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Boeing Successfully Tests Anti-Missile Laser 868

dankinit writes "MSNBC is reporting that a 'Boeing Co.-led team has successfully fired for the first time a powerful laser meant to fly aboard a modified 747 as part of a U.S. ballistic missile defense shield.' The test called 'First Light' has a budget of $474.3 million in the fiscal year 2005 and is part of a larger $10 billion dollar missile defense system."
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Boeing Successfully Tests Anti-Missile Laser

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  • Missile Defense (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:19PM (#10810225)
    The USSR is dead. North Korea has missiles which we *theorize* can hit the western coast of the USA, and they're not crazy enough to launch them. I think that nowdays we have a lot else we can spend money on besides a missile defense program which only half works.
  • by mr_don't ( 311416 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:20PM (#10810234)

    Oakland can use, oh, say $20million of that. That's all. Geez.

    Oh yeah, and can it stop dirty bombs in suitcases, or monitor Oakland's ports for suitcase nukes? Nope.

    Ballistics, while scary, are not our biggest problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:21PM (#10810238)
    Yes, until 9/11 there had never been a terrorist flying a plane into a new york skyscraper, so it could never have happened.

    Oh wait... it happened twice
  • by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:22PM (#10810246) Homepage
    Relax, nothing to see here. This is just a test to show they can move things forward another inch toward their 1000-mile goal. By moving that inch, they get to apply for more money, which is the real point of this.

    ""It showed they work," Kenneth Englade, an agency spokesman, said of the laser's six identical, pickup-truck-sized, modules linked to fire as a single unit. "The rest is fine-tuning."

    For "fine-tuning" read: "everything the system is supposed to ultimately do." It's like writing the first 10 lines of code in a large project and saying "the rest is fine-tuning."

    "Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester under former President Clinton and a critic of early missile defense deployment plans, described the test on Wednesday as very important to people working on the program.

    "They deserve a lot of credit for having gotten this far," he said in a telephone interview. "But they've still got a long way to go" to demonstrate shoot-down capability."

    That's all this is, something important to the people working on the program. They want more funding. But as far as actually shooting anything down, well that's an entirely different matter:

    "Among other technical challenges, Coyle said, engineers must figure out ways to fire the laser for the longer time needed to zap a missile without damaging the optics through which the beam passes -- a kind of technical Catch-22."

    Details, details. But give us money and we'll happily explore the Catch-22 for a lot longer!

  • by toofast ( 20646 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:24PM (#10810256)
    When was the last time I got into an accident? When will my house burn down? When will I die before age 70?

    Insurance. It's all about insurance...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:26PM (#10810273)
    ...can it shoot down a suitcase? Because that's where the bombs are gonna be...
  • by arbi ( 704462 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:29PM (#10810284)
    This project is probably meant for defense against China but they only pointed out North Korea for diplomatic reasons. :P
  • by suso ( 153703 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:35PM (#10810325) Homepage Journal
    Just think what would happen if that $10 billion went towards a couple of public school systems.
  • by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:36PM (#10810330)
    but when was there ever a missile attack on any north american target?

    Er, given that the device is mounted in an airplane there is no requirement that it shoot down missiles over America.

    It would have been quite handy, for instance, when Iraq was launching Scuds in the first Gulf War. Those were nervous times.

    It might still be handy in the airspace over Iran...

    This money seems like a complete waste, that could have been spent on a much more useful project - like, say, an asteriod defence system.

    Directed energy weapons are going to be a big part of future military technology. This program is as much R&D as anything else. We are already spending a lot of money on phase 1 of an "asteroid defence[sic] system". They're called "telescopes".

  • by damiangerous ( 218679 ) <1ndt7174ekq80001@sneakemail.com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:36PM (#10810331)
    When was the last time an asteroid of dangerous size hit North America?
  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett@noSpam.gmail.com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:38PM (#10810339)
    think you're any safer, having pissed off the UN

    If you think the UN is going to provide you safety you are very close to totally wrong.

    and the majority of the planet?

    The majority of the planet is weaker than the US, dependent on the US, or desperately in need of the US for protection or stability.

    Not to mention an entire major religion?

    Yeah, well, that entire religion has hated us for the better part of 150 years. And in earnet since the end of World War II.

    If someone really wants to blow up a building, they're going to blow up a building.

    No, that's false. There are a lot more people in the world who'd like to blow up a building than there actually buildings that have been blown up. The actual sentence should read "a sufficently motivated and capable person who wishes to damage a sufficently unprotected entity will try until stopped or success is achieved".

    Its a completely false sense of security.

    The US is significantly safer in many, many ways. However, it is clearly not secure.
  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asciiwhite ( 679872 ) * <asciiwhite AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:39PM (#10810344)
    I think that nowdays we have a lot else we can spend money on besides a missile defense program which only half works.

    Not when your plan is global domination [newamericancentury.org]
  • by Darth_Burrito ( 227272 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:51PM (#10810410)
    When was the last time I got into an accident? When will my house burn down? When will I die before age 70? Insurance. It's all about insurance...

    Hmm Insurance... Maybe defense spending should be allocated in a probablistic risk mitigation sort of way.

    What is the probability of different kinds of nuclear attacks (obviously unknown)? What are estimated casualties? What is the cost and success rates of potential preventative measures?

    Compare that to similar estimations for things like the cost to benefit return on mandating airbags, improving smoke alarms, or sponsoring aids research. Even if you don't know the value of something like the probability of a nuclear attack, you can try to calculate what it might need to be in order for specific nuclear defense research to be more valuable then an alternative protective investment.

  • Re:Any problems? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stubear ( 130454 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:55PM (#10810432)
    Not really, you need to do both. While the US may not fear missiles being launched at us, we do have allies, chiefly Israel, that do and having a defense platform like this flying around would limit Iran or Syria's ability to launch a few missiles their way. It could also be used to keep India and Pakistan from blowing each other up with their nuclear arsenals. This could potentially eliminate the threat of nuclear missiles altogether, leaving us to focus on other threats such as terrorists obtaining the useless nuclear material from newly useless missiles and making dirty bombs to set off at locations of their choosing.
  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imemyself ( 757318 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:57PM (#10810445)
    and they're not crazy enough to launch them
    Kim does not strike me as a particularly mentally stable. If, say, an invasion of South Korea failed, I could easily see him launching missiles on the rest of the world. After WW1 and WW2, we stopped a lot of programs and left our selves to some extent, vulnerable. Just because there may not be a clearly defined threat today doesn't mean there couldn't be one tomorrow. Who's to say there couldn't be a coup in Russia, or that Putin couldn't start to go back to the old Soviet days. Who's to say that China will never invade Taiwan. Who's to say that India or Pakistan won't try to start a nuclear war. Missile defense systems shouldn't defend just the US, they should defend our allies around the world who could be targets, and to say there's no use for them and that the world will live happily ever after is extremely short sighted and naive.
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:00PM (#10810464)
    I give up. What would happen?

    The local school systems around here get more and more money all the time. Test scores are about the same or down a little.
  • by 1lus10n ( 586635 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:01PM (#10810475) Journal
    "the religion (chrisianity) has become more civilized and toned down as well."

    No, your just trained by the US media to not think of it has "christian" violence.

    People in general are uncomfortable with outsiders, religion preys on this weakness and exploits it. Thats how most religion (Including chistianity) operates. Fear Fear Fear. (they just skip the U&D.)

    Terrorists are an extreme branch of a religion and are no different than the assholes who shoot abortion doctors. Do not assume that most (or even a significant) portion of muslim's hate us because we are free or christian. They hate us because we have been trying to control them and bombing them, and other fucked up shit for the better part of a century. It is really that simple. If we would have left the middle east alone and not tried to force them to recognize israel and wouldnt have supported israel then we wouldnt have been in this mess to begin with. Add to that the fact that we have supported dictators like the taliban and hussien and you can see why they have legit problems with us. Of course it is easier for people to unburdon themselves and just place the blame on bullshit like "they hate us for our freedom".

    Yes, it really is *THAT* simple. Leave them alone. (How to achieve it is quite a bit more complicated, especially with an oil pimp in office)
  • by ignatus ( 669972 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:02PM (#10810480)
    The test called 'First Light' has a budget of $474.3 million in the fiscal year 2005 and is part of a larger $10 billion dollar missile defense system."

    Jeezes, if you would invest that kind of money in international / intercontinental relations and human aid, the world would be a much better place!

    This starwars project sure cost a lot of money to combat a non-existing threat.

  • Re:Money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:02PM (#10810483)
    I think you're almost right... the truth is, building and operating one of these planes has got to be orders of magnitude more expensive than just building a few extra nukes and launchers (and decoys to fool the laser, they're just cheap mylar baloons.) How many times will this be able to fire, once per minute? Whatever enemy we might have will just launch a few extras, just in case this works in real combat (by some miracle). The bottom line is that if we're in a nuclear war, the development of this project will more likely lead to more radioactive craters in the USA, not fewer. I sure don't feel safer.

    But I know who does feel better with this system in place - Boeiiiiinngggg!

    So the arms race this will start is one where every country wants to have enough nukes to overwhelm the US defences, which for a few decades should be pretty easy.

    Rummsfeld himslelf said that missile defense does not need to physically work in order to be effective. The enemy just has to believe that it might work, and that belief will itself deter them from launching something. The press righly called that the "Scarecrow Defense", but that's back when we had a free press, as in early-to-mid 2001. Now they just say "yes, sir, Mr. Rummsfeld sir!" and do this weird salute with their right arm extended forward.

    I tell you, I never thought of myself as a reactionary, but I want the old USA back.

  • by xant ( 99438 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:03PM (#10810485) Homepage
    Let us be clear: you hope Islam will one day kill off millions because they will not convert? And then become educated, civilized and toned down?

    I kind of hope that, now that the world has seen the effects of holy wars that the education and toning down can happen without the slaughter of millions.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:08PM (#10810514)
    Honestly, can you think of an easier target?
  • by dont_think_twice ( 731805 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:10PM (#10810519) Homepage
    Yes, until 9/11 there had never been a terrorist flying a plane into a new york skyscraper, so it could never have happened.

    Before 9/11, we have never been attacked by ICBM or hijacked plane. Post 9/11, we have been attacked by hijacked plane. So the response is to invest in an Anti-ICBM system?

    I understand your point - just because something hasn't happened, doesn't mean that it never will. But your analysis is WAY too simple. Should we invest billions in a system to prevent invasion by mutant frogs equipped with lasers, developed by radical french anti-globalization forces? Obviously not.

    We need to look at every issue, and decide what the best way to protect ourselves is. ICBMs can only be developed by countries with decent technological infrastructure, and they would never be used against us because we have the military power to destroy the government of any country that attacked us.

    Of course, the scientist/engineer in me loves research like this, and I am glad the we are developing defensive weapons, instead of offenive weapons.
  • Troll much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whyte ( 65556 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:11PM (#10810525)
    Keep it up. Im sure your country will fall into civil war soon enough.

    Why is it that we can't have mature discussion of military technology? Some ass always has to post wishing a previous poster and/or his country a quick death, herpies, or civil war.

    Please grow up....for the children.
  • by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) * <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:13PM (#10810529) Homepage Journal

    Actually, he/she/it is right. There's no real evidence except Bin Laden's claim of responsibility if you really sit down and think about it.

    Not that this lets old binny boy off the hook, but what if he's not really the perp and the real bad guys got away? How would you ever know since our loving government didn't see fit to share all the evidence with us that they claim to have?

  • Waste of money (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:15PM (#10810538)
    Whats the point of this? In order to be successful, it has to be able to shoot down EVERY missile.

    How does the system decide on targets? Radar.
    All you need to do to defeat this is drop out shards of metal which show up as targets. If each missle turns into 10,000 potential targets the system will NEVER be able to cope.

    I don't know what game the pentagon is playing, they know as well as anyone who thinks critically for 5 mins that this will never work.
  • Alas (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CBob ( 722532 ) <crzybob_in_nj.yahoo@com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:15PM (#10810540)
    Unless it can burn one down from boost phase, all it'll do is make funny fallout patterns from any thing w/a NBC warhead somewhere in friendly(ish)territory.

    And if someone's going to be tossing those, I think they'll be able to target the flying radar reflector aka a 747.

    Proof of concept is all this thing's really good for unless you're the contractor in need of $$$.

  • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:16PM (#10810544)
    Do you think they'd send out one of these without a whole bunch of fighter escorts?
  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by konekoniku ( 793686 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:16PM (#10810545)
    The USSR wasn't crazy enough to launch ballistic missiles at us either.
    But that's not exactly the point here, for this one main reason:
    The fact that North Korea may be able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile gives it enormous leverage in affairs vis-a-vis the United States, for it gaurantees that the United States will no longer dare to invade it. (This deterrance ability still holds even if, as you point out, we aren't sure if they actually have such a capability). Thus, behind the missile shield Pyongyang could be emboldened to pursue such activities as selling nuclear weapons to nonstate actors that could gravely harm US interests.
    Here's one example why US policymakers of both Cold War and post-Cold War, Democratic and Republican, administrations have explored anti-missile defense technologies. Political scientists before have theorized that no state will dare sell nukes to terrorists because although the terrorists might not have a "return address," the supplying state itself might potentially be linked to a nuclear terrorist attack. And as a deterrent policy, the US has declared that it will consider retaliating with nuclear weapons against a nuclear attack.
    However, if Pyongyang does have the capability to hit the United States with nukes, /or even if the United States merely believes that Pyongyang may have such a capability/, then this essentially becomes a problem similar to that of extended deterrence.
    Because the US would fear further nuclear attack if it were to retaliate against North Korea, its deterrence threat would be dulled, and Pyongyang may thus feel that selling nuclear weapons to terrorists as a way of raising hard currency (which it is perilously low upon, given that it has a virtually closed economy, and which is needed to purchase military weapons and even civilian supplies like oil) is a safe option to explore. Hence, even if Pyongyang isn't crazy enough to launch nuclear weapons at the United States, US national security would still be placed at risk.
    Of course, one could argue that the threat of nuclear terrorism is so remote that it doesn't justify the costs of a missile defense program. However, from the President's (and Congress', who approves funding for such programs) points of view, a nuclear terrorist incident is their worst nightmare and highest priority. (And though it may sound tired, it should also be noted that before 9/11 a terrorist attack on that scale was also viewed as almost zero probability).
    Lastly, on a different tack altogether, North Korea's nuclear capability definitely threatens South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, etc., all of whom the US has sought to dissuade from pursuing nuclear programs. However, in the face of North Korea's threat the fear has grown that one of those nations may decide to pursue a nuclear crash course (which is well within all three's capabilities), thus sparking a regional nuclear arms race. One could also argue that because the US has urged Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei to refrain from nuclear development that could have safeguarded them against the North Korean nuclear threat, it now has the responsibility to do all it can to protect them from that threat.
  • Yeah, let's have the Federal government take over all local schools. That way they can also achieve the high standards of the Washington D.C. school district.
  • That's what they kept saying about the schools in California. More money! More money!. So we tossed huge amounts of money into our schools. Scores went down. The problem isn't funding. The problem is a powerful teacher's union that refuses to allow any type of teacher standards to be implemented.
  • by trulymadlydeeply ( 697234 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:21PM (#10810573)

    Again, great point, except that you give no justification whatsoever for your free-market-in-the-public-school-sector attitude. If your point is that we should get rid of public schools altogether you'd have a leg to stand on...but to merely say the federal government shouldn't support local schools requires some sort of handwavy proof.

    If your argument is that it isn't the federal government's domain to support education, then we'd also expect the federal government to get out of university level funding. We'd also expect the federal government to stop regulating anything other than interstate and international transactions. If its just a matter of stopping bailouts maybe you'd mention the federal deficit, or the PG&E bailout, or what about Long Term Capital? But you mention none of these...you just don't want to help out urban kids.

    No, what you are saying is that it's not worth 20M to prevent the over 200,000 kids that will go through OPS in the next 20 years from getting a crappy education. Holding kids responsible for financial mismanagement by a group of adults that took place in many cases before they were moved to Oakland, entered the USA, or were BORN is a ludicrous stand to take. A rational thinker would estimate the cost of trying in a court of law, incarcerating, paying welfare for even a few of these kids will quickly surpass 20M....but a self-made know-it-all who has taken Econ 1A will just chant the familiar free-market laissez faire refrains.

  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:22PM (#10810576) Journal
    It allows the US to be more agressive in attacking countries which are just developing nuclear weapons - not a good thing since it entails a war.

    Well, if someone wants to avoid war with the US, the first they should do is not develop nuclear weapons. I know, seems like a no brainer, but most of the people working on nukes these days (Iran, North Korea) don't actually have any brains to speak of.

    On the other hand this system is completely unable to protect against low-tech delivery methods (shipping a nuke in a cargo container to New York City) so the system is more or less a waste of money.

    By your logic, inspecting cargo vessels for nuclear weapons, being completely useless against even lower tech delivery like, say, hijacking a plane, is more or less a waste of money. It's called "defense in depth", look it up sometime.
  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:24PM (#10810590) Journal
    "OK Guys, the top brass are comming down next week, they are going to cancel our funding unless we show them something pretty dope! Ok, call Boeing, ask them if we can get a 747 nose, that way we can atleast make it look like it will fly, next we need to hide those big fat power cables. We can make up for the fact that our laser does jack shit by making it purple, fire for only 1/1000 of a second and turn some of this photo-sensitive cardbord black. Lets see if we can get another 4 years of money for this bullshit"
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:24PM (#10810597)
    Many portions of Isam feel that any other religion is inferior and almost sinful, and thus many hate Jews, Christians, etc.

    Uh, huh. That would be why the Quran refers to Jews, Christians and Muslims as all "children of the book."

    For instance, in the terrorst handbook thing the British found on a raid, there were discussions on why it is ok to torture. The basic idea was that Muslums are allowed to torture others because they are Gods children, while others are not allowed to.

    Let me clue you into something - the muslim extremists are about as Islamic as the KKK are Christian. Taking what they say as representative of the religion is a great way to delude yourself, and justify all kinds of terrible things.

    But, let's take the response one step further, you say that modern "Christian" societies have progressed beyond such barbaric reasoning? That would explain this memo from the current administration [washingtonpost.com] rationalizing torture in the "war on terror."

    So, just who now are we suppossed to be rooting for?
  • by quetzalc0atl ( 722663 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:34PM (#10810640)
    >Canada is doing quite fine, thanks. Im sure there >are quite a few nations out there that feel very >much as though the US has hurt them far more than >helped.

    boy, it must be nice in canada not having to pay for medicine or a military, since it is all subsidized by the U.S. consumer and taxpayer.

    the same is true for western europe: the only reason that their socialized health system works at all is because the major % of the cost, medicine, is price fixed by their government. which means that the U.S. consumer winds up with the jacked-up prices to cover the loses that the pharmaceutical companies would take otherwise. and so ppl here want to import drugs from canada, drugs that were made here in the USA! if the pharmaceutical companies were to tell the canadian and european governments to face an ultimatum of paying market price their system would collapse. and i wouldn't even think about china providing any innovative drugs; all that comes out of china is sars and the flu.

    a drug usually takes at least 10 years to develop, and another 10 getting approved. The cost of this can reach into the billions...and yet if the market were only canada, they would not even break even.

    so before denouncing the public good of policies here in the U.S., check to make sure that americans aren't getting an ass-pounding to the benefit of canadians. if you feel that canada would be better off without the U.S. you are incredibly misinformed or naive.

    and dont try to tell all about canada's military...can you imagine the size of the military that would be needed to defend an area as large as canada? why bother when the USA is next door? we obviously have no plans to invade canada anytime soon, despite our depiction as being the Huns.
  • by Whyte ( 65556 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:45PM (#10810682)
    most of the people working on nukes these days (Iran, North Korea) don't actually have any brains to speak of.

    While I agree in part with your larger analysis, including this comment is difficult to understand. There are quite a few truly brilliant individuals in Iran and North Korea. In fact I'd imagine that levels of intelligence are distributed in similar proportions as in your own country.

    Next time leave that crap out and you'll have a much stronger argument.
  • Hi Energy BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:54PM (#10810714) Homepage Journal
    "It showed they work," Kenneth Englade, an agency spokesman, said of the laser's six identical, pickup-truck-sized, modules linked to fire as a single unit. "The rest is fine-tuning."

    Right - after you get the laser to turn on, getting it to shoot down a nuclear ICBM from a 747 (at combined speeds of over Mach 24 [fas.org]) is just "fine-tuning". That is, if you're targeting only hundreds of billions of Pentagon tax dollars, and you've already bullshitted enough of Congress and the media (including, apparently, Slashdot headline writers) to have the contracts signed.
  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:54PM (#10810716) Journal
    There are over 70 schools in the Oakland school system 20 million dollars would barely hire an extra janitor per school a year.

    $20million divided by 70 schools is over $285k per year. If that's what they're paying janitors, no wonder they've got problems!

    Now, where'd I put that mop? Time to brush up my cleanin' skills and look for houses in Oakland.
  • I hereby declare (Score:5, Insightful)

    by melted ( 227442 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:57PM (#10810727) Homepage
    Americans are paranoid nuts, and this is incurable. Spending $10B on something that fixes the problem that does not exist while at the same time making airlines seem even less secure than we thought they were - this can only happen in the US. Something tells me the "Star Wars" shit is just around the corner. $200B in military spending that can be defeated by $1M (converted to Russian roubles) in research money.
  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:00AM (#10810741)
    I'm slightly confused. This system seems to deal with 'sidewinder'-style missiles - ie: small, very fast, and can easily destroy a tank/plane/humvee.

    More than slightly. It says there are six, identical "pickup-sized" chemical laser modules. The number of shots is limited by the amount of chemicals used to fuel the reactions generating the laser light. While it might be good for taking out aircraft, smaller missiles, or ground targets, no way in hell this thing would be practical for intercepting RPGs, bullets, that kind of thing.

    The questions we really need to be asking are: Should we have gone into Iraq? Did we plan the occupation correctly? Did we make a mistake in disbanding the Iraqi military? Did we screw up by not securing caches and stockpiles of high explosives, RPGs, and portable SAMs? Does our government have a sufficient grasp of reality and the strengths and weaknesses of military and diplomatic approaches to put a stable government in place? Do our tactics, goals, and foreign policy make people less likely to take up arms against our soldiers, and civilians, or more likely?

    These are the major issues. None of these are technology issues. Unfortunately, Americans have a bad habit of thinking every problem is a technology problem, and furthermore that if technology hasn't solved it in the past, we just haven't used technology which is sophisticated and expensive enough.

  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:05AM (#10810774) Homepage
    Germany will never try to conquor Europe! They'd have to be crazy to try! Why would they piss off that many countries? Not to mention attacking the Soviet Union in the Winter?

    You act as though it's a sane world, and nobody ever acts irrationally... The US was behind the ball at the start of both world wars. We don't want to be in that position again. Remember what happened to the technically challenged French in WWII? I believe they call that "steam rolled..."
  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by transiit ( 33489 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:07AM (#10810786) Homepage Journal
    I'm a bit curious of something, as I've seen this thought repeated often. By no means do I ask you to answer for anyone who has espoused it in the past.

    Are there any "defense industry" programs that you wouldn't consider to be corporate welfare?

    I'll grant you that the 767 tanker lease program that Boeing nearly had could be argued as such, but you'll notice that it wasn't awarded to them (largely after people like McCain called foul), and it's now gone off to be a competitive bid.

    But do all of these programs instantly equate to a handout to the industry?

    If you're against the US gov't paying for this stuff in general, why not just say so, citing things like the X-year lead the US allegedly has over the rest of the world in military tech, or whatever reason suits your viewpoint.

    Personally, I'm for programs that counter existing tech, at least up to the point that the governments of the world decide it's time to move on to the next thing (space-based weapons?) because too much of the existing tech was countered.


  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:10AM (#10810802) Journal
    Maybe, just maybe an extra billion dollars in millitarization could have saved 3000 lives on 9/11/01. A billion dollars put towards health care, housing, etc. would save thousands more.
  • Re:Troll much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aussie ( 10167 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:23AM (#10810874) Journal
    Why is it that we can't have mature discussion of military technology?

    Because the need for military is a result of immaturity ?
  • A waste of money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by internic ( 453511 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:23AM (#10810877)

    Having read TFA, they suggest that this laser is to be used as part of a boost phase missle defense system. Not too long ago, the APS did a review [inesap.org] of such a system, including hypothetical airplane based laser systems. The conclusions suggested the system would most likely be only partially effective (depending on the country launching, the target in question, and the type of rocket). Even when effective, such a system, "could cause live nuclear, chemical, or biological munitions to fall on populated areas short of the target, in the United States or other countries.".On the topic of airborne lasers, the executive summary says, "The Airborne Laser now under development could have some capability against liquid-propellant missiles, but it would be ineffective against solid-propellant ICBMs, which are more heat-resistant." The analysis took into account technical factors but did not even consider factors like cost.

    It seems these programs are pretty foolish. Not bad for employing us physicists and engineers, but probably a waste of money. The "success" mentioned in the article seems to be that the laser fired. Apparently all that's left now is to make it fire long enough to disable a missle, design a targeting system, mount it and a suitable power source on an actual aircraft, and get it all to work together in an actual situation on an aircraft. In other words, it's no where close to working, and even when it does work odds are it probably won't be that useful (according to the APS).

    Working on this sort of system might make sense if we had unlimited resources, but given that resources are quite limited this doesn't seem like a good way to spend them. As far as terrorism, missles just don't seem to be a vary likely attack methodology relative to other things, so it would make sense to spend most of this money on defenses that are likely to work against real imminant threats. That would include things like much more rigorous screening at ports and other homeland security items. Let's not forget that the guys who got the whole terrorism scare started used nothing but plane tickets and box cutters. It makes sense to defend against the other easy attack methods first. In terms of defense against other nations, the MAD doctrine seems to have been pretty effective and should continue to be as long as we have an imposing military. The money should be spent on maintaining a feasibile military threat to our likely agressors (even in the face of our obligations in Iraq) and on things that will definitely reduce threats like disarmerment and nuclear non-proliferation.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:30AM (#10810909) Homepage
    Well, if someone wants to avoid war with the US, the first they should do is not develop nuclear weapons. I know, seems like a no brainer, but most of the people working on nukes these days (Iran, North Korea) don't actually have any brains to speak of.

    More brains than you think. The best way to avoid war with the U.S. (or just about anyone else) is to have nukes. Being in the process of developing nukes (or bluffing like Saddam) may be risky, but if you pull it off, like Pakistan, there's a payoff called MAD.

    By your logic, inspecting cargo vessels for nuclear weapons, being completely useless against even lower tech delivery like, say, hijacking a plane, is more or less a waste of money. It's called "defense in depth", look it up sometime.

    That's not the logic. The logic is that stealing a small nuke into the U.S. is a much more likely vector than ICBM because only a few high-tech countries can make ICBMs and we already have a response for that which is called MAD. So whether it's a poorer country, terrorist group or a nuclear nation trying to disguise itself, laser defence or any other type of ABM weapon is essentially useless.
  • Re:Money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:44AM (#10810982) Homepage Journal
    Lets put it this way -- I believe the facts back me up on the US having done more state-sponsored terrorism in more foreign countries than there are terrorist groups targetting the US now.

    Read up on the CIAs work in various central and south-american countries, africa as well.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:50AM (#10811006) Homepage Journal
    Err, seem? You load a 747 with enough firepower to take out a missile, with software that's massively under-tested, in airspace so crowded that near-misses are common-place...

    When airliners start blasting each other out of the sky, I think we can say it's more than just seemingly unsafe!

    Oh, you were referring to the threats posed by other people! The only countries in which passengers pose any kind of threat to the aircraft are America and Greece. In the last two or three decades, I honestly can't think of any countries that even come close to the number of incidents traced to one of those two countries.

    Besides, more people have died from "Economy Class Syndrome" (a form of Deep Vein Thrombosis) than have died from airline hijacking. The airline companies have responded by reducing leg-space and restricting passenger movement.

  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:55AM (#10811026)
    you're right its an insane world out there. One country was insane enough to invade a country that had nothing to do with terrorism, made outlandish claims about weapons that never turned up, ignored the advice of military professionals and went in with fewer troops than necessary, and is currently playing a cat-and-mouse game with insurgents but is too stupid to realize their forces are the mouse, not the cat.

    I think the rest of the world needs a missile defense shield (and stupidity ray blocker) to protect themselves from US

  • Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:20AM (#10811140)
    Because the need for military is a result of immaturity?

    Perhaps the thought that you can do without one is a clearer sign of said condition.
  • by Idou ( 572394 ) * on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:26AM (#10811170) Journal
    were called "terrorists" because they went after civilian targets. Is it just me, or is the "American" English language expanding the word to apply to all enemies of the state?

    Kind of scary that I almost read through the parent post without giving it a second thought . . .

  • by trulymadlydeeply ( 697234 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:38AM (#10811220)
    The $10B spent on public education would also generate spending and taxes. The question is which is more valuable -- educated kids or a big laser in the sky?
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:50AM (#10811259)
    That's very silly reasoning. Because no single solution can fix every problem, lets not try to solve problems at all.

    Solving one problem at a time is no good. Neither is having a bunch of different solutions for the different problems: I criticize each solution for the problems it doesn't solve, ignoring the ones it does.

  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:58AM (#10811502) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm.. what happens when this technology is co-opted for use in powering spacecraft? or better yet used to power the space elevator? Interestingly enough we Americans manage somehow to re-use military technology for non-military purposes ALL THE TIME.

    Think of it this way... the US government is contracting a company or companies to figure out how to transfer large amounts of energy vast distances with pin-point accuracy.

    The fact that the primary excuse for developing said tech is to shoot down missiles shouldn't hinder you from seeing the potential applications in other areas.

  • by CaperNZ ( 811554 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @03:23AM (#10811588)
    "Fuck those bastards. We should nuke them" This is the dumb gungho shit I get pissed off about.

    Lets compare with some facts with the recent history of the United States.

    "Check out how they blew up Korean Airlines 858"

    Google for: USS Vincennes. On the 4th 1988 over 290 passengers of an Iranian passenger flight were killed by the US Navy.

    "Or how they kidnapped Japanese civlians." Compare with the indefinate holding without trial of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

    "Or how they starve their own population" Compare with the 1999 Unicef report stating an estimated 1/2 million Iraqi children were killed by sanctions implemented after the first gulf war. (I love how the rights new moral justification for the war in Iraq is on humanatarian grounds. I must have missed the moral outrage when this report came out in 99)

    "Or even how they test biochemical weapons on whole families - children and all: "The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth to mouth breathing." Lets compare with the United States's pardoning and relocation of War criminals from Japan (who tested Chemical weapons on Ethnic Chinese and prisoners of war) after the second world war to futher develop their own Chemical weapons program.

    "Of all the evil regimes to be apologetic for, North Korea is about as bad as it gets. Anyone who defends them is objectively defending evil."

    This is pretty much the comment that made me reply. There is alot of evil in the world, alot of it directly created by the United States, (Look at Nicaragua as a very good example of this, and the subsequent world court ruling against the U.S.) and alot of it created by places like North Korea.

    Do I think what the North Koreans do is moraly wrong and evil? Yes. Do I think it is more inherintly evil than the U.S.? Yes. Which one is more dangerous to world peace? Without a doubt it is currently the United States. The United States is the worlds only remaining superpower, and has shown a willingness to try and shape the world in its own image.

    When the United States follows its own ideals, it can become the policeman of the world. Until then, I believe getting a mandate first from the rest of the world http://www.un.org/ [un.org] may be a wise course of action. It is not a matter of letting the U.N. "protect" the United States.(By all means go and build a aircraft laser platform)

    It is the allowance, that before you go and invade another country, the majority of the world sees some justification for it first.

  • by Hawkxor ( 693408 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @04:37AM (#10811827)
    I really don't think any of this, on the side of Islam or Christianity, has too much to depend on religion. Religion was just a way to justify the wars in pretty much all counts. Take the 30 years war - Religion may have been the spark, but it was still all about land and power.
  • by DoctaWatson ( 38667 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @05:27AM (#10811940)
    It's no sillier reasoning than spending 10 billion dollars to "solve" a "problem" that has been successfully avoided for the last 60 years via Mutually Assured Destruction instead of funding real solutions for the real threat of domestic nuclear terrorism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @05:38AM (#10811961)
    Most of that stuff is already proven. The power source is what they just tested. If you can stabilize a camera well enough to center a projectile while taking its picture you can also illuminate it with a laser. Fact: Unlike mammals, light is FAST. A few hours logged in engineering classes will provide you with a proper appreciation for the possible. Sure there are problems, but this test was proof that the big questions are no longer outstanding.

    More generally. Your whole life is surrounded by gambles on once esoteric military concepts of what might be. Computers, rocketry with attendant satellites, weather forcasting, maps, and navigation (the word of Robert Goddard not withstanding). Even the humble aluminum can owes its existance to our desire to nuke the commie bastards if they ever nuke us.

    Again, this isn't about airport security. It's about technological solution to a problem that will have to be confronted in the next few decades and second chances. Look at Iran and their race to nuclear weapons. If they can make an atomic weapon, and make it deliverable, they think they can have complete confidence they'll escape a military confrontation with the us. Well. The ABL will go a long way towards changing that. Can't put it on a ballistic missle launch it at a battle group. It'll just get shot down if/when the system is perfected, and it's far more reliable than hitting a bullet with a bullet. So they'll need to use a plane. But the US will be able to absolutely guarantee complete air dominace almost anywhere for the forseeable future. So Iran, will have no choice but to behave.

    Then there is the possiblity of another Sinia solution. Much as the SR-71 allowed Egypt and Israel to beforced into lasting peace, the ABL might hold the pormise of that same hope for India and Pakistan. For them, the ABL has the potential to undo what might otherwise come to be one of the worst mistakes of the modern world. Possibly ending or even preventing a war which would no doubt kill tens of millions.

    The MAD doctrine works based on anothers sense of self-preservation, and the vested intrests of people in power to protect what they have. As the game accumulates players, the premiss upon which it is built shows it's cracks. People aren't perfectly, nor necessarily frequently, rational. It will fail. The ABL is one of the answers, as flawed as they might be, to the question of what comes next. I think it's a good idea to come up with few solutions before we're forced to deliver to those who would be our enemies a "Rain of Ruin" as it were.
  • by pinkocommie ( 696223 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @07:05AM (#10812166)
    Fallacy #1: Bin Laden = Muslim World
    Fallacy #2: The average Muslim 'agrees' with his world view
    Fallacy #3: We're helping the countries become democratic.. Ayyad Allawai (current Iraqi president) = ex-CIA ... Hamid Karzi = allaged to be ex-unocal employee
    Fallacy #4: Israel = all jews (zionism vs judaism)
    Fallacy #5: If the 'state' Israel somehow magically ceased to exist, all jews therein would be axe murdered

    Nobody hates america, a lot of people admire(d) it... Nobody wants foreign troops in their country (including america :)) long term, all about nationalism n sovereignty, american troops in Saudia = pissed a lot of people off.
    America attacked Afghanistan, direct reaction , extremists won a series of elections in Pakistan for the first time since its creation...
    The more badly america pisses people off, the more they'll try to hurt america, the only avenue for hurting america at the moment appears to be Bin Laden hence the support he has, stop the hypocrisy and 'slowly' but surely people will stop hating america...
    The reason people are anti american is the hypcrisy evident to most people that follow media that is not american :) (any other country would do)
    Israel nukes good
    Everybody else nukes bad
    Israel flouting UN conventions goood
    everyone else bad
    Monarchies /Dictators supporting the US good
    Monarchies /Dictators opposing the US bad so on and so forth
    Factor in all the communism induced paranoia and how the US made sure to quell any tendency of muslim countries to align with the USSR (assassinations / coup's etc) , see a lot of reason people to distrust america

  • by 1lus10n ( 586635 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @07:13AM (#10812181) Journal
    Intresting since his video said the exact opposite. Could it be that he is an asshole who lies through his teeth ? Perhaps even that he alone cannot accomplish shit and that he doesnt represent the majority of the islamic community ?

    Osama is an asshole, I would beat the fucker with his dialisys machine and shove it up his ass and out the other end like a spit if I ever saw him. But if you think terrorism begins or ends with him you are smoking some serious shit. WE (you read that right) created this problem through our actions. Ever see a nutjob preaching on the corner in a city ? Everybody ignores him because his speech doesnt have any emotion or subject that effects the passer-bys, Osama has that emotion and that subject, Because we gave it to him. We put the taliban in power and then left afgahnistan, which we left again to fight a needless war against another asshole we put in power, yet we expect these people to love us ? We bomb them and expect a welcoming parade ? We force them out of there homes in favor of a more "american" acceptable culture (israel) and we expect smiles ? ARE YOU ON DRUGS ??? Imagine if somebody had been doing this shit to your culture, friends and family for centuries (this goes back to the crusades). Would you trust them ? We "liberated" both of these countries before, recently, neither time did it turn out beneficial to the citizens of those countries. What makes you think this is going to end any differently ?

    "You seem to think that they have a problem with the recognition of Israel. That isn't so. Their problem is with its existence. Many Muslims and Arabs do not accept its existence. Killing all of the Jews to undo Israel isn't really an acceptable solution to make those Muslims and Arabs happy, is it?"

    Well I could go on about us trying to kill all the arabs to solve the problem ... but its a little late to put the lid on that jar (either one for that matter). We made a mistake, a mistake that we KEEP making over and over again.

    "You are also mistaken if you believe that if the US wasn't involved in the area that there would be no conflict. Wahabism and extremism is spreading. It has a presence in America. It was only a question of time before we had to face the problem of Muslim extremists. It is better that we do it on our own terms to the greatest extent that we can."

    We gave the problem roots through our actions. Terrorism will never stop, its a human rection to want to harm someone you perceived has harming you. You think this is going to end ? It's not. It's going to keep going and going and going. Hell it will even outlast america in all likelyhood.

    I'll leave you with this - Bin laden by himself is no more dangerous than any other nutjob, people like Bush give him a cause. They are the ones that recruit for Bin laden. Kill one innocent person and their family, friends and neighbors are now potential enemies/terrorists. Bush doesnt understand this war, to date I have not seen a single person from ANY political party that has a grasp on this situation. This goes farther than a countries borders, farther than any army can reach. Everyone wants to be free, having a forgein government apoint your leaders is not freedom. Being bombed is not freedom. Holding fixed elections is not freedom.

    I bet you we leave Iraq in worse shape than it was in when we got there.
  • by True Grit ( 739797 ) * <edwcogburnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @07:22AM (#10812202)
    Economically is another story entirely. All major nations economies are directly connected to America's, but others are downright dependant.

    The problem is that many of my fellow Americans will make a statement like this without realizing the flip-side of the coin: America is increasingly dependent economically on our allies. Its "co-dependency", not one-sided dependency.

    If we continue to ignore the rest of the world, despite the fact that we are increasingly needing them almost as much as they need us, one day we are going to wake up with a nasty surprise. It would be really interesting to see your reaction if Europe, the Mid-East, China and Asia, Canada and Mexico, all decided to stop trading with us for about 4 months, just to show us how "independent" we really are. :)
  • by ccmay ( 116316 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @09:22AM (#10812480)
    Public-sector unions are fine as long as they don't go on strike. Then I think they should be treated the same way Ronald Reagan dealt with the air traffic controllers.


  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @09:57AM (#10812581) Journal
    Exactly. Also if people can smuggle in kilos and kilos of cocaine despite the billion dollar war on drugs, makes you wonder how successful they can be.

    To stop such things the US would probably have to declare martial law and enforce curfews, border checks and all that...

    And that means the enemies kinda win - the economy, freedom etc would be badly affected.

    The US should have spent billions on spreading peace instead of war. Now with so much fresh blood on their hands it's going to be much harder.
  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ckaminski ( 82854 ) <slashdot-nospam@NoSpaM.darthcoder.com> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @10:26AM (#10812661) Homepage
    Aircraft changed all the rules.

    And they continue today, firing missiles 400+ miles away at targets that can't hear or see them coming.

    Fixed emplacements are doomed in a modern war. Witness Gulf War I and II.

  • Re:Missile Defense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @11:49AM (#10813004) Homepage
    It's funny. Europe still doesn't want to take the US seriously. They never really did, and I doubt they ever will...

    Which country in Europe fought (and won against) Germany, Italy, *and* Japan during world war II? A full two-front war? I think we deserve a bit more respect for our efforts - not to mention the lives lost. Instead we're poster boys for schaudenfreude to the world, and our successes are ignored or brushed off.

    Sorry, more rant than I originally intended...
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:32PM (#10813185)
    People who understand the plural of anecdote is not data, for instance.
    Do you understand what an anecdote is? It is usually used as a short account of some personal experience.

    Presenting a list of US military operations in various countries does not seem to fit the definition of "anecdote".
    Snort. Right. Hard numbers about military spending is soft data, and your vague notions about things is hard data.
    Data is not information. You are presenting the data of military spending as if it were information about global beliefs. They are not the same.

    The fact is, more countries are pursuing nuclear programs now. That is "data". Now, you can interpret that "data" in any way you want to. Personally, I believe it reflects an increased awareness of what needs to be done so the US will not attack your country. So, in that case, your data does not support your assumption, but the data I have does support mine.
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd.bandrowsky@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Monday November 15, 2004 @02:06AM (#10817764) Homepage Journal
    Saying the Maginot line was a failure in 1940 is a vast oversimplification. Most of the French mistakes were social and tactical, not technological or even industrial. France going into World War II had more tanks, more planes, and certainly a better navy than the Germans. French equipment, on paper, was at least as advanced as their German counterparts, although Germans had radios in their tanks.

    But where the Germans shined was in tactics. They concentrated their firepower at weak spots and sought to encircle armies. They attacked throught the low countries with one arm, and then, with another, smashed through with a bold drive straight to the sea, which did a few things - they captured channel ports, they cut off the British from the French, and they surrounded the French Army outside of France. So in one fell swoop they forced the British to leave France and killed the French Army. There was some final fighting by the French but they were overcome. Really, once the Panzers reached the channel ports, the war was over for the French.

    German morale was high going into the battle of France. They had conquered Poland the previous year, and badly mauled the Allies in Norway not long before. On the other hand, France was filled with defeatists and morale was abyssmal.

    Later in the war the allies would come to cope with German tactics. The Russians would learn to withdraw to avoid encirclement, or, use their salients as a base to attack German weak spots of their own. Americans greatly improved communications, the idea of dialing in fire missions - so the whole air and artillery could be placed at the behest of the ground units. And the Germans could never quite counter the allied round the clock strategic boming campaign.

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