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Chinese Lasers Blind US Satelites 739

Posted by kdawson
from the do-not-look-directly-into-laser-beam-with-your-remaining-eye dept.
SniperClops writes, "China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in what experts see as a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft, according to sources." The article mentions the reluctance of the U.S. administration to talk about this "asymmetric" effort by the Chinese military.
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Chinese Lasers Blind US Satelites

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  • by Tsagadai (922574) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:14AM (#16227019) Journal
    As does alot of the world not in the united states but still grounded under it's definition of right and wrong is why can't a foreign self governing nation control its own airspace and space space. If I built a spy satellite and orbitted it over the united states I would be a terrorist and bombed in seconds. Why the difference for china?
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:16AM (#16227047) Homepage Journal

    From TFA:

    acknowledges China has the ability to blind U.S. satellites, thanks to a powerful ground-based laser capable of firing a beam of light at an optical reconnaissance satellite to keep it from taking pictures as it passes overhead.

    So its a bit like saturating a camera with light so it can't take good pictures, but once it moves on it should be OK.

  • by dave-tx (684169) * <df19808+slashdot&gmail,com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:19AM (#16227071)

    Well, good for them....I guess. I would imagine that the US would do the same to Chinese spy satellites (if they had any - which I don't know and don't feel like googling), so why be surprised when the Chinese do it? It seems to me that this is just a case of the Chinese government acting in the interests of it's own national security. This may be news, but it should not be surprising.

  • by mattgoldey (753976) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:19AM (#16227079) Homepage
    Because it's DIFFERENT when we do it! Right?

    We can have nukes, but North Korea and Iran can't.
  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:22AM (#16227109)
    Exactly right. It's all too easy to look upon a foreign nation trying to prevent surveillance of their activities as being an aggressive act but turn those tables and ask yourself how you'd feel if US airspace was being overflown (although it probably is..) by Chinese Sats watching military bases, the Skunkworks etc. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:25AM (#16227151)
    There should be no difference for China (i.e. the US must not do this either), but blinding satellites is still wrong, because the world doesn't revolve around Earth. There is a limit to the sovereign territory of nation states. For example, the territory of the US does not extend over the sea until it meets the territory of another country. It ends some miles off the coast. Same for airspace: At some distance from the surface of the Earth, the territorial rule of the country ends. Beyond that it's "international space". And just like you can't sail the seven seas and sink other ships or blind other captains at your whim, you can't do so in space.
  • by j35ter (895427) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:35AM (#16227239)
    But the combination of China's efforts and advances in Russian satellite jamming capabilities illustrate vulnerabilities to the U.S. space network are at the core of U.S. Air Force plans to develop new space architectures and highly classified systems, according to sources.

    As a non-American, I find it problematic that a spy-satellite "attacked" in that way over a sovereign third country is seen as a vulnerability to the U.S. space network.
    This report is suggesting that the U.S. have the right to spy on anyone anywhere, everywhere; while the rest of the world *has* to accept that...of course no one should dare to do the same thing to the U.S. and dare you spy on us!
    You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:38AM (#16227289)
    this is quite possibly the worst example you could have made here. I mean do you SERIOUSLY want North Korea and Iran to have nukes? Despite how much you might dislike the US or its current administration, it is far more safe for the nukes to be in our hands than the countries you've mentioned. so yes, in this case, it is ok for us and not ok for some other people.
  • by donscarletti (569232) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:43AM (#16227363)

    Yeah, but Iran and North Korea are run in the wrong way. Iran for instance has organised religion controlling politics and North Korea is run by the spoiled, incompetant son of a former President.

    But seriously, no matter how much I might bag out America on /. it IS different, there are worse Presidents than Bush on this earth, worse regiemes than the Republican party and I think the Iranian theocracy who puts a cleric in charge of the country and the DPRK's isolationism which is so feeble that the country doesn't have electricity both fit into that catagory.

  • Re:Eventually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by finkployd (12902) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:44AM (#16227371) Homepage
    The Chinese can launch satelites, put men into orbit, have nuclear weapons, are financing most of our balance or payments thanks to Bush

    Honestly, did the world just begin for many of you people in 2000? Look I'm no fan of Bush, but it is not like prior to 2000 the Chinese held none of our assets, the Islamic extremists loved us, and the federal government held civil liberties in high regard. You know, EVERYTHING is not Bush's fault.

    Finkployd
  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:44AM (#16227381) Journal
    It surely may sound ironic in the case of China, but : a sovereign nation has a right to privacy.
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:47AM (#16227413)
    A spy satellite is a near object, Mars isn't. A spy satellite was made by someone on Earth for the exact purpose of invading the privacy of someone else on Earth not subject to the same laws as the manufacturer, and it seems to me that the someone else has the right to disable it with proportionate force at the time when it is trying to invade their privacy. Mars is not a human manufactured object...

    Of course, reading my own definition, this would justify Afghans and Iraqis seeking to expel the Americans and the British, just as it justified the French Resistance in WW2, and the American Colonists in the 1770s.

    At what point is the present US administration going to face up the fact that it is the self-appointed global hegemon and that five and a half billion people disagree with that?

  • by smoor (961352) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:48AM (#16227421)
    If the lasers aren't "breaking" the satellites, than I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with what China is doing. While its certainly in our best interests to see what China is up to, its in theirs to stop us. Regardless of whether or not we are "legally" in their airspace or not, if they point a laser in space and it happens to blind our satellite, than I can't see that they've done anything wrong.

    If they blew it up, that would be something else.
  • by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:48AM (#16227425)
    Well, that jamming station must not have worked well and I highly doubt it was put there by the Russians. I cannot think of a clear motive for it. Probably sold as surplus or exchanged for payment by a disgruntled soldier and found its way to Iraq.

    Actually the stationS worked VERY well. They were targetted by laser guided bombs. The Russians also provided plans, parts, and know-how on how to assemble hand held versions which were also effective. France and Germany also provided technology consulting and some weapons...which is also why they, like Russia, didn't want the US to attack. They knew it would become difficult to get paid if the US destroys the country.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:51AM (#16227481)
    OK, we've heard from the report that the Chinese have tried to blind a satellite. Until we can actually see the resulting images - which will simply never happen, how can we or the chinese know that they've succeeded in stopping photos being taken.

    If I was in the US spying game and I know that someone was trying to blind my satellites, I'd say "Oh no, you've stopped me photographing your secret installations" even if the attempts were unsuccessful. That way the target thinks they've stopped the spy satellites, whereas in practice, the lasers may be completely ineffectual.

    Until the Chinese spies can get hold of genuine, spoiled, satellite photos (that weren't staged/planted) they cannot be sure they have suceeded.

  • Re:Eventually... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lisandro (799651) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:51AM (#16227485)
    Welcome to the whacko world of international sovereignty!

    So, without calling me an American hater, please; what would be so wrong with the chinese launching satelites, putting men into orbit and having nuclear weapons? Oh, and by the way, whos' fault is that chinese are financing USAs balances?

    As someone said it before, this is no news at all. The novelity here is that China used laser to disable satelites, but i bet a lot of countries have done similar (if not worst) in the past.
  • by LittleBigLui (304739) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:52AM (#16227497) Homepage Journal
    What if these satelites were above that point?


    What's the problem with the chinese shining their lasers at space that nobody owns anyway?
  • by Woek (161635) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:04AM (#16227633)
    I don't think so. First of all, they have plenty of other issues to worry about when designing the exterior of a satellite, like reflective material for thermal management, or solar cells for generating power. Secondly, I would imagine that the trajectories of all satellites are available to all agencies that launch stuff into space. Imaging a soyuz crashing into one of those massive spy satellites with a relative velocity of several kilometers per second...
  • by mikep.maine (585648) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:07AM (#16227685) Homepage
    I am not a fan of nuclear weapons anywhere, but this is a dangerous world with people who *literally* want to send us to hell or to see our redeemer. They will buy and use nukes -- and Iran and Korea are all too willing to give or sell them away. In the business where others are willing to kill us, I want to be working to disarm them, period. The United States has few options -- and both the Europeans and Asian nations that are not China have largely stayed out of fray hoping once again to let teh US carry the burden of disarming. A united front would really sincerely help the world. It would even help the Iranians and Koreans who as a people would rather plan crops than seed nuclear bombs.
  • by Spritzer (950539) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:07AM (#16227687) Journal
    ...is that no one is saying "The Chinese are wrong". Not one person quoted in the article has said that. The article never suggests that. Being in the remote sensing industry, I find this article interesting, but beyond the technical interest of the subject it's no more exciting, important inflamatory, or pompous than a sports report. It's no different than a "Saints defense finds a way to shut down Vick" headline. No one is wrong and no one is claiming anyone is wrong. Someone has just added a new play to the playbook. So, stop with all the "The US thinks it's the shit and the Chinese are victims of spying" crap.
  • by bm_luethke (253362) <<luethkeb> <at> <comcast.net>> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:08AM (#16227703)
    It's not terribly clear where "space" begins but international treaties/law [wikipedia.org] states that no one owns it. It's widely adopted enough that it is as good as enforced. The Wiki article gives the one I found most often - the lowest altitude that one can place an object in a stable orbit (personally I would have gone with one of the 'spheres and a harder altitude - personally I see "space" as a lack of atmosphere not ability to orbit the planet).

    Generally speaking it is more like international waters. Regardless of what people here who have an inability to rationally think when it comes to the US say, other countries routinely fly spy satellites (along with many other ones - some of which I am sure are "dual purpose") over us. Though since most are "friendly" no one seems to really care. Not to mention we are pretty good about hiding things from airiel phtography by now. As of right now the number of countries that can field a satellite is pretty low, especially one with the technology to be a "spy satellite".

    Though as time goes on it will get to be more important. For one thing orbital space isn't really that big and a small handfull of countries have most of it now. I suspect that will be a much larger issue - too much is done underground and in highly distributed places now. Not that the intel is worthless, but as we saw in Iraq it's not as cut and dry as it used to be (it becomes much more useful in war - great ability to see troop buildup and movement).

    This is being treated just as international waters would be - anything goes that you can politically get away with. Even the article doesn't have much of a reaction from the US govt over it. The article's author assumes the part about not angering China because of trade relations and dealing with NK and Iran (much as some highly modded posts here are ranting about the US calling are interjecting thier own ideas as to the US govt's motivation) - all the govt has said is silence.
  • by miyako (632510) <miyako@@@gmail...com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:11AM (#16227749) Homepage Journal
    Nukes aren't really ok for anybody to have, but being that the cat is out of the bag, the only reason it is ok is because of the whole MAD thing. Of course, mutually assured destruction is only a deterrent if the other guy cares about being blown up.
    I can't say much for North Korea's mindset (maybe they are just their own special brand of insane?) but for the militant islamist countries, they would certainly prefer everyone dead over both they and the "infidels" being alive.
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:15AM (#16227795) Journal
    At what point is the present US administration going to face up the fact that it is the self-appointed global hegemon and that five and a half billion people disagree with that?

    When it no longer exists...and not until then. It will maintain its position until the end. That is a given. And, given that the voters will install a similar administration next time around, it won't change any time soon. So, in light of this sad situation, it will probably require military action from the outside to put this attitude aside, and replace it will someone else's hegenomy...and so on and so forth. So goes the history of planet earth.
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:16AM (#16227823)
    The same thing that's wrong with me launching a Mk 48 ADCAP torpedo into a shipping channel in international waters, which also is owned by nobody.
  • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:20AM (#16227893)
    it seems to me that the someone else has the right to disable it with proportionate force at the time when it is trying to invade their privacy

    So does this mean that the US has the right to disable Chinese "fishing" vessels outside the 12 mile limit on the open seas if the "fishing" vessels are covered with anttenae? No, because that would be an act of war or piracy because nations have a right to sail on the open seas, just as nations have a right to have satellites in space. You are justifying a violation of treaties governing the neutrality of space.
  • by GR1NCH (671035) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:22AM (#16227915)
    The problem isn't coming up with a new solution to cope... that will be fairly easy. The real question is if you can find a software hotfix to cope. Something we can do to keep them from blinding us until we get a new spacecraft up. You have to remember that each new spacecraft takes years to develop/test and costs millions to put into space.
  • by russ1337 (938915) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:36AM (#16228129)
    I honestly believe the US is more likley to use a Nuke before any of the above mentioned. Any of the states using a nuke will result in their elimination - deterance. We also know the US is not affraid to strike pre-emptivley. Plus they've talked of wanting to use 'tactical nukes' against Iran.
  • by flooey (695860) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:52AM (#16228381)
    To be fair though, I'm guessing there are SR-71 replacements (Aurora?) busy doing a similar job but we just don't know about it yet.

    The US launches 5-10 spy satellites a year, and they publically announce when they go up (though not what they do). Just look at something like this launch schedule [spaceflightnow.com] and look for launches with "classified spacecraft payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office".
  • by HeadlessZeke (618402) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:55AM (#16228439) Homepage
    It depends on what you mean by "disable". The US does not have the right to overtly attack a "fishing" vessel in open waters, but it does have the right to put its own "fishing" vessels in the vicinity equipped with jamming devices. Isn't this essentially what China is doing by blinding our spy satelites while they are overhead?
  • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:05AM (#16228619) Journal

    It surely may sound ironic in the case of China, but : a sovereign nation has a right to privacy.

    I'll remember that the next time they try to steal nuclear technology from us.

  • by WhiplashII (542766) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:07AM (#16228655) Homepage Journal
    So, what about listening to messages transmitted in China from a listening post in the US? Are you saying that we have to not listen? Or do they have the right to bomb us if we listen?

    International law (you know, the thing that applies to the US but no one else) says that a nation owns only 100 miles up, and beyond that they can lay no claims. So, if this is to be believed, a the Chinese military just attacked the US military while the US military was in international waters. That is an act of war. If the US acknowleges it, we have to acknowlege it as an act of war.

    My guess is that this was some Chinese general stroking his manhood, and that the US is going to use back channels to force China to remove that general. Better than admitting that we are at war with one of our largest trading partners...
  • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:19AM (#16228875) Homepage Journal

    I would imagine that the US would do the same to Chinese spy satellites (if they had any - which I don't know and don't feel like googling)

    They do, and they pass over the US. So do Russia, India, France, Spain, the UK, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Iran, Algeria... in short, pretty much everybody (Note that I'm considering any satellites capable of earth observation as "spy satellites" -- most of them aren't intended for that purpose, but most of them can, and probably are, used for intelligence-gathering). Though the US has various anti-satellite weapons, including both lasers to blind them and experimental systems intended to destroy them, all testing of US anti-satellite weapons is done on US satellites and drones, in order to avoid provoking incidents with other nations.

    Perhaps the US should change this policy with respect to Chinese satellites? I don't think so, but I can see where others might disagree.

  • by bitt3n (941736) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:27AM (#16229007)
    1) This is already covered in the Outer Space Treaty. If you want to argue China is justified, you would have more luck arguing that all they are doing is temporarily incapacitating the satellites (presuming it is temporary) in the way one might shine a bright light into the lens of a camera someone points into a window of your house. 2) Comparing the recent US invasions to British occupation during the American Revolution seems a bit of a stretch unless you honestly think that the US intends to tax these countries without representation, but drawing an analogy between these invasions and the Nazis invading France is just going to set a lot of eyeballs rolling. You are doing a grave disservice to people who protest the US invasions on rational grounds. 3) What do spy satellites have to do with your claims about the US supposedly appoint itself as global hegemon? Plenty of countries have spy satellites. Does that mean they're all appointing themselves global hegemons? 4) Saying X or Y number of people don't like the US says little in itself about the viability of US policy. Sure lots of people in lots of countries would rather that some of the United States' wealth and power be transferred to themselves. The fact that they do so does not somehow transform these countries collectively into a disinterested source of wisdom regarding the vices and virtues of US policy. If you disagree with this policy, you'll be more persuasive if you say why you disagree, rather than how many people supposedly agree with you when they are in fact simply looking after their own particular self interests.
  • Re:Cold War II (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ichigo 2.0 (900288) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:28AM (#16229033)
    It's sad, really... their people are full of potential, but their gov't is pretty scary.

    Doesn't that apply to the US as well? :P
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:29AM (#16229043)
    Actually, the risk is more that a cell not tied to any large group or government will use a nuke against someone. We won't have anyone to retaliate against, and only a bunch of dead "infidels". Decentralized/Guerrilla warfare is hard to combat. Nuclear armed guerilla groups would be really hard to combat.
  • by operagost (62405) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:35AM (#16229181) Homepage Journal
    What do mean by "political aggression"? That certainly has nothing to do with war, as the only conflict initiated by Israel in its existence was to destroy the breeder reactors built in Iraq by France. 1949, 1967, 1973... all defensive wars.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:37AM (#16229235)
    I'm sure the Chinese have tested this on their own spy satelites too.
  • by ThePiMan2003 (676665) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:39AM (#16229281)
    Actually international law covers space. IANAL but no nation owns the space above them, just the air space. Though, there is no definition of where airspace stops and outerspace begins.
  • Re:Seeing Red (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:42AM (#16229343) Journal
    It's not an attempt to "dumb down" anything, and the U.S. educational system was not crappy back when Merriam Webster mades such changes in his dictionary. Whether or not it is crappy now is more of an open question, but has no bearing on the change of spelling.

    In the U.S., 'colour' reads ass if it would be pronounced 'cohloor' or 'cohlowr'. It is pronounced more like 'culler', but just dropping the 'u' makes it much more clear that it represents the apperance of light bouncing off of something instead of it referring to one who weeds out members of a set.

    There was a big movement in the U.S. to get rid of old baggage not needed from colonial times ('colonial times' being pronounced "when North America was Britain's bitch" if you like). Unpronounced letters in some cases were part of that baggage. So was a state religion. Silly royals were too, but we in the U.S. seem to have hotel heiresses and movie stars to take up the tabloid slack. Eventually powdered wigs fell by the wayside in the U.S. too. Besides, 'colour' makes clear its French roots. The English if anyone should understand getting rid of French influence where it's unneccessary (well, after the Vietnamese, Persians, and those from Côte d'Ivoire -- all of whom have had abundant French influence more recently).

    Before you continue attacking educational systems, please note that "United States" is a proper noun and should therefore be capitalized in proper English (even the main British dialect). You were not speaking of the idea of nation states or of all "states" in the U.S., Mexico, and other countries that use the term for their political subdivisions, were you? Now maybe your questioning of other people's use of the English language, especially when they are making jokes as the parent of your post appears to have been, might not seem so hypocritical.

    Congratulations, you trolled and got responses and a mod of 'Insightful'. Sorry if this response was a bit more rational and level than you wanted. Now, I wonder if you're going to lecture the moderator of your post on the differences between 'insight' and 'incite'.

  • by kfg (145172) * on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:43AM (#16229359)
    Nice treaty. Good treaty. Lie down and play dead. Good boy.

    The fact of the matter is that property is defined by the man standing on it with the biggest gun. Mars will be "free" until the very moment someone puts up a hotdog stand and the only reason people can take treaties like this seriously is because they can barely be violated, let alone enforced.

    If we go to space, we will war over its territory. And that's the way it is.

    KFG
  • by bumptehjambox (886036) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:48AM (#16229425)
    Dialogue? There are two problems with that:

    1) Iranians are Persians, good luck getting some dialogue in with a bunch of Persians that want to "wipe you off the map." Who wants to listen to anything Mr. Great Satan(USA) says anyway? Iran doesn't.
    2) North Koreans think their dictator is the son of God, you think you can have a dialogue with God? Good luck!

    The United States doesn't want to wipe out the Iranians or North Koreans, that is just what their leaders tell them, ya know, propaganda. Get them people your government won't educate properly all riled up and ready to die for their country, after all, it is easier than building a civilized nation. For the Iranians it helps get people rioting in the streets, together, and ignore their living conditions, or better- blame it on the USA, rather than their government. It's not like they know any better, their education system is a joke, pair that up with daily brainwashing, I'm sure you can understand why they'd want to kill all westerners. They're mad as hell, maybe they think if they kill us all they won't have to hear anymore boring propaganda, and try making some real art again- they've forgotten to for about 500 years. One of the biggest things they use against America, along with terrorists, is our bombing of Japan. Can you believe that? Japan doesn't make statements about it, but some desperate and angry Arabs do...very silly people really. Not the type who should have any weapons leaving their land, let alone nukes across the world.

    For the North Koreans hating America rounds out their life quite well, they believe they're the great race and greatest nation under the greatest ruler (God), and there's a great evil (US) out there. It's unifying. Oh yeah, and you're required by law to agree with the big little guy.

    If the US ever acted on a nation with nuclear weapons, it'd be a global relations disaster, they don't want that. The intelligent people in Iran and N.Korea know this, however they know better than to tell their people a fraction of the truth. Then they'd lose their "edge"

    As for being hostile to them, I never thought giving aid was a hostile action. We've not fought them, or threatened to, we've made very calculated actions with both of these countries. You must understand it's an illusion they are creating, in order to get more aid. And if you look at the facts, IT'S WORKING WELL!

  • by bcattwoo (737354) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:48AM (#16229433)
    It's like this: You're looking into the bedroom window of the hot naked girl across the street, and she pulls the blinds to stop you. Who if anyone committed a crime here?

    If I am on a public right-of-way and she closes her blinds, then nobody. If she sends her boyfriend out to pull a sack over my head, there would likely be some legal issues.

  • by Control Group (105494) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:01AM (#16229663) Homepage
    The key, here, is when you say "it probably is." Not only is it "probable," it's certain. China has had the capability of launching satellites since at least 1984 (IIRC, that's the year they first put a bird in geosynch) that I know of. If they've got satellites up there, it's virtually guaranteed that some of them overfly the US, and some of those are capable of looking down. And if not China, every other space-capable nation on the planet has satellites that overfly the US.

    Yet you don't see us blinding their satellites and claiming "it's not aggressive, it's just common sense."

    Satellites, outside of a state of war, are like transoceanic cables. You're supposed to leave each other's alone because it starts a chain of retaliations that ends up with very little accomplished aside from a disastrous collapse of certain types of infrastructure.

    So yes, China going and doing this is an openly aggressive act. It's not as aggressive as cutting a cable would be, or landing soldiers in Hawaii, but don't think it's somehow innocent.
  • by Stoertebeker (1005619) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:04AM (#16229753)
    Since the laser in the case of the Chines does no permanent damage, maybe just a bright light would be a better analogy.
  • by why-is-it (318134) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:05AM (#16229765) Homepage Journal
    Except the former Afghan Government supported an individual who slaughtered 3,000 Americans in cold blood and refused to hand him over.

    Was there a formal extradition treaty with the former government of Afghanistan? If not, should they be under any legal obligation to oblige?

    They ought to consider themselves lucky that Kabul didn't disappear in a blinding flash and a mushroom cloud. That's what can happen when you attack a nuclear armed state.

    Do you realize that attitude is precisely why Iran is trying to build a nuclear arsenal? Let's hope the Mullah's develop a more mature outlook than you have.

    I hope you were exaggerating about the nuclear attack. I (for one) fail to see how committing crimes against humanity would make your nation any safer.

    Your comparing the French Resistance to Nazi Germany to the Taliban insurgency? WTF is wrong with this picture?

    Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Whoever wins and writes the history books gets to determine which was which. For a variety of reasons, many people around the world view the Americans as the villains, not the guys wearing the white hats.

    Have you ever wondered why?

  • Re:Seeing Red (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cygnus (17101) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:30AM (#16230213) Homepage
    You see, you can't spell because you can't talk. If you pronounced the words with the subtle distinction the 'our' ending entails, you wouldn't be writing this nonsense now. There is an audible difference; and you're wrong on that point, too.

    Learn to talk. Learn to spell. Learn!

    learn that building a global empire and spreading your language to every corner of the globe means you lose some control of how it's spoken. not to mention, England is even more guilty of rejiggering words than the US is, otherwise we'd all still be speaking Old English.
  • by zippthorne (748122) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @12:07PM (#16230937) Journal
    And for some reason, I remember the "weapons inspectors" trying to play diplomat, commenting on how nice a guy Saddam was and how cooperative the iraqis were even while puzzling over being prevented from viewing certain sites at certain times. Hans Blix alternately stirred a hornets' nest of global opposition (presumeably in an attempt to garner favor from saddam) and "tried" to avert war.

    I'm not entirely convinced they were looking very hard at all for WMDs, as I suspect their goal was the rehabilitation of iraq on the international scene rather than the aparantly unromantic task of thorough confirmation of treaty compliance. Their lack of information was a prime driver in the development of the war.

    Of course the price of the war was terrible, but it could've been averted if the UN had at tried to at least appear willing to extract it. Diplomacy only works if the threat of a non-diplomatic resolution is real.
  • by khallow (566160) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @12:21PM (#16231215)

    The last thing one wants is to have nuclear weapons in the possession of unstable regimes either unable to control the devices or demonstratively irrational. But do either North Korea or Iran really meet those conditions? I personally don't think so. It is also somewhat understandable why these states are intersted in possessing them given the sort of armchair militarism that passes for IR analysis in much Western punditry.

    Iran, you might be able to make a credible argument for. But not North Korea which utterly fails the sanity test and can't guarantee that it'll be around in five years much less control whatever weapons it has.

    The invasion of Iraq was a huge disaster, if only for destroying the credibility of international organizations like the United Nations as a restraint on the unilateral militarism of its members. The proliferation of nuclear weapons through the Middle East may be the only thing capable of stabilizing the region at this point.

    As others have pointed out indirectly, Israel's nuclear weapons have already stabalized the Middle East by eliminating a major source of intense wars in the region. The invasion of Iraq eliminated another.

    The UN has long been weakly effective. It always has been that way by design. And despite your assertions to the contrary it has operated as a restraint on unilateral military action even with respect to the US's actions in Iraq. After all, the US bothered to assemble a host of allies, prepare justification for the war to the UN, and conduct the war mostly according to the Geneva Convention. A large part of this has been due to the UN's influence.

    My take is that the Iraqi war hasn't been disastrous. The Iraqis got rid of Saddam Hussein and replaced that with a budding democracy. The US presence is manageable. The US eliminated a dictator, got to play with their military machine, and weakened OPEC for a little while. And everyone sees a full scale example of why poorly thought out military adventurism even in a one-sided conflict is dangerous. Everyone else gets to have a good hate at the US.
  • Iran vs Israel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truckaxle (883149) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @12:22PM (#16231237) Homepage
    Ummm. Israel is not a theocracy. Israel has parliamentary democracy, a free press, an independent judicial system, freedom of religion, equal rights for women, etc.

    Iran is a mullahcracy, has a supreme leader for life, political canadates must be "selected", state controlled press, Iran does not have religious freedom, etc. Iran even has a bloody moral police with incredible powers to arrest and detain.

  • Re:Hype indeed... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FreakerSFX (256894) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @12:22PM (#16231245)
    China is not yet that enemy, and in fact no one is. I don't live in the US and am not exactly a fan of their recent activity - but it's a plain fact that they spend more than anyone and still enjoy technical advantages in many areas.

    China spends far less but their money does go a lot further, due to lower working wages, less red tape, potentially less corruption and graft (it still exists but the death penalty reduces the behaviour to those in favour with the government). Their airforce is largely obsolete and their navy isn't really up to going toe to toe with the US either BUT:

    They are cleverly spending in other areas. Develop lasers to blind satellites and perhaps even destroy them? That negates some of the US technical advantage....and their missile program is pretty damned impressive, at least for short to mid-range. Hell they did invent rocket technology. Their reach for the stars will likely reap for them the same technical leap it did for the USA.

    Even Iran could give the US fits due to a large, dedicated ground force, excellent missiles and high-speed torpedoes....too bad the US doesn't have the stealth destroyer in production yet because aircraft carriers and the current generation of US cruisers and destroyers show up just fine on radar and if you see it, you can kill it.

    So - the news is: The US still has the advantage, but are going to start losing it to smaller countries who focus on specific 'asymmetric' development to nullify the overall advantages.
  • by i_should_be_working (720372) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @12:39PM (#16231585)
    That's unfortunate. I've never seen a wikipedia article so wrong. They left out damn near half the globe. Well, at second glance I see that it's for native english speakers only. Maybe it doesn't count people who grow up speaking two languages, or countries with multiple official languages.

    Anyway, what makes it wrong or misleading is that there are literally hundreds of millions of english speakers in Africa, Asia and the caribbean living in former British colonies. Since they only got their independence about half a century ago their english is closest to British. Here's [wikipedia.org] a wiki that includes all speakers. Notice that India alone has more english speakers than the U.S., and yes, they spell it 'colour' [wikipedia.org].

    So, given that American english is not used by more people or more countries, it is not the principle dialect of the language.
  • by FreakerSFX (256894) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @12:39PM (#16231589)
    The lack of knowledge being displayed here is remarkable.

    You are all informed by Fox News of how dangerous the "regime" in Iran is. What do you think that they see on their news programs? The same sorts of human rights violations and dictatorial acts by the 'religious zealot' leaders of the US. They have signed the non-proliferation treaty - the world should back off.

    Their government is stable and they have as much right to run their country as the US does. If the people rise up and topple their government - fine - but that could just as easily have happened in the US after the 2000 elections. Stop judging Iran based on the news you see and think about that for a while. Oh - one other note - the Iranians are 'aryans' or 'persians', not arabs.

    As for NK - they are an unstable regime who'd let huge amounts of their people starve to build weapons and maintain the army....when little dear leader dies, it's coming apart there for sure.

  • Re:Hype indeed... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HiThere (15173) * <charleshixsn AT earthlink DOT net> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:04PM (#16233339)
    He wasn't describing relative power. NATO had so many more troops than the Serbs did that it could probably have won if it had armed the troops with willow switches. He was describing tactical brilliance. Don't put yourself down. Being assaulted by someone five times out of your weight class means that if he can get hold of you, skill won't help. It doesn't imply lack of skill.
  • by Shihar (153932) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:12PM (#16234735)
    The one nice thing about terrorist nukes (for the US at least) is that Tel Aviv probably sits above New York on the target list. Of course, hitting New York is probably much easier then Tel Aviv so while Tel Aviv might be #1 on the list, New York is probably the easier of the two targets to sneak a bomb into.

    As far as nuking goes, if the US uses nukes it will be as a symbol, not as an attempt to do any real damage. If the US wants to level a city, it can already do that with conventional attacks. A couple of MOABs are far cheaper then a nuke, don't carry the same political repercussions, and are just as effective. If the US was to use a nuke on a civilian target, it would only be in response to a similar attack on a US city.

    The whole idea behind nuclear deterrence is to convince the other side that you are completely willing to respond nuclear atrocity with nuclear atrocity. In order for nuclear deterrence to work you need to truly believe that you are willing to respond with nuclear weapons to a nuclear attack. Further, if a nuclear attack does happen, you MUST show that you were never bluffing and respond with nuclear weapons. To make things even uglier, your nuclear attack must be so devastating that no nation would consider it a worthy exchange.

    So, if for a completely hypothetical situation Iran nukes New York (not likely, but play along), the US can't just respond by nuking Tehran. Trading New York for Tehran isn't an equal trade. Iran would clearly feel itself the winner and might feel that in the future trading one American city for one Iranian city is a worthy trade. As a result, the US would not only have to respond, but respond overwhelmingly. They wouldn't just destroy Tehran, but might take out another dozen cities in the process. They wouldn't just drop one bomb per city, but would instead blanket the cities. The only thing that would moderate a response would be the fact that India and China would be pissed if too much fallout floated their way.

    The logic behind nuclear war is terrible. The weapons are so horrific that you must convince the other side that the consequence of using them are so disproportionate to any gain that their use is unthinkable. Worst still, if someone tries to call your bluff, you need to prove to them that you were not bluffing.

    Finally, I highly doubt that the US will be the first to use nuclear weapons again. There is nothing a nuclear weapon can do that conventional weapons can't. Even super hardened military bunkers untouchable with conventional bombs do not demand the use of a nuke. It is far better for political reasons to remove a mountain the old fashion (man power and explosives) then to suffer the political consequences of using a nuke. The US likes the idea of having bunker busting nukes, but only for after a nuclear war has been started. No sane president would use nukes preemptively... and yes, I include Bush as a sane president.

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