|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
Friday, March 2nd, 2007
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org|
|The Russians are getting ready to restart the cold war because the U.S. wants to install missile defense systems in Poland, the Czech Republic, perhaps Georgia as well. Top Russian generals are threatening to aim missiles at their neighbors if the plan goes through. Vladimir Putin just gave a bellicose speech, in which he flipped the Reagan doctrine on its head and accused us of being the evil empire.
The Arabs are stocking up on new military hardware. They aim to counter the threat of a nuclear Iran. The Saudis, Omanis, and Kuwaitis were all shopping heavily at the big weapons expo in Abu Dhabi last week. As much as ten percent of their respective GDPs will be devoted to weaponry. Among the popular items: fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and especially Patriot Missile Defense systems.
The Japanese, faced with the threat of a nuclear North Korea, are rebuilding their military. They’re planning to alter their constitution, still characterized by U.S. imposed post-WWII pacifism, to show a more belligerent face to the world. They’re also rewriting history to whitewash a record of aggression and atrocities. This generation of Japanese is learning that little Japan acted in self-defense against those big bullies, the Americans, Chinese, and Russians, in WWII. Textbooks avoid topics like military brothels stocked with Korean sex slaves, ghastly pseudo-medical experiments on prisoners of war, and the rape of Nanking. The Japanese are lobbying the U.S. for a missile defense system.
In Italy, the Prodi government had to resign over opposition to the proposed expansion of the giant U.S. airbase at Vicenza, including a missile defense system. In Britain, Tony Blair is in hot water for advocating the emplacement of U.S. missile defense. The Indians are working on their own homemade system. The AP reported that Switzerland accidentally invaded Liechtenstein yesterday. Both countries are trying to play down the incident; can it be long before they too will demand missile defense?
When actual scientists demonstrated that Ronald Reagan’s scheme of deploying death rays to vaporize hostile missiles had about as much chance of becoming reality as did its namesake fairy tale, Star Wars, the Pentagon changed tactics. Death rays gave way to anti-missile missiles. Since we already knew how to build missiles, indeed had a huge supply of them in hand, missile defense was born. Now we’ve got anti-missile missile systems from Alaska to Florida, and we’re spending heavily to build still more. Lockheed was just handed another billion dollars to improve that company’s version.
There’s just one little problem. Missile defense doesn’t work. It amounts to trying to shoot one speeding missile with another, which is somewhat like trying to shoot a bullet out of the air with another bullet, which is impossible. Despite the hundreds of billions the U.S. has spent on development, the best we can do is intercept a missile when we know exactly where, when, and how it was fired. And if the missile isn’t camouflaged by standard counter-measures. And if it’s not a very smart or fast missile to begin with. In other words, we can indeed intercept incoming missiles, some of the time, if we first do everything possible to cripple them, short of removing the engines. It’s like going duck hunting for blind and retarded lame ducks.
All of which would make the spectacle of the nations of the world getting in a lather over missile defense hilarious, if it wasn’t also so dangerous. Memories are short, but it might be salutary to recall that we survived the first cold war due to a very little common sense, and a very great deal of luck. It’s evident that humanity’s stock of common sense is at an all-time low, so if luck be a lady, now’s the time to start a courtship.
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2007
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