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Obama To Decide On New Weapons

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.

The Military 409

krou writes "Buried within the New Start treaty, which saw the decommissioning of nuclear warheads, was an interesting provision as a result of Russian demands: the US must 'decommission one nuclear missile for every one' of a new type of weapon called Prompt Global Strike 'fielded by the Pentagon.' The warhead, which is 'mounted on a long-range missile to start its journey,' would be 'capable of reaching any corner of the earth from the United States in under an hour. ... It would travel through the atmosphere at several times the speed of sound, generating so much heat that it would have to be shielded with special materials to avoid melting. ... But since the vehicle would remain within the atmosphere rather than going into space, it would be far more maneuverable than a ballistic missile, capable of avoiding the airspace of neutral countries, for example, or steering clear of hostile territory. Its designers note that it could fly straight up the middle of the Persian Gulf before making a sharp turn toward a target.' The new weapon is in line with Obama's plans 'to move towards less emphasis on nuclear weapons,' and rather focus on conventional ones. The idea is not new, having been first floated under the Bush administration, but was abandoned, mainly because 'Russian leaders complained that the technology could increase the risk of a nuclear war, because Russia would not know if the missiles carried nuclear warheads or conventional ones.'"

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Weapons, aye? (-1, Offtopic)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986142)

Hard to get .38spl anymore. Douchebag trying to kill our weapons. At the same time, he wants to nuke the world. Amen.

What movie is this from? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986178)

This [opacity.us] is from some movie, and I am trying to figure it out.

Re:What movie is this from? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986352)

I would like to know as well.

Re:What movie is this from? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986358)

Me too.

Re:What movie is this from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986440)

Me three!!!

Re:What movie is this from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986454)

Me four...?

Re:What movie is this from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986666)

Five. I can name that tune in 5 notes.

Re:Weapons, aye? (-1, Offtopic)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986182)

If you "the gubbermint are taking ours guns away!!"-nuts wouldn't hoard the ammo like crazy, you wouldn't have a supply problem...

Re:Weapons, aye? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986336)

You certainly are "mindcontrolled" aren't you? Tsk.

Schizoid defenses (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986308)

One variant of the "schizoid defense" (against the inherent violence of the world) involves dissociating one's self from violent sentiments or tools. One stops watching violent movies, for example, stops getting angry, and relinquishes ownership of any weapons.

The mind tells itself a story that by distancing one's self from violence in every ostensible form, one protects one's self from having a violent encounter.

Of course this story is false. The violence finds you. Criminals retain their weapons, and their violent inclinations, and further they actively hunt down and seek easy prey (like, you know, people who don't have weapons, and who are likely to surrender without a fight).

This whole "mutual disarmament" business feels like a grand schizoid defense. The civilians fear the presence of weapons of mass destruction (especially since they have no personal means of defending against them), so they pressure their governments to get rid of all such weapons and to find a way to make other governments to the same. The weaker governments fear the greater ones, and are willing to give up some of their (mostly useless against the 'big boys') weapons if it means the 'big boys' are willing to weaken themselves too. None of this actually makes war less likely or less horrible when it does happen.

In fact, the case can be made that it makes violence MORE likely, since specific targets have just made themselves more vulnerable, and specific types of response are less likely. As anyone with military experience can tell you...the single greatest deterrent to actual violence is a credible threat of equivalent-or-greater response.

This whole mess is just a big exercise in fear, futility, and self-exposure.

Needless to say, I disapprove.

Re:Schizoid defenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986378)

Needless to say, there's a damn good reason nobody listens to your opinion on such things.

Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986146)

Subject says it all.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986218)

Yeah seriously. Our efforts to blow stuff up in Iraq and Afghanistan have only worsened our image in the Middle East and created even more rabid terrorists. On the other hand, the development of super-advanced conventional weaponry is a great way to warn off any prospective enemies who might be thinking of attacking. Just as long as you don't start stockpiling them.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (4, Funny)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986306)

The problem has never been that we blow too much shit up. The problem has been that we don't blow up ENOUGH!

I have always been a proponent of the Master of Orion foreign policy theory. You live in peace ad harmony with your neighbors, until they do something to piss you off. You know, they attack your colonies, steal too much technology, crash their star cruisers into a couple of towers, whatever.

You then send your fleet to bomb your enemies from orbit until their land is clear of any buildings, population, dogs, pine cones, or ants... then you simply bring in your own colonists to settle the area and call it good.

Once the other countries learn that you're serious and not screwing around anymore, they don't dare pick a fight with you.

Where's the problem?

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (3, Funny)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986356)

"Where's the problem?"
That you're neighbors probably got the same strategy.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986578)

Naw, not a big problem, I don't recall losing many of those games once I used that strategy. Most of the games I lost where when I tried to sit at home and micromanage up the best cities I could while the terrori.. I mean the klackons developed a horde of inferior starships to overwhelm me.

On the other hand, the "sit at home and develop awesome cities" strategy was my primary strategy for Civilization games, so I'm not really sure which strategy would work best in the long run.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986670)

"Twillight Imperium" games tends to be.....interesting because everyone is to damned paranoid and attacks every time you scratch you're noose.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (3, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986462)

The problem comes when your civilization declines, and you no longer have the resources to smash your neighbors into oblivion. The Roman Empire successfully used your strategy (kill all troublemakers/) for ~600 years until they eventually reached a stage where they no longer had enough strength to do that. Then their enemies invaded & took the remaining pieces of the crumbling empire.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986586)

Who gives a shit. You're going to lose your empire sooner or later anyway - might as well stretch it out and enjoy the ride.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (2, Interesting)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986614)

I haven't gotten around to reading the Rome entry on wikipedia yet, so I'm curious, what happened to rome's strength? Poor leadership? poor training? bad morale? lack of loyalty? too many occupying troops and not enough economy to support it?

600 years is realistically about 6x as long as the US has been a world power, so I'd say that Rome sets the bar there.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (5, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986780)

Rome's problems...

Poor leadership because you could kill your way to Emperor. So every new Emperor was a target of the Army leadership, family members, etc

Slavery took away jobs from entire classes

Unhappy classes because there were no jobs had to be kept happy with massive spending on things like games, tax free holidays, free food, etc.

Lack of technological progress, the Western Empire stagnated under constant attack and couldn't progress, the Eastern Empire did better but again it was hammered by attacks on the frontiers.

Over expansion and under population in the provinces.

The United States could have gone the same way, if the expansion to the west had been coupled with constant warfare from massed Indian Tribes, Canada and Mexico all at the same time the American Civil War through Spanish-American War happened.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (2, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986624)

Then again, the Romans didn't have the weaponry to destroy the entire planet several times over. I think "world wars" are pretty much history for the human race until we actually start having wars *over* worlds...

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986464)

the other countries only need one half-ass reason to confirm their suspicions all along.

don't believe england, germany and japan could flip their alliances in about one hour flat? you are fooling yourself.

all those starcruisers were paid for by the other creditor nations, while you hoover up resources around the planet, and act like a dick.

it won't be long before your pinecones, and your shit, including yourself, is dusted right off the continent, and THEY bring in new colonists.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1, Funny)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986548)

What? and leave baliwood to make all the blockbuster movies? not likely!

Along those lines, aside from Canada's pop musicians, and England who produces good rock band on occasions, where is the rest of the world supposed to get good music from if America gets wiped off the map?

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986476)

It's amazing how many political problems become trivial if you have an air force and killing civilians en masse doesn't bother you...

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (0, Flamebait)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986636)

If you realize that there are about 6 billion more people on the planet to replace whoever you kill, and you dont' belong to one of those "life is sacred" religions, I'd say it probably isn't a big deal at all, as long as you don't have to watch.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986680)

My that's a nice civilian population you have over there. Would be a shame if something were to...happen to it.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986716)

It didn't work so well for the USSR.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986596)

Where's the problem?

Assuming you're not kidding, there are two major problems with this approach. The first is a matter of morality: "bomb your enemies from orbit until their land is clear of any buildings, population, dogs, pine cones, or ants" may be a lot of fun in a game, but in real life it's mass murder on a scale that not even the most bloody-minded conquerors in history have ever attempted, and that is really not a contest any sane nation wants to win.

Okay, let's assume that the morality of it doesn't bother you (and it probably doesn't, although I suspect if you were ever confronted close-up with the results of such an action, your opinion would change.) The second problem is practical. Could we do what you propose to Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Iran? Maybe we could ... but we are not the only country in the world with the capacity to do such a thing, and be assured, the rest of the world will take notice. We get too close to the borders of Russia or China with such a campaign (BTW, take a look at a map and notice just how far west China's borders go) and we are pretty much guaranteeing an all-out nuclear exchange of the sort everyone was more than halfway expecting all through the Cold War. You may be too young to remember what living under the nuclear hammer was like, and just how high the level of mutual paranoia was. Me, I was stationed in Europe when the Wall came down; trust me, we don't want to go back there.

And Russia and China aren't the only major powers we'd have to worry about if we started down that road. Japan, the UK, Germany, India, France ... they're all pretty friendly to us these days. That would change in a heartbeat if the US turned into a latter-day version of Genghis Khan's Mongolia. And all of them either have nuclear stockpiles or the ability to produce them quickly, along with delivery systems. The US, or any other country that tried this approach, would quickly find itself isolated in a hostile world full of countries just itching to scorch its cities to the ground, and willing to take the risk of receiving the same treatment in return.

The US is unquestionably stronger militarily than any other country, but we aren't stronger than everybody, and this is a good thing. There will never be another Alexander, another Caesar, another Genghis Khan, another Napoleon, another Hitler, and this is also a good thing. The rest of the world will not allow it, and for the first time in human history, the concept of "the rest of the world" makes a difference in the thinking of those who would follow in the bloody footsteps of emperors. Not because the human race is any wiser or more moral than it used to be, but because there is no other choice.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986768)

I was of course not serious, I'd think the fact that I was quoting a game from 1993 and talked about blowing up pinecones would be obvious! I agree with most of your points except one. I certainly think that we have the potential for another Napoleon or Hitler. Charisma was Hilter's true strength. The man was a pro at manipulating what people thought of him, and what they thought in general. Charisma is POWERFUL, do not underestimate it. The easiest way and most sure way to become an Evil dictator is to convince people that you're a benevolent savior. A host of other countries around the world with nuclear weapons doesn't matter a hill of beans if you think globally and expand your cult of personality to encompass them as well. That threat is never going away.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986634)

In short, "Walk softly, but carry a big stick"

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986660)

'You live in peace ad[sic] harmony with your neighbors, until...'

This is the critical part that has been missing. E.g., sending in agents to destabilize a regime is not part of "peace and harmony".

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (3, Interesting)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986736)

Where's the problem?

I'm sure those were the same [wikipedia.org] words [wikipedia.org] used [wikipedia.org] when [wikipedia.org] planning [wikipedia.org] the [wikipedia.org] assasination [wikipedia.org] of [wikipedia.org] Archduke Franz Ferdinand. [wikipedia.org] Bang Bang and Austria will have a new leader, that's all.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986406)

>>>Our efforts to blow stuff up in Iraq and Afghanistan have only worsened our image in the Middle East and created even more rabid terrorists

I could have told you that on 9/12.
In fact I did tell people that, saying going to war is not the solution,
but at the time people were thinking like animals. All they could see was "red" and revenge.

If you're going to risk billions of dollars and millions of lives, you don't do it for just 1 or 2 criminals. That's just ridiculous and totally disproportionate. Plus all it did was create a lot of orphaned children who will grow-up and want to kill Americans & Europeans. The problem is now worse, not better.

A wiser course would be to mirror what we do in our own homes. Get better locks to keep out criminals. i.e. Close the borders, in order to prevent another Bin Laden from sneaking through, unless they first had permission (visa).

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (2, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986622)

It's so easy. All we have to do is give up our remaining freedom (because it would require a police state to protect us from this form of terrorism), and problem solved. I think we've been making a bit of a mistake in Afghanistan, in that we haven't done a good job of laying out why we're there (that is, keeping it from being a place where our enemies plan and train against us), and haven't closed down the enemy's sanctuaries in neighboring Pakistan. But I don't think it's reasonable to treat this as something we can just wall off. That was true before WWII. It's not true now.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986696)

I beg to differ. While it may have hurt relations a little, the fundamental problem between the US and the parts of the world filled with fundamentalist terrorist-happy Muslims is that the US is friends with Israel. That's the elephant in the room, the root cause of 9/11 (did you listen to a thing that those guys actually said?) and, honestly, I think the problem won't go away until someone nukes Israel (though I admit conventional warfare could do it too). And that's a tragedy, by the way.

Re:Don't blow shit up - problem solved (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986234)

Mod +4... If I had points...

I agree (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986400)

When you blow shit up, you get crap everywhere.

Smooth-Talkin' Man, (2, Interesting)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986184)

He's just Bush with a tan...

Continuous and unbroken policy record in every single, meaningful area. Except where it really doesn't count - you know, the non-Constitutional stuff.

Re:Smooth-Talkin' Man, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986770)

awww. looks like neocons AND neolibs took offense to your comment.

stupid bastards.

I'm ready to park a starcruiser over DC, California, and Austin-Texas, and have them atomized from orbit.

The country would get a do-over, and we'll all feel fresh and free next week.

d

Haven't seen this one yet... (5, Insightful)

ProdigyPuNk (614140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986190)

FTFA: The idea is not new: President George W. Bush and his staff promoted the technology, imagining that this new generation of conventional weapons would replace nuclear warheads on submarines. In face-to-face meetings with President Bush, Russian leaders complained that the technology could increase the risk of a nuclear war, because Russia would not know if the missiles carried nuclear warheads or conventional ones. Mr. Bush and his aides concluded that the Russians were right. Partly as a result, the idea “really hadn’t gone anywhere in the Bush administration,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has served both presidents, said recently on ABC’s “This Week.” But he added that it was “embraced by the new administration.”

First time I've seen something like this, where Obama is more hawkish on a military matter than Bush ? Man that seems wierd...

Re:Haven't seen this one yet... (1, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986262)

Hardly the first. While campaigning, Obama said he would invade Pakistan in order to get Usama bin Laden. Not even Bush is stupid enough to invade a sovereign nuclear nation to get one man.

Re:Haven't seen this one yet... (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986490)

>>>Obama is more hawkish on a military matter than Bush ? Man that seems wierd...

Not really. He promised to remove the troops by the end of 2009, but instead he sent more. Now he's trying to piss-off our ally Israel by demanding they stop building in the Palestinian zone, else they'll lose American military assistance, and so on.

I don't think Obama is a bad person. Just not a saavy leader. Also tends to break his promises. A lot.

Re:Haven't seen this one yet... (0, Flamebait)

anarkhos (209172) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986814)

If you don't think people who start wars aren't bad, prey tell, who is?

That's quite the Machiavellian perspective you have there

Re:Haven't seen this one yet... (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986728)

First time I've seen something like this, where Obama is more hawkish on a military matter than Bush ? Man that seems wierd...

It shouldn't really be a surprise, generally speaking; Democratic Presidents since Truman have responded to the Republican "soft on defense" dog whistle by acting like kids on a playground who can't back down from a dare.

In this case, though, I'm not sure the "more hawkish" label really sticks. This is about replacing one weapons system with another, not about using either weapon in any particular war. We have such a horror of using nuclear weapons that we're always looking for ways not to use them, and I don't see anything more or less hawkish in destroying an area with a rain of tungsten rods vs. destroying the same area with a nuke. The hawk vs. dove aspect applies more to whether or not we launch a strike at all.

Re:Haven't seen this one yet... (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986786)

First time I've seen something like this, where Obama is more hawkish on a military matter than Bush ? Man that seems wierd...

I'd actually say he's more capable than Bush was. Bush couldn't deploy this because it risked war with Russia. Obama has skill as a diplomat and convinced them they could inspect the launch site and we'd remove a nuke from our arsenal for each one. Partly this was possible because Obama has a good diplomatic relationship with the Russians. So now we theoretically have another military option. This is why all those hardliners who think diplomacy is weakness are dead wrong.

Soooo.... (1)

strayant (789108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986192)

I guess this means we should start building bomb shelters again, and buy lots of duct tape and plastic?

Re:Soooo.... (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986392)

Weed out the paranoid crazies through whole-house asphyxiation? Brilliant! At least they will keep their stockpiled food fresh for mutant-me to break in and eat.

I don't see what the ruskies are so worried about. (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986202)

After all, if the warhead contains more than 3 ounces of fluid in any one container, or won't fit in a one liter zip-lock bag, there is no way that the TSA will allow the launch...

If the TSA's word isn't sufficiently reassuring, we could always stencil "No nukes here, we're saving them for Ivan" on all conventional ordnance...

Re:I don't see what the ruskies are so worried abo (2, Funny)

ProdigyPuNk (614140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986300)

After all, if the warhead contains more than 3 ounces of fluid in any one container, or won't fit in a one liter zip-lock bag, there is no way that the TSA will allow the launch... If the TSA's word isn't sufficiently reassuring, we could always stencil "No nukes here, we're saving them for Ivan" on all conventional ordnance...

Only problem is that the TSA will want to scan the nukes first... Then we'll have pictures of naked nuke internals getting passed around the 'net!

Psych! (1)

Apocryphos (1222870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986240)

So now the US can launch missiles that buzz the Kremlin before going on to hit targets in Iraq. Bitchin

Re:Psych! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986568)

>>>So now the US can launch missiles that buzz the Kremlin before going on to hit targets in Iraq. Bitchin

We already have that capability with the extended range TLAMs (Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles) and supersonic Fast Hawks. We could also buzz pass the EU Parliament and scare the MEPs shitless, on the way to an Afghanistan attack.

Ooops I've said to much.
(whistles)
Nothing to see here.

Translation (4, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986256)

The US does not want to build nuclear weapons that can only be used defensively (for political reasons), and therefore which act primarily as a deterrent. It wants to build weapons that can be used now.

The US does not only want other countries to be scared to attack the US; it wants other countries to be scared not to do what the US wants them to, as the US may attack tomorrow.

Re:Translation (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986388)

I don't doubt that to be the motivation, but even then it seems overkill since we have military bases all over the world. If a country decides to...misbehave...there's sure to be a base just across the border and also intelligence operatives already working inside the border.

Re:Translation (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986558)

The problem with using ground troops is that casualties make for terrible press. Plus, although we've been working hard to change this, there is only so much profit that defense contractors can wring out of sending some kid to get shot in dustymudholistan.

Gigantic explosions, on the other hand, make every red blooded American's cock stand just a little straighter, and very-high-performance sophisticated single-use delivery vehicles are delightfully expensive...

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986830)

Who said anything about ground troops? We have air bases all over the world and a dozen more that we can move anywhere we need in a matter of days. We can strike at most of the world with no risk to us.

It's only those pesky nations with their own air forces that would give us anything resembling resistance. So now we'll just build a weapon that'll let us attack with no risk at all. Now you too can wage war without ever leaving home!

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986722)

That works great for 3rd-world countries like Afghanistan, but for dealing with the world's other superpowers, you need to have nukes pointed at them, because they have nukes pointed at you.

Re:Translation (3, Interesting)

imemyself (757318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986528)

No...realistically it would be extremely difficult to use nuclear weapons as a response to anything other than a nuclear attack. This system would give us a conventional response that might deter more than just a nuclear attack.

Re:Translation (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986828)

a conventional response ... that looks a whole lot like a nuclear response.

This is idiotic, why develop a conventional weapon that looks like a nuke - you know you're never going to be able to use it in any situation that wouldn't warrant a nuke - and in that case, just use the nuke.

It's an almost-balistic-missle based in California ... can you imagine any part of the world we might hit that wouldn't result in frenzied meetings in Moscow where Russia has to decide if this is a nuke or not? Juarez maybe? Does anyone ever want to take that chance and don't we have cruise missiles in Indian Ocean?

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986570)

this comment should be mod +5 fucking dead on accurate. from anywhere on earth no less. ...the sun never sets on the u.s empire.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986718)

It wants to build weapons that can be used now.

First of all, when you say "it", you mean to say "the US government". Don't refer to an entire populace as if they are the ones making these decisions. If the people actually had a choice in how much to spend on government every year, the US government would be 1/10 the size it is today.

Second, the primary goal of this isn't to use (or not use) nuclear weapons. The goal is simply to justify more government spending. There's a reason why every year government costs more, spends more, borrows more, and assumes more power over the people -- and it's certainly not because government is getting better.

Re:Translation (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986824)

The US doesn't 'want' anything, you've anthropomorphized a country. Different people in the US want different things. In this case, it seems Bush did not want these weapons. Obama does. Some people in the US don't want us to have any weapons. Others, (like this guy [slashdot.org] ) seem to think the US should be more violent. These people are apparently the ones you are referring to.

No one is going to shoot anyone (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986278)

Russia really needs to be put at ease about nuclear attack. We simply aren't going to do it. We develop advanced weaponry, but for all intents and purposes, these weapons are just stockpiled, never to be used.

Agreeing to decommission existing missiles is an easy agreeable point. We don't need them anymore. Realistically, there isn't a country in the world that America is politically ready to bomb back to the stone ages. We just like having this stuff because it makes us feel better.

This type of concern isn't new, either. Russia was worried that Reagan's Star Wars missile defense shield would allow America to attack with impunity, but we never had good reason to bomb anyone, much less Russia.

My sincere hope is that Obama can navigate these treacherous waters. It's really his first true test of foreign policy on a global scale. If he can soothe the Russians here, he'll have made huge progress that future generations will reap the benefits of for decades.

Intentions are irrelevant (4, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986448)

Only capabilities matter.

If the US can nuke Russia, Russia has to plan for the possibility that the US will nuke Russia. If the US launches missiles that could be aimed at Russia, and that could have nuclear payloads, Russia has to assume that they are and they do. Because they're fucked if they assume good faith and are wrong.

Better never to launch such a missile and best not to have them at all.

Re:No one is going to shoot anyone (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986544)

Realistically, there isn't a country in the world that America is politically ready to bomb back to the stone ages. We just like having this stuff because it makes us feel better

Well now, there's a whole lot of ways to attack people. Nukes are nasty because they destroy everything in sight and leave it inhabitable for a little while. Chemical weapons are usually more desirable because all the infrastructure is left in place and you can clean it up with specialized teams. Conventional weapons allow you to get the thoroughness of destroying a building without the downsides of destroying a whole city.

Politically, there are a few countries the US would love to clear out and Annex. It's just the rest of the world thats keeping them from doing so.

Re:No one is going to shoot anyone (1, Offtopic)

Alinabi (464689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986700)

Russia really needs to be put at ease about nuclear attack. We simply aren't going to do it. We develop advanced weaponry, but for all intents and purposes, these weapons are just stockpiled, never to be used.

Repeat after me: HI-RO-SHI-MA. See, that wasn't so hard. And now you know.

ROI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986326)

If we started spending half as much money we spend on the military industrial complex on things like energy, food issues and education our ROI would be far greater and far more long term. As a former Marine, despite the fact we often got the navies handmedowns we still performed better with less than many other branches. The roi for weapons is always death and destruction, which the worldhas too much of already.

this is unacceptable! (-1, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986332)

everyone knows the usa has to have the ability to turn the entire surface of the earth into a radioactive wasteland 20 times over!

we all know this is projecting weakness, and by giving up a handful of our couple thousand nukes, the usa is inviting 10 more terrorist attacks and invasion by china, obviously!

</sarcasm>

it's sad, but some people really believe this

Resurrected old tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986342)

Sounds like someone may have brought back the old "Project Pluto" from the late 50's. A nuclear powered cruise missile the size and weight of a steam locomotive capable of carrying nuclear or conventional weapons anywhere in the world at speeds exceeding mach 3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Pluto

infrared (2, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986344)

It would travel through the atmosphere at several times the speed of sound, generating so much heat that it would have to be shielded with special materials to avoid melting...

Wouldn't that make it an easy target for a heat seeking ABM? Even as fast as it's moving?

Re:infrared (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986408)

yes, but that heat-seeking ABM will need to move even faster, thus generating even more heat, thus making it an easy target for a heat seeking AABM.

Re:infrared (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986732)

At those speeds, I think it's easier to just put something in the way. Say, a cloud of shrapnel.

Re:infrared (1)

Imrik (148191) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986468)

Easy to target but at the moment I don't think there are any ABMs capable of reaching mach ~30. (which is about how fast it would have to be able to go to do what they say it can)

Re:infrared (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986612)

Actually, that's not completely accurate. If you can get an accurate read on the velocity and trajectory (shouldn't be too hard due to the massive amount of heat the missile is putting off) you just launch your ABM at the place the missile will be by the time the ABM reaches intercept altitude. That's how ABMs work against the ballistic missiles that are available presently.

Re:infrared (1)

Tryle (1159503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986486)

The fact that the new weapon is moving at supersonic speeds (in excess of Mach 3) that are generating a condition that requires special heat shielding like the space shuttle, I doubt that even a PAC-3 missile moving which moves at Mach 5 would be a match for it. Although its a good thing we're the only ones with PAC-3 ABMs.

US Looks to Nonnuclear Weapons as a Deterrent (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986350)

Nuclear arms have formed the backbone of US deterrence strategy for six decades and although the strategy worked during the Cold War, military leaders say they need weapons in their arsenal to deter adversaries who assume that the United States would refrain from taking the extreme step of ordering a nuclear strike. Now the Washington Post reports that as the White House pushes for cuts in the US nuclear arsenal, the Pentagon is developing a powerful nonnuclear weapon to help fill the gap as a new form of deterrence against terrorist networks [washingtonpost.com] and other adversaries. Military officials say their current nonnuclear options are too limited or too slow because unlike ICBM's, which travel at several times the speed of sound, it can take up to 12 hours for cruise missiles to hit faraway targets and long-range bombers likewise can take many hours to fly into position for a strike. "Today, unless you want to go nuclear, it's measured in days, maybe weeks" until the military can launch an attack with regular forces, says Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "That's just too long in the world that we live in." The new missile system, known as Prompt Global Strike weapons, could strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour [military.com] . However military officials are struggling to solve one major obstacle: the risk that Russia or China could mistake the launch of a conventional Prompt Global Strike missile for a nuclear one. To alleviate the risk of an accidental nuclear retaliation, defense officials have described how a land-based missile could be configured so it is incapable of carrying a nuclear payload and use a trajectory to its target that would not threaten other nuclear weapons nations.

Not Nuclear (2, Informative)

molafson (716807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986368)

From the article:

In theory, the weapon will hurl a conventional warhead of enormous weight at high speed and with pinpoint accuracy, generating the localized destructive power of a nuclear warhead.

Re:Not Nuclear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986618)

From the article:

In theory, the weapon will hurl a conventional warhead of enormous weight at high speed and with pinpoint accuracy, generating the localized destructive power of a nuclear warhead.

And? Is that supposed to contradict the summary or something?

The efficiency is worth it. (4, Funny)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986380)

It took us nearly a week to export Democracy to Iraq, now we could do it in less than two hours. Sounds like a good deal.

Terrible Idea (3, Insightful)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986394)

This idea is bad on many levels.

1. It looks like a nuclear ballistic missile launch. Every time you fire one, you're risking nuclear war. Russia, China, and any other enemy will see the launch and has to make a very quick decision on what to do. Chances are, it probably wont' be misidentified as a nuclear first strike. Do you really want to take that risk though??? If you have to notify them first, the entire quick strike goes out the window and the entire point of the technology is lost.

2. It's fucking expensive. Having a 1 time use ballistic missile is going to cost 100s of millions to a billion dollars a shot. That figure doesn't even count the R&D money for the program. To allow for quick strike capability, they have to be manned at all times, and ready to fire, so the ongoing "maintenance costs" on it are very high. This is going to be an insanely expensive system.

3. Why? Who are you realistically going to strike with it. Anywhere in the middle east, North Korea, and most of Europe is currently within fighter range and can be hit in relatively short time from conventional fighter/bombers.

Re:Terrible Idea (4, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986542)

North Korea has the air defense to shoot down our aircraft. So does China, with a few more thousand miles of hostile territory to navigate. An unmanned non-nuclear weapon with quick strike capability would be useful there. I don't think we can afford it, but that's another story.

Re:Terrible Idea (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986626)

No, you're right. A ballistic weapon is going to be much harder to intercept and nobody can reliably do it currently (or is really trying). That's it's primary benefit balanced out with a ton of negatives.

There are methods of infiltrating enemy airspace that are moderately reliable though.

Re:Terrible Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986602)

1. It looks like a nuclear ballistic missile launch.
That's why it won't be based near existing nuclear missle silos (according to the article).

2. ... expensive.
True, but at least the missle part is existing technology (Minuteman).

3. ... can be hit in relatively short time from conventional fighter/bombers.
The new weapon will be at speeds and altitudes that make it much harder, if not impossible, to counter. Fighters and bombers always run the risk of being shot down.

Re:Terrible Idea (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986668)

1. It looks like a nuclear ballistic missile launch.
That's why it won't be based near existing nuclear missle silos (according to the article).

2. ... expensive.
True, but at least the missle part is existing technology (Minuteman).

3. ... can be hit in relatively short time from conventional fighter/bombers.
The new weapon will be at speeds and altitudes that make it much harder, if not impossible, to counter. Fighters and bombers always run the risk of being shot down.

The "trust us, it's not nuclear" is not going to work. It's better than nothing. However, North Korea told you that they only put nuclear missiles on the west coast and the east coast houses conventional only, are you going to believe them?

Re:Terrible Idea (1)

nsteussy (619745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986638)

From the fine article - I believe the new weapons would be of limited number, and only launched from Vanderburg (as compared to North Dakota). And the Russians (and Chinese?) would have inspection rights at Vandenburg to assure that the warheads were only non-nukes. Indeed, the v of the 1/2 mv ^2 equation would be so enormous for the impact that I don't imagine they need explosives at all. Let the physics to the heavy lifting. As to fighter plane range - there is also planning for the strike with AAA suppression and fighter cover. Call it 24 to 48 hours. With this thing, if you see a rocket on the NK launch pad at breakfast, it is gone by lunchtime.

Re:Terrible Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986642)

That figure doesn't even count the R&D money for the program.

That's not R&D, that's a jobs program for engineers and technicians with trickle down to money being circulated in the consumer sector of the economy.

Re:Terrible Idea (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986664)

It looks like a nuclear ballistic missile launch.

Well, no not really, But there's no reason these things can't be made nuclear and I'm sure the air force already has a version with a warhead, so for the most part your concern is valid. Other nations won't know if we fired a nuke or not, although if we fire them one at a time, any nation we're worried about can wait it out without compromising a MAD strategy.

It's fucking expensive. Having a 1 time use ballistic missile is going to cost 100s of millions to a billion dollars a shot.

An SR-71 went mach 3, had stealth capabilities, could fly anywhere on a tank of fuel, and had to have life support for pilots. They cost about 35 million a piece once in production. Why would you think a missile would cost 100's of millions to a billion dollars each? Compared to the cost of operating bases, maintaining troops, and flying conventional aircraft, these are probably a significant saving.

To allow for quick strike capability, they have to be manned at all times, and ready to fire, so the ongoing "maintenance costs" on it are very high.

Compared to the cost of maintaining fleets of conventional aircraft around the world, for the same task?

Why? Who are you realistically going to strike with it. Anywhere in the middle east, North Korea, and most of Europe is currently within fighter range and can be hit in relatively short time from conventional fighter/bombers.

The idea being, we don't have to maintain aircraft carriers and large fleets of fighter/bombers everywhere in the world. Instead we can have a smaller number of foreign bases, or at least smaller bases, without compromising our ability to hit anyone anywhere hard and fast. The air fleet is moving more and more to unmanned vehicles and this is just one more part of that strategy.

Re:Terrible Idea (2, Informative)

Tryle (1159503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986688)

1. The US agreed in the Bush era that it could be misinterpreted as a nuclear ICBM, however in nuclear war (especially in a preemptive strike scenario), there is not tactical advantage to launching a SINGLE missile at your nuclear foe. So the notion this could be misinterpreted is ridiculous.

2. The military has a blank check, therefore a blank budget. We've long surpassed the millions mark of military toys. Not to mention, do you really think you have a say in what the military wants?

3. The point was to have a state side solution to an imminent [nuclear] threat. Having a base in another country doesn't make you military ready to fight a war on a moments notice. It takes time to deploy supplies/troops/etc. This is a 60 minute solution. Not to mention, why wait for an ICBM to launch and counter with ABMs when you can take it out before it ever reaches launch capability? This isn't the solution for nuclear super powers, its for the little guys like Iran with only a handful of nukes where you can take the threat out in one shot.

Listen, in the end this is being put out there as the next evolution in warfare. The US must maintain their role on the playground and this is the latest thing to make a potential threat think about messing with us. Nukes are so '80s.

Re:Terrible Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986708)

Due to the speed, you could let China and Russia know before hand. "Hey guys, we are sick of so and so and we are going to kill them, the missile is not headed toward you, have a nice day"

Re:Terrible Idea (4, Insightful)

Jeian (409916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986754)

1. The sites would most likely be located away from the current nuclear sites in Montana/North Dakota/Wyoming. Possibly by repurposing one or more of the old Cold War nuclear sites in Missouri or South Dakota, or by using one of the space launch sites in California or Florida.

2. We already have nuclear ICBMs on alert 24/7. Keeping conventional ICBMs really wouldn't take that much extra effort, particularly since most AFBs already have a round-the-clock maintenance group.

3. Say we find out where bin Laden is hiding. Odds are he's not going to be there for long, and 30 minutes is a much better window than the time it would take to scramble a fighter/bomber/UAV and get it into firing range.

Is it even possible? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986776)

I'll say "terrible idea" as well, and add:

Is this even possible? How much fuel would such a thing need to carry to get there at that speed?

Why would you need it? Presumably there's going to be some sort of build-up to the kind of situation where this is needed a you can have an aircraft carrier full of cruise missiles off somebody's coastline in less than a day.

Seems like just another military wet dream/waste of taxpayer money.

Do you work on weapons? (4, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986416)

There are lots of high tech workers that read slashdot. I'm one of them. I decided, while at university, that I was not going to spend my life building weapons. Working on weapons certainly was an opportunity that presented itself when I was getting my degree in the late 80s. I do not want to create weapons because I would have no direct control over whether those weapons were limited to truly righteous causes.

Do you work on weapons? Do you share my concerns?

Re:Do you work on weapons? (1)

mdwntr (1367967) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986532)

Did you start work on a flying armoured suit instead?

Re:Do you work on weapons? (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986556)

I was offered a job with a mid-level defense contractor when leaving school (mid 80s), but decided against it on moral grounds. I know a few others who made similar decisions, but unfortunately not enough of them...

 

Re:Do you work on weapons? (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986640)

I work with them.

On topics (0, Flamebait)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986474)

Man, you mention "Obama" and "weapons" and all the crazies come out to play.

"Up the Persian Gulf before making a sharp turn" (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986522)

Its designers note that it could fly straight up the middle of the Persian Gulf before making a sharp turn toward a target
Geeze.. if the 'designers' are going to be that un-subtle, they should just say it already: Iran/Afghanistan.

(unless they honestly want to suggest that the sharp turn being made is to the left, toward UAE/Qatar/Saudi Arabia)

PROMPT GLOBAL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986574)

blue screen of death [microsoft.com] .

Enjoy.

Yours In Isfahan,
Kilgore Trout

Russian Leaders (3, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986604)

Abandoned under Bush because

Russian leaders complained that the technology could increase the risk of a nuclear war, because Russia would not know if the missiles carried nuclear warheads or conventional ones.

Considered again under Obama because...?

Wait.. what??? (4, Funny)

kalirion (728907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986684)

capable of avoiding the airspace of neutral countries, for example, or steering clear of hostile territory.

So if it will avoid neutral countries, and steer clear of hostile territories, by process of elimination that leaves the target to be our allies?

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