June 21, 2006

To Bag Or Not to Bag

Hatched by Dafydd

Talk continues to swirl about the possiblity that if North Korea makes good its threat to launch a test of its Taepodong-2 ICBM, we might just shoot it down.

And the Democratic People's Republic of Korea already appears to be getting cold feet and sweaty palms:

North Korea wants talks with the United States over its planned missile test, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, a sign Pyongyang might be ready to step back from the mounting crisis.

But Washington ruled out any special talks over the issue which it, along with South Korea and Japan, says poses a grave danger to a region already deeply worried by North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Rule Number One of negotiations: when your opponent wants a meeting more than you, that's the time to demand concessions. Fortunately, we have a businessman in the White House... rather than a career politician who believes that when your opponent is anxious for a meeting, you should surrender to him.

I think it pretty clear that Pyongyang is more worried about a successful intercept by our BMD system than are the Democrats and some American military analysts, such as perennial Fox News commentator Gen. Thomas McInerney (who only gives us a 60% chance of hitting the Taepodong missile).

So far as I know, McInerney has not had any particular connection with BMD in many years, though I think he had some command responsibility over it at one point in his military career. I'm not sure how qualified he is to make such precise estimates, or what his basis is for doing so; I'd rather see a somewhat more current source -- except of course that would require leaking, which I don't want to see!

[Correction: McInerney said 60% chance with one shot, near certainty if we fire two antimissiles; but I still want to know what his basis is for saying either of these.]

One of the reasons I hope they do try to splash the Taepodong is to gainsay the chorus of screams already emanating from the penumbra of LiberalLand. From the AP story above:

Although shooting down a North Korean missile is a possibility, the Pentagon also must consider factors that would argue against such a response, including the risk of shooting and missing and of escalating tensions further with the communist nation....

Robert Einhorn, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said a U.S. shootdown of a North Korean missile on a test flight or a space launch would draw "very strong international reaction" against the United States. He saw only a small chance that the U.S. would attempt a shootdown....

At the time of the 1998 launch, the United States had no means of shooting down a long-range missile in flight. Since then, the Pentagon has developed a rudimentary system that it says is capable of defending against a limited number of missiles in an emergency - with a North Korean attack particularly in mind....

David Wright, a senior scientist at the private Union of Concerned Scientists, said he strongly doubts that the Bush administration could back up its claims of having the capability to shoot down a North Korean missile.

"I consider it to be rhetorical posturing," Wright said. "It currently has no demonstrated capability."

The last time the Pentagon registered a successful test in intercepting a mock warhead in flight was in October 2002. Since then, there have been three unsuccessful attempted intercepts, most recently in February 2005.

The temptation to buck this finger-wagging, "it'll end in tears" whining is nearly irresistable.

The reality is that if the NoKos believe there is a good chance we'll shoot the missile down, they won't fire; they have far more to lose by a hit than we have by a miss. Curiously, there is a strange congruence of interest between the North Koreans and the American Democrats: both would love to prove that the much-vaunted BMD system is just "rhetorical posturing" by the military; but both are too frightened by the possibility that it isn't a fraud even to try.

Hence, the hellish chorus demanding we do nothing.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 21, 2006, at the time of 3:10 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Eg

Call my response, 'Hit, Miss and Pass, Who Cares?' We're getting played.

Will Great Leader or Iran like the ending(or beginning) if they absolutely insist on playing this hand?

I somehow doubt it.

The above hissed in response by: Eg [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 21, 2006 4:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: cdquarles


It is time to call Kim Jong-Il's 72 off-suit bluff. Go all-in Mr. President! If they launch it on a trajectory that threatens the US, Japan, South Korea or Taiwan, use our BMD to try to shoot the sucker down.

The above hissed in response by: cdquarles [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 21, 2006 5:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

What are the chances the airborne laser system is more fully developed?
I think the BMD missle system has a lot of challenges. A high altitude lasing system can overcome a lot of thoseproblems, althogh it obviously has its own sets of prblems.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 21, 2006 9:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

could we shoot and purposely miss? then accidentally hit the launch site?

The above hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 21, 2006 10:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 22, 2006 2:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Davod

I believe the USN has has had a recent (2005) successfull trial using its standard missile.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 22, 2006 3:07 AM

The following hissed in response by: drdoct

What the Democrats and Norks know is that we're the United States and we always have something new up our sleeve. I think we're working digilently on a missle defense system that will not only work, but will work better than anyone else could ever imagine. Dont forget that we're the ones that built the SR-71 a few decades before anyone could imagine a plane that flew that high and fast. We also imagined and built not one but at least two kinds stealth aircraft. Who knows what is out there getting tested at groom lake, but I'm betting on our imagination and know how. As everyone else has said... The missle tests have been just using one kill vehicle, but I would imagine that we have the ability to fire at least 4 and probably more like 10 or so at one time. I just wonder if Bush has the balls do even attempt it or if Condi will deliver the care package to Mr. Ill like we appear to be doing with the Iranians.

The above hissed in response by: drdoct [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 22, 2006 6:14 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

Now we see the value of the BMD - not to actually shoot anything down, but to add uncertainty to nutjobs like the North Koreans and Iran. Worth every cent.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 22, 2006 9:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Ok. This is too good to pass up: The Belmont Club pointed me to an article in the WashPo in which some former Clinton defense officials (OK, one is a sort-of-Republican) endorse the present Bush "preemptive strike" foreign policy!

The Bush administration has unwisely ballyhooed the doctrine of "preemption," which all previous presidents have sustained as an option rather than a dogma. It has applied the doctrine to Iraq, where the intelligence pointed to a threat from weapons of mass destruction that was much smaller than the risk North Korea poses. (The actual threat from Saddam Hussein was, we now know, even smaller than believed at the time of the invasion.) But intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy.

Isn't that something: they want the Prez to deliver a cruise missle to the launchpad of a nuclear armed adversary! Hmmm. Do you think that would provoke, like, a WAR?

So these clowns aren't interested in an in-flight intercept, where no one thinks a war would result, and nor are they interested in the usual Democratic plan, "DIPLOMACY". No, these guys want to kick some butt, and they want to do it right now! Entertaining. I wonder what Russ Feingold and John K think about this Democratic idea?

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2006 7:53 AM

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