Thursday, April 2, 2009


I'm kind of hoping that the Japanese shoot down that NORK missile. US saber-rattling in the area will come to no avail because of Chinese counter-measures. Japan, on the other hand, can take the moral high ground. Not to mention this is no time for the US to re-open wounds inflicted by Bush by throwing its weight around.

I share some concerns about resurgent Japanese militarism a generation or two from now, but it's time for countries other than the US to pony up some capital for their own defense. The militaries of Western Europe are a joke. Not the individual soldiers or units, but their ability to project power (sometimes even within their own territory) - they are wholly dependent on US logistics, as the Tsunami relief effort clearly showed. Japan maintains a maritime security force that can project power beyond its borders, and is much closer to potential hotspots than what is left of the European navies (excluding the UK).

I'm not terribly enamored of the way the Japanese handle their own Imperialist history - the Germans were required to re-apply for admission to the human race after WWII, whereas the Japanese were not, given Stalin's quick occupation of Sakhalin. A divided Japan would have not have served Western interests at all. But the interment of war criminals in Yasukuni Shrine still galls.

I have a personal interest in the enmity between the Chinese and the Japanese - I've lived in Japan and speak Japanese (as does my wife), but my father-in-law is a former KMT soldier who fought them on the ground in Northern China.

I think my father-in-law's attitude is quite instructive. Before the War, his family did business with the Japanese, in fact he had a Japanese godmother. He still speaks Japanese to me when my Mandarin fails. However, he spits every time he sees the Imperial flag (the one with the sun's rays). I think the time to put the emotions of WWII away and ask Japan to take a more active role in the defense of the PAC rim has come.

Nothing will stop the regime in Pyongyang faster than public demonstrations of impotence, and a Japanese intercept would do that quite nicely.


Jim Wright said...

Nothing will stop the regime in Pyongyang faster than public demonstrations of impotence, and a Japanese intercept would do that quite nicely.

And nothing will boost DPRK egos like the US or Japan shooting at that missile and missing.

I've been involved in missile interception, John, and hitting a missile in flight with another missile is one damned difficult thing to do. The intercept problem shifts constantly, and the variables are manifold and constantly changing depending on which phase of flight the target is in.

It's not that it can't be done, but it requires a full up combat asset commitment, it's not something that can be done half-assed - and more importantly, you'll be making a public acknowledgment that you have that capability. Even if everything goes correct, and the technology performs exactly as designed, there's still a significant probability that you'll miss.

Of course, there is a way to achieve almost 100% kill probability - you shoot the missile before it launches. But I seriously doubt that in this post-Bush Doctrine world you'll find much support for that.

I suppose at this point though, we'll have to try.

Konstantin B. said...

I could be wrong, but wouldn't it benefit China the most at this poinit if that missile didn't take off or was shot down.

I would think the Chinese should do it.

John the Scientist said...

Yeah, Jim, I was thinking that it won't be shot at for just that reason. How many of their own planes did the Russians shoot down to hit Gary Powers? Six? And that was a manned aircraft.

But I can hope, can't I? :D

Konstantin, there are several factors involved. Do the Chinese think that a missile shoot-down will benefit us more than them? How confident are they in their own technology - their regime got a big boost in legitimacy in Overseas Chinese eyes from the Olympics, and they need that OC money right now. Showing themselves to be big putzes by missing a NORK missile would seriously undermine their new image of competency.

And finally, the Chinese are playing both sides of the fence, for many reasons. Most of all, they need to maintain at least some ties and influence on a regime on the other side of a border that big.

CW said...

Jimbo has a good point. The TD2 is a big freaking rocket. It's going a hell of a lot higher, faster, and farther than your garden variety Scud, or even No Dong, and is a hell of a lot harder to shoot down than a smaller missile. I'm not sure WE could hit it if we tried, much less the Japanese. It would look really bad to swing and miss in this case.

There's some pretty interesting physics involved in hitting an RV on the way down - solve that problem and you own the world, in terms of deterrence. I'm sure we'll get there, and things will change. I've heard some really interesting stuff about directed energy lately. Northrup Grumman allegedly ( recently tested a 100kw solid state laser. That's pretty much Captain Kirk's phaser. 100kw will burn a hole right through you, or most missiles in flight, if you can aim it (which is non-trivial).

Also - being solid state - you can dial-a-yield, just like Captain Kirk's phaser (stun or kill, etc).

It's all very interesting. The big defense industrial complex players are a huge part of our problem, but they're also the only ones who are likely to develop these sort of bleeding edge, infrastructure-intensive technological advancements.

Of course, at the moment, we're in the business of hitting a bullet with a bullet. Which, with current technology, can be done, but you have to have a faster, better aimed, bullet than the one you're shooting at.

There's a simple analogy: You're the best shot in the world. I'm shooting a .38 and you're shooting a .44 magnum. You're so good you can hit my bullet in flight, so you win.

Then I swap my .38 for a .308 rifle. You've got no chance, no matter how good you are.