the korean missile crisis02 Jul 2006
The US has gotten itself into one dilly of a pickle with its whole anti-ICBM system. It was all fine and well when it served as a tough-talking bullet point, and a convenient mechanism to funnel money endlessly to defense contractors, but now that we’re faced with a question of actually using it, things don’t look so hot.
- Scenario 1 (most likely)
- North Korea fires a test missile, and we don’t do anything, because we acknowledge there’s a better chance of Iraq spontaneously morphing into a coherent, functional nation-state in the next 6 months than us actually hitting the broadside of a barn with this thing. Conservatives start to wonder why we’ve been pumping billions into an anti-ballistic missle system that we still can’t even use. Anti-war peacenik liberals like me laugh their superior, nasal laugh and say “I told you so.”
- Scenario 2 (next most likely)
- North Korea fires a test missile, and we attempt to shoot it down and miss. This is the most probable outcome if we attempt to shoot it down. “But Chris,” you ask, “our anti-ICMB tests yielded a 4/8 success rate. That’s 50/50, which isn’t that bad, right?” Right, except that in those tests the target had a GPS beacon on board to aid targetting. Oops. Conservatives start to wonder why we’ve been pumping billions into an anti-ballistic missile system that doesn’t even work. Anti-war peacenik liberals like me laugh their superior, nasal laugh and say “I told you so.”
- Scenario 3 (least likely)
- NK launches a test missile and we try to shoot it down and succeed. This would be notable above all because it may lend credence to the existence of a God, by virtue of divine intervention, should our system actually manage to hit a missile. But as Michael Levi pointed out last week, even a successful shoot-down wouldn’t necessarily be all sunshine and roses, since the NK test-missile will likely carry a satellite, and China (our bestest friend when it comes to North Korea) gets really pissed when people shoot down satellites.
It will be interesting (and probably depressing, and slightly scary) to see how this one plays out.