Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why we Need a Missile Shield

Why do we need a missile shield capable of intercepting nukes? It is not to stop a nuclear armageddon sent our way by the Russians. It is not even to send a message to the Chines. The prospects of a nuclear exchange between them and us is extremely low. Regardless, the missile shield would not protect us from them. The plan is cost prohibitive as a mass production defense mechanism. That is to say that it is cheaper to build two missiles then it is to build one interceptor. Even if we could be sure that that our defense would never miss, we would still be on the wrong side of that equation.

We need it to protect against the solitary strike. One missile inbound missile fired by terrorist or "rouge" regime; that is what the need is for. With a small but effective missile shield in place we could prevent these nations from blackmailing us. We could also save lives on both sides. If we get nuked, thousands if not millions on our side would die (not to mention the economic losses). The response from our side against them would also lead to millions of deaths on their side.

As bad as that sounds, their is a scenario worse then the one just outlined. One nuke could be used not just to destroy a city, but to cripple the country. A nuke detonated 300 miles up, used as and EMP would destroy our electronic infrastructure while it fired most of our civilian economic devices. That scenario is clearly outlined below, but the takeaway point should be clear. We need a working missile shield; even if only a small one.


"Think about this scenario: An ordinary-looking freighter ship heading toward New York or Los Angeles launches a missile from its hull or from a canister lowered into the sea. It hits a densely populated area. A million people are incinerated. The ship is then sunk. No one claims responsibility. There is no firm evidence as to who sponsored the attack, and thus no one against whom to launch a counterstrike.

But as terrible as that scenario sounds, there is one that is worse. Let us say the freighter ship launches a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile off the coast of the U.S. and the missile explodes 300 miles over Chicago. The nuclear detonation in space creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Gamma rays from the explosion, through the Compton Effect, generate three classes of disruptive electromagnetic pulses, which permanently destroy consumer electronics, the electronics in some automobiles and, most importantly, the hundreds of large transformers that distribute power throughout the U.S. All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans.

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