is Nothing but Sci-Fi
by Morgan Moallemian
Not so long ago, in a galaxy not very far away, a young heir
to an illegitimate throne leads his rag tag Republican army
in a heroic rebellion against the diabolical forces of Lord
Logic. In a 100-day struggle to unite, not divide, the long
suffering tribes of the Military Industrial Complex, Rebel
Leader George II, has marshalled what remains of his invisible
political mandate in a final bid to defeat the evil Empire
of Common Sense... welcome to Star Wars, Part II.
And so begins the sequel to Ronald Reagan's 1980's era deficit-feeding
pet project - the so called "Star
Wars" missile defense system. After two decades and
billions of dollars in research, we are not much closer to
realizing the promise of a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)
- aka National Missile Defense - than we were during the Reagan
Using a combination of satellite infrared tracking, laser
and radar targeting systems, and ground based interceptors,
system would, in theory, knock out incoming ICBM's (InterContinental
Ballistic Missiles) high in the atmosphere before they have
a chance to detonate on US soil. The latest Pentagon test,
conducted in the summer of 2000, fired a lone Minuteman missile
and attempted to destroy it high above the Pacific Ocean using
the SDI system. The test failed
to bring down a single missile in a controlled setting. Now
consider a full scale ICMB attack against the United States.
A thousand armed warheads hurling towards the US. Feeling
On the surface, SDI seems to be an attractive and noble
military scheme, since it is defensive in nature. Who can
argue with the notion of destroying incoming nuclear missiles
before they blast us into the stone age? And in the 80's,
as the Cold War raged between the United States and the USSR,
it was an even more attractive prospect. The Soviet economy
was hardly equipped to withstand such a massive drain on their
budget. But now that the Cold War is history, the SDI fantasy
makes little sense.
The official White House spin in defense of SDI is to neutralize
the threat from the so-called "rogue" nations such
as China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, etc. The only problem
is that none of these countries are even close to developing
the technology required to build ICBM's - with the exception
of China, who is thought to possess roughly 18 warheads, mounted
on missiles that could possibly reach the coast of California.
The only real nuclear threat in the post Cold War era remains
Russia, who controls the vast arsenal of the former Soviet
Union. In 1972, the Nixon administration signed the Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty with the former Soviet Union. This treaty is
still valid today as a result of Russia agreeing to honor
all arms treaty commitments signed by the Soviet Union. SDI
is in violation of this treaty. But this doesn't seem to bother
the current commander in chief, who pledged to bring "honor
and integrity" to the White House. President Bush has
the 30 year old agreement to clear the way for a full scale
development of his generous gift to the military industrial
The SDI plan is flawed in so many ways, it is difficult
to determine where to begin. With the current state of SDI
technology, not even a single missile can be neutralized,
let alone multiple warheads. The system fails to address the
use of adaptive decoys, radar and infrared scrambling devices,
and cold-shielding of warheads (making them impervious to
accurate tracking). Throw in a reasonable margin of error
and the shield quickly becomes a tattered umbrella.
SDI also completely fails to take into account alternate
methods of delivery, such as ships, trucks, trains, cars and
perhaps even suitcases in the near future - remember the recent
Pentagon request to fund "battleground"
low-yield nukes? How about a strategically placed warhead
on a faultline? One has to beg the question - isn't it more
likely for a technologically challenged "rogue"
state to utilize one of these low-tech delivery systems rather
than a multi-billion dollar ICMB system who's development
is, in most cases, decades away?
SDI proponents also ignore the fact that large scale nuclear
detonations ANYWHERE on the planet would cause catastrophic
climatic consequences for ALL of the inhabitants of the world.
Perhaps SDI has a contingency plan for global nuclear winter?
No such luck. And if that wasn't enough, SDI in no way addresses
the more likely threat of biological and chemical weapons
of mass destruction.
The cost for this exciting sci-fi thriller? It could reach
as high as $1 TRILLION dollars by some estimates.
I seem to remember President Bush going on and on about
the budget surplus "belonging to the people". Now,
let's see, by my calculations... that would be $3,636 for
every man, woman and child in the United States. Hmmm, not
too bad. It sure beats the paltry amount I would save under
the Bush tax cut. Or if you prefer, 50,000 new state of the
art schools. Or National Universal Health Care FOUR TIMES
OVER. Or updating the Country's aging infrastructure. Or providing
state of the art mass transit in every major US city. Or providing
every American child with a roof over their head and a computer
on their lap. Or ridding our environment of all forms of industrial
pollution, including arsenic and toxic waste. Or helping the
desperate situations of the poorest countries in the world
(including the aforementioned "rogue" states) with
economic aid in return for pledges to not pursue the development
of nuclear weapons. Or even colonizing Mars, so we have some
place to go when that big asteroid (It's only a matter of
time they say) hits mother earth. Or, we can simply blow it
all on a defective system that benefits no one, except the
Mr. Bush, take the science fiction out of Washington and
return it where it belongs. Hollywood.