posted on Nov, 13 2012 @ 09:36 AM
This is going to sound either cold-blooded, or insane (I've been accused of both). Beyond that, my standard disclaimers apply. I have no access to
classified information, and no input on defense policy...this is simply the opinion of an interested citizen (and, since my macaw is sitting on my
shoulder proofreading, an interested psittacine ).
Every time the discussion of ballistic missile defense comes up, the argument is made that if you can't stop every single inbound warhead, the system
is worthless. If you think about it for a bit, though, the exact opposite is true. Counter-intuitive, I know, but let's look at an abstract
case. Country A and Country B are nuclear powers with substantial arsenals. If B finds out that A has a perfect defense against nuclear attack, there
will be a huge pressure to launch an attack before the defense system is deployed. After all, once it's in place, B will be completely at the mercy
of A...and there's no guarantee that A *has* any mercy. Thus, a perfect defense, paradoxically, is a strong de-stabilizing force.
At the other end of the scale, a defense that stops nothing is a total waste of money and resources...also unacceptable.
What's needed (if not politically or socially acceptable) is a defense that is good enough to make any attack unreliable, while still leaving the
target country vulnerable to some damage (avoiding the destabilization issue mentioned above. The threshold for this can be surprisingly low...after
all, if a defensive system only stops (as a totally "out of my anatomy" number) 40% of an incoming strike, that makes the attack very unlikely,
since the attacker can't know in advance *which* 40% of his missiles will be stopped. He might hit all of his 'counter-value' targets (cities), but
be facing an almost totally untouched retaliatory strike...or he might hit all of his counter-force targets, but inflict (relatively) small civilian
casualties...but whatever happens will be totally unpredictable. The same argument (in reverse) holds from the defended country's perspective...the
missiles that get stopped might be the ones heading for cities, or the ones headed for the missiles...but since the results aren't predictable, there
isn't the destabilizing 'total certainty' condition. In short, by making a nuclear attack a course of action with no certain outcome, an imperfect
but adequate defense makes it a total non-starter.
Given what I've seen / heard about this current round of testing, it seems that 'imperfect but adequate' is within our (technical) grasp once
again. Hopefully, this time, we'll be smarter than we were with Safeguard.