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Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, before a television audience, President Ronald Reagan initiated one of the grandest defense boondoggles of all time, the Strategic Defense Initiative. Like many boondoggles, it was couched in sweet talk and lies:

The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor. We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression -- to preserve freedom and peace. ...

What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

I know this is a formidable, technical task, one that may not be accomplished before the end of the century. Yet, current technology has attained a level of sophistication where it's reasonable for us to begin this effort. It will take years, probably decades of efforts on many fronts. There will be failures and setbacks, just as there will be successes and breakthroughs. And as we proceed, we must remain constant in preserving the nuclear deterrent and maintaining a solid capability for flexible response. But isn't it worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war? We know it is.

Those lines and the rest of the speech sure sounded good to many. As had been the case almost since the arrival of Werner von Braun and the other V-2 rocket engineers at the end of World War II, when it came to space, America talked peace and prepared for war. After sputnik went beeping around the planet every 96 minutes in 1957, the effort was greatly intensified, always with the threat of Soviet attack as the rationale. This was true whether it was JFK campaigning about a bogus "missile gap" or a 1980s Pentagon inflating Moscow’s military power at the urging of the Committee on the Present Danger’s nascent neo-conservatives. Reagan’s speech was nothing new on that score.

On Sunday, Daily Kos Contributing Editor Plutonium Page will take look at the future of U.S. missile defense in Europe. In particular, she'll address what the likely proliferation effects of such installations will be.

In fact, U.S. talk about putting weapons onto the ultimate high ground of outer space started well before President Reagan gave his Star Wars speech. In 1947, German Major General Walter Dornberger, who had headed the Nazi rocket program, began officially advising the U.S. Air Force. Like any good Nazi, he recommended putting nuclear bombs into orbit to attack Soviet cities and military installations. He also proposed a space-based defense against missiles, an orbiting ring of hundreds of satellites, sentries armed with small rockets capable of destroying enemy ICBMs.

Some of Dornberger’s proposals reached the prototype stage in the early 1960s. But, after a few atomic tests in space, the idea of nuclear bombs permanently dangling overhead scared both sides so much that such weapons were banned by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Technical, financial and political problems grounded the orbiting anti-ballistic missile concept, and the ABM Treaty of 1972 seemed to seal its fate forever. But Dornberger’s concept of satellite sentries survived to become the model for the SDI system that retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Daniel O. Graham, a former deputy director of the CIA, began pushing before Reagan’s speech.

But, while the CPD and groups like the Heritage Foundation and Graham’s High Frontier were ecstatic over the prospect of taking out Soviet ICBMs with an orbiting "shield" of laser weapons backed up by missiles and other sea-, air- and ground-based weapons, many scientists and arms control experts were appalled.

While building a defensive umbrella over the United States appeared appealing to the uninitiated, for those in the know, it presented the likelihood not only of an expensive new arms race but also the very real possibility that instead of protecting Americans (and possibly their European allies) against a nuclear slaughter, it would spur one. Building and switching on such a system, critics said, would smash the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction. And that would not be a good thing, as Reagan’s speech implied, but a very bad thing.

Why? Because a broad range of experts believed – and still believe – that it’s impossible for a missile shield to nail all or even most thousands of warheads from incoming ballistic missiles. Unless, that is, the United States used that shield to launch a first strike. Such an attack might catch 90% or 95% of Soviet missiles before they could be fired. Only a comparative few would be left for the missile shield to knock down with lasers, interceptor missiles and other weapons, an achievable task. Perhaps only a handful of Soviet missiles would get through to take out, say, Seattle, Denver, and Baltimore. Meanwhile, the USSR would lie in ruins.

Many in the Soviet High Command at the time believed, in fact, that the system - soon derisively called "Star Wars" in by critics in the U.S. media - had the express purpose of backing up a first strike. Perceiving the system as unworkable for defensive purposes, and easily overcome in that mode by decoys and other relatively cheap technology, but perfect for aggression, some Soviet strategists argued that the only way to deal with such a system would be to attack it before it became operational. And that would lead to the long-feared exchange of 6000 or more warheads that some scientists were at the time saying could bring on a "nuclear winter."

By eliminating the possibility of an effective retaliation, a missile shield of the sort Reagan and his experts proposed would trash Mutual Assured Destruction, which, by reason of its diabolical essence, had kept the peace for more than two decades (although there had been some close calls). Instead of making the world safer, the missile shield would destabilize a wary stand-off.

But, surely, as Reagan said at the time, "The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor." In fact, some members of the Committee on the Present Danger argued that the U.S. should strike the Soviet Union and get done with a war they expected would eventually happen anyway.  

While the theorists argued over the strategic prospects of a missile shield, some experts challenged the technical aspects. None suggested that it would be impossible to shoot down a few dozen Soviet ICBMs or SLBMs with a full-blown system of defense. Developments since have borne them out. Although the testing regime of the various incarnations of Missile Defense Agency since 1983 has been less than a rigorous reflection of the real world, knocking down a single missile or a handful of missiles coming at the United States in a surprise attack is no doubt doable. The interceptors are probably approaching reliability, and the Airborne Laser holds considerable promise.

And William J. Broad, The New York Times’s resident expert on Star Wars from the beginning, reported last September:

Space weapons are "still definitely part of the program," said Philip E. Coyle III, a former director of weapon testing at the Pentagon. "But they don’t emphasize it because the arms-control people come out of the woodwork."

But, in the aftermath of Reagan’s speech, many experts who believed that the shield was meant to be a defensive umbrella capable of taking out a few thousand Soviet missiles rising from silos, submarine tubes and mobile launchers scattered around the globe said it couldn’t be done. Couldn’t be done no matter how exotic the weapons. And they were exotic. Although the ground- and sea-based portions of the plan were predicated on significant guidance-system upgrades of existing missile and anti-missiles, the space-based stuff was, well, out there. Some hawks still have hopes for them.

One proposal was to put thousands of chemical lasers into orbit. When rising missiles were detected, the orbiting weapons would lock onto their targets and pierce the thin skin of Soviet booster rockets, exploding the fuel and preventing the warheads from reaching their intended destinations.

Only a few dozen problems with that idea. For instance, getting hundreds of laser-firing satellites into orbit would take far more space launches than the U.S. had ever previously done, and keeping them cocked-and-ready with fluorine or other fuels would take annual lifting capability equal to that usually associated with a major seaport. Moreover, the system would require a couple of million lines of computer code that could never be fully debugged in a realistic environment.

Even if these weapons could be orbited and fueled, and the code could be tested, they could be easily destroyed by much cheaper, simpler, smaller enemy satellites manufactured in abundance.

There were also other ideas for the orbiting portion of the shield. Kinetic rail-guns firing projectiles at Mach 5, a 4000-satellite array shooting watermelon-sized "brilliant pebbles," and "rods from God," the last a first-strike weapon that would drop tungsten rods at the speed of a meteor to penetrate the earth with the power of a nuke, but without radioactive fall-out.

Perhaps the most infernal of the proposed weapons was promoted by Edward Teller, the demon genius who once argued that the media should not discuss lethal Soviet nuclear disasters because this would turn Americans off to the idea of expanding commercial nuclear power.

It was Teller’s misleading views on the potential of the X-ray laser that first roused Reagan’s passionate interest in Star Wars. The idea was straightforward enough. Put into orbit nuclear weapons – which would require opting out of the Outer Space Treaty. Faced with an attack, the United States would set off the nukes to generate multiple beams of radiation to demolish incoming missiles. Teller claimed that a single, desk-sized laser could strike as many as 100,000 targets all at once, something others scientists said grotesquely overstated the case.

Be that as it may, however many X-ray beams would emerge from however many satellites, they would have to be generated simultaneously because the nuclear explosion would destroy the electronics of other satellites, including satellites the military depended on for command, control and communication. Indeed, one way an enemy might wreck the ability to use orbiting weapons would be to set off a handful of nuclear explosions in space ahead of time.

One selling point of the Strategic Defense Initiative was that innovations would generate new commercial products far more lucrative than Tang and Teflon. A key proponent of this was James Ionson, who, in 1985, was an up-and-coming  32-year-old astrophysicist. He once said he had an "ego the size of the moon." Seeing the flow of Star Wars cash, Ionson persuaded James Abrahamson, who was the first Air Force general in charge of SDI, to set up and put him in charge of the Innovative Science and Technology program. IST became the basic SDI research arm, passing along more than $100 million annually of its huge budget to university research facilities and high-tech companies to look into gamma-ray lasers, superconductivity, strong-but-lightweight materials and other risky, expensive endeavors. Ionson was also in charge of commercial spin-offs of SDI innovations.

The glowing reports from IST persuaded many SDI advocates that, even if no missile shield were ever built, the spending involved would create technological advances making for a prosperous American future. This at a time when Reagan had gutted research into renewable energy. According to New Scientist, one company, Business Communications Company of Stamford, Conn., claimed in 1986 that SDI technology spin-offs could reach $20 trillion, or $38 trillion in 2008 dollars.

In 1988, Ionson took leave of IST and set up JDC Enterprises to buy the emerging SDI technologies and sell them to corporate customers for a handsome profit. Ionson said, "In some cases, these technologies are so close to the commercial marketplace, the people who have invented them don’t even realize it. You an get a quick turnaround on your investment."

Three years later, unable to find any customers, Ionson left to work for Polaroid and JDC closed its doors.

As for Star Wars itself, despite Teller’s claims and the claims of High Frontier’s General Graham in 1986 that "off-the-shelf" technology was available to fast-track a missile shield that would be operational in 1996, and the spending of at least 150 billion inflation-adjusted dollars, the plan to bring an end to threaten of annihilation by nuclear weapons remains elusive.

But the Cheney-Bush administration has made great headway in spending more money than previous presidents on the project, and managed to extract the United States from the 30-year-old ABM Treaty that previously stood in the way of Star Wars deployment.

 

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:29 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We cannot allow an imaginary missile gap. (13+ / 0-)

    Didn't you watch Dr. Strangelove? Jeez.

    I now believe in a town called 'nope'.

    by Rob Cole on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:31:10 PM PDT

  •  To the moon, Alice! (6+ / 0-)

    To the ever-loving, motherfucking moon!

    I remember that TIME cover from my dentist's office.  That was about the time I was having nightly nuclear holocaust nightmares.

    "SNIPERS! Chelsea, you lay down cover fire while I execute this flanking maneuver! GO, GO, GO!"

    by The Termite on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:33:16 PM PDT

  •  I think Reagan had the right idea (6+ / 0-)

    Wars should be fought in outer space, far away from the rest of us

  •  What's amazing (12+ / 0-)

    is that I remember my father, a Reagan-obsessed arch-conservative, told me about SDI when I was a very young boy. He told me that it'd protect us. I remember LOVING the idea. I remember how excited I was about finally being safe from the Ruskies.

    I was probably 5 years old. This demonstrates the maturity level of Conservatives.

    Prier le Je Ne Sais Qui. J'espère: Jésus-Christ

    by jackbauer8393 on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:37:24 PM PDT

  •  The Chinese are using the same strategy (7+ / 0-)

    that was used by Reagan: they intend to ramp up the arms race to bankrupt the USA. And since they have all of the money thanks to corporate America and their shills on both sides of the aisle and in the White House, they'll probably be successful. So many traitors, so much apathy.

  •  What, no poll? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bloomer 101, Krush, cleverblogname

    I waited up for a poll!  I like to vote.
    Sigh.

    Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself. --Jane Addams

    by shock on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:38:34 PM PDT

  •  We know it works! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, neroden, snafubar

    They just executed a successful test by destroying the toxic propellant tank on that defunct spy satellite.

    They even had video of the successful kill!

    Now, a cynic might claim that a satellite with top secret technology would be equipped with a self-destruct capability: one that could be triggered from the ground at any time. That cynic would also claim that, using said self destruct capability, the Bush Administration could easily fake a successful test.

    But you'd have to be very, very cynical to believe that the Bush Administration would attempt anything so deceptive as a phony SDI test.

    -5.75 -4.72 3.14159 2.71828

    by xynz on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:39:39 PM PDT

  •  Interesting how (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, neroden, jds1978

    the Nazis could be counted on to fight the Soviets.  Worse, how we were so willing to hire Nazis to help us fight them.

  •  This program... (5+ / 0-)

    ...was the subject of my first Letter to the Editor, as well as the impetus to a nice takedown I had of a hyper-conservative political science professor who tried to talk shop on the technology involved.

    Ah, good memories.

  •  John McCain supports "Star Wars" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunbro, neroden, JeffW, jackbauer8393

    Just another reason not to vote for him.

    BHO >>> HRC >>>>>>>>>>>> JSM

    by Student Guy on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:41:30 PM PDT

    •  Hey, I thought it was a good movie. As a weapons (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, jds1978, JeffW

      program though, it's still a dream.

      Old folks are known to have delusions like that.

      Like Reagan, like McCain.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:54:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like Teller, who was even older ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave925, snafubar, JeffW

        ...than Reagan when he began pushing the ludicrous X-ray laser as a defense against Soviet ICBMs.

        The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

        by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:08:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Teller (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jds1978

          was a madman. No question. That he was a darling of the Pukes is a given, like minds hang together.

          Some people say not to worry about the air Some people don't know shit about the... Air...

          by Dave925 on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:14:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Teller built the H-Bomb (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dave925

            ...because Openheimer has "Socialist" leanings, correct?

            Too weird to live and too rare to die.

            by jds1978 on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 08:42:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oppenheimer (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jds1978

              Was eventually denied his defense clearance, a lot of that was the work of the Tellerites and yes Teller thought Oppenheimer a Socialist- or worse.

              But he developed the H-Bomb in the quest for first strike capability. A deranged and unreasoning hatred for the Soviet Union motivated him. He would have happily murdered everyone in that poor country to salve the threat of his own boogeymen.

              Some people say not to worry about the air Some people don't know shit about the... Air...

              by Dave925 on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:57:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The kind of men who made "wise old sage" (0+ / 0-)

          an oxymoron.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:15:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Reagan's entire speech in the blockquote above (10+ / 0-)

    coulda been written by Orwell. And of course we need the shield - they hate our freedom!

    "One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native land of hope." Wallace Stegner

    by Mother Mags on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:41:53 PM PDT

    •  That Time magazine cover.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zeke L

      That Time magazine cover coulda been straight outta Orwell, too -- Big Brother without the moustache.

      Geez, Meteor Blades, don't do that again. Don't put up propaganda pictures of old Ronnie Raygun, no matter how critical the article. Just looking at it gives me the willies. I thought I was at Lucianne.com or something when I first saw that image here at Kos.

    •  "Morning In America" was also brilliant (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, jds1978

      Brilliant in it's linguistic manipulation.

      Drew Westen, professor of psychology/psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Emory University; author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, discusses it here

      I'm not anti-social. I'm anti-sociometric.

      by oobi on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:12:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Weirdly this is one reason I like Obama.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jds1978

        We've had a bunch of honest Democratic candidates who can't do propaganda, who have gotten  electorally trounced by dishonest candidates who can do propaganda.

        Having looked into Obama's record, I'm sure he'll be a perfectly decent, honest, and competent President.  Not a far-seeing genius like Gore would have been, but we can't have everything.  

        But the other thing is that for once we have a candidate who knows something about manipulating the public emotionally.  Since the Rethuglicans always do it, we need someone who can do it in order to win.  Of course we don't want someone who combines it with lies, crooked advisors, or crazy policies like Reagan did -- but in Obama we have someone who will be honest and sensible, but who also knows how to campaign.  Like Thomas Jefferson did.

        -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

        by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:45:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I like Obama, and i know this is sacrilege, but (0+ / 0-)

          speaking of all that, is it just me, or did the two gooseneck microphones used on the podium for the "Perfect Union" speech...when drawn together like they were....resemble....um....a woman's splayed legs? And Obama's face was centered squarely over the pelvic area?

          Hey don't blame me, I get blasted with titties and imagery and inuendo all day long on television in commercials....just sayin'

          I'm not anti-social. I'm anti-sociometric.

          by oobi on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:12:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Reagan's SDI had some use though (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, fitz2

    I'm definitely no Reagan-lover or even a defender of his in general, but whether intended or not, the 1980s SDI was a great bluff.  It forced the Soviets to keep up in the arms race, which in turn pushed them further into economic collapse.  The current missile shield can't serve such a purpose.

    McCain - Ready to follow Osama to the gates of Hell, but apparently not into Pakistan.

    by khassani on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:44:29 PM PDT

    •  In case you missed it, we still haven't paid for (4+ / 0-)

      all of that glorious military build-up that bankrupt the Soviet Union, and it very well may be that the 9 trillion dollar sandbag that the military spending of the 80's was the cornerstone thereof may bankrupt us yet, too.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:52:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Didn't miss the point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jds1978

        See my posting "The article supports my position" below for the details.  I agree that military spending hurts, but our economy is strong enough to withstand it.

        To see why I'm optimistic, you should look at US debt as a portion of GDP over time.  As bad as it was by the early 90s or as it is now, it's nowhere near as bad as post WWII.  We survived that, and w/ prudent taxation/spending cuts we bounced back in the 90s from the Reagan spending, and we can bounce back again under an Obama presidency.

        McCain - Ready to follow Osama to the gates of Hell, but apparently not into Pakistan.

        by khassani on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:26:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The idea that SDI or U.S. military ... (5+ / 0-)

      ...spending in general during the '80s bankrupted the Soviet Union is not borne out by studies of actual military spending by the USSR at the time. This barely increased except as it applied to the war in Afghanistan, where U.S. assistance to what would become the Northern Alliance, the Taliban and Al Qa'ida actually did have an impact on Soviet collapse.

      The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:03:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Have to look at what would have happened w/o SDI (0+ / 0-)

        If you see my explanation in "The article supports my position" below, USSR military spending would have gone down.

        McCain - Ready to follow Osama to the gates of Hell, but apparently not into Pakistan.

        by khassani on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:57:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  By the time it would have gone down (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kuparuk

          The USSR would have been gone already.  So, not much of an argument there.

          You do realize SDI only started in 1983.  In 1985 Gorbachev took over and immediately started trying to cut military spending -- and Chernenko was already preventing increases in Soviet military spending before that.

          There's a major lag time on military spending.  While Reagan's early military buildup (1980-1984 or so) could arguably be related to the Soviet military budget size, SDI -- apart from, possibly, its initial publicity announcements -- simply happened too late to be relevant.

          -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

          by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:50:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not sure I follow your argument (0+ / 0-)

            There's the quote below saying that SDI prevented Gorbachev from decreasing military spending.  Are you saying it was too late already?  I'm also not sure what you mean by "it would have gone down."  Just to be clear, I don't in any way think that we had the technology to actually implement the SDI.

            McCain - Ready to follow Osama to the gates of Hell, but apparently not into Pakistan.

            by khassani on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 12:18:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  This is a lie (5+ / 0-)

      Soviet defense expenditures did not increase one iota during St Ronnie's "Let's BK the country and enrich the "right people" armaments palooza.

      That you among so many others belief this to be true never the less is a testament to the efficacy of their propaganda and a criticism of your ability to discern the truth.

      The SU was on it's last legs, it was economically a dead zone. Don't believe me?

      The Atlantic Monthly

      Some people say not to worry about the air Some people don't know shit about the... Air...

      by Dave925 on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:12:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The article supports my position (0+ / 0-)

        It's thesis is that SDI prolonged the Cold War, which it may have, but my argument is that it ended the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

        There's two parts of the article that I'd like to highlight:

        The Soviet economy was not the only economy burdened by very high levels of defense spending. Israel, Taiwan, and North and South Korea have allocated a disproportionate share of resources to defense without bankrupting their economies. Indeed, some of these economies have grown dramatically.

        The article was published in 1994.  The only other non-democratic, non-free market country in the list, North Korea, saw a collapse in its economy shortly afterwards (due in no small part to military spending).  The point isn't that military spending randomly bankrupts countries.  It certainly hurts (as it does in the US), but capitalist countries can withstand the stress, whereas state-controlled economies cannot.

        The other quote:

        Reagan's commitment to SDI made it more difficult for Gorbachev to persuade his officials that arms control was in the Soviet interest. Conservatives, some of the military leadership, and spokesmen for defense-related industries insisted that SDI was proof of America's hostile intentions. In a contentious politburo meeting called to discuss arms control, Soviet armed forces chief of staff Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev angrily warned that the Soviet people would not tolerate any weakening of Soviet defenses, according to Oleg Grinevsky, now Russia's ambassador to Sweden. Yakovlev insists that "Star Wars was exploited by hardliners to complicate Gorbachev's attempt to end the Cold War."

        My point w/ this quote is that just b/c the military spending did not increase, does not mean that SDI didn't hurt the Soviet economy.

        Now, there are those (including, it seems, the authors of this article) that say that we should have let the USSR transition to a market economy and that it would have moved to a democracy from there.  It seems to me, however, that that has not been the way in China.  That's not to say that I don't believe that China will one day be a democracy, but it's change of economy doesn't seem to be leading down that path.

        McCain - Ready to follow Osama to the gates of Hell, but apparently not into Pakistan.

        by khassani on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:16:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not the way it happened. (0+ / 0-)

          The Soviets were having hellish economic problems. The mobs became prevalent, corruption was rampant, and nobody would trade with them because of economic insecurities and poor products. The experiment had failed before Ronnie ever opened his big mouth.

          Reagan's actions damaged the US far more than they damaged the USSR, and for no net gain. Patience would have saved us billions, and left us in no harm. The Soviets were no threat to us after the mid-seventies.

          The arms race was rekindled after a decade of peaceful detente solely to create a scary enemy. We had been without one for some time, and Reagan wanted to a.) scare people into voting warmonger, and b.) spend money on his contractor friends. Reagan was scaring people into voting for war, the same as Bush has done with Iraq.

  •  Oh thank you SO much... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hhex65, Dave925, neroden
    ...for reminding me of what I thought were the darkest days in presidential history and a president whom I once thought I hated more than I could possibly hate any president.

    And no thanks to George Bush for proving me wrong.

    We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

    by anastasia p on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:47:00 PM PDT

  •  Why should Congress pay to put it in Poland? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925

    I don't get it. Duhbya's location of missile "defense" in Poland is seen as very provocative by the Russians. The Russians are now keeping bombers airborne in a higher state of alert. This is not a good thing, yet Congress signs off on it.

    A vote for Hillary will help to put a woman in the White House.....Cindy McCain

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:47:54 PM PDT

    •  Plus which the scheme won't work (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zeke L, jds1978

      So we provoke Russia by planting in Poland... a system which can't stop Russian missiles.

      It sounds like a recipe for getting nuked by Russian missiles, doesn't it?

      -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

      by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:21:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "one of" ??? no, this one takes the cake (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shock, neroden, Krush, jds1978

    and the whole damn bakery.

    Even the freakin satellite that the Pentagon shot down(to save us from the toxic rocket fuel, doncha know) still does not qualify as a legitimate test of a goddamn thing since it was nothing comparable to an ICBM that the believers in this program insist it makes us safe from.

    ICBM's are moving targets, the Satellite was stable and stationary.

    ICBM's have multiple warheads that seperate and take different paths which we can't track.

    ICBM's have decoys to intercept missle intercepts...

    STAR WARS IS STILL JUST A MOVIE BY GEORGE LUCAS.

    And a missle defense shield is still a dream in a dead president's head.

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:48:16 PM PDT

    •  Yup. And furthermore... (4+ / 0-)

      even if the system could somehow deal with some of the things you mention, all this does is start yet another escalating arms race, sinking more and more money into the military-industrial complex to produce smarter ICBMs, now laser targeting systems, now AI ICBMs, now predictive tracking systems, now ICBM cloaking devices and anti-satellite technology, now....

      Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself. --Jane Addams

      by shock on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:58:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No the satellite was not on a geostationary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk

      orbit..it was on its death spiral..it was blown out at  130 miles from earth's surface..which not a GEO/ GSO ...

      •  A decaying known orbit is still much different (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jds1978, George Hier

        target than a parabolic trajectory from an unknown launch site.

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:13:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  agreed..but that doesn't that imply the (0+ / 0-)

          hierarchical nature of the multiple defense systems is better? With China capable of blowing of satellites, North Korea being unstable, and US required to defend countries like Japan, research in this area is unfortunately a requirement...whether we like it or not..

          •  AEI - of all places - had Lawrence Krauss (0+ / 0-)

            host a talk about how we need to raise our commitment to education and remove our contempt and suspicion of science whenever it tells us something that particular people don't want to hear, if we want to compete in the world. And in the q&a afterwords, someone raised the point of Star Wars -

            Although Krauss agreed in the arguable value of whatever benefits it may someday yeild, and agreed in the legitimacy of it's need in certain scenarious, he made a brilliant and cogent argument that the amount of money we have spent in achieving it is misguided given the amount of other things that have been sacrificed to support SDI.

            We could have done so much more which would have been so much more to the benefit of the country in the last 25 years.

            We could have extended the shuttle for another decade and lauched three Hubble telescopes for what we spent on this.

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 02:11:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  and the Soviets already had (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      active countermeasures contemplated for these MIRVs, some of them very low tech in nature that would simply flood the radar systems .. I had to sign a non-disclosure thing a long time ago about some of the technology I learned about which countered their radar countermeasures [and our counter counter measures didn't work, either].

      That was nearly 30 years ago .. wow.

      Now, get off my lawn. ;P

      ¿Yo me frio o lo soplo?

      by shpilk on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:05:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually Topol M in addition to its multi warhead (0+ / 0-)

        capability is working on an advanced propulsion system to avoid the anti missile defense field of US.  I wonder they'll bring the experience of Brahmos I and BAPL 2 to bear...

      •  wanted to rec that one, but missed it (0+ / 0-)

        why do they not allow us to rec comments older than about a day and a half?

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 02:04:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I know a lot of people involved in this line of (14+ / 0-)

    work, and almost went into it, myself. I interviewed a  number of times in the 80s in the field.

    Everyone I have talked to admits this is a technological defeat, before it goes to paper.

    19 people with boxcutters sort of underscored the point, didn't it?

    Asymmetry is what is the reality today: we have a country with a trillion dollar 'security budget', equal to the rest of the planet's nations combined. We spend one third of our available resources in this quest for 'security', not realizing that use of military force only ensures conflict, not security [ask Israel how their attempt at using military force to make 'security' is working out for them].

    Adversaries that play by cold war 'rules' are gone, probably forever. The days of finding a 'silver bullet' to prevent more than a small handful of a 5,000 missile salvo from impacting are hundreds of years off into the future.

    Mutual Assured Destruction is still with us: the whole concept of defending against a large number [in the low hundreds] of nuclear detonations is a moot point, because humans on this planet will not survive that number of detonations.

    What held true in the 1980s is still true today, and the delusional nature of influential scientists and technologist like Edvard Teller are still with us, as well. We as a species cannot survive as a species if we continue to follow the path Teller and others have set before us.

    We will reach the limits of "L" in this equation if we persist.

    ¿Yo me frio o lo soplo?

    by shpilk on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:48:57 PM PDT

    •  Sci American Focused on the Data Procssng Insanty (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, shpilk, shock, hhex65

      of the plan years ago.

      The gist as I recall: It'd have to be the largest software program ever written, it has to work the first time it's run, and since it can never be tested in lifelike circumstances, it'd need a bigger program to test it virtually.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:54:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My colleague S.K. Levin and I coincidentally ... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shpilk, smintheus, hhex65, neroden

        ...wrote a five-part "Space Wars" series just one month before Reagan's speech. The critics we spoke to and quoted at the time said exactly what Sci-Am would later say. A couple million lines of undebuggable code is no way to protect yourself from much of anything, much less a nuclear strike.

        The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

        by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:06:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And imagining all that computer hardware would (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jds1978, R Rhino from CT4

          operate flawlessly as some of the missiles got through [one of the first things the Soviets/Chinese would likely do in a full scale attack would be set off multiple very high altitude weapons to create EMP pulses] is delusional as well.

          If we intercepted 90% of a 500 MIRV'ed attack, the country would still be utterly destroyed.

          All of this would fail to protect against bombers, cruise missiles, ship fired low trajectory missiles and any weapons smuggled into harbors.

          ¿Yo me frio o lo soplo?

          by shpilk on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:12:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Personally I Think the Moon Is Underestimated (0+ / 0-)

      in its importance, and if so, fc could be many orders of magnitude overestimated even if life is as common as dust.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:58:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A defense shield against social services spending (11+ / 0-)

    This quote goes back 20 years or more and I cannot even find it online...

    ...sometime in the 1980s, the prominent conservative writer and historian Richard Brookhiser said something very close to the following: "I don't care whether Star Wars works or not, at least the money we spend on it will be kept out of the hands of the poor."

    I was a teenager when I read that quote, but it struck me hard, and since that time I have felt morally offended by our military projects.

    Whenever we have started a war or commissioned a new weapons project, I always knew that the political and corporate bigwigs were saying to one another "Even if we don't achieve our stated purpose, at least the money we spend will be kept out of the hands of the poor."

    Our missile defense, like our national defense, is meant to defend the rich against the poor.

  •  Pete Earley's book "Comrade J" has (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, Dave925, neroden, JML9999

    Sergei Tretyakov's recollections on the Soviet version of the boondoggle.  In his telling, its development was stimulated in part, basically, by a couple of Russion con artists; the military took advantage propagated the technological lie and before anyone chose to critiqueits feasibility, the race was on.
    Hokum or no, Earley describes these events as a compelling story.  Check out the book.

    Thanks for the illustration of Fucking Ronnie.  It made me eat a TUMS.

    Russ Feingold: cooler than Batman.

    by yojimbo on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:50:46 PM PDT

  •  When Did He Make His Regretful Announcement That (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, jds1978, JML9999

    the USSR had surpassed the United States in military capability? Was that during his first run?

    If it was, I'd rank that "announcement" as the true launch of the greatest boondoggle in the history of civilized developed nations.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:51:20 PM PDT

  •  Ahhh Uncle Ronnie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, JML9999

    So much to thank you for...really thanks...I especially like you laying the groundwork for economic collapse.

    Time waits for no one, the treasure is great spend it wisely.

    by mojavefog on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:52:08 PM PDT

  •  The best delivery system for Nukes is (9+ / 0-)

    to hide the bomb in a shipment of drugs. Since tons and tons of drugs make it into the US without detection, smuggling a nuke in a drug shipment would be very safe. Also, you might actually get the CIA to deliver it.

  •  Freaky (0+ / 0-)

    I was born in March, 1983.

  •  Calling all Aerospace Folks (0+ / 0-)

    Can anyone explain why we couldn't put tons of Iron and Titanium small Scrap metal bits in orbit. Using containers in stationary orbit then blow them up creating essentially "Space Flak" which bases on relative speeds would shred  missiles which are made of aluminum the last time I checked. The small metal bits would then eventually fall out of orbit.

    Be careful what you shoot at, most things in here don't react well to bullets-Sean Connery .... Captain Marko Ramius -Hunt For Red October

    by JML9999 on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 08:59:22 PM PDT

    •  yeah, and withdraw from manned space flight, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, JML9999, George Hier

      scientific instruments, communications and weather satellites, etc. etc. There is already a ton of junk out there that has to be tracked from NORAD. Not a good solution, and, is there a problem?

      Hillary - the new Divider.

      by tonyfv on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:06:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  By "Is there a problem" I presume you ask (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tonyfv

        are people trying to solve with SDI a non existing threat? I can't say for certain.

        Regarding your first point actually I had in mind not pushing the button until we detected a launch.If there is a threat however in the bigger scheme of things would protecting our cities from being incinerated vs the scenario you describe be a fair trade?

        Be careful what you shoot at, most things in here don't react well to bullets-Sean Connery .... Captain Marko Ramius -Hunt For Red October

        by JML9999 on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:18:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not really, no. Space is BIG. Really big. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NumberTenOx, jds1978, JML9999

          The time it would take to deploy sufficient chaff in sufficient quantities, of sufficient mass to create a missile-killing shield over the United States would be on the scale of centuries, not hours. The economic drain required to put millions of tons of metal in orbit would be impossible for the entire planet to sustain, much less a single country.

          And even if we did pull it off, we would lose all access to outer space. All communication satellites, all weather satellites, all spy satellites (oh whoops, now we can't even see them shooting at us), not to mention anything fun and educational like planetary probes or manned space flight. Say goodbye to the final frontier.

          Not starting space wars is far more accomplishable than magic buttons that make Earth orbit off-limits.

          Every time the FL/MI revote is declared dead, take a shot.

          by George Hier on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:59:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  SDI software simply will not work (7+ / 0-)

    One of my favorite rebuttals from the Reagan-era SDI came from software engineer, David Lorge Parnas. Parnas wrote from his experience with battle management software. He believed any SDI system would not be trustworthy because the software needed for such a system could not be made reliable.

    His article, Software Aspects of Strategic Defense Systems, published in the Communications of the ACM in December 1985 concluded:

    My conclusions are not based on political or policy judgments. Unlike many other academic critics of the SDI effort, I have not, in the past, objected to defense efforts or defense-sponsored research. I have been deeply involved in such research and have consulted on defense projects. My conclusions are based on more than 20 years of research on software engineering, including more than 8 years of work on real-time software used in military aircraft. They are based on familiarity with both operation miltary software and computer science research. My conclusions are based on characteristics peculiar to this particular effort, not objections to weapons development in general.

    I am publishing the papers that accompanied my letter of resignation so that interested people can understand why computer scientists believe that systems of the sort being considered by the SDIO cannot be built...

    Simply put, we cannot build the software needed for it to be reliable. If I'd had to give an opinion, I'd suspect the problems today remain the same problems that Parnas and company faced in the early 1980s. In the 30 years, software engineering practices still not good enough and therefore the software built for SDI still will not reliable enough to trust.

  •  You make SDI sound more functional than it is. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    R Rhino from CT4

    Developments since have borne them out. Although the testing regime of the various incarnations of Missile Defense Agency since 1983 has been less than a rigorous reflection of the real world, knocking down a single missile or a handful of missiles coming at the United States in a surprise attack is no doubt doable.

    Actually, the attempted ICBM interception systems set up by Bush...
    didn't work at all.  They had to fake the tests.  They couldn't even consistently hit missiles which were sending out radio homing signals for the interceptors.

    So far none of these "defensive" programs has been shown to work at all.  Intercepting a missile in midair -- a very small, moving target, which is moving slightly erratically due to wind -- is a very hard problem.  It remains unsolved.

    -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

    by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:16:08 PM PDT

    •  I've followed the subject closely since I ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Magnifico, R Rhino from CT4

      ...first wrote about it 25 years ago, a month before Reagan's speech, so I am familiar with the testing, which is why I said it has not been rigorously reflective of the real world, but it is getting better. Last November, for the first time, two Aegis sea-based missiles took out two missiles. This was closer to "operationally realistic," as the Pentagon would put it than past tests. There were no transponders providing a beacon for the intercepters.

      Yes, there are problems still in dealing with decoys, chaff, et cetera. The decoy problem is distant from solution. But I'm convinced that, for a small number of missiles, a reliable system can and, unfortunately, probably will be built, destabilizing arms control around the globe.

      The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:32:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But when? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades

        Interesting to know.  So the first ever transponder-free shootdown was last November.  Against missiles with known trajectories and no decoys or chaff.  No wonder I hadn't heard about it; last November was busy.

        That's still a ridiculous distance from reliability.  We currently can't reliably shoot down a single missile.  After how many years' work?  They started working on this in the 1960s, right?  So about 40 years so far?

        I'm sure that eventually we'll get a system which can reliably shoot down a single missile.  It's not clear that that's even useful, as you've pointed out -- but are we even close?  Or is this a "yes, we'll have it by 2100 for sure" kind of thing?

        Thinking about the destabilizing effect is more interesting.

        Somehow we've managed to destabilize arms control even with nonfunctional systems -- which is a perplexing and depressing social effect.  So somehow it doesn't seem to matter that they don't work: they're still capable of destabilizing  arms control.

        I'm not enough of a student of military history to identify previous examples of this kind of phenomenon, where military technology which didn't really work sparked an arms race and the creation of offensive military technology which did work.

        We see it in military history outside the tech arena quite often.  Bluffing by claiming your forces are stronger than they are may deter your enemies -- or may cause them to attack you first before you can get any more powerful.

        -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

        by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:52:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Meteor Blades = (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925

    The only reason for ever coming here.

    "The military industrial complex not only controls our government, lock, stock and barrel, but they control our culture." - Mike Gravel

    by Wilberforce on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:16:54 PM PDT

    •  "Metor Blades = (0+ / 0-)

      Enough reason to come here, even if all the other front page diarists, politicians, and AMAZINGLY wonderful community of kossacks didn't already make you want to visit."

      Fixed it for ya.

      Every time the FL/MI revote is declared dead, take a shot.

      by George Hier on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:04:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  AToo bad... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcfly, Dave925, neroden

    that this premise has never been true...

    The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights.

    •  How many wars *didn't* the US start? (0+ / 0-)

      The only occasions on which the US was attacked first: the Civil War (firing on Fort Sumter) and WWII (Pearl Harbor).

      Most of the wars the US was involved in from the Revolutionary War through the Phillipine Occupation were quite clearly and explicitly started by the US.  As were some of the more recent ones (Iraq War, for instance).

      There are also quite a lot of wars which started out as local wars between other people where the US decided to jump in on one side.  The more honorable examples include WWI and Korea; somewhat less honorable examples include the War to Defend the Monarchy In Kuwait under Bush the Elder and the War to Support The French Puppet Government in Vietnam.

      The numerous invasions of South and Central America range from that (interference in a local war) to outright attacks by the US.

      -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

      by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:35:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to mention the three wars ... (0+ / 0-)

        ...against my ancestors, the First, Second and Third Seminole Wars, none of which they started.

        The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

        by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:42:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was including the Indian wars. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not aware of any Indian wars started by the Native Americans, at least since before the Revolutionary War.  I can never find an accurate count, but there were something from 25-80 wars, I believe, to dispossess the Native Americans?

          -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

          by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:55:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep. Depending on how you count ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            neroden

            ...although some of those "wars" were just plain old slaughter.

            The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

            by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:09:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not quite true... (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not aware of any Indian wars started by the Native Americans

            The Navajos were far from peaceful and routinely attacked settlements outside of their territory (there were no settlements inside the territory of the Navajos).  The US Army was called in after the Mexican-American War to try to stop these incursions.  It wasn't until the Civil War that the Navajos were finally defeated.  But you are right that in most cases it was the invasion of Indian lands that caused wars with the Native Americans.

  •  One intented consequence of SDI and star war (0+ / 0-)

    is that it scared the Soviet Union and pushed them to spend money they didn't have. Long story short, they were bankrupted and that's how we won the Cold War. We just out spent them to death; isn't that the capitalistic way to win a war against a communist state? Ironic and funny, isn't it?  

    "Men make their history, but not under the conditions of their own choosing" Guess who said this?

    by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:21:25 PM PDT

    •  Yeah real fuuny (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, Kuparuk

      so many people believe this gross lie.

      Some people say not to worry about the air Some people don't know shit about the... Air...

      by Dave925 on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:25:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just want to point you to the USSR budget (0+ / 0-)

        expenditures from 1970s and 1980s. Compared the two eras and you will find out for yourself. One observation that would hit you in the face is that the expenditures were dramatically different. I saw those books and i personally studied them.

        So, i advise you to find out for yourself and arrive to your own conclusions (they are public data right now and i think MIT econ. department has a nice and also complete SAS formated data set). Having said this, budgetary issues and troubles were a necessary but not sufficient condition in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Afghan war also increased their military spending quite a bit, but their R&D budget for new weaponry mirroring or trying to keep pace with our own research was out of the roof.

        "Men make their history, but not under the conditions of their own choosing" Guess who said this?

        by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:39:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd love to see your data ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave925, louisprandtl

          ...because here's some from Frances Fitzgerald, in Way Out There in the Blue, pp.474-475:

          As CIA analysts discovered in 1983, Soviet military spending had leveled off in 1975 to a growth rate of 1.3 percent, with spending for weapons procurements virtually flat. It remained that way for a decade. According to later CIA estimates, Soviet military spending rose in 1985 as a result of decisions taken earlier, and grew at a rate of 4.3 percent per year through 1987. Spending for procurements of offensive strategic weapons, however, increased by only 1.4 percent a year in that period. In 1988 Gorbachev began a round of budget cuts, bringing the defense budget back down to its 1980 level. In other words, while the U.S. military budget was growing at an average of 8 percent per year, the Soviets did not attempt to keep up, and their military spending did not rise even as might have been expected given the war they were fighting in Afghanistan.

          The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

          by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:34:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know that report and there are (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            louisprandtl

            discrepancies between the CIA analysis, which was guess work quite frankly--in another report issued from the same agency, they over-estimated their budgets by about 5 percentage points--and the real numbers. The truth is that they did not have a clue what the USSR's budget looked like, no one did actually. It was a top secret and even inside the USSR, there were only a few people who had access to the right thing. Moreover, they had 2 budgets; the real thing and the public thing and you can guess that the public one is pure fiction. Although the CIA got the part of 1970s expenditures a bit right (they actually used global economic trends to guess the USSR budget in 1970s--worldwide recession and so forth post-oil shock), they got the part of 1980s very wrong and the real numbers tell another story. If you look at the budgets (not the GDP) of 1982-85/86, you see an important growth in expenditures related to military R&D and some of it related to the Afghan war. As i said in my prior post, this could be interpreted as keeping pace with our own budget (actually interviews of former KGB officers and high official in the former USSR confirm that). Was it the only thing that brought the USSR down? No. Was it a necessary but not sufficient condition? You bet.

            Listen, i have no reason to mislead you. This thing is public knowledge now. I studied these budgets, i ran regressions and projections and graphs and so forth. I was trying to find out what a state-run economy looks like and what was prioritized and not prioritized in a dictatorship.  

            At least we can agree on something is that our intelligence agencies often got it wrong in the past too.

            Anyway, just find the budgets for yourself and look at them. They are public now and should be able to get them. I am not trying to convince you of anything, do it yourself.

            "Men make their history, but not under the conditions of their own choosing" Guess who said this?

            by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:16:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But was Reagan's buildup needed?.... (0+ / 0-)

              Carter had already substantially boosted military spending in 1976-1980.  Arguably the USSR boost in spending was in response to that.  Were Reagan's additional increases actually significant to the USSR?

              -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

              by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:24:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Apparently no. The 1970s economic crisis (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                neroden

                left them pretty badly wounded and they could not keep pace with our spending (over-spending). Moreover, If you read the interviews of former KGB officers and former high officials, all of them argue that they believed that the Reagan administration is out to get them (i mean Reagan was putting on shows on TV. It was like a movie...quite frankly a very successful PR campaign) and that they needed to compete or capitulate.

                This is not my field really, but all i can say is that there are those in academia who argue that it was necessary and there are those who argue just the opposite. If you want to find out about the arguments, check IO journal (international organization)from about 1994 to 1998.

                "Men make their history, but not under the conditions of their own choosing" Guess who said this?

                by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:35:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I think Jeffery Sacks has a paper on this (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            louisprandtl

            issue (state-run economies in a comparative perspective and so forth) in International review of applied economics or in International review of economics & finance. Forgot which one really, it's been a very long time since i dealt with this subject and i am retired now. Check these 2 journals out maybe you will get lucky.

            "Men make their history, but not under the conditions of their own choosing" Guess who said this?

            by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:24:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jeffrey Sachs was the guy who ... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dave925, neroden

              ...proposed - insisted upon - the post-Soviet fast-change austerity program that wound up putting  communist apparatchiks at the head of newly privatized state companies that they quickly plundered to become millionaires, and sometimes billionaires. But I'd be happy to check out his assessment.  

              The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

              by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:32:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, he did not insist, he advise them to (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Meteor Blades, louisprandtl

                follow the shock therapy approach (worked pretty good for Poland), which they did not follow. This is said, he is a good/great economist and scholar. Something has to be said about Sacks, he changed a lot lately. His views on world economic integration and so forth have changed.

                Just be careful of drawing fast conclusions from very few observations. You have always to establish causality between events otherwise you will risk to arrive to spurious relationships that sound and look right, but when you dig in deep, you find another story.

                "Men make their history, but not under the conditions of their own choosing" Guess who said this?

                by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:42:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I agree with your final sentence ... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dave925

                  ...but are you saying that the Russians didn't adopt shock therapy? In fact, Sachs was one of Yegor Gaidar's chief Western advisors, Gaidar being Yeltsin's main architect of the shock policies that made most Russians worse off a decade after the fall of the USSR. The privatization scheme backed by Sachs and other Harvard economists wound up supporting the oligarchical system that now dominates the Russian economy. A good deal of this was done with U.S. taxpayer assistance.

                  The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

                  by Meteor Blades on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 12:08:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually they did not. Most people (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Kuparuk

                    think that they did, but they did not. They started the program and then stopped it, then started it again, and they slowed it in other areas and so forth. Yeltsin was very worried of a coup (led by the military and former communists) if they go deep and follow all the recommendations of a real shock therapy like in Poland. The saving grace for Russia is that they had tones of nuclear weapons/material laying around and every western state (US and the EU) was willing to extend serious credit lines and loans to Russian to boost its economy and clean/secure its nuclear weapons. So, yes, the US tax payer did pay for Russia's reconstruction and also paid to secure those weapons.

                    So, they reformed their banking system and finances, but they did not make serious cuts in their spending (welfare state spending)on social programs and pensions and so forth. Look at Poland and how shock therapy was conducted. It was ruthless and with no mercy. They suffered for about 3 or 4 years, but they took off after that (it is called the J curve). Poland is a classic case of what shock therapy looks like.

                    The story of the oligarchs is the story of the communist party in USSR. Most of them were well connected members of the nomenklatura and they took advantage of those connections and made millions. Again, this is not my field here and i am speculating and relating what i read sometimes ago on the Economist. So, please don't take my word for it.

                    "Men make their history, but not under the conditions of their own choosing" Guess who said this?

                    by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 12:32:08 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  This dialog is what I expected from a (0+ / 0-)

                      progressive liberal. Great discussion..
                      BTW did Jeffery Sachs start changing when he found the  corruption fostered by Russian oligarchs? Or is it his work on global proverty and possibly india..

                      •  sorry missed on the word blog.. (0+ / 0-)

                        progressive liberal blog..

                      •  I am not sure, but i think he changed (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        louisprandtl

                        after or while he was advising the IMF, the World Bank, and also the WHO. I am not sure though. But in his book "the end of poverty" (2005) you will notice that his views changed a lot from his early academic work and writing. I think that his work with the WB and WHO impacted him greatly.

                        Having said that, his work in Bolivia on hyperinflation is marvelous. He took that country with an inflation of more than 10,000% per year and when he left, Bolivia had an inflation of around 10%.

                        Just a correction to my prior comments: I am not sure about this, but i think he never really worked directly with the Russians on finances or privatization of public assets. He did mostly macro-econ. stuff (inflation and monetary policies).

                        "Men make their history, but not under the conditions of their own choosing" Guess who said this?

                        by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:03:37 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

  •  Offensive weapons are much cheaper than (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, NumberTenOx

    defensive weapons. The current missile interceptor technology according to Prof. Lawrence Krauss of Case Reserve Western U. has about 60% failure rates..We are still way out from building a network of defensive weapons. There are lot scientific discussions on where to take on the incoming missile. However it can be argued that it is better to take out the missile during the launch/boost phase than during the midcourse as in the latter phase, the missile can deploy decoys, multiple warheads et al to confuse the interceptor. This may mean we have to have sea based mobile interceptor launchers or land based like in Poland.

  •  I'm sorry. I cannot comment on this post as I am (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krush, cleverblogname, Omar Little

    recieving heavy sniper fire right now.

    •  I can't comment because (0+ / 0-)

      I heard Hillary and some blogger were going bowling and now I've got em pinned down in an alleyway with my paint gun.

      It's about 3am where I am and I think Hillary just freaked out and started crying because her cellphone startled her.

      She didn't answer, but I'm in one of those states that doesn't matter... so it probably didn't matter anyway.

  •  Historically deficient reasoning.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greatdarkspot, louisprandtl

    Building and switching on such a system, critics said, would smash the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction. And that would not be a good thing, as Reagan’s speech implied, but a very bad thing.

    Why? Because a broad range of experts believed – and still believe – that it’s impossible for a missile shield to nail all or even most thousands of warheads from incoming ballistic missiles.

    How can anyone looking back 25 years not see that Reagan's defense initiatives (although never attainable and more pie-in-the-sky than anything) made the Soviet Union reassess and back down?  MAD had to be broken for any progress to be made.  Otherwise the stalemate could have gone  on forever.

    To compare Reagan's success with the idiotic Bush Administration's pursuit of such systems is flawed reasoning.  Star Wars was virtually scrapped when the Soviet Union collapsed, as well it should have been.  It served it's purpose.

    Bush's pursuit of defensive shields in Europe and renewed SDI spending shows how out of touch he is with reality.  And he has only succeeded in taunting the Russians into renewing nuke bomber patrols.. And now it seems Putin has found that military and nuclear posturing is the only thing he has going for him politically, quite like his American counterpart!

    •  I disagree. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greatdarkspot, louisprandtl

      You don't really know Russians as much as I know them. My country was occupied by the Soviets for fifty years, and I have had way too many history classes on Russia.
      To sum it up in a simple few words- Russians are crazy, and not to be trusted.
      Putin is dreaming of recreating the Big Russian Empire, and he is dangerous, as is his follower.
      The anti missle shields in Europe (Poland and Chech Republic) are an eyesore for Putin. It's literally pissing them off. Big time.
      My advise to America- never, ever underestimate Russia. Trust me, I know.

      Ce qui embellit le désert, c'est qu'il cache un puits quelque part...

      by gigglinggirl on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:57:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ask Gorbachev. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, jds1978

      The Soviet Union was running out of money when he got into office.  It was already going bankrupt.

      Perhaps due to Carter's massive military buildup, in fact?  Everyone forgets about that due to Reagan's even larger and more wasteful military budget.  Reagan's extra budget on top of that was pretty unlikely to be useful, especially once Gorbachev got into power, since Gorbachev was intent on cutting back on the arms race.

      Another documented reason the USSR was bankrupted was the fiasco which was the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.  The US policy of backing mujahedeen -- which, by the way, was probably not a good idea in the long run as it led to the Taliban -- was certainly somewhat effective.  We associate it with Reagan -- but it was started by Carter.

      -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

      by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:03:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe, but the Carter is not known in Europe (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greatdarkspot

        as much as Reagan. Reagan is credited for the fall of the USSR in Europe.
        You see in order to understand Russia, you can't think like an American. Russian dictators (the best description I can master), are not like American presidents. In the US there are free elections, but not in Russia. There were never not one single free elections in the entire history of Russia. Ever.
        Keep that in mind. Gorbaczev was a product of economic and political pressures coming from the United States. Russians had no choice. Gorbaczev wasn't elected. Pierestrojka was a result of only economic winter imposed by the United States. Otherwise it woulnd't have happened.
        Sorry for my sloppiness, I am a little tired, it's late.

        Ce qui embellit le désert, c'est qu'il cache un puits quelque part...

        by gigglinggirl on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:16:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  one more thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden

          I am forever grateful to Reagan, as are millions of people in Eastern Europe.
          You see, look at it this way. There is always a silver lining in everything that takes place in the world.
          Iraq shouldn't have happened but there are millions of people who will be forever grateful for Saddam's collapse, even if it will take generations of Iraqis.
          I think Reagan is underestimated here in the US, or among liberals, because of philosophical differences. I am a liberal, but I understand that sometimes wars have to happen.

          Ce qui embellit le désert, c'est qu'il cache un puits quelque part...

          by gigglinggirl on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:22:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  He was a "great communicator" (0+ / 0-)

            -- I have to admit he was good in speeches and debates, even though that was partly because he wasn't much bothered with whether he was telling the truth or not.  And he was very good at taking credit for good things -- whether or not he was responsible for them -- while the bad things he did simply slid off his "Teflon". Truly a great politican, and as a politician he should never be underestimated -- he was very very good at politics.

            And on a less mixed note I will forever credit him with actually sitting down with Gorbachev and making deals to reduce the nuclear missiles.  Most of his advisors told him not to.  

            Unfortunately, that's tempered by remembering "We begin bombing in five minutes".  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/...
            )  That joke remark could have caused WWIII -- it did put the Soviet Army on alert for 30 minutes -- and makes Reagan one of the scariest presidents ever.

            -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

            by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:35:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Saint Ronnie - the worst. CA. gov. ever.... nt (0+ / 0-)

      A fine quotation is a diamond on the finger of a man of wit, and a pebble in the hand of a fool. - Joseph Roux

      by 99 Percent Pure on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 12:26:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The entire MIC is based on lies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden

    Evan George Bush Sr, Dick Cheney et al are on record saying SDI cannot logically work. You put one antimissile system in space the enemy builds two icbms. One of them a decoy. Or three. Or four. You bankrupt yourself quickly while the enemy barely increases its budget. And of course it could never work for another reason. The Soviet submarine fleet was far superior far earlier than ours. The one place the soviets had a big nuclear advantage for a long time was sub based nukes. You cannot shoot submarine based nukes from space as they may have to travel a few hundred, or even tens of miles.

    The idea that we were ever "defensive" is laughable as well. The Stealth bomber and stealth fighter are first strike weapons. Cruise missiles are first strike weapons. Submarine launched missils are first strike weapons. We have always, far before the day Kennedy pushed the Moon program with the real agenda of developing space based and intercontinental nuclear delivery capability, been searching for ways to annihilate the Soviet union and most of the east.

    Whenever a politician tells you to be afraid you should.. of him and his agenda.

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

    by cdreid on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:50:32 PM PDT

  •  "US does not start fights...never be aggressor" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, JeffW

    Guess Bush disproved that "doctrine".  Right wing Republicans invariably say one thing (deficit, debt, war, individual rights, war) and do the opposite and make a mess of everything.

  •  If not Reagan there wouldn't be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greatdarkspot

    me here today in the United States.
    Him and John Paul II freed my country from behind the iron curtain.

    I think of Reagan as a Democrat. Stop bashing him.

    Ce qui embellit le désert, c'est qu'il cache un puits quelque part...

    by gigglinggirl on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:53:02 PM PDT

    •  Um, thank Gorbachev. (0+ / 0-)

      If you look at your history, he's the one who actually freed your country from behind the Iron Curtain.  Personally ordered it, no less.

      -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

      by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:56:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If not Reagan there would be no Gorbachev... (0+ / 0-)

        And that's my point.
        It all started with Reagan.

        Ce qui embellit le désert, c'est qu'il cache un puits quelque part...

        by gigglinggirl on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 09:58:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  With all due respect ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, louisprandtl

          ...gigglinggirl, I recommend some broader reading on the Cold War than you apparently have done if your view is that it all started with Reagan. A lot of the Republicans would like you (and other Americans) to believe that, but it is utterly false.

          The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

          by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:17:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Inform me (0+ / 0-)

            So who DID it start with?  Nixon?

            •  What are we talking about? (0+ / 0-)

              I don't mean Cold War started with Reagan.
              USSR empire thawing started with Reagan. Don't mix those two.
              I lived through some of the Cold War, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, and it was really cold, believe me.

              Ce qui embellit le désert, c'est qu'il cache un puits quelque part...

              by gigglinggirl on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:25:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Some people might say it started ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              neroden

              ...with "X," the writer of an article in Foreign Affairs in 1947 that was the origin of the "containment" policy. He later was identified as George Kennan.

              In 2002, Kennan wrote that

              "...the suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish. ... Thus the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union."

              The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

              by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:44:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hmm... doesn't make sense (0+ / 0-)

                How could economic sanctions delay "the great change that overtook the Soviet Union"?
                Anything but delay.
                Listen, I've been there. I know. No article writer in the year 2002 knows what it was like in the USSR, behind the Iron Curtain.

                I don't claim it was one US administration that did it. Not at all. There were a series of events, series of systems involved in changes that caused a domino effect. That you might be familiar with, I suppose. Domino effect...

                Ce qui embellit le désert, c'est qu'il cache un puits quelque part...

                by gigglinggirl on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:53:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Excuse me if I am not willing to take... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  neroden, jds1978

                  ...seriously someone who dismisses as a mere "article writer" an historian/diplomat who wrote 17 books on foreign policy, including a six-volume account of Russian/Soviet-U.S. relations, and who correctly predicted the end of the Soviet Union when others in the United States, particularly some advisors to Ronald Reagan, were saying the USSR would survive into the 21st Century unless the U.S. went to war with it.

                  The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

                  by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:06:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Kennan was fatally flawed (0+ / 0-)

                Kennan was, in my view, fatally flawed as intellectual on the topic of Soviet expansionism.  One critique I have often heard of his 'X' article, and his later clarified positions are that he always believed and promoted that a chasm would develop between the 'Soviet' aspect of the Soviet system and the communist aspect of hte Soviet system, allowing for a more mellow, less expansionist minded Soviet Union, who could be dealt with through more traditional means.

                At the time that his long telegram and famous article were published, he was in Moscow, and then recently back Stateside.  While in the Soviet Union, he had access to The Man himself, as well as the top eschelons of Soviet authority and appartus, so it's not inconceivable that he was affected by the disconnect between the elite Soviet and the average Soviet, and that what he witnessed formed an impression that the communist aspect of the system was not largely a permanent basis for post-war Soviet system.

                His authorship of the "containment" policy, and the life that this policy took once appropriated by the hardliners within the Truman administration, obviously tormented him for the next six decades.

                But for me, anyways, I cannot really view his standard histories or analysis with acceptance knowing that he so badly misjudged the dedication of the ruling elite - Stalin and the rest of of the post-war Soviets, as communists.  Perhaps for Stalin it was expedient, but his vast purges, his manacial dedication to political purity, and his cult of personality all worked to cement a permanent relationship between the Soviets and communists, to the point where they became inseperable.   A historian and analyst with first hand knowledge of the situation should not have missed the signs and should have felt the winds of communism forming in post-war Russia, if not immediately, certainly before allowing his masterstroke to be appropriated by hardliners.

            •  Four things led to the collapse... (0+ / 0-)

              1-A corrupt, top-heavy, and monied interest centralized bureaucracy(sound familiar)that sucked the life out of the economy.
              2-Organized crime controlled nearly every aspect of an underground black market economy.
              3-The 10 year war in Afghanistan, a VERY unpopular war, like our own Vietnam and Iraq war, that brought home the personal sacrifices and financial costs up close and personal to the Russian people.
              4-An out of control arms race with us that they could not sustain. In short, they spent themselves into bankruptcy trying to have both guns and butter. They proved a lesson we refuse to or are just to damn stubborn to learn, that you can't survive as a nation with your economy in ruins.

              "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

              by ImpeachKingBushII on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 10:28:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Not Gorby (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jds1978

        Yeltsin should get the credit.  Yeltsin was the one who faced down the tanks.  Yeltsin was the one who destroyed the Soviet Union - Gorby wanted to try and reform it but keep it in place.

        •  Ok, looks like some people took no history (0+ / 0-)

          lessons.
          In order to understand what happened in Europe, you can't think like an American, in terms of democracy and free world.
          Yeltsin and Gorbaczev would not have happened if not the economic and political pressures from the free world- largely United States.
          Yeltsin had no power after USSR started already thawing out.
          USSR fell apart organically, with no bloody revolution. Except for the one in Romania. I will never forget that bloody Christmas when Romania was freed from Czalczesku (sorry for not spelling his name correctly).
          Good night.

          Ce qui embellit le désert, c'est qu'il cache un puits quelque part...

          by gigglinggirl on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 10:29:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I assumed gigglinggirl was from non-Soviet (0+ / 0-)

          Eastern Europe.  Gorbachev is indeed responsible for those countries being released from Soviet domination.

          I suppose I could be wrong and she could be from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, or Ukraine.

          -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

          by neroden on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 11:38:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  SDI (0+ / 0-)

    I think SDI today is kind of pointless for the US.  North Korea - if they want to attack - are more likely to simply put a bomb on a ship and sail it into NY harbour.  There are countries that can benefit from spaced-based defense, but it's very expensive.

    BUT - I consider MAD to be a totally immoral defensive stance and I admire Reagan for trying to change the paradigm.   And - here is the truth - he did.  Edward Teller was full of it and Reagan was misinformed, but at the end of the day he did win the Cold War.

  •  what about HAARP (0+ / 0-)

    From Rods from Gods

    At the crux of the U.S. directed energy program is the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) operating in Gakona, Alaska. (www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/ ) This ionosphere agitator is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. While the government officially denies its military application, Dr. Arnold Barnes of Phillips Lab lectured on the military applications of HAARP at the United States Army’s Developmental Test Command Symposium in 1997, where the good doctor also outlined the history of the U.S. military’s involvement in "weather modification."

    (www.dtc.army.mil/tts/1997/proceed/abarnes/  )

    from 1990 Popular Science

    But that's just the publicly announced part of the program. HAARP also has a secret agenda: pursuing more exotic military goals, such as locating deeply buried weapons factories thousands of miles away and even altering the local weather above an enemy's territory.

    A 1990 internal document obtained by POPULAR SCIENCE says the program's overall goal is to "control ionospheric processes in such a way as to greatly improve the performance of military command, control, and communications systems." It provides a description of the following applications:

     # Injecting high-frequency radio energy into the ionosphere to create huge, extremely low frequency (ELF) virtual antennas used for earth-penetrating tomography peering deep beneath the surface of the ground by collecting and analyzing reflected ELF waves beamed down from above.
     # Heating regions of the lower and upper ionosphere to form virtual "lertses" and "mirrors" that can reflect a broad range of radio frequencies far over the horizon to detect stealthy cruise missiles and aircraft.
     # Generating ELF radio waves in the ionosphere to communicate across large distances with deeply submerged submarines.

    And, patent documents filed during an earlier research effort that evolved into the HAARP program outline further military applications of ionospheric-heating technology:

     # Creating a "full global shield" that would destroy ballistic missiles by overheating their electronic guidance systems as they fly through a powerful radio-energy field.
     # Distinguishing nuclear warheads from decoys by sensing their elemental composition.
     # Manipulating local weather.

    When the full HAARP facility is constructed, it will include several sensing and analysis systems. At its heart is the antenna field, which now is a demonstration version of a larger planned array named the ionospheric research instrument (IRI), which will include 360 antennas. The IRI is designed to temporarily modify 30-mile diameter patches of the upper atmosphere by excit ing, or "heating," their constituent electrons and ions with focused beams of powerful, highfrequency radio energy. A household analogy would be a microwave oven, which heats dinner by exciting the food's water molecules with microwave energy.

  •  Maggot Brain (0+ / 0-)

    Anyone else out there drunk and listening to Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain/" I didn't think so.  Oh is it sublime. Mmmm.

  •  great post, MB (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krush, louisprandtl

    I've been looking forward to your SDI piece, and it doesn't disappoint. Your expertise in the subject is apparent.

  •  Second best boondoggle evar... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jds1978

    The Springfield Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
    Like a genuine,
    Bona fide,
    Electrified,
    Six-car
    Monorail!
    What'd I say?
    Ned Flanders: Monorail!
    Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
    Patty+Selma: Monorail!
    Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!
    [crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]
    Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...
    Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
    Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?
    Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
    Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?
    Lyle Lanley: You'll be given cushy jobs.
    Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?
    Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.
    Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.
    Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.
    I swear it's Springfield's only choice...
    Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
    All: Monorail!
    Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
    All: Monorail!
    Lyle Lanley: Once again...
    All: Monorail!
    Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...
    Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!
    All: Monorail!
    Monorail!
    Monorail!
    [big finish]
    Monorail!
    Homer: Mono... D'oh!

    "A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. " - Douglas Adams

    by I like Ike on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 12:50:13 AM PDT

  •  biggest obstacle to SDI was Samantha Smith (0+ / 0-)

    the 11 yo girl who wrote to Andropov and became the anti-Reagan when she was invited to visit the USSR and came back with a peace message for not only her generation but her parents generation by speaking to them for their own children on the nuclear lunacy, Star Wars, the MX missile etc.  On the verge of becoming a hollywood phenom (thanks partly to Clinton friends the Bloodworth Thomassons) and already sparking anti-war sentiments in millions who idolized her, her threat to the trillion dollar Star Wars program was a PR and electoral nightmare. The movie Amazing Grace and Chuck was loosely based on her story. In 1985, 13 yo, she was Wellstoned.

  •   If we spent the same money building bridges (of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dan porter

    the metaphorical type) as we do building weapons of mass destruction (oh my!) we could co opt the boogeyman.

    "The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend." - Abraham Lincoln

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 06:45:57 AM PDT

  •  Let's start the arms race again. (0+ / 0-)

    Nuclear weapons has been so successful.

    Hating the rest of the world for corp. profits when they ship my jobs overseas and evade taxes doesn't make my children any safer.

    by ghett on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 06:50:53 AM PDT

  •  explanation ? (0+ / 0-)

    Like any good Nazi, he recommended putting nuclear bombs into orbit to attack Soviet cities and military installations. He also proposed a space-based defense against missiles, an orbiting ring of hundreds of satellites, sentries armed with small rockets capable of destroying enemy ICBMs.

    Does this quote attributed to a Nazi mean that Ronald Reagan, had he been born and grown up in Stutgart would likely have been a Nazi? I think so.

    Lary Waldman

  •  "No doubt doable" (0+ / 0-)

    This is from the key section of this piece:
    "knocking down a single missile or a handful of missiles coming at the United States in a surprise attack is no doubt doable"

    Granted, the technical, strategic, and political problems of the original vision of SDI were many.  But given the current situation, we don't need a system that will knock down thousands of Soviet ICBM's.  Isn't it possible that the "tang and teflon" of the original SDI is a system that can take out a handful of terrorist missiles?

  •  Speaking of smashing... (0+ / 0-)

    ...When Ronnie Rayguns said:

    "The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor.

    ...he had no inkling that Bush #43 would do his best to undo everything good America ever stood for, turning us into a nation of warmongers. This has not fallen on deaf ears or blind eyes. Russia's ex-KGB head, and president Vladmir Putin already introduced into service the counter-missile for Bush's Star Wars "defense" a year ago, last March.

    Bush is a fool to underestimate the Russians. They may have changed flags, but they still possess 1000's of MIRV'd warheads, the will, and the means to teach us a very stern lesson that:

    We don't own the copyright on pre-emption, or on waging an aggressive war of self-defense or as the experts say, a first strike capability of their own!
    And I believe with all my heart and soul, that the very same day that Bush "lays that final straw on the camel's back" and attacks Iran, Putin will unleash a massive nuclear retaliatory strike against our homeland!

    The Russians trusted another man with global hegemonic goals once, and Putin learned the lesson Stalin missed at his nation's peril. He won't make the same mistake his predecessor made. Just one more thing that makes that 100,000 acres of property Bush purchased in Paraguay look more logical and relevant every day.

    "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 10:01:31 AM PDT

  •  The Peace Dividend (0+ / 0-)

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.

    It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

    The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

    It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

    It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

    It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

    We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

    We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

    This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

    This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

    "Chance for Peace", President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 16 April 1953.

    Thanks to an unbroken line of U.S. Presidents and Congresses, we are no closer to enjoying a real "peace dividend" than when Eisenhower spoke those words 55 years ago -- even though the Cold War, which was the justification for the massive military spending that's gone on since, has been over for 19 years.

    It is time for a change, not more of the same.

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