Jeffrey LewisStand Down, Boys

The Flat Earth Society has a foothold in the Wall Street Journal editorial page:

It’s possible we’ll wake up to the news that Pyongyang has tested the long-range ballistic missile that is fully fueled and which U.S.
satellites have monitored for more than a month. If so, we hope we’ll also learn that the U.S. responded, as defense officials said late yesterday it might, by testing its newly operational missile defense system and blowing the Korean provocation out of the sky.


Why is this so difficult for people to understand? If the missile flies over Japan—as it would in a space launch configuration like 1998—then it won’t go anywhere NEAR Alaska. Ted Postol created the attached diagram that helps explain this apparently elusive concept (above).

Ted also suggests looking to see if the North Koreans have deployed ships in the expected impact areas of the first and second stages.


I was reading Joe Cirincione’s brilliant Think Progress blog post, Administration Responds to North Korea Missile Stunt With Missile Defense Stunt and I thought …

Go ahead, try to shoot it down, I dare you.

This is my challenge: We’ve spent $100 billion over the last twenty years, including $8 billion last year on “missile defense.”

Pentagon officials claim we have a better than 80 percent chance of shooting down a North Korean ICBM.

So, do it. I dare you. I double dog dare you. Shoot it down, because I say you can’t.

The decision to “stand up” the the GMD system is a transparently cynical effort to exploit the public’s concern about North Korea’s missile preparations for a missile defense system that cannot defend.

Keep in mind that the Missile Defense Agency’s Independent Review Team (IRT) opposed further flight testing on the grounds that unsuccessful tests would undermine its ability to deter.

And that MDA has more or less stopped deploying new interceptors to Fort Greely.

Nothing would expend the political capital the Administration is banking for missile defense like an unsuccessful attempt to intercept the missile. And believe me, if they get a shot, they will miss…

… unless the North Koreans are helpful and place a homing beacon on the missile.


  1. mark gubrud (History)

    Of course.

    Meanwhile, what about Ashton Carter and Bill Perry’s breathtaking argument that we should bomb the missile on the pad? I suppose if it appears in today’s WP under their big-D names, that means it’s something the Bush mob isn’t actually considering, right? Should they?

  2. Haninah

    I assume that those fan-shaped thingies are various nations’ early-warning radars (seeing as there’s one that’s positioned right around where Cobra Dane should be)?

  3. epaminondas (History)

    Use Aegis and the Navy’s unit, close up, salvoed if that’s the goal.
    Taking it out on the ground might be seen by Kim – not the most stable – as a good reason to use Seoul for target practice with several hundred 155’s ..and then off we go.
    Not worth it.

  4. Jeremy

    Say the North Koreans test, and say we do try to intercept it, and fail. What’s to stop us from claiming that we succeeded?

    Hell, the North Koreans aren’t going to have the radar imagery to prove we’re lying; Japan would, but has every reason to go along with the charade. I’m sure there’s someone within the Bush Administration who has thought about this.

  5. Muskrat (History)

    OK, Rumsfeld now says the decision to shoot down is the President’s call, which he will presumably make just as soon as the teacher gets to the end of “My pet goat.”

  6. Vigilante (History)

    Plus, I’m promoting your challenge (with links) as soon as I return from dinner! Brilliant, ACW!

  7. Eoin Dubsky (History)

    What are Dems like Kerry saying should be done? You know from a distance its hard to tell which state is the most crazy.