coulter finesse this?

By omitting it.

Posted by: Cal on February 22, 2004 08:06 PM

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Hey ogmb: Did you know that Shrub's buddy the governor of Texas is gay? I hear Matt Drudge is on top of this one.

"Heh, heh,"

From a GOP capitol staffer: "All hell is about to break loose"

http://www.burntorangereport.com/archives/001085.html

Posted by: Butthead on February 22, 2004 08:20 PM

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Hmm, looking around for some more comprehensive info on Kerry's military voting record I found the Peace Action's Congressional voting records:

http://www.peace-action.org/pub/publications.html

Kerry doesn't seem to look very good in their book, routinely voting against their favored positions (40-47% from 2000-02). He also isn't listed as someone who received contributions from Defense-related PAC's. I would rather see some more substantial material than links to droolo blogs.

Uh, huh-hu, Hu-hu-hu-hu.
ogmb

Posted by: ogmb on February 22, 2004 08:40 PM

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Bakho, If missile defense is so worthless why did Russia make an overt point in the recent test firing of a new missile allegedly capable of "beating" missile defense? Why did they waste the money? Maybe their scientists know something you don't. I know some knowledgeable scientists disagree with the program, but there are others who think it can work. Obviously, some are in Russia. As far as Humvee armor goes, maybe those funds are being spent on technology to defeat remotely detonated bombs. There is usually more than one way to skin a cat.

Hey Liberal, You forgot to mention Patriot worked almost perfectly in Iraqi Freedom. Its funny how system development works. Systems seem to get better over time if you invest the time and money. Do you think we ought to scrap development of laser systems?

Liberal, I find it ironic those so in love with the nanny state find spending tax dollars to ensure the security of this wonderful country so repugnant.

Posted by: Brian on February 22, 2004 09:18 PM

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Dear Brian,

Because a toy rocket out of a store could beat missile defense and so it was a cheap boost for Putin who has been criticized for being too accomadating with the USA before his upcoming election. "See we can beat the American's missile defense." Well a firecracker strapped on a 747 moving at slow speed in a straight line could beat US missile defense.

Just like missile defense that doesn't actually work is an easy political score for Bush since actual proliferation issues like disarming Korea are stalled.

Dear Prof. Delong,

You have an error in your piece with the ",/p>" tag fragment at the end. In addition you're wrong. They didn't tell Cleland that he was the next thing to a communist, they told him that because he didn't lose all four limbs in Vietnam he was the next thing to Osama bin Ladin. That's what changed him. Get your story straight. ;-) Just kidding. Great work like usual.

Posted by: Oldman on February 22, 2004 09:42 PM

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Cognitivie Dissonance may be driving the wingnuts crazy. I cannot imagine how ugly the campaign will be. Here we are on this high toned blog and this issue is fodder for GET-A-LOAD-A-THIS! posts from these people.

The performance of the Patriot missile system has been controversial, and this has been in the news.

I am also not impressed by Brian's post on the Russian experiments on maneuverable re-entry vehicles. Suppose they are what we think they are... then that means that some one is already developing the means to defeat a system before we can even get a 50% success rate for the defense system in simplified test situations. I don't see how that strengthens the case for deployment.

And in any case, our missile defense is not designed to work against Russia, and no one, I mean no one has suggested that we could ever perfect a system that would be effective against the Russians. They simply have too many warheads, and this would saturate any defense. Enough would get through to destroy the US.

For the same reason, the Russians could never develop a defense system against us.

These people are talking crazy, in my opinion. I suppose the next thing will be posts that the end of the cold war and fall of the Soviet Union is a hoax, etc. etc.

http://www.cdi.org/index.cfm

60 Minutes Assesses Patriot Missile Defense, Featuring Philip E. Coyle, III, CDI Senior Advisor (Press Release - Announcement)
This Sunday, February 22, CBS’ 60 Minutes analyzes the Patriot missile defense program’s performance in Iraq. This controversial system is claimed by the military to have engaged nine Iraqi ballistic missiles. While the accuracy of that conclusion still is unclear, what is certain is that the Patriot shot down two friendly aircraft, killing one American and two British pilots. The 60 Minutes story features CDI Senior Advisor Philip E. Coyle, III, who explains that the system had been struggling with serious technological problems prior to being fielded in Iraq

http://www.ceip.org/files/projects/npp/resources/patriot.htm

Performance of the Patriot Missile System
Activities of the House Committee on Governmental Operations
One Hundred Second Congress
First and Second Sessions, 1991 - 1992
Report 102-1086, pages 179- 188
Performance of the Patriot Missile in the Gulf War
a. Summary.-The Patriot missile system was not the spectacular success in the Persian Gulf War that the American public was led to believe. There is little evidence to prove that the Patriot hit more than a few Scud missiles launched by Iraq during the Gulf War, and there are some doubts about even these engagements. The public and the Congress were misled by definitive statements of success issued by administration and Raytheon representatives during and after the war. It is probable that many of the individuals giving such statements, including the President of the United States and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, were not aware at the time that the claims of success were false.

Posted by: jml on February 22, 2004 09:52 PM

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The attacks on Cleland (earlier and recently by Coulter) were of unbelievable creepiness. We can expect more of the same.

If someone wants to criticize Kerry on the issues, fine. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the stuff that happened to Cleland and also McCain. Kerry's up next.

The trolls have been especially active recently, especially at Calpundit, and I do detect a note of panic as they watch their paper mache president falling apart in front of their eyes.

Someone clue young Brian in about the history of our missile defense system.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on February 22, 2004 09:59 PM

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I'm not suprised. The Patriot missile system was originally designed to take down planes.

http://www.cdi.org/issues/bmd/Patriot.html
"The Patriot missile was designed in the late 1970's as an antiaircraft weapon."

It was only a hack job that let it be modified to target incoming short range missiles. Note that it also only targets ballistic missiles that have a trajectory rather than cruise missiles that terrain-hug such at the Tomahawk or the anti-ship Chinese Silkworm missile that has been widely proliferated around the world. The fact that it blew up coalition aircraft perhaps more successfully than missiles is no design flaw, but a vindication of its original design principles.

In addition, no one claims that the Patriot in any version would be effective against long-range ballistic missiles that compromise the majority of land-based nuclear launch vechicles. The Missile Defense program that is being built by the Dept. of Def. is much more inaccurate and problem prone than the relatively well field tested Patriot.

Posted by: Oldman on February 23, 2004 01:52 AM

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I thought that the problem with missile defence was that it didn't work in tests and even if it could be made to work it would be defeated economically because it would be cheaper to develop decoys than it would be to shoot them down.

Posted by: Jack on February 23, 2004 03:27 AM

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Brian wrote, "Hey Liberal, You forgot to mention Patriot worked almost perfectly in Iraqi Freedom. Its funny how system development works. Systems seem to get better over time if you invest the time and money. Do you think we ought to scrap development of laser systems?"

But there's a difference between monies spent on development and monies spent on deployment. And even if the claim that the Patriot worked in Iraq War II is correct, that doesn't mean the "bang for the buck" ratio is very good.

"Liberal, I find it ironic those so in love with the nanny state find spending tax dollars to ensure the security of this wonderful country so repugnant."

LOL! I haven't nothing against tax dollars spent on securing the nation. My argument is with the level of spending. Compare US military spending as a fraction of world military spending to the US in the past, other regimes now and earlier in history. And don't forget that the US is lucky enough not to require much in the way standing army to defend its borders themselves (e.g., compare the last decades of US-Mexican and US-Canadian relations with Soviet-Chinese, Chinese Vietnamese, etc).

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 03:40 AM

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Jack wrote, "I thought that the problem with missile defence was that it didn't work in tests and even if it could be made to work it would be defeated economically because it would be cheaper to develop decoys than it would be to shoot them down."

Exactly. The tests they've run have never had much in the way of decoys, and many of the tests actually had a beacon in the target.

The biggest problem, and one for which there is no known technical solution, is that both the warhead and the decoys could be placed in containers (mylar balloons, IIRC) and would be essentially indistinguishable, at least from a systems view.

Furthermore, ballistic missile defense would do nothing to protect the country against a nuke smuggled across the border and then detonated by terrorists within the US, a situation much more worrisome than the ballistic missile scenario because the usual principles of deterence may not apply.

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 03:46 AM

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tbrosz wrote, "Go over that list of defense systems again, with a little thought this time over the past 20 years of our military history without some of these systems. I have no doubt that the F-117 would also be on that list if Kerry had known about it...We could also discuss his positions on nuclear freeze..."

Yes, God knows the Republic would instantly be invaded by North Korean, Syrian, Libyan, Taliban, al Qaeda, ... hordes if we didn't have the F-117.

And the nuclear freeze...if we'd frozen the number of warheads and launchers, undoubtably we'd all be speaking Russian now; no rational mind could argue that tens of thousands of warheads aimed at the USSR wasn't enough for deterence.

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 03:50 AM

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Typo: previous sentence should read:
"no rational mind could argue that tens of thousands of warheads aimed at the USSR was enough for deterence."

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 04:56 AM

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Oh Christ! There are actually some idiots here who believe in missle defense! P.T. Barnum lives!

Posted by: SW on February 23, 2004 05:38 AM

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From GAO/NSIAD-97-134 Operation Desert Storm Air Campaign (I'd provide link, but gao.gov uses frames):

"One of the stated advantages of stealth technology is that it enhances survivability, and in Desert Storm, the stealthy F-117 was the only aircraft type to incur neither losses nor damage. However, these aircraft recorded fewer sorties than any other air-to-ground platform and flew exclusively at night and at medium altitudes—an operating environment in which the fewest casualties occurred among all types of aircraft.13 Moreover, given the overall casualty rate of 1.7 per 1,000 strikes, the most probable number of losses for any aircraft, stealthy or conventional, flying the same number of missions as the F-117 would have been zero. (See app. II for more information on the tactics and support used by F-117s to minimize their exposure to air defense threats.)"

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 05:43 AM

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Patriot missiles were not the success their makers orinally claimed. The military has repeatedly downgraded their performance in Gulf War I. It is important to know the true capabilities because we should not rely on flawed technology or inaccurate intelligence. The result will be exposing our troops to greater dangers than anticipated.

See the following report

http://www.ceip.org/files/projects/npp/resources/patriot.htm

The system has since been upgraded, but is still greatly flawed.

Ballistic missile defense is easily and cheaply defeated. The tactical offensive will always have the advantage in a unexpected first strike. The only real defense is the deterrence from retaliation if struck. This is why diplomatic efforts and non-proliferation are so important.

Missile defense is a nice idea. It is a pleasing concept. It would be great if it would or could work. However, the laws of physics are stacked against it.

Posted by: bakho on February 23, 2004 05:47 AM

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Again, re the Patriot, I agree with the content of Oldman's post---I'd also heard about the kludge he refers to. Apparently the Patriot used in Gulf War II is a complete redesign, in which case it doesn't follow that the path of development for this particular system was very efficient.

Again, re Brian's comment, "Its funny how system development works. Systems seem to get better over time if you invest the time and money. Do you think we ought to scrap development of laser systems?" you're providing no measure on the costs and benefits of any particular path of development.

Laser systems? There are lots of laser systems. Some projects are probably valuable, some are probably a complete waste of money. Though you'd never know the distinction from the right-wing predilection for dumping taxpayer dollars down the DoD rathole.

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 05:50 AM

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bakho wrote, "Missile defense is a nice idea. It is a pleasing concept. It would be great if it would or could work. However, the laws of physics are stacked against it."

Careful here---your argument could be misconstrued by the right-wing technofetishists posting here as saying that we can't hit a bullet with a bullet, which AFAICT we *have*, in tests.

The "laws of physics" *I'm* refering to are the radiation and flight signatures of the incoming warhead and the decoys. I've never seen a compelling answer to MIT's Postol's argument that existing technology has no ability to distinguish the signatures.

Of course, *sometime* in the future, we may have working, exotic ballistic missile defenses. So what? Right-wingers are always willing to scream about cost-benefit issues or use rhetoric like the law of perverse consequences for any spending, with the grand exception of military spending.

Perverse consequence number 1: acceleration of buildup of Chinese and other ballistic missile fleets.

Before anyone claims otherwise, note that this doesn't prove ABM is valid---just that the Chinese (like the Russians before them) are dumb enough to worry about it. (People who like to push this line in the case of the Soviets don't seem overly fond of relying on the correlation between Soviet thoughts and behaviors on other issues.)

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 06:03 AM

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Here is a thought experiment for our missle defense o'philes. If you are planning a missle attack and you know that you are facing a missle defense system that has a 50% probabability of shooting your missle down and you want to be assured of hitting your target, what do you do?

Well, of coures you fire two missles. So your missle defense system has simply encouraged your adversary to acquire and launch more missles. Should be good news for Pakistan, China and all the other black market missle dealers.

Posted by: SW on February 23, 2004 06:09 AM

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Sounds like Kerry's record on defense is quite sensible. I don't see he'll have a problem except with the drooling wingnuts like Sullivan who will never vote for him anyway.

Posted by: marky on February 23, 2004 07:07 AM

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"I had all my partisan instincts surgically removed when I became Secretary of State. They've all grown back."

Madeline Albright.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 07:45 AM

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"So, just when did a senator's voting record become off limits in an election campaign?"

So, just when did a President's service record become off limits?

Sometime after Clinton left office, that's for sure.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 07:55 AM

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The scary thing about ABMs is that it also drives our adversaries to move towards systems where the launch point/originating controler can't be detected. If the source can be identified the source can be detered. This leads to a world where the smuggled bomb is the threat. Think of Isreal.
Have a good day.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on February 23, 2004 08:29 AM

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SW, you don't know how statistics works, how missile defense works, or how strategic planning works.

A system that is 50 percent effective does not mean that doubling the missiles will ensure that exactly half get through. It just improves the chances.

I would support a system that was only ten percent effective, even assuming you can accurately measure such things.

A system that, in its entire career, stopped just a single American city from being nuked would be worth almost anything it cost. The total cost to New York alone of the destruction of just two skyscrapers approaches $100 billion.

As for those who say that smuggling a weapon in negates the usefulness of missile defense, that's like telling a cop he shouldn't wear a bulletproof vest because a bad guy might shoot him in the head.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 23, 2004 11:32 AM

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Oldman, I dismiss you out of hand. If you can make a real argument I'll respond.

Jml, you're slightly better the Oldman. The point is Russia must be assumed to be rational. Therefore, they believe missile defense is possible. Sure our system is not designed to beat a Russian attack, but N. Korea must think twice. If there is a 50% probability, I hope the N. Koreans are smarter than you. A coin toss is 50-50 that does not mean h-t-h-t it could mean h-h-h-t-t-t both scenarios are possible. Therefore, someone with 5 missiles is not sure to defeat a 50% system. What is sure is the resulting smoking hole in the former N. Korea. 60 minutes- PLEASE. Your closing with a description of Gulf War Patriot performance belies the weakness of your argument. Let's ask Isreal or Taiwan what they think of Patriot, Aegis and missile defense. They're buying friends.

Liberal, cost-benefit in this case is inherently a leap of faith. Therefore, the decision is in many respects political. It takes place in elections. By the way, Clinton funded it. We are a wealthy country and we can afford more military spending if necessary. The security of the country is the primary constitutional duty of the Fed. Gov't.

It's immoral for this country not to be so technologically superior to most possible foes in this world as to make hostile actions towards us irrational. Sadaam was irrational. Ho Chi Minh was not irrational, and LBJ was immoral.

Zizka, consider many in aircraft design prior to supersonic flight thought it was impossible. "the laws of physics are stacked against it" as Bakho would say. Ye of little faith.

Posted by: Brian on February 23, 2004 11:36 AM

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Indeed, this is a pretty good list of cancelations, and Kerry was completely on target: it became clear after the Cold War ended just how badly the CIA and the DOD had overestimated Soviet military capabilities (many of those vaunted Soviet divisions were essentially 'on paper').

Neither the F-14 nor F-15 have been, to my knowledge, all that crucial to US military operations. Notice that the F-16 and F-18 are NOT on his list. The Battleship reactivation program was completely worthless. I think he was wrong about the AEGIS, but certainly not about the B1 and the MX missile, let alone "Star Wars" or the ASAT program we had in the 1980s. I should add that the latter two programs were, IIRC, cancelled after wasting lots and lots of money.

I am not convinced the Cruise Missiles have every proved particularly cost-effective compared to other PGMs, but that's another story.

Posted by: dn on February 23, 2004 01:24 PM

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Of course this isn't the way statistics work, it is the way the human mind works. Otherwise no one would buy multiple lottery tickets.

As a scientist who has spent more than his share of DARPA money working on SDI Program Related Activities, my beef isn't with doing research and development. Of course we should be looking into the feasiblitly of these kinds of systems.

What elevates the Bush administrations SDI effort to the absurd boondoggle that it is, is the fact that they are budgeting huge sums of money for DEPLOYMENT!!!!!

In the real world a system is researched, developed prototyped and then deployed. There is no credible prototype for one of these systems. It is many years down the road. Indeed it is an open question as to whether or not the technology will EVER develop to the point where a working prototype is feasible.

Not to worry. If you have a faith based technology developmet program, this is no problem. Hell, you just deploy it before you do the R&D. Christ, if we would have thought of this approach sooner think of all the time we could have saved!

Posted by: SW on February 23, 2004 01:34 PM

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Missile defense- the modern day Maginot line.

Posted by: bakho on February 23, 2004 01:59 PM

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SW, you worked on SDI. Now, I do have my doubts. With your grasp of probability, I question your qualifications as a "scientist". I pray you were working on "warning" stickers or something comparable. You proceed with a project with faith you can overcome difficulties not deploy on faith. If you want to talk faith I'd look at the guy who hired you. Now there was a leap of faith. Sometimes we are let down.

Bakho, if we relied on SDI exclusively then I'd agree with your maginot line reference. Fortunately, the American people vote Republican when issues of national security are of primary concern. Republicans have taken a comprehensive interest in developing next generation weapon systems. Both parties abuse gov't spending, but on the whole R's have proven better than D's in the last 30 years in providing for the defense of this country. In this there is little real argument. I'd rather waste Fed $ on F117 than on a Deep Tunnel in Chicago or Big Dig in Boston.

Posted by: Brian on February 23, 2004 03:21 PM

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Yes, the MX missile would have been *so* good against those hijacked airliners.

And Saxby Shameless can just go sit out on the porch and rub his trick knee.

Posted by: ahem on February 23, 2004 03:45 PM

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One of the reasons that civilian technology was so hot during the 90's was because of cut-backs in defense spending. Now, in today's business climate the defense department is probably the only place doing true blue sky research. They are the only customer with a time horizon that is long enough to think about these things. But when the gravy train starts to slow down, and there are more researchers than grants floating around folks start asking themselves if there is anything useful that can be done wtih this stuff. The result is a shift to nearer term commercial product development. These things tend to go in cycles. But there is little doubt in my mind that part of the technology boom in the 90s was due to a decrease in defense spending.

All the high tech wiz bang hardware in the world is of little use when you've "Pissed off the Planet". We've seen an almost nonstop commercial over the past three years for the high tech defense industries. In the final analysis just blowing up shit doesn't get it done (see Iraq).

Posted by: SW on February 23, 2004 03:59 PM

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My, Tbrosz picks small nits.
If the system is 50% effective, then if you double the number of incoming missiles, on average twice as many will hit. This is the meaning of 50% effectiveness.
Of course, we don't even have a system of ANY effectiveness, even in single missile tests.
SDI is not cost-effective, and probably won't be.
Sorry guys, just because you read it in a science fiction book doesn't mean it's a realistic possibility. By the same token, sending men to Mars----or anywhere else in the solar system---may well be impractiable.... not to mention that we could mine the asteroids with robots anyway.

Posted by: marky on February 23, 2004 04:04 PM

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tbrosz wrote, "A system that, in its entire career, stopped just a single American city from being nuked would be worth almost anything it cost. The total cost to New York alone of the destruction of just two skyscrapers approaches $100 billion."

(a) We don't know _a priori_ if anyone will attempt to nuke a city; (b) we don't know if they'll attempt to do so by a ballistic missile or suitcase nuke; (c) we don't know that the system being built now could stop anything.

Thus, we try to put likelihoods on these things. That's what cost-benefit analysis is all about.

Aside: What's your cite for the $100 billion claim for NYC?

"As for those who say that smuggling a weapon in negates the usefulness of missile defense, that's like telling a cop he shouldn't wear a bulletproof vest because a bad guy might shoot him in the head."

False analogy. Bulletproof vests are presumably worthwhile from a cost-benefit point of view because of the likelihood of getting hit in a nasty way in the torso (versus head). Suppose the expense for the vest were instead for some kind of bulletproof leg-warmers. Would *they* be worth the cost?

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 04:52 PM

____

Brian wrote, "Sure our system is not designed to beat a Russian attack, but N. Korea must think twice. If there is a 50% probability, I hope the N. Koreans are smarter than you."

But North Korea has no missile capable of accurately targeting a US city.

"Liberal, cost-benefit in this case is inherently a leap of faith."

Actually, it's not.

"Therefore, the decision is in many respects political. It takes place in elections."

That's a descriptive statement---this is the way the world is. I'm making a normative statement---anti-ballistic missile defense in its present incarnation is a waste of money.

"By the way, Clinton funded it."

That just means Clinton was too much of a wussy not to give in to nutty right-wingers.

"We are a wealthy country and we can afford more military spending if necessary. The security of the country is the primary constitutional duty of the Fed. Gov't."

But if there's no rational cost-benefit analysis, why should military spending not be 1% of GDP? 99% of GDP? 50% of GDP?

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 04:56 PM

____

Brian wrote, "SW, you worked on SDI. Now, I do have my doubts. With your grasp of probability, I question your qualifications as a 'scientist'."

Uh huh. And what are your mathematical/statistical bona fides?

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 04:59 PM

____

Brian wrote, "It's immoral for this country not to be so technologically superior to most possible foes in this world as to make hostile actions towards us irrational. Sadaam was irrational. Ho Chi Minh was not irrational, and LBJ was immoral."

Actually, the evidence is that Saddam, or the Iraqi regime in aggregate, was rational enough that their concern re the UN inspectors in the 1990s was one reason they got rid of a lot of their unconventional weapons.

"Zizka, consider many in aircraft design prior to supersonic flight thought it was impossible. 'the laws of physics are stacked against it' as Bakho would say. Ye of little faith."

There's nothing in *physics* to prevent something like antimissile defense from working. There are substantial *engineering* problems, though. Most importantly, as I wrote before, MIT's Postol has pointed out that there's no way for the system to distinguish warheads from decoys.

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 05:05 PM

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So as not to degrade the reputation of Bill Clinton, I'd like to go on record as having been hired by George Bush the smarter.

Posted by: SW on February 23, 2004 05:28 PM

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That weapon is the Patriot missile system. And the thing it’s not supposed to do is bring down friendly aircraft.


"If the Patriot missile is confusing missiles with planes, that is just not just a minor glitch".

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/02/19/60minutes/main601241.shtml

Posted by: bakho on February 23, 2004 06:22 PM

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Liberal, I'm a ME loosed on industry by U of Illinois. I've taken a math class or two. Although, any junior high pot head knows when you flip a coin it is possible to get heads twice in a row. Come on Sadaam rational, we just pulled him out of a hole in the ground. We rolled over him. We rolled over Afghanistan. The Russians lost 50,000 there and left as we did in Viet Nam. Since, 1980 we've spent vast amounts of money on our military and its paid off. We stabilized Europe, neutralized USSR and may change the face of the Middle East for the better. Does anyone see the USA losing 50,000 soldiers in any conflict in the third world today. I don't think so. We lost 500 in Iraq and don't think that didn't leave an impression around the world. All thanks to large Defense budgets. Sure some systems could be considered wasteful, but much of what I see here is Monday morning QB'ing. Missile defense may or may not be a waste. History will tell, but shooting down incoming is a worthwhile goal and though difficult to engineer, who knows how technology will develop. We are still making it more expensive for rogue states to get in the nuclear game against us and our allies.

I do agree cost/benefit is important. My point is its such a subjectice calculation for this type of system. The time frame is so long its almost impossible to predict threats and the progress of technology. How do you predict chip speed in twenty years? How do you predict Chavez coming to power in Venezuela? No, you can do a calculation but its not going to be worth the paper its written on. Its almost a total gut decision and therefore the American people do the gut check when they vote R or D.

SW, maybe Brad could use the "cut defense/drive consumer technology/boost economy" theory in his town hall meeting. Something tells me he'll pass.

Posted by: Brian on February 23, 2004 09:39 PM

____

I would simply like to hear how any advocate of Missile Defense can justify deploying a system that hasn't even been prototyped. I mean, isn't there some minimal performance standard that should be applied before you start deploying the system?

Posted by: SW on February 23, 2004 10:02 PM

____

SW, maybe its a bluff. Maybe the Russians are bluffing. Bluff, call and fold can all be rational strategies. Its certainly not less rational than Carter trying to pay off the lying N. Koreans. I prefer intimidation with respect to regimes like these. Good intentions do not get it done. Kim spent weeks underground after Iraqi Freedom started. He will respect power and take advantage of do gooders. A strong communist trait.

Posted by: Brian on February 24, 2004 08:33 AM

____

Brian wrote, "Come on Sadaam rational, we just pulled him out of a hole in the ground. We rolled over him."

You didn't answer my question: if the regime was so irrational and undeterrable, why did concern about UN weapons inspectors cause them to halt/dismantle many/most of their unconventional warfare stocks and programs?

"We stabilized Europe, neutralized USSR and may change the face of the Middle East for the better. Does anyone see the USA losing 50,000 soldiers in any conflict in the third world today."

Yes, we neutralized the USSR. That doesn't mean it couldn't have been done cheaper.

Re the Middle East, it's also possible we'll change it for the worse.

How has e.g. the F-117 helped us not to lose soldiers? A post of mine on this thread, above, comes from a GAO study that says the F-117 provided zero extra protection in this regard in Guld War I.

Posted by: liberal on February 24, 2004 10:37 AM

____

Liberal, one rational action versus many irrational actions does hold up. Its the totality of his actions which determine if he's rational. Why didn't he just provide the harmless Hans Blix the required documentation? He made a bad gamble as he did with Iran, Kuwait and the USA. Verdict-irrational.

You can nitpick weapon systems, but how do you know which ones will be necessary in the future. Its not like no choices are being made. Crusader and recently Comanche were cancelled. Hell, Jimmy Carter made a non-nuclear carrier. Sure there are some bad choices, but in the scheme we are talking Rep. funding vs. Dem funding. Rep. funding is better in my view. Do you think if Jimmy Carter had been funding the military all these years would we have been as successful in Afghanistan, Iraq I & II.

Posted by: Brian on February 24, 2004 11:44 AM

____

In the eighties I thought that star wars was a brilliant bluff. I figured that in this day and age, to be effective you actually had to spend the money so I understood that. Besides we were doing some pretty useful work on all sorts of interesting solid state physics issues, high energy lasers, microwave devices, radiation resistant diodes, all cool stuff that is finding its way into the market place.

Then when Ronnie and Gorby took that walk and I learned that Gorbechev had essentially offered Reagan everything with the stipulation that star wars be terminated. I thought, my god, they pulled it off, it worked. They bluffed these guys with a losing hand. And then Reagan turned him down and I had this sinking feeling in my gut. These fools actually believe the bluff! I've never believed the bluff strategy since then. I think it isn't even about defense. It is about siphoning huge sums of money out of the treasury while posturing over defense.

Posted by: SW on February 24, 2004 02:00 PM

____

SW, the USSR is no more. They lost and we're on to new challenges. I don't believe its pure bluff. We'll see. It may be a money siphon, but Clinton had 8 years to expose it if it was a just a form of corruption. There are other countries with balistic missiles and Reagan knew there would be other challengers. His thinking was in protecting the USA not forcing the Soviets to back down. The game is not over. Enemy missile programs must still build more sophisticated systems to defeat our system and for states like N. Korea it may effect their decision to go forward.

Posted by: Brian on February 24, 2004 03:17 PM

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The way that the USSR lost will haunt us for generations. If an American City is ever nuked it will probably be from devices that were loosed on the black market because of the macho, ideologically driven way we insisted on ending the cold war.

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