Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Star Wars/"missile defense" boondoggle is still doggling its boon

The new FX Cold War-nostalgia drama The Americans, in which two deep-cover KGB agents in 1981 are the protagonists, the development of St. Reagan's Star War/missile defense system has just kicked off an escalation in KGB activity, setting the stage for weekly adventures and harrowing escapes.

The Cold War is long gone, but the Long War goes on, with the Soviet Threat replacement by a phantom known as Al Qaida, which has effectively been serving the same purpose in many ways. And the Star Wars zombie shables on, still enriching military contractors without actually being able to serve its purpose 32 years after the fictional KGB agents on The Americans had to start freaking out over it.

Keri Russell as a foxy and deadly KGB sleeper agent in  the FX Cold War nostalgia series The Americans

Kingston Reif writes in Does missile defense work? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 02/08/2013:

Even if US defenses were far more effective than they currently are, their benefits against nuclear-armed missiles are often over-exaggerated. If US nuclear and conventional capabilities are insufficient to deter an adversary from using nuclear weapons, it is not clear how imperfect missile defenses would alter that adversary's calculus. Imperfect defenses could limit some of the damage that would result from a nuclear exchange, but the possibility that even one nuclear weapon could strike the United States is an outcome that no President would consider acceptable. Thus, more missile defenses are unlikely to meaningfully strengthen deterrence because nuclear-armed adversaries know that their chances of inflicting unacceptable damage on the United States would remain high -- especially since they could also employ means other than ballistic missiles to deliver nuclear weapons.
If the thing is still effectively useless after three decades plus, isn't it about time for another major rethink of this world-historic boondoggle?

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