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GPS vs. Galileo; Where Are They Headed? 330

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the either-way-i-need-a-foil-hat dept.
ben_ writes "This keynote speech from the recent European Navigation Conference talks about the history between the US military's GPS and the proposed EU Galileo system, as well as where they're both going. Interested in how you know where you are and what's going to happen to those satellites?"
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GPS vs. Galileo; Where Are They Headed?

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  • by Log from Blammo (777614) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @10:56AM (#9247816)
    I'd say they'll be going in circles around the planet.
    • I would be more concerned about where they will be *going down* anytime soon :)

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @10:56AM (#9247832)
    The correct links for the US-administered GPS satellite constellation, known as NAVSTAR:

    NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office [af.mil] - responsible for operational maintenance of NAVSTAR GPS equipment, services, and infrastructure

    Interagency GPS Executive Board [igeb.gov] - executive management of NAVSTAR GPS

    GPS fact sheet [af.mil] - US Air Force facts about NAVSTAR GPS

    US Naval Observatory NAVSTAR GPS home page [navy.mil]

    Further information:

    FAS GPS background info [fas.org]

    Global Security GPS background info [globalsecurity.org]
  • by Jameth (664111) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @10:58AM (#9247856)
    As long as GPS is the only game in town, the US has a stranglehold on the superpower market. The US can regulate the GPS satellites and could cut off anyone else at any time. Seeing as GPS has revolutionized warfare, this means the US gets an automatic bonus in any war.

    Until the EU has an alternative, it's military (should it form one) will be at a severe disadvantage in a theoretical conflict, and potential power in a theoretical conflict is a major bargaining chip. (It's a chip that's not talked about, but people pay attention to it on their own.)
    • Unfortunately the US still can decide when to turn on and off the statellites.

      So much for "ending US strangeholds".
      • Ungrateful runt.

        You know, the US military didn't *have* to allow everyone (including it's enemies) to use GPS at all?

        "All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"
        • He was actually talking about the European system. There was a slashdot story on it not that long ago which said that the US military had demanded and gotten termination control of the Galileo system via the usage of certain frequencies, so they can turn it off or degrade it without consulting the owners of the system. (story here [slashdot.org]).

          Reading an offline version of this story, it was said that the US threatened to reintroduce Selective Availability over the EU unless the EU allowed them the ability stated
    • But if the US cut off the GPS, then they couldn't use it either, right?
      There would also be a lot of uproar from businesses/individuals unless there were very good reasons for the war. Otherwise, the PR would be very damaging to the government, which they would try to avoid unless there was a 2nd-term president or something.

      On reflection, I suppose that the US could turn off just a few of the satellites, disrupting service in a more or less contained region.
      I have also heard of GPS jammers, but anyon
      • "But if the US cut off the GPS, then they couldn't use it either, right?"

        As best I know, wrong. The US can selectively cut off GPS. I was under the impression they could do it on a very fine-grained level, but they can at least do it by region (turn off satellites over the area, but leave on ones elsewhere).
        • The satellites are NOT in a Geo-stationary orbit, so they would have to constantly be turning satellites on and off, and to top it all off, they could only command the updates while the satellites were in line of site to the ground station in US, so pretty much impossible without seriously effecting the US's use of GPS.

          • The US has bases all over the world that could do the switching....
            And maybe...just maybe... those satelites have a little clock on board and a microcontroller that can be programmed....

            Jeroen
        • by ldspartan (14035) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:28AM (#9248289) Homepage
          You're mostly correct. Selective Availibility can be done region by region (I don't know the resolution of this), and the signal can be degraded with rather fine-grained control (the whole world was degraded to 200meter-ish accuracy until the late 90s). SA does not effect military recievers; when supplied with the days proper P(Y) code, they are as accurate as the GPS spec allows (~1 meter resolution, best case).

          So the US can degrade the signal in a fine grained way, without affecting military / government systems.

          --
          Phil
        • The US doesn't cut off GPS or turn off satelites ever. What they can do is add an error to the signal being sent. The did this in the early years of GPS. The military knows the error so they can correct for it, however the general populous and other militaries do not know how to correct the error, so in effect, while everyone can still use GPS, the US militaries use of it is orders of magnitude better than anyone elses.

          However, know that this option hasn't been used in at least the past 3 years. (I k
      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:35AM (#9248400) Homepage
        But if the US cut off the GPS, then they couldn't use it either, right?

        It can be turned off selectively. Furthermore, as I understand it, "turned off" only means that the unencrypted data stream is gone. The military has the keys to the encrypted stream, so their GPS units still work.

        I have also heard of GPS jammers, but anyone could use those, so that would effectively negate the US's GPS advantage.

        GPS jammers are nearly useless. They are only powerful enough to cover a small area, so their only use is to protect a stationary target from attack by GPS guided bombs. Unfortunately, as demonstrated in the Iraq war last year, they don't even do that effectively. All six of the Russian-made GPS jammers fielded by Iraq were destroyed in short order, some of them by GPS guided missiles!

        • The military has the keys to the encrypted stream, so their GPS units still work.

          What's the likelihood that someone hasn't scored a military unit and reverse engineered the encryption key? I'm very curious about that as it sounds like a security measure that is strong in theory, but weak in practice.

          All six of the Russian-made GPS jammers fielded by Iraq were destroyed in short order, some of them by GPS guided missiles!

          Indeed - by the time the guided unit was in range of the jammer, the accuracy of n
    • by robslimo (587196) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:10AM (#9248029) Homepage Journal
      The paper says that by necessity, the two systems need be compatible on several fronts. OK, that is good, saves everyone money, too, by not obsoleting all your GPS hardware when the EU system goes live.

      The EU system will also provide "additional commercial services, on a user-pays basis." That could be good too, but the basic "where am I now" function of GPS works fine for me. I'm leery of a govt body stacking commercial features on to a pretty well proven system.

      "Galileo thus requires US cooperation for its commercial success, while at the same time apparently threatening US national security and industrial advantage!" To which I say Bah! Unless the US has really been dragging its heels in cooperating, I say, build your nav sat system and go for it! Our (the US) present obsession with security is mostly the work of a paranoid few. Let the US take care of itself and power to the EU for whatever they can do.

      Sure, there may be a few Pentagon types who might drag their feet, but the timing and communications methods aren't rocket science... and even the rocket science part can be easily handled.
    • by PetoskeyGuy (648788) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:11AM (#9248034)
      As long as GPS is the only game in town, the US has a stranglehold on the superpower market. The US can regulate the GPS satellites and could cut off anyone else at any time. Seeing as GPS has revolutionized warfare, this means the US gets an automatic bonus in any war.

      That's right, they get a +5 accuracy on all medium and long range weapons.
    • The truly messed up part is that many European nations (*cough*Sweden*cough*) would need to rely on the US military in the case of a major assault. The EU has troops and weapon systems, but it's doubtful they would be sufficient to defend against a major superpower. While many Europeans are upset over Iraq, the US is unlikely to be the aggressor in any major European conflict. That leaves two other possibilities:

      1. Someone more intelligent than Putin takes over Russia and uses Putin's communist-like infrastructure to once again impose a military state.
      2. China decides that they have the most people in the world and that someone else should give up some land to support them.

      While the second is more likely, either one would spell defeat for the European Union. Only the US currently has the necessary military power to stop another superpower. On the upside, China might be more inclined to take on the US first since we have more undeveloped land. It wouldn't be much of a war though. We'd fight until the Chinese start lobbing nukes. Once that happens, China can kiss their population goodbye when a few neutron bombs fall.
      • if any side in any confict starts lobbing nukes, we all can kiss their asses good bye. if the US sends up what we got, that it humanity is dead. We have way to many nukes on earth.
        • No, we don't. We have enough nukes to make a big dent in the population, but that's nowhere close to killing everybody. There is no way, with current tech, to have any hope of killing everybody on the planet, even if we tried real, real hard. It would suck a whole bunch, of course, but it's not true that everyone would die.
          • how about the nukular winter that would follow, the fall out that would spread around the world. also if we fired all we have, and china saw it coming dont you think they would send all they had.

            Welcome, would you like to play a game?:

            (now how do you win?)
            • how about the nukular winter that would follow

              What of it? While most of the infrastructure would be destroyed, we'd still have enough knowledge to build new generators, hydroponics, etc.

            • China doesn't actually have all that many.

              Fallout is a potential issue, but should be largely restricted to the Northern Hemisphere by prevailing weather patterns, and is lessened in significance by airbursts, which would NOT be used in a counterforce strike (which wouldn't kill very many people, since the silos aren't in cities), but WOULD be used in a strike against the population of the world (since it kills so many more people per bomb).

              And nuclear winter should nicely cancel out global warming, so wh

      • by Rhubarb Crumble (581156) <r_crumble@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:24AM (#9248233) Homepage
        1. Someone more intelligent than Putin takes over Russia and uses Putin's communist-like infrastructure to once again impose a military state.

        Vlad Putin is a VERY smart guy. At the moment he's busy wresting control of the country back from the cowboy capitalists that Yeltsin and the IMF sold its natural resources to (as in 100 people own 1/4th of the country's wealth). This needs to happen before re-establishing the military's dominance can take place. The symbolism is already pointing that way, what with the red star being restored as the symbol of the Red Army, and the national anthem reverting to the Soviet one (but with new words). This is why eastern europe is so keen to join NATO, as they know very well that Russia the superpower is just taking a timeout...

        2. China decides that they have the most people in the world and that someone else should give up some land to support them.

        Ummm, China is very far away from Europe. If they want land from someone it'll be Russia....


      • You should also bare in mind that the USA does not want anyone else to have a good military, so it is for instance trying to stifle a pan-European military force. So it's not a case of the Euros not wanting a strong military, it's a case of the USA preventing the Euros from having one.
      • by meringuoid (568297) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:37AM (#9248432)
        1: An EU-US war is madness plain and simple. It's not going to happen. Both sides are very happy to play the game of trade tariff arm-wrestling, but actually fight? Leave it out... Short of a fascist dictator coming to power in the US (no, Bush does not constitute one of these) this is absurd. It's just not a profitable business model.

        2: The Russians storming west is more likely than (1), which isn't saying much. The Russian conventional army is really not what it used to be, after years of underfunding. A hypothetical Russian dictator would need to rearm a whole lot to make an invasion of Europe a practical proposition, and that would take a long time. Time enough for the Europeans to get their act together - note that most of Russia's former Warsaw Pact allies are now in NATO and the EU. In any case Russia is turning into a capitalist state like no other; they're more likely to see the EU as a huge, rich market on their doorstep, rather than as an opportunity for a scrap.

        3) is just nuts. China decides to invade the EU for extra space? Picking out just about the only place on the planet more crowded than China itself? Entirely barmy. The only place China could realistically look for lebensraum is Siberia, and, er... well, I said the Russian conventional forces were not what they were, but that was an outlandish proposition when Tom Clancy tried it out, and it's no saner now.

        If I was a European military planner I'd be worried about the dodgy nations on the doorstep, rather than the three other big players. Belarus, for instance, is ruled by a complete and utter fruitcake dictator. And as we expand we'll have more neighbours like that - if Turkey joins up we'll have Iraq right on the EU frontier. That's the sort of thing we'll need to be thinking about.

        And as the expanding EU bumps up against such difficulties, we may need to conduct our own military operations, probably without American support - and sometimes, I would imagine, with outright opposition from Washington. That's why we need our own GPS-equivalent. It would be, at the very least, a diplomatic embarrassment to launch a war of which America disapproved, while relying on America's satellites to guide our missiles ;-)

      • The only super power, major or otherwise, in the current world is the US. If it decides to attack Eurpoe, it is unlikely that the US will come to it's defense, due to the strong political and cultural ties between the US and said superpower.
    • Okay, let me chime in.

      First off, the US can't just block out who they want with GPS, that is the beauty of it, it's a one-way connectionless communication protocol, it is either OFF or ON. Second, the US would NEVER, EVER turn OFF gps, we have much more riding on GPS than anyone else. Third, our only control over GPS at this point is Selective Availability, which besides having a presidential and congressional mandate to never turn ON again, it is completely useless with today's technology. Any corrupti
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @12:03PM (#9248775) Homepage
        HUH? are you nuts?

        the GPS system CAN be turned off or rendered pretty much useless for anyone except the US troops. the DOP can be adjusted from zero to insanely high for non-military units. (DOP is dilution of Precision) I work with a guy that just came back from NORAD and his main job was dealing with the GPS systems. (Luetenant who is back only to gather his things and return back to full active duty due to an offer from the military he could not refuse)

        the non-classified things he was able to tell me is that the DOP can be adjusted a very wide range to the point that even DGPS can be rendered pretty useless unless both recievers were in very close proximity.

        if anyone ever thought that a military system would not have the ability to be disabled for all but military use they are horribly mistaken. the lives of the service men on the ground and the sucess of a mission is much more important than some businesses using it for navigation.

        SA can be turned back on at any time if it is needed.

        • Your sig:
          That's it.... i'm not doing any more work until thay start paying me more.
          Thay won't pay you until you learn how to use the spell checker.
        • Yes, but anyone with half a brain can set up differential GPS systems. Now the DOP is irrelevent.

          See http://www.eurofix.tudelft.nl/dgps.htm for details.
          • Err, DGPS isn't that useful in a combat setting. The nice thing about GPS is that it is completely passive. However, DGPS is an active system where the data from the reference receiver needs to be sent to the munition. This signal could be blocked or, worse yet, tracked by the oposing force and destroyed. It also doesn't work in burst mode, you must continuously transmit corrections for it to achieve good accuracy.

            Also, DGPS only works when the L1 frequency is on. This frequency could conceivably be turned

      • You must keep in mind first of all that GPS was designed by the US military for the US military, with any benefits for marine and civilian navigation a bonus.

        Of course, 2-frequency phase tracking receivers cost a fortune (well, not by military standards...). In addition, it takes a certain amount of time to resolve ambiguities, which is even harder when you're moving (ie, a missile) and even harder when you're moving fast. And should a cycle slip occure, you have to start all over again, not something very

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Umm, not quite right.

        SA can be turned on for specific geographic areas, so for example, Iraq and the general area around it had SA turned on in the recent conflict.

        The satellites have synthetic aperture antennae, so could quite easily be programmed to drop all signal to specific areas. It is fairly 'crude' in the sense that the areas of no signal do not map to exactly a country's border. The technique is quite fancy in that you have to change the beam footprint of all the satellites continuously as they
    • Until the EU has an alternative, it's military (should it form one) will be at a severe disadvantage in a theoretical conflict

      Terrorists who can get their hands on large missles are also at a severe disadvantage.
      If the EU is worried about the military disadvantage, they should develop a system similar to GPS for their military. But they're not. They're developing a "civil" system.
      The US isn't all that worried about the EU having the capability, they're worried about an ICBM w/ New York City's name on

      • I think that the biggest concern is that the Chinese will have access to Galileo, and will use it to lob missles at Taiwan, Japan, and the U.S.
      • The US isn't all that worried about the EU having the capability, they're worried about an ICBM w/ New York City's name on it...something I don't see coming from the EU in my lifetime.

        No, the US is worried about an ICBM w/ New York City's name on it originating from North Korea and riding the Galaleo navigation system all the way even though the US saw the launch and disabled its GPS systems.
      • The US isn't all that worried about the EU having the capability, they're worried about an ICBM w/ New York City's name on it

        Actually, They're worried about cruise missiles, not ICBMs. ICBMs don't use GPS, they use ballistics.

      • Terrorists who can get their hands on large missles are also at a severe disadvantage.

        If they can't use GPS to guide it, they'll use something else. Besides why would they need to use a missle? Pack a car full of explosives, park close to target, set timer and move to a differend country. Much simpler than obtaining and using missles. Plus you can pack a whole lot more explosives in a van.

        The US isn't all that worried about the EU having the capability, they're worried about an ICBM w/ New York City's n

    • this means the US gets an automatic bonus in any war

      automatic bonus? +1 to hit, or is it a +1 bonus against undead, europeans, and werecreatures?
    • Go to any Army unit on the ground.

      Look at how many commerical GPS units there are, and how many military ones.

      The ratio will be at least 3:1. The military GPS units, in a word, suck. They are about as big as a small boombox and fail for various reasons every 5 minutes. Ask any soldier who's had to use one in a combat environment. They will tell you that anyone who actually cares about finding out where they are will buy a Garmin.

      That's why the US stopped degrading the signal and won't do it again.
      • Look at how many commerical GPS units there are, and how many military ones.

        That's quite true. I've seen $99 yellow Garmin devices that were used to call down JDAM strikes on Taleban targets. The US Army had this elaborate "21st Century Force Digitization" plan in the works, but they're pulling back from it because the men are creating better capability on their own from civilian COTS electronic gear.

        Factoid 2: Today, all US warfighter pilots have GPS build into their avionics (and augmented by inertia
    • Well, no. Clinton ordered SA (selective availability) turned off. Since that time, the US (and the rest of the world) have made increasing use of GPS to the point that the US economy would suffer tremendously if SA were turned back on.

      In spite of the advantage that SA theoretically gave us, it was turned off in both Iraq Wars. First time, because not enough milspec GPS receivers were available, second time because it had been turned off years before by Clinton, and it was no longer practical to disable

    • So you're not counting GLONASS? As far as I know, the Russian system is a perfectly acceptable alternative to GPS.
  • by magarity (164372) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:00AM (#9247887)
    Most of the time competition is good: software, hardware, cola. Sometimes monopolies are more acceptable: stringing up electric transmission cables, streets to my (your) house, large constellations of bright satellites that interfere with astronomic studies and general enjoyment of the night sky. Sure, GPS is very handy but more than one system seems a little redundant.
  • by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:01AM (#9247894)
    here in the US, how the hell would we read Metres and Kilometers, and hectares and such, give us our Miles.

    Problem: Hmmm, Ive got 100 kilometers to my destination and 15 gallons of gas. I am driving an Hummer H2, that gets 9 miles a gallon, can I make it? Solution: It doesn't matter, the H2 can't drive around the corner before needing a refuel.

    • Most GPS receivers are able to switch between metric and imperial modes...all the satellite does is send a timing signal which the receiver interprets according to it's relative doppler shift...the satellite does not transmit *your* position based upon its own calculations, the receiver performs these calculations and displays them in whatever measurement you desire
    • Hmmm, Ive got 100 kilometers to my destination and 15 gallons of gas.

      Litres, sir, Litres.

      I am driving an Hummer H2

      Robin Reliant, Ithinkyoumean. If you're going to use Metric, you've gotta learn to think European.

    • Just to throw a spanner in the works, is that a US gallon, or a British, or mixture of both? ;)
  • by transient (232842) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:02AM (#9247916)
    ...but when push comes to shove, as in the recent US-EU tensions, the military requirement prevails.

    Does anyone know what this refers to?

    • I think it means that our US military relies very heavily on GPS and requires 24/7 for anything they do. If the EU decides to go forth with their own, perhaps it might be able to take away its access to it and make it rely on it's own.
  • makes me wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WormholeFiend (674934) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:03AM (#9247922)
    Makes me wonder if China is working on its own global positioning system (see previous slashdot story/thread)

  • by CharonX (522492) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:09AM (#9248001) Journal
    For more information look at the Article featured on Slashdot about 6 months ago.
    Galileo System To Include Jamming Capability [slashdot.org]
    :)
  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:11AM (#9248035)
    Will the ESA Galileo satellite navigation system be sufficiently different that you'll need all-new receivers to pick up Galileo navigation information?

    That could get VERY expensive as manufacturers of satellite navigation receivers will have to accommodate both systems for airplanes, automobiles, trucks, boats, etc.
    • Will the ESA Galileo satellite navigation system be sufficiently different that you'll need all-new receivers to pick up Galileo navigation information? That could get VERY expensive as manufacturers of satellite navigation receivers will have to accommodate both systems for airplanes, automobiles, trucks, boats, etc.

      The basic GPS components are already ridiculously cheap. Most of what you're paying for with a GPS unit is the mapping/tracking software. The "GPS" portion of it is just an antenna and a few

    • IF the last 30 years hav taught us anything, it's that electronic components start expensive, and get cheap, then cheaper, then trivial so as to be an afterthought.

      What might fall out of all this is a system that uses signals from BOTH constellations of satellites, and compares them for even better accuracy, and then in the case where one system might go down (for instance, if an enemy or a natural disaster like an interplanetary dust storm or massive solar flare) were to disable one system, it would autom
  • by shoppa (464619) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:17AM (#9248136)
    The Russians have had GLONASS for several years now.

    Here is a technical comparison [chalmers.se]. They seem more alike than different to me.

    I know of a few very high-powered geologists who cross-check GPS with GLONASS. Having a third system would seem to only help.

  • It would be nice if the US DOD would work with the EU to allow them on the same freqs as GPS. I probably go out and get an combine reciver that would not only work on both systems, but work with both systems at once, aka if it get 2 gps and 2 of the EU ones it could still calculate the infomation.

    one aside is I would like to get the reciver in the Magellan 3xx seraries form factor.
  • So long as the US and the EU are on good terms, we should be able to access both systems with the correct receiver. I can see a great benefit to a receiver that can read position from both systems and cross-check on the fly, reducing your PDOP and increasing your resolution of position far more quickly than before. Imagine having upwards of 10 satellites providing you with position data! I'd be in heaven!
  • redundancy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by curator_thew (778098) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:24AM (#9248243)

    This is also about global redundancy. The world increasingly depends upon navigational technologies like this. It's a little dangerous that there's only _one_ point of failure (whether technical, economic, political, etc).

  • by kbahey (102895) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @11:42AM (#9248484) Homepage

    Just like China wanting to be independent technologically [slashdot.org], the EU also does not want to be dependant on the USA.

    Read the FAQ [eu.int] where it says one of the objectives is just that:

    Why is there any need for GALILEO when we already have GPS? GALILEO will ensure European economies' from independence from other states' systems, which could deny access to civil users at any time, and to enhance safety and reliability. The only systems currently in existence are the United States Global Positioning Service (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS system, both military but made available to civil users without any guarantee for continuity. Important macro-economic benefits will be derived from GALILEO, in particular through achieving a European share in the equipment market, efficiency savings for industry as well as social benefits e.g. through cheaper transport, reduced congestion and less pollution. Above that, with it's open service at least offering the same performances as GPS by the time of GALILEO's deployment, GALILEO will offer also value added services with integrity provision and, in some cases, service guarantees, based on a certifiable system.
  • ... is that if I can alwas tell exactly where I am through GPS, I'll never know how fast I'm going.
    The speeding tickets alone are going to kill me.
  • A huge international consortium will build this thing? I think it's great that this article appears the same day that the Chinese are pulling the plug on compliance to international standards. I know, I know, they can always comply with any given sub-system, but this highlites the disadvantage of a huge conglomeration of countries. Have fun, send a few billion my way for research, but don't expect anything to get built.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @01:46PM (#9250131)
    It was a great article and I'm encouraged that the US and EU are working together to ensure we'll eventually be able to get inexpensive GPS receivers that'll use both systems.

    But alas there is this remark:

    And, since US policy was to "limit availability of their radionavigation systems in the event of a real or potential threat of war or impairment to national security", Europe saw that its access to this vital new utility depended on the decisions of a single nation, with which it might well disagree on matters of national security. Recent event have given examples of just such disagreements. Europe's response was Galileo.
    Alas, this cultural difference has been with us at least since the days of Thomas Jefferson and those earlier terrorists, the Barbary Pirates. European nations paid off the pirates rather than fight. Under Thomas Jefferson, the U.S. had a policy, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute." It seems someone has posted more about that history at:

    Barbary Pirates [zianet.com]

    Then as now, Europe thinks being nice to nasty folk is a better than getting tough, sending out the frigates, and making them behave. Hence their policy of leaning toward the Arabs. In contrast, the U.S. supports feisty little Israel, perhaps the only nation in history to fight four major wars in one lifetime with foes that outnumber them twenty to one and win every one. We back a democracy and a winner. They (particularly the French), back repressive dictatorships and losers.

    In that context, it helps to remember what Churchill warned in 1939 after the Munich Agreement, "Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war."

    In the end, every people gets the government they deserve. If the Europeans have so little sense of 'honor,' that they cannot defend their free and democratic societies from an ideology driven by hatred and revenge, then perhaps they deserve to drop into history's dustbin, always knowing precisely where they are thanks to a Galileo that will never be turned off to fight terrorism. And in their obsession with not fighting a few brush wars, they may lose a far greater and more critical cultural war. Europe may become Eurabia. In a generation, European women may only leave their homes clad in a sack from head to toe.

    Am I the only one to catch the madness of all this? For perhaps two decades we've been told that there was a 'religious right' or 'fundamentalism' spanning from Jew and Christian to Arab that is a threat to free and democratic societies. But when push comes to shove, when religiously sanctioned terrorism and repression must be fought, it is the secular left who apologizes for religious repression and who wants little or nothing done to open up brutally repressive Arab societies. The left of western democracies is defending Saddam with all the zeal they once had for cruel Stalin.

    All this brings to mind the Chinese proverb about the curse of living in "interesting times."

    Mike Perry, Inkling blog [inklingbooks.com], Seattle

    • Or maybe another example: World War II.

      The US did just as much to stop the Nazis as europe. That is to say, nothing until they where attacked themselves. The only people who deserve any credit for actually joining the war even though they didn't really have to (at that point in time) are the Britts (of course it was inevitable that they'd have to join eventualy since Hitler was a fruitcake).

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

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