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Anti-Missile Defenses For Commercial Jets 594

Posted by kdawson
from the asymetrical-warfare dept.
The AP reports that the first anti-missile defense system has been installed for testing on a commercial jet, a FedEx cargo carrier. The system is intended to detect the launch of a shoulder-fired missile at takeoff or landing, and disable the missile with a laser beam. Sen. Barbara Baxter (D-California) is one of the supporters of the system. She and other members of Congress are hoping to equip all US commercial passenger liners with this system in 20 years, at a cost of billions of dollars. Is this good common sense or the costly future of a society hobbled by fear of terrorism?
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Anti-Missile Defenses For Commercial Jets

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  • by rhavenn (97211) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:03PM (#17665394)
    An absolute waste of money. The only thing it's good for is making defense contractors richer.
  • Market... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m0rph3us0 (549631) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:04PM (#17665406)
    Why not just let airlines install the devices as the market demands, a portion of the market will want protection and a portion will not. The added cost will allow consumers to decide whether the protection is "worth it".
  • by dbrutus (71639) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:04PM (#17665412) Homepage
    If they are fixed installations, they can be factored into an attack. If they travel with the plane, it's much harder to take them out.
  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:04PM (#17665418) Journal
    The system is intended to detect the launch of a shoulder-fired missile at takeoff or landing, and disable the missile with a laser beam.

    What a great idea! Now when the terrorists eventually take over another round of planes, they can effectively block missiles intended to shoot them down before reaching sensitive targets.


    How about if next, we equip subway cars with nuclear self-destruct devices so terrorists can't use them to make their speedy getaways?
  • Need? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:05PM (#17665430) Homepage Journal
    Just out of curiosity, how many commercial airliners in the US have been shot down with shoulder fired missiles? I haven't had any luck trying to find an instance in Google.

    I could see a system like this for a plane that has to fly over Iraq or South Africa, but inside of the US/Canada/Europe/Australia/Asia it doesn't seem to be necessary, worse, a system like this is probably going to require massive power and have considerable complexity. Highly complex pieces of equipment are liable to malfunction at some point and possibly even cause a crash.

    No, installing something like this in every airplane in the US fleet is just not realistic. Having it as an option for people who have to fly near areas where terrorists have shoulder fired missiles and a grudge against the west is good though.
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grey Ninja (739021) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:06PM (#17665478) Homepage Journal
    Probably never. Shoulder fired missiles are usually infra red seeking. Which is a passively homing missile. I honestly don't know how the hell you would detect such a missile tracking you. As far as I knew, even military jets have no early warning of IR missiles.
  • by Skadet (528657) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:08PM (#17665510) Homepage
    Wow. Running in debt, passenger cabins that aren't clean, meals that have been cut from shorter flights, and all on top of *higher ticket prices*. Now they want to install frickin' laser beams? That'll do wonders for affordability. Maybe a nice fat Government subsidy is in order?

    Fantastic. Just fantastic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:09PM (#17665524)
    An absolute waste of money. The only thing it's good for is making defense contractors richer.


    Not true at all. It has lasers, so it's very good security theater and no money is too much for such.

  • Re:How about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by solevita (967690) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:09PM (#17665528)
    Because by selling both the cause and the remedy, you get to profit twice! Happy days.
  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Radon360 (951529) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:10PM (#17665554)

    I think the system is designed to address the more primitive weapons, such as the rocket-propelled grenade, that rely upon good aim prior to launching. AFAIK, it's still pretty hard to shoot down a plane with such a primitive weapon, anyway.

    Military technology that is specifically designed to shoot down a plane using an air-to-air missile, or even surface-to-air missile is much more sophisticated, and has a very good chance of defeating such a system at this point.

  • Security is a Joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr_Blank (172031) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:12PM (#17665582) Journal
    There is no such thing as security. Whatever one person can put together, another person can take apart. Virus scanners, the locks on my house and home, and the passwords on my bank accounts are all meant for one thing: To keep honest people honest. If someone really wants to, any security I could encumber some part of my life with can be undone by someone of focused malicious intent.

        The more society spends on 'security' the harder it is to undo that security. Build a Great Wall of China and it keeps the invaders out. Build a Great Wall of the Rio Grande and it keeps the Mexican immigrants out. But given time or motivation, invaders and immegrants find ways around the walls.

        The more society relies on 'security' the more devestating it is when that security fails. These planes will have protection against missles (how many times have planes been shot down by missles anyhow?!). I am sure some motivated criminal will determine that using a high powered large caliber rifle or remote controlled airplane with C4 attached works just as well for bringing down a plane; or something else we haven't even considered.

        In my view, the only way to minimize acts of terror, keep illegal immigrants at home, and make the world 'safe' is with economic development. If a person has a full stomach and something to do with their hands so they can avoid hunger tomorrow, then that person is too happy and busy to 'terrorize' or risk life and limb crossing the dessert.

        Money spent on walls, airline bomb closets and anti-air to air missle lazers, and even super cool rail guns are all poor investments, in my view. Better to spend the money on starting businesses, funding schools, and giving incentives to entrapeneurs. If everyone is fed and busy, the world is as safe as it could be (though still not perfectly safe).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:13PM (#17665586)
    While MADPADS (MAn Portable Air Defense Systems) are a threat, albeit a very small one, the real threat to aviation is CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) and ground accidents. It seems like a rather misdirected use of fund to require airliners to carry anti-MADPADS defenses. What if the ComAir flight was required to have a system that allowed either the flight crew or tower operator to monitor their position at the airport? They would have easily seen that the hadn't lined up on an active runway. These systems DO exist, aren't as costly and save real lives. System also exist that allow an air crew to see a profile of upcoming terrain and give them advanced warning if they are on a collision course with unseen terrain. While this doesn't frequently occur in the US, it *do* occur overseas to US airlines.

    It's amusing, in a morbid way, that Congress continually cuts FAA funding while pronouncing they're deeply worried about people dying in aviation accidents. If anyone thinks that MADPADS are a real and serious threat, just go read a couple months' worth of NTSB accident reports and tell me that aviation safety is hinged on anti-MADPADS defenses.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:15PM (#17665636)
    'hobbled by fear of terrorism'.

    does that mean we'd be more free and unhobbled taking no countermeasures against some people who want to kill us?

    if you were in a position to surrender to a killer, and let them kill you, in a way you are free of the whole thing. you've forfeited the responsibility of survival. but is that a solution for the living?

    terrorism and suicide bombing is an unreasoned thing, it is antithetical to civilization, it's the opposite of the advance of humanity toward awareness of himself, toward the use of reason. terrorism is an invitation to slide backward into the swamp, to become nothing more than an violent animal that takes for itself.

    some kind of reasoned resistance to this tendency must be offered. who wants to live in a world where power is literally a gun pointed at your head, a rifle butt to the temple... and not in any literary, hyperbolic figurative sense... i mean in the sense of actual gangs that run your neighborhood and kill people in front of their kids.

    does anyone agree that this needs to be stopped before it becomes a reality?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:17PM (#17665658)
    "How is this 'costly'? How many human lives would be lost as you install these defense systems in passenger liners? I don't think any'

    Just all the lives that would be saved (better health care, etc.) if this money were better spent.
  • Fear (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ObiWanStevobi (1030352) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:18PM (#17665672) Journal
    I would say a rash measure for international flights, but domestic as well? Did we develop a problem with shoulder fired missles in the US recently? At billions of dollars, we are simply proving that terrorists are right. We really do just cower before them. They knock down a couple buildings and we'll change our entire culture and bankrupt our country in fear.
  • by spike2131 (468840) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:18PM (#17665680) Homepage
    Yeah, think of how many lives could be saved if the billions of dollars this will cost was instead spent on this was spent on, say, childhood immunizations, prenatal care, or automobile safety. Why do we spend money for creating the appearance of action against obscure but frightening risks, instead of focusing on less glamorous areas where our efforts can actually make a difference?

    Must be because terrorists hate freedom.
  • by everphilski (877346) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:19PM (#17665708) Journal
    They are aiming at 20 years in the future. This is a test release on a single aircraft. They want the system to be feasible and cheap in 20 years, when they feel it will probably be needed (and yea, saleable to the middle east / Africa / etc)
  • by David_Shultz (750615) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:21PM (#17665738)
    if you were close enough to hit an airplane with a shoulder fired rocket, couldn't you instead use explosives to damage the runway enough to cause a crash? The aftermath of a failed landing or even a failed takeoff is probably enough to serve the terrorists purpose. Anyone remember the failed takeoff of the Air France plane at Pearson international? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_358 [wikipedia.org]
    Not to mention the fact that I can't find a single instance of a commercial aircraft being hit by a shoulder fired rocket.

    This is a stupid waste of money. Of course, it will earn some weapons manufacturers some cash, and it will make some people feel safer -at least until they realize that the next commercial hijackers now control a high-powered laser, but hey, who am I to mock attempts at the "war on terror"? Who'd have thought that waging a war against an abstract noun could have been so tricky?

  • cost benefit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:24PM (#17665822) Journal
    How about a cost/benefit analysis of such a system before we knee jerk expensive solution to a low risk problem.

    The problem here is that people equate one 450 person aircraft with more value that of 40,000 fatalities due to automobile accidents.

    Air travel is one of the safest forms of travel, bar none. We don't need to spend BILLIONS of dollars making it safer, mainly because it isn't going to make it much safer.

    It all sounds good, but really, it is a waste.
  • by Neil Watson (60859) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:31PM (#17665966) Homepage
    Would more lives be saved inventing and installing an in-cabin fire suppression system instead of an anti-missile system?
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Total_Wimp (564548) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:35PM (#17666036)
    So one plane in the history of aviation might have been saved. Maybe

    I think this would make good terrorist MasterCard commercial:

    A year of nationalized health care in Canada = about $1,900
    A year of food in American = about $3,000
    A habitat for humanity house = about $35,000

    Scaring Americans into spending "billions" to possibly save between zero and a couple of hundred lives instead of spending it where it's guaranteed to make a difference = Priceless

    TW
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gerhardius (446265) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:36PM (#17666058)
    "Saved" is a bit strong, but there was a DHL A300 hit by an SA-7 over Baghdad that made an emergency landing: http://www.defense-aerospace.com/produit/29222_us. html [defense-aerospace.com] Most man-portable SAMs would require a very fortunate shot to bring down something the size of an airliner. The traditional method used by aircraft flying in to high threat environments is a special approach, possibly combined with an automated flare ejection system releasing decoys on final approach. Naturally, this system would cause chaos on approach to most civilian airports. The system deployed on the FedEx DC-10 looks like the best solution if one believes that this is the way to go. The US military is placing its hope for protection from the full range of IR missiles in the Suite of Infrared Countermeasures http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/air craft/systems/siircm.htm [globalsecurity.org] but this package is far more than airliners need. The danger to airliners is from missiles with a relatively low effective altitude: an airliner at cruising altitude is not threatened by a guy with a missile on his shoulder. More info in some research here http://www.afrlhorizons.com/Briefs/Dec03/SN0303.ht ml [afrlhorizons.com]
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:38PM (#17666090) Journal
    This is where the slashdot moderation system breaks down. Currently the comment is "80% funny, 10% overrated, 10% troll". It is at +5, but I'm going to lose two karma for it anyway.

    And before anyone responds with "But smart-ass comments like yours don't enhance the discussion", Just set Funny to be -5 for you. Problem solved. Or grow a sense of humor.

  • Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bucky0 (229117) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:40PM (#17666122)
    Why are we such pussies? Look around, in the US, something like:

    40,000 people die/year in car accidents
    20,000 murders/year

    And we get all worked up because some people managed to hijack 4 airplanes and killed 3,000 people? It really sucks, and I understand the pain that the people left behind had to face (as well as the people who died that day). But because of that one attack, we've completely gone bonkers and blown an entirely disproportionate amount of money on making sure it doesn't happen again compared to larger social ills.

    Ugh, it just burns me.
  • by tap (18562) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:50PM (#17666318) Homepage
    This system of Boxer's will kill thousands of Americans just to enrich a few defense contractors who have bribed her. How?

    It will cost billions of dollars. That's billions of dollars which won't save a single life, as no passenger jet has even been brought down by a missle outside a combat zone. That's billions of dollars that won't get spent on something that will save lives, like making our roads safer or prenatal care. Choosing to spend money on a worthless defense against a non-existant missle threat is exactly the same as taking the money away from where it could do good. This system will kill Americans, not save lives.

  • Re:Anyone know (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zuzulo (136299) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:50PM (#17666330) Homepage
    More importantly, what would happen if this system fired 'accidentally' on another passenger jet? Something I would certainly be thinking about before installing them on *any* planes ...
  • by spineboy (22918) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:57PM (#17666450) Journal
    What if the US spends less money on defense , and instead behaves less like a dick. Instead we should concentrate on being a little less arrogant, and be more world friendly. Foreign relations has really taken a turn or the worse in the last 6 years or so. Or we can continue the current trend, and then just travel everywhere in personal sized mini tanks, with anti missile/IUD technology.

    People keep on trying to put bandages on the problem, instead of addressing what is actually wrong, kind of like treating a fever with some aspirin, instead of treating the infection.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:57PM (#17666462) Journal
    Has a range of around 3km straight up, slant range of around 8 km. So you can fire from well outside the airport perimeter.
  • by 808140 (808140) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:04PM (#17666582)
    does anyone agree that this needs to be stopped before it becomes a reality?

    This is the sort of ridiculous, slippery-slope argument that the government loves to throw in our faces when trying to justify the erosion of our civil rights and the wanton military spending that are ostensibly necessary "because of the terrorists."

    There are not going to be actual "gangs" of Islamic fundamentalists running around in your neighborhood, killing people in front of your kids. First, there are not actually enough fundamentalists to make this happen. Second, we do have a police force, you know -- it's their job to deal with gangs. You could argue that they don't do a particularly good job of that in some parts of LA, but to be honest, even there is nothing like it is in the movies. People with families live in Compton. There are gangs, to be sure, but even there, people killing others in front of your kids is an uncommon occurence, not an everyday affair.

    Let's talk about a "reasoned" response: 3000 people died on 9/11, that's all. It's tragic, but come on. How many people die in car crashes every year? The reason people keep bringing it up is because, every year, nearly 40 thousand people do!

    Here's the reality of the situation: 6 years later, we've accomplished nothing that is actually relevant to 9/11. Osama Bin Laden is still at large, as much as the government tries to understate his importance. No replacement for the WTC is on the horizon, despite much in the way of planning.

    However, we have used the event to justify tremendous, unreasonable spending on cockamamy schemes like this one that will do exactly nothing to help prevent terrorism. Seriously, the people that came up with the 9/11 plan and executed it were brilliant, from a logistical, strategic, and creativity perspective. Do you really think they're a one-trick pony? That now that they've done 9/11, the only possible terrorist attack they can think of involves running a plane into a building? Because that seems to be the way our administration thinks.

    We've gone to the ends of the earth to make flying a pain, hurting our economy and annoying our passengers. And for what? To prevent another 9/11? Why not just blow up a building? Why bother with the plane? We're expecting it, it would be stupid.

    Maybe George Bush was right, after all -- maybe they did attack us because they "hate our freedom." Lamentably, our response seems to be to throw our freedom away to appease them.

    Here's a wild thought: how about just ignoring them?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:05PM (#17666592)
    Fires happen. Auto accidents happen. Commercial flights in the US, on the other hand, do NOT get blown up by rockets. If you want to address problems that don't exist, why not install protections against pig attacks? Pigs are far deadlier in the US than rocket attacks against commercial airlines.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:05PM (#17666600) Homepage
    It occurs to me that you might be trying to be funny, but I'll respond anyway.

    However, it will probably make a whole lot of people 'feel' safe.
    It does the opposite - people know there are defensive missiles on the plane, so they get more scared because the thought of a SAM never occurred to them before. Plus, they will likely get a red/orange/yellow/green warning light stating the likelyhood of getting attacked on this flight. It is fearmongering.

    And as long as that billions of dollars goes back into the economy of the United States, it's not like we'd be losing billions of dollars.
    You misunderstand economics: They money doesn't just go in a circle and come back where it started. Even if you used all domestic workers and parts, which is impossible in today's economy, money is still lost. Materials are mined, energy and time are spent. Wasted money is wasted money.

    If that still doesn't make sense, consider this: The only time that this cycle reaches near 100% cyclic efficiency is if you pay a domestic worker for a labor-only task. Ex: A wealthy guy pays someone to wash their yacht. Of course, even that isn't a perfect cycle since water and gas to drive there and food and electricity and soap were all consumed in the process.

    These defense systems for passenger jets are a drop in the bucket compared to the war in Iraq.
    If we used that logic, then we would spend money on everything and anything. Because, it surely is cheaper than the war in Iraq! That's not an argument FOR doing this. It is an argument AGAINST the war.

    Let me concede you your idea though: If the goal is to make people think they are safe, and to make terrorists think it isn't worth trying -- then we should test a system like this, then pretend to install it.
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:08PM (#17666660)
    Terrorists aren't dumb, but we keep acting like they are. They know they can't rush an aircraft with just a handful of boxcutters: the passengers would turn on them and tear them limb from limb. 9/11 only worked because of the element of surprise, it wouldn't work again. Yet the government keeps preparing ways to keep us safe from another 9/11 attack. Likewise, why are they going to bother going after aircraft when so many easy targets are available?


    Terrorists will just attack somewhere else. The most obvious target is mass transit. Leave a bunch of bombs on the New York Subway, just like they did with the trains in Madrid- that would probably be a lot easier than smuggling a Stinger missile into the US. Or plant an IED on the Northwest Corridor and wait for a packed Acela train to go over it. Plant a limpet mine on the bottom of a ferry- if you can sink it fast enough you could kill a few hundred people.

    It's all just a show: most of the security efforts I've seen in place do comparatively little to make anyone safer, they're just designed to make us *feel* safer. They're not security, they're a security blanket.

  • Re:Anyone know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GweeDo (127172) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:09PM (#17666690) Homepage
    Ah, but with this comment Karma comes full circle and you end up with a karma boost! See, it works!
  • by SnowDog74 (745848) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:14PM (#17666764)

    The cold war was an ever-escalating chain of threats, the actual execution of which was always extremely improbable (as both sides knew the end result)... For decades the threat of nuclear war was carted out as an excuse for giving away billions upon billions to defense contractors.

    Shortly after the cold war ended, various skirmishes and, then, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom became the new dog-and-pony by which Congress to appease their constituencies and lobbyists in states where defense contractors represented significant employment. But now it's blossoming into another Vietnam and is beginning to blow up in Congress' face.

    So, what's the answer? Give the defense contractors a new mission: Counterterrorism! Since the supply of irrational fear is virtually limitless, the demand for solutions to calm these irrational fears is equally unbounded. Naturally, this could go on for decades, just like the cold war...

    How can they convince the people to buy into it? Remember Lisa Simpson and the tiger-repellent rock? You don't see any terrorists around do you? That's the beauty of irrational fears... you don't need to use a rational argument to soothe them.

    This is not to say that counterterrorism is bunk... No, it's necessary. But there's a pragmatic approach to identifying real threats and determining the cost of real solutions to them, and then there's the Chicken Little approach. The sky is falling. Watch out for terrorists in Fargo, North Dakota. Attack them before they attack us.

    The big problem with this mania that has been exploited by the Bush administration and Republicans in particular is this: While they are quick to point out that no terrorist attacks have occurred on Bush's watch since September 11, 2001... I am equally quick to point out that the worst terrorist attack in US history did, in fact, occur on Bush's watch.
  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:15PM (#17666794)
    TWA Flight 800

    Unproven speculation.

  • by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:18PM (#17666844)
    Yeah, because Timothy McVeigh was starving to death.

    McVeigh? Almost forgot about him. Which Islamic country was he from, again?

  • Re:Anyone know (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:18PM (#17666856)
    American is so scared shitless of the "terrorists" a "terrorist" could set off a fire cracker in a Greyhound bus station in the middle of nowhere and the country would be in panic for a month.

    What's responsible for this fear? It isn't any "terrorist". It's our media and our leaders. Thanks to them most of America would completely cease to function if someone pulled anything now. There have been ample opportunities, and NOTHING has happened. It's all media hype at this point.
  • Re:Market... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:31PM (#17667122) Homepage
    Funny you should mention risk. Well, as we all know (or we all should know, before making snide comments about the topic :) people have a scientifically documented tendency to greatly overestimate risks that are perceived as out of their control compared to risks that are in their control. This is why people are more afraid of flying or of terrorist attacks than they are of driving to work. This is why some people will clamor for something mildly ridiculous like an anti-missile laser to be put on all airplanes, but may or may not buckle up in their cars.
  • by ahg (134088) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:05PM (#17667842)
    Here's a CNN article [cnn.com]from 2004 about how the Israeli airline, El/Al, is equipping all its planes with a ground-air missle defense system using flares. They have already installed it... the technology has been around for years.

    Why did't we just borrow it? Why did they spend $90 million already and lose years of opportunity to secure our planes to develop a new system?
  • by wolff000 (447340) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:06PM (#17667854)
    quotes from t0rkm3 (666910)
    "Sure... acquiesce to the world's body politic and cease to become a sovereign nation. Sounds like a plan."

    He didn't say that he said "be less of a dick" to me that means not getting invlolved where we have no business and stop playing world police, one in the same I suppose. I and many other Americans agree with this. We need to fix the problems here before we go galavanting around the globe playing cop.

    "Perhaps, nations should keep their own house in order and worry less about what the US is up to and how they could politically extort more money out of the US."

    Perhaps the US should do the same thing minus the money part. although I sure feel like I have been Extorted when I see the amount taken out of my check for "taxes" but that's another subject.

    "Or the almighty UN might actually try doing something... like rectifying the Darfur situation"

    If the US is going to play world cop then why haven't we fixed it. I don't agree with policing the planet but if it's going to go on why not actually help instead of just taking over places that have lucrative natural resources.

    ", or addressing the fact that Hezbollah attacked Israel as a de facto representative of the Lebanese govt."

    They didn't attack our country or our people so what does it matter. The Israelis are far from saints themselves and have done a lot to provoke attacks. I'm not saying the any attacks were warranted just that some were provoked.

    " Or perhaps just prosecuting, and investigating aggressively the previous Secretary General for violations of the oil for food program... Considering both his son and brother-in-law have had shady dealings therein."

    Good question and I agree with them but the US has enough of it's own shady financial dealings to look into. Haliburton(sp?) is the first one that comes to mind. How many people in our governement have friends and family making a ton off the "war on terror".

    "None of this is likely, even as the smug people that complain about USA policy still come to the teat at supper time."

    I for one am not coming. I am actively seeking employment outsdide the US because I can no longer live in a place where my rights are slowly being stripped despite having a constitution that is supposed to always protect them. I have gotten invlovled in politics and tried to make changes that way but unless you have a few billion to throw around change is not going to happen. Enough ranting for now hopefully I don't lose karma but I did reframe from using the term ass hat even though I really wanted to.
  • by Xugumad (39311) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:16PM (#17668058)
    By the same logic, I should wear a bullet proof (okay, knife proof as I'm in the UK, and they're subtly different) vest at all times, incase someone decides randomly to try killing me.

    Okay, here's another one; why aren't we equipping trains with these? Why are people still allowed on trains with significant amounts of liquid. Is it because trains are actually less at risk, or because everyone's running around panicking about planes?

    The US needs to sort out its foreign policy, stop worrying about planes all the time, and maybe, just maybe, think about things that kill people more. Like, disease, car crashes, natural disasters...
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by solevita (967690) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:18PM (#17668110)
    It's all just a show: most of the security efforts I've seen in place do comparatively little to make anyone safer, they're just designed to make us *feel* safer. They're not security, they're a security blanket.

    Controversial, perhaps, but I'd argue that these measures aren't designed to make us feel safer, but more afraid.

    We little people are so at risk, what would we do without the government to save us?
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:28PM (#17668342) Journal
    What if the US spends less money on defense , and instead behaves less like a dick. Instead we should concentrate on being a little less arrogant, and be more world friendly. Foreign relations has really taken a turn or the worse in the last 6 years or so.

    Actually, isolationism was Bush's plan for about the 9 months ranging from January-Sept 11, 2001 (remember that whole "We are not into nation-building" stuff?). It didn't work out to well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:30PM (#17668376)
    Then would you recommend it as a solution for everything?
    Think republican.
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:31PM (#17668394) Journal
    Not sure how this is flamebait, it's dead on.

    Saying the US behaves like a dick is flamebait. What you call "behaving like a dick" others call "giving the populace the chance to vote", "allowing women to go to school" and "preventing children from being killed or starved to death because their parents are part of the wrong religious sect".

  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:37PM (#17668478) Journal
    He didn't say that he said "be less of a dick" to me that means not getting invlolved where we have no business and stop playing world police, one in the same I suppose. I and many other Americans agree with this. We need to fix the problems here before we go galavanting around the globe playing cop.

    I find it sad that mass graves filled with mothers and their children is filed under "not our problem". Would you say the same of tsunami or earthquake victims overseas? How about at a state level? Was Texas wrong for taking hundreds of thousands Katrina evacuees? After all, it was Louisiana's problem, not Texas'.

    It's nice to say "we should fix our own problems first", but compared to others around the world, we don't have any problems.

  • by eyrieowl (881195) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:08PM (#17669230)
    Great system. Can it deal with simultaneous attacks? It seems to me that it's a lot of money to spend which someone with a modicum of military knowledge can probably circumvent. If I am a terrorist, and I know that all the US airliners have anti-missile devices, I a) abandon my plans for mayhem? b) shoot down a non-US Airliner? c) exploit one of the weaknesses that any such system is bound to have or d) fire my spare missiles at a boat...or a building...or a train...or a stadium. I'm thinking not a). But...reality aside, I'm sure we'll continue to try to spend our way out of terrorism.
  • by don.g (6394) <don@@@dis...org...nz> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:17PM (#17669394) Homepage
    Strangely enough, there are a number of countries where the populace is able to vote, women are required to go to school just like everyone else, and there aren't mass killings of children of the "wrong religion". Many of these countries are able to conduct their foreign policy in such a way that they don't get accused of being a dick.

    Some of them even manage to enter into free trade agreements with each other without requiring that the smaller country implement something like the DMCA.

    Etc, etc.

    Disclaimer: I may live in such a country.
  • What you call "behaving like a dick" others call "giving the populace the chance to vote", "allowing women to go to school" and "preventing children from being killed or starved to death because their parents are part of the wrong religious sect".

    Funny... GP was talking about foreign policy. I don't know about anyone else, but if the US was telling MY country how to vote, who can go to school, and whether children are allowed to stay with their parents based on religious belief, I'd call it "behaving like a dick" too. What the US does inside its own borders is its own business, however.

  • by Malakusen (961638) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:25PM (#17669560) Journal
    What you call "giving the populace the chance to vote", others call "giving the populace of another country the chance to die" and "underfunding the schools in our country to pay for a war somewhere else" and "causing children to die because their parents are part of the wrong religious sect". Or was the civil war in Iraq worse before we invaded?
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:26PM (#17669602) Journal
    And as far as your examples, what? Do you actually think that women in Iraq weren't allowed to go to school?
    See Afghanistan.

    My advice, meet someone from Iraq.
    I have. I spent 6 months over there.

    As for the "religious sect" bullshit, that stuff for some reason was never a problem before we lead the insurrection into Iraq.
    So you agree that it was a problem. Funny how that slavery stuff was never a problem before the civil war! Just because something wasn't considered a problem before X happened, doesn't mean that it wasn't a problem.

    The voting thing, yes true, but it's a shame that now that they voted we've decided we don't like their choices and are still fucking with them.
    We've overthrown their new government? When did this happen?
  • by SpiritGod21 (884402) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:34PM (#17669752) Homepage

    The op wasn't advocating isolationism, he/she was advocating diplomacy and multilateralism. If you'll remember, the months following 9/11 Bush stated that we would move unilaterally, regardless of what the UN thought "because they don't run this country," and that we'd pretty much do what we damn well please.

    Also, nixxing the ABM Treaty and giving an emphatic middle finger to the Kyoto Treaty pretty much pissed off everyone, harming our relations further and scaring the hell out of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The US being less of a dick would help things a lot, but you don't do that by locking yourself in your room, you do it by working together with other countries towards common goals and through diplomatic channels.

  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:36PM (#17669800) Journal
    if the US was telling MY country how to vote, who can go to school, and whether children are allowed to stay with their parents based on religious belief, I'd call it "behaving like a dick" too.

    Not if you were one of the people who were not allowed to attend school, vote or leave the house unattended.
  • by SpiritGod21 (884402) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @04:19PM (#17670774) Homepage
    Because those countries aren't, by and large, contributing to the environmental problem? They have nothing to contribute one way or the other (no offense to Tonga Tonga). And what does it matter what other countries do? There's a problem, we're a leading contributor to that problem, we're a leading nation in the world, and instead we decide that our economy is more important. Ironically, countries that have agreed to better environmental practices, particularly concerning the auto industry, are stomping American corporations on efficiency, productivity, and value.

    And yeah, Bush broke a treaty Clinton had established with NK when he came into office. We were giving them food/medicine and light water nuclear reactors for energy so long as NK stopped its nuclear program (which they did). Bush decided not to and set up a blockade instead, prompting them to begin their nuclear program once again.
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:00PM (#17671620) Homepage
    it's a careful balancing act -- keep people afraid so that they're willing to go along, but not so afraid that they decide you aren't keeping them safe enough. Most of these "security" measures fall into the latter category in my opinion. An example of the first is no more apparent than in the HSA threat level. Over Christmas all throughout the airports the voice on the intercom kept saying "Be advised that Homeland Security has raised the threat level to orange." What can I possibly do with that information, other than be more afraid of terrorists than I would have been otherwise? Oh, but I have to put my shoes through the scanner, thank goodness they're keeping me safe...
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:49PM (#17672574) Homepage Journal
    >Foreign relations has really taken a turn or the worse in the last 6 years or so.

    What had bin Laden's gang cheesed off was the US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, something which went back to 1990. And which might not even have been arrogant, except for the complete failure to realize how humiliating it was to the Saudi people to be reminded that they were incapable of defending themselves.

    Since there are people in the Middle East who are still stoked on outrage over the outcome of World War I, it would take a very long stint of being less arrogant before the violence slowed down.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @06:02PM (#17672790) Homepage Journal
    >most of the security efforts I've seen in place do comparatively little to make anyone safer

    If the government had public safety as a goal, then it wouldn't have dropped security standards for chemical plants. If there's a manmade Bhopal in New Jersey, it's because the government chose not to prevent it.

    If the government had public safety as a goal, there would have been screening for port personnel sometime in the five years after 9/11, and ABC news wouldn't have been able to put a steel cylinder with a uranium slug in it into a cargo container shipped from an area of al-Qaeda activity. Twice.

    If the government had public safety as a goal, the intolerably dangerous liquids confiscated from passengers wouldn't have been poured into barrels in the middle of crowds.

    Remember, the next time another chunk of Constitution is violated and the government says it's to protect public safety, that public safety is not the government's goal.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @09:18PM (#17675380) Homepage
    Is it because trains are actually less at risk, or because everyone's running around panicking about planes?

    Both.

    Physical security is sort of like DRM -- expensive, inconvenient, and largely ineffective against a determined attacker. You can clamor for train station security if you like, but I'd prefer the government stop wasting exorbitant amounts of cash soothing our irrational fear of terrorist attacks.

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.

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