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The U.S. Defense Department claims that its Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD) and Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) systems make the U.S. homeland invicible from ballistic missile attack. These claims are insane, say two of the nation's top security experts.  (Source: Nato Source/Atlantic Council)

The security researchers claim drone-based interception over the enemy nation is the only reliable way to shoot down ballistic missiles.  (Source: DARPA/Boeing)

Iran is reportedly designing fin-less ballistic missiles that could outwit current U.S. interceptors. Iranian defense officials are pictured here unveiling their new drone bomber, which they nicknamed "the messenger of death".  (Source: Reuters)
They suggest a drone based solution would fix the flaws presented by a ground-based system, using only existing tech

The United States recently followed Israel's claims that it was ready to shoot down any nuclear missile aimed its way, with similar claims of its own.  The U.S. has begun reexamining space-based defenses and has also been quietly upgrading its ground-based missile-defense shield, even as U.S. President Barack Obama pushes his vision of global nuclear disarmament.

A new study, though, published in the 
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, insists that the U.S.'s claims of security are very flawed.  Authored by two top American security authorities, the study argues that despite recent upgrades and breakthroughs, America assertion that its homeland is safe from any airborne nuclear threat is a "dangerous fantasy".

George N. Lewis, a physicist and associate director of the Peace Studies Program at Cornell University, and Theodore A. Postal, a physicist and professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT, authored the new report.

The report specifically targets an April 2010 U.S. government resolution that declared the U.S. to be safe from ballistic missile threats from hostile nations such as Iran and North Korea, thanks to its US Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD) and Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) systems.  According to Professors Lewis and Postal, though, this new declaration is based on a "technical myth" as Iran is thought to be developing countermeasures to make its ballistic devices harder to shoot down.  Other hostile nations may be working on similar countermeasures.

But the pair of professors isn't just griping about what they view as an ineffective strategy -- they're proposing what seems like a sensible solution.  They advise that rather than rely on what they call a "ineffective, untested, and unworkable" GMD system, that funding instead be put into developing a constantly airborne fleet of stealth drones over the airspace of hostile nations.

That way, rather than trying to shoot down missiles that have already reached the United States, Northern and Western Europe, and Northern Russia -- and likely are deploying countermeasures -- the drones would instead launch fast interceptors taking out the missiles over the hostile country's own airspace, preventing them from deploying effective countermeasures.

The plan would also be kosher with the New START arms reduction treaty, recently signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.  That treaty set a limit of 1,550 ready-to-use ballistic warheads (each) on the U.S. and Russia's respective arsenals.  It also contained language limiting certain missile defense strategies.

The current systems, according to the pair of researchers, are ineffective for two reason.  The first is simple physics.  Interceptors, in their current form, can only accurately predict and target regular trajectories from finned missile designs.  Iran is reportedly designing fin-less designs that would likely cause interceptors to miss.  They could also employ tumbling missile designs, similar to those used to defeat the Patriot Missile Defense in the Gulf War of 1991.

Secondly, decoys can also hinder proper shoot-down.  U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles are equipped with decoy warheads, so that once in space, the real warhead launches amid a swarm of identical dummy warheads, making interception an increasingly impossible task. There's no reason why Iran, North Korea, or others would be unable to develop similar technology.

The authors take special issue with the U.S. Defense Department's claims that the U.S. is already defended from nuclear threats, pointing out that they have no evidence supporting that the system would work in combat.  Professor Lewis comments, "These claims are fantastical, audacious, and dangerous."

A drone solution they say would provide a full answer to the problem and would not require new technology.  Further, shot down warheads would fall on enemy territory should they still manage to activate after being hit by an interceptor.

Professor Lewis concludes, "The situation is urgent, as Iran is already demonstrating countermeasures in flight tests that would render both the GMD and SM-3 long-range missile defense systems ineffective.  If we, as a nation, refuse to confront the fact that our chosen defense system is not reliable, and if we fail to build a robust and reliable alternative system using existing technology, we will have only ourselves to blame if the continental United States suffers a catastrophe as a result of the successful delivery of a nuclear weapon by long-range ballistic missile."

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This can be solved diplomatically
By mcnabney on 11/1/2010 3:27:04 PM , Rating: 3
I know the technology is really gosh-darn cool, but it is the kind of thing you would prefer not testing. Kind of like in real life - which is ultimately more useful, carrying a gun with you at all times for protection or making efforts to avoid situations that you might have to use one? Like not wandering around dark alleys in bad parts of town.

So attempt to confront the threat politically. It could even be done like PR. We have a fairly effective nuclear deterent. All we have to do is guarantee that there would be immediate and complete retribution from that type of action and include with that the clear representation that other nations enabling that act will face similar consequences. I'm sure you will hear a screed from China, but the facts of the matter are that North Korea is like a barking pit bull on a leash held by China. If someone let their dog bite my kid I would put the first three rounds into the dog and the rest of the magazine into the owner. The same idea works in geopolitics.

/I actually told a neighbor that once

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By Iaiken on 11/1/2010 4:35:30 PM , Rating: 2
/I actually told a neighbor that once

Well aren't you a toughie...

By mcnabney on 11/2/2010 9:39:53 AM , Rating: 3
People will say and do a lot of things when their four year old daughter gets cornered on her own playset in her own backyard by the neighbor's rottweiler. I chased the dog off with a rake and moments later the neighbor came out to collect her dog. That is when I shouted it at her. My point was taken to heart though, I haven't seen the dog off of a leash (they used to just let it out to do it's thing) since.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By tng on 11/1/2010 5:43:12 PM , Rating: 4
which is ultimately more useful, carrying a gun with you at all times for protection or making efforts to avoid situations that you might have to use one?

Actually, I think that it is best to carry the gun and also avoid the situations. However real life rarely works that way, eventually you may need to use it.

Back in the 90's there was a group of pointy headed academics who came out with a statement that said that the US should stop development of missile defense systems because they don't work well enough to get all of the warheads. They were correct, the systems at that time were not very good, but they have gotten better. The problem I have with people like this is that although they proposed a different solution, it is a much worse idea than what they want to get rid of.

I think that we should basically tell the world now that if a rouge nation launches or you let a rouge element launch from your shores, we will retaliate in kind. All the while we should continue to improve what defenses we have.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By roykahn on 11/1/2010 7:06:12 PM , Rating: 3
we should basically tell the world now that if a rouge nation launches or you let a rouge element launch from your shores, we will retaliate in kind

You do realise that America is a rogue nation, right? Also, America is not interested in retaliation, its business is pre-emptive attacks which are almost always economically motivated and then lying to rationalise their massacres.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By tng on 11/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By ImJustSaying on 11/5/2010 1:48:40 AM , Rating: 5
To those who voted this guy down, you DO realize that he IS correct, right?

A rogue nation, by definition, is (according to a state that conducts its policy in a dangerously unpredictable way, disregarding international law or diplomacy.

Regardless of any knee-jerk reaction, patriotic responses, it is undeniable that this definition can be applied to the United States government (not you and I, but the government). This is a government, particularly the executive, that does not respect international law (violation of preemptive strike rule, according to the international court of justice: "The International Court of Justice (ICJ) spelled out exactly what no nation can legally do in light of its commitments to uphold the U.N. Charter: 'Thus it would be illegal for a state to threaten force to secure territory from another State, or to cause it to follow or not follow certain political or economic paths'," according to Ann Fagan Ginger, Executive Director of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute."

I give you a quote from Noam Chomsky (eat your hearts out, Neocon visitors of this website) "The grand strategy authorises the US to carry out preventive war: preventive, not pre-emptive. Whatever the justifications for pre-emptive war might be, they do not hold for preventive war, particularly as that concept is interpreted by its current enthusiasts: the use of military force to eliminate an invented or imagined threat, so that even the term "preventive" is too charitable. Preventive war is, very simply, the supreme crime that was condemned at Nuremberg."
—Noam Chomsky, "Preventive War 'The Supreme Crime': Iraq: invasion that will live in infamy", August, 11, 2003.

I don't want to hear any dismissive bullshit about Noam Chomskey either. This man's logical explanations of his definitions and reasoning are impeccable, as those who have read ANY of his books could attest to.

By roykahn on 11/5/2010 3:45:27 AM , Rating: 5
Oh no, what have you done? You'll only get yourself voted down. Exposing the lawlessness of the American elite and military is a sin on this site. It's almost as frowned upon as acknowledging that humans are destroying the environment. If you want to get voted up and redeem yourself, just mention something supporting the US military, greed, and the right to plunder the earth's resources for your own immediate gratification.

Regarding Chomsky, he did write a book called "Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs". Can you guess which country was featured prominantly?

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By Nutzo on 11/2/2010 11:27:04 AM , Rating: 2
As much as these tyrants like to huff and puff and think they are important on the world stage, they mainly care about themselves. They need to be convinced that any attack with a WMD against the US or our allies will result in a retaliation against them that will not only destroy their WMDs and military, but them personally as well.
They should also be told that this will happen even if some rogue agent provides a nuke to a terrorist group that uses it, and yes, we will use nukes if needed, and it won’t matter how many civilians they are hiding under.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By roykahn on 11/3/2010 1:13:28 AM , Rating: 2
Of course countries know that they can't attack America. It's so bleedingly obvious and yet America somehow manages to convince its public that they are constantly under threat from evil countries. If they're not making up BS about WMD's then they're making up BS about making nuclear weapons. After the lies about Iraq's WMD claims, how can anyone believe anything the US says about so-called threats? You're also forgetting that the US is all too happy to supply weapons to terrorist groups as long as the weapons are used in the strategic interests of the US. Not to mention that the US military is itself a terrorist group. But I agree with you that it doesn't matter how many civilians die from US attacks. It's either covered up under lies or somehow rationalized under false information. Because the US is always the good guy, right?

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By Jaybus on 11/3/10, Rating: 0
By roykahn on 11/3/2010 7:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for replying in a calm manner and for using some sort of reasonable debate.

I said that "countries" know they can't attack the US. There's always going to be the possibility of individuals or small groups murdering a small number of Americans within America. 9/11 is small in scale and very short in duration when compared to what America has done to a number of countries including Iraq and Afghanistan currently. There was no military invasion on America. No country was trying to occupy it, control it, or overthrow its government. Compare that to what America has done numerous times to other countries. Compare the number of overseas military bases America has to other countries. Compare the military spending, military budgets, military aid, and weapon exports of America to other countries. There's also a growing trend for America to do as it pleases when it comes to military action. It is a rogue nation that has repeatedly committed war crimes and has no intention of being bound by international law and treaties while being all too happy to point out when other countries do likewise. Then tell me why a country would want to attack the US.

Regarding your comments about Iraq and Kurds, you should know that America did not care about the Kurds. If supporting/protecting the Kurds is somehow beneficial to US interests, then it will be done. If not, then to hell with them. America and other countries have supplied Iraq with weapons and supported them in the past. Please read about the history of US-Iraq relations and see for yourself how hypocritical and manipulative the US has been. America was informed that Iraq had no WMD's. It chose to ignore this information and plow ahead anyway in the hope that something might be found.

As for your comments about civilian deaths - who are you kidding? Do you really think that the US military actually cares about foreign civilians. How can they? For any military personnel, American or not, you can't expect them to care much about civilian deaths especially when they're high above in the sky dropping bombs at the press of a button. They just do their job and their orders are often based on false information, misunderstanding, or just plain evil intentions. Hasn't the information released from Wikileaks taught you anything? Maybe the military are getting better at covering up civilian deaths, but they're certainly not trying to actually reduce them.

By ImJustSaying on 11/5/2010 1:53:17 AM , Rating: 1

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By bug77 on 11/1/2010 8:13:15 PM , Rating: 2
Great idea, reason always works wonders when it comes to fanatics. The west has been playing the politics game for years and where has this got us? North Korea had its first nuclear tests, Iran is following closely. Meanwhile we keep talking.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By myhipsi on 11/2/2010 9:48:58 AM , Rating: 5
It's no wonder people refer to America as the United States of Amnesia. Take five minutes to actually look at the history of your own foreign policy. It would be wise to check out the History Channel doc called "Iran and the west". Since the days of British Petroleum, Britain and the U.S. have been meddling in the internal affairs of Iran. From the CIA coup and overthrow of democratically elected Iranian leader Mossadegh, to the installation of the Shah.

And how about Iraq? In the 80's, the U.S. government propped up Saddam Hussein and supported his war of terror on Iran with chemical weapons, etc. and how about Afghanistan, where the U.S. supported the Mujahideen with cash and weapons.

Every time the U.S. meddles in the affairs of other nations, it comes back to bite you in the ass (CIA refers to it as blow-back), then you complain that they're a threat and that these "rogue nations" need to be dealt with with pre-emptive attacks (aka. aggressive offensive warfare), when your governments historical support of these nations have caused the very trouble your dealing with today.

You wonder why people criticize U.S. foreign policy? The rest of the world remembers, while you guys seem to forget. You've created half of your enemies. Maybe you should take a look at what Eisenhower warned about, your military industrial complex, which has grown to dominate your foreign policy, and spend you into a hole, while you sit around saying, "they hate us for our freedoms".

Don't get me wrong, as a citizen of your northern neighbor, I've visited the U.S. many times. I love your country, and I absolutely love and respect the principles it was founded on. Unfortunately, you've drifted far from those principles in recent decades, and it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of people while a lot of you guys seem to be oblivious to your own recent history.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By Nutzo on 11/2/2010 11:37:51 AM , Rating: 2
Most these are a case of dammed if you do, dammed if you don't. If we hadn't helped Saddam, then Iran would have become an even bigger threat, much sooner.

If we hadn't bogged down the Russia in Afghanistan, how far would they have spread?

Of course you seem to forget our medaling in Germany and Japan after WWII. That seems to have turned out ok.

However, I think we should pull back most our troops (including in Korea, Germany, etc) and eliminate most our foreign aid. And if a country attacks us or American interest (like the pirates attacking US ships off the coast of Somolia) we should just go in and wipe them out. I.E. leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By myhipsi on 11/2/2010 11:54:50 AM , Rating: 2
Interference into Iranian internal affairs goes all the way back to 1953, long before the Iran/Iraq war. So the argument can be made that Iran would have be a different country in the 1970's and 80's, had the U.S. not been involved to protect oil interests.

As far as the Soviets in Afghanistan, well, we'll never know, either way, you probably wouldn't have the Taliban today if it weren't for U.S. support in the 80's.

Germany and Japan are entirely different. Those were defensive in nature.

"Leave us alone, and we'll leave you alone." - I couldn't agree with you more. The founding fathers advocated this kind of thinking.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By bug77 on 11/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By eskimospy on 11/2/2010 10:16:10 AM , Rating: 1
Name one action that Iran or North Korea has taken in the foreign policy sphere that you believe to be irrational or based in fanaticism.

Also, if you believe that the US can undertake military action to stop or eliminate Iran/North Korea's nuclear arsenals, please detail what you would like us to do. Attacking either country would open up an enormous can of shit that we can't deal with right now, and so yes, we keep talking.

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By bug77 on 11/2/10, Rating: 0
By roykahn on 11/5/2010 3:54:06 AM , Rating: 3
Building nukes.

Something that the US encourages as long as it is done by its own country and its allies. Do you have any proof of Iran having nuclear weapons? How can you believe anything that the Pentagon says after the lies about Iraq WMD's?

Here are some more fun questions:
Which country has attacked another using nuclear weapons?
Which country has the worst track record for supporting terrorism and overthrowing democratically elected governments?
Which country has invaded the most countries in the last half-century?

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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