Friday, October 01, 2004

Missile Defense

The debate is getting covered pretty exhaustively all over the place, so I'll just point to this New Yorker column on the missile defense system that Bush made a point of bringing up last night:
Between 1999 and December, 2002, a prototype anti-missile interceptor did succeed five times out of eight in hitting a dummy warhead in space. However, it was given information that the North Koreans would be unlikely to provide, such as the time and place of the launch and the missile’s trajectory. Moreover, the tests were purely preliminary. They did not show whether the system would work at night, or in bad weather, or against multiple warheads, or against a warhead of relatively crude design that would tumble instead of spin. At the time, the Pentagon’s chief of testing estimated that it would be a decade or more before the system would be ready for operational tests, and, like many other weapons experts, he questioned whether the system would ever be able to distinguish between warheads and decoys as simple as Mylar balloons.
Owing largely to the costs of development and deployment, the missile-defense budget has doubled in the past four years. The appropriation for next year is more than ten billion dollars—about the same as the Army’s entire R. & D. budget, twice the budget of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security, and nearly twice the department’s allocation for the Coast Guard.

Spending so much money on this totally unproven system shows as well as anything the relationship between some of Bush's policies and reality.

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