“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

US Shoot Down of Satellite Is a Warning to Iran

And you can add others to the warning. The technological achievement is staggering and the diplomacy and security advantage should be obvious. The US has demonstrated that a first strike attempt by an enemy could come to naught, and the follow-up US retaliation would be nation ending. The system needs to be continually advanced and a new generation of unmanned fighter and bomber warplanes would insure US dominance for another generation. The consequences in not committing the resources are extremely dangerous. Some of you may want to think about that when contemplating a vote for Obama.

February 22, 2008
Satellite shoot-down is a clear warning to Iran
James Lewis American Thinker

Wednesday night's SM-3 shoot-down of a US spy satellite tumbling out of its orbit was a magnificent success for anti-missile defense. It meant hitting a bullet with a bullet, with only a ten-second time window for the shot. The hit was kinetic, meaning that there was no conventional warhead to explode, and the SM-3 hit the fuel tank of the bus-sized spy satellite right in the sweet spot in order to disperse the toxic propellant. The small pieces left over will now burn up in the atmosphere.

The SM-3 was traveling at 17,000 miles per hour when it hit the spy sat. The target was "cold," so that heat-seeking sensors designed to locate hot missiles were not even used. This was a last-minute modification of an anti-missile system for a special job, an extraordinary technical achievement, and one that is now sending ripple effects all around the world. The Chinese People's Army and the Russkis are all upset, poor babies. But this fast, off-the-shelf demonstration of US technical prowess was really a direct shot across the bows of Iran -- and also North Korea.

Why? Because the Russians and Chinese have had ICBMs for decades and never used them. They respond to the balance of terror in a rational way. But Iran and North Korea are constantly threatening us, unpredictable, and often crazy-sounding.

Just this week we heard official statements like this:

"The cancerous growth Israel will soon disappear... I am convinced that with every passing day Hizbullah's might is increasing and in the near future, we will witness the disappearance of this cancerous growth Israel by means of the Hizbullah fighters' radiation [therapy]."

Well, "Hizbullah" means "party of Allah," and that refers to the whole Khomeini cult, not just its Lebanese lapdog. So "radiation therapy" from the Party of Allah has a pretty clear meaning. Tehran's head guru, Ayatollah Khamenei, also explained that Allah hates any Iranians who don't support the nuke program. Exactly where he found that in the Koran wasn't explained.

Meanwhile, North Korea is in the middle of a succession struggle, always the trickiest time in family despotisms. The Syrians, too, have been getting NoKo help on nuclear power, according to Israeli sources.

The Iranian opposition group that keeps leaking the mullah's nuke secrets has just presented evidence that they really do have a working factory to make nuclear warheads, at a town called Khojir, built in cooperation with the North Koreans. Since fabricating ing a nuclear warhead is not difficult once you have the uranium or plutonium, this sounds believable. That news knocks the last leg out from under the rickety fantasy world of the last US National Intelligence Estimate.

So this is a crucial time to demonstrate to the rogues that the West can defend itself. That is why the administration chose this time to show off our anti-missile defense capability.

The brilliance of our anti-missile systems is that they can move and fast and stealthily from place to place. Aegis cruisers like the one that just shot down the spy satellite can be sent to any navigable sea in the world, very close to North Korea, Iran, and Syria. If Chavez ever buys missiles from his friends in Tehran, or if Castro's successor does, the US Navy can be in range the next day. Once we get laser weapons mounted on aircraft, we will have even faster and more flexible defenses. That technology is not far away.

So this is an historic moment for the good guys. For the first time since Stalin exploded an atom bomb in 1949 there is a working defense against nuke-bearing missiles and planes. Real civilizations -- large cities surrounded by farms to feed them -- have always depended upon walls, moats, and natural defenses. That is the only reason why we have the prosperity and culture that began with Sumer 6,000 years ago. But defense and aggression are always in a race -- the liberal fantasy that arms races are somehow abnormal in history is just ignorant.

What's different about the last half century is that city-killing weapons have put the aggressor at a major advantage, so that a High Noon standoff was the only answer. That horrific period is now passing as missile defenses come into their own. We are coming back to a more normal balance. That is a very good thing.

So when you vote in the Fall, don't forget who made missile defenses possible.

(Hint: It wasn't the Democrats).

James Lewis blogs at


  1. "The technological achievement is staggering and the diplomacy and security advantage should be obvious."

    Look, it was no surprise. Everyone knew we could do it.

    And Iran knows that we can knock the shit out of them before noon on a bad day.

    As it turns out, it's not all about Iran.

  2. SM-3 launched from the USS Lake Erie
    Stealth bomber crashes at Andersen AFB
    Stealth bomber crashes at Andersen AFB

    Whiteman B-2 unit preps to return from Guam
    AF Times Friday Feb 15, 2008

    Four (3) B-2 Spirit bombers and about 280 airmen are preparing to return to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., after a four-month deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

    The aircraft and personnel from the 509th Bomb Wing will return sometime in the next two weeks, a Whiteman spokesman said. The spokesman would not provide a specific date, citing security concerns.

    The B-2s, deployed as the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, are part of the continuous bomber presence the Air Force has maintained on Guam since March 2004.
    Under the policy, B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers take turns deploying for four-month stints on the Pacific island.

    “The bomber rotation fulfills U.S. security obligations and demonstrates U.S. commitment to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Lt. Col. Antoinette Kemper said. “It also serves as a deterrent for potential adversaries while reassuring regional partners the United States remains engaged in this theater.”

    The Air Force has strengthened its presence in the Pacific in recent years, sending F-22s, C-17s and Global Hawk surveillance drones into the region. Some analysts contend this is intended to project strength and act as a deterrent to China.

    Guam, in particular, is in the early stages of a substantial military build-up. The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps plan to beef up their presence on the strategically located island in coming years.

  3. "The US has demonstrated that ... the follow-up US retaliation would be nation ending."

    Does everyone here believe this?

  4. Depends on the President, Cutler. With McCain, I might be a believer, with Obama, no way.

  5. And that's half the reason why it won't be, and hasn't been, done.

  6. "And that's half the reason why it won't be, and hasn't been, done."

    Sorry, I don't understand. What does this mean?

  7. Bob, much as the Weekly Standard would have you believe that 1945 is soon upon us and McCain will usher in the firebombing of Dresden (what is it with those people?) this isn't that kind of war. And even the would-be Warrior Prince of the Pacific knows it.

  8. Sorry, cutler. It's the merlot. I was thinking one thing and you another.

    The reason Iran hasn't already been struck is that we don't want to take possession of a(nother) nation that we can't bloody well destroy.

  9. The question, of course, has implications beyond Iran. China and North Korea are making their own calculations.

    Herman Kahn was dealing with it 40 years ago.

    The answer is, as with most things, it depends on context.

  10. Well, can't we at least close the borders, and not let any more muzzies in? That would go a ways to satisfying bob.

    It really is insane, you know, particularily for you women folk, to let such a virus into our body politic.

  11. And I sometimes think of my foolish, but very nice, Lutheran pastor, who wants to 'dialogue' with these assholes.

  12. Yeah, wires crossed. I was asking about what everyone regarding whether we'd respond to nuclear with nuclear, indiscriminately or otherwise. Obviously, for deterrence reasons we pretend a certain mindset, but I don't think it's really there.

    Just like I don't think Bush I would have used nukes against the Iraqis if they went chemical.

  13. "Just like I don't think Bush I would have used nukes against the Iraqis if they went chemical."

    There's an example of where this touchy-feel shit gets us in trouble. We got rid of all our biological and chemical weapons, so we no longer have any non-conventional deterrent other than nukes.

  14. "what everyone regarding whether"

    That's an interesting turn of phrase....

  15. "Yeah, wires crossed. I was asking about what everyone regarding whether we'd respond to nuclear with nuclear"

    I certainly like to think so. I think other nation-states think so as well.

    But isn't that why the worry's gone underground?

  16. Your first loss is your best loss. If a second tier nuclear state attacked the US or attempted to do so and the US did not disproportionately retaliate, the US would concede any credible deterrence against a first line nuclear power.

  17. The Messiah Cometh--this is really getting scary---

    Is Obama the messiah?
    Websites capture wave of transcendent fervor

    Posted: February 23, 2008
    1:00 am Eastern

    By Jerome R. Corsi
    © 2008 WorldNetDaily

    "Is this a messianic movement? A cult of personality? Or just good ol' fashioned politics?" Those are the questions an Internet blog called "Is Barack Obama the Messiah?" began with one year ago.

    By simply highlighting media reports since then – including WND's account of an Obama rally in Seattle – the website has captured the wave of euphoria that has followed the Democratic senator's remarkable rise to the brink of the party's presidential nomination.

    The site, laced with photos and magazine covers illustrating the theme, is topped by a Obama quote strategically ripped from a Jan. 7 speech at Dartmouth College just before the New Hampshire Primary in which he told students, "… a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote" for Obama.

    The blog prominently displays the July 11 cover of the German magazine Der Spiegel, which has a photo of Obama under the title, "The Messiah Factor, Barack Obama and the Yearning for a New America."'s Timothy Noah introduced last year his tongue-in-cheek "Obama Messiah Watch," a periodic feature "considering evidence that Obama is the Son of God."

    "Is Barack Obama – junior U.S. senator from Illinois, best-selling author, Harvard Law Review editor, Men's Vogue cover model, and "exploratory" presidential candidate – the second coming of our Savior and our Redeemer, Prince of Peace and King of Kings, Jesus Christ?" Noah wrote. "His press coverage suggests we can't dismiss this possibility out of hand."

    "I therefore inaugurate the Obama Messiah Watch, which will periodically highlight gratuitously adoring biographical details that appear in newspaper, television and magazine profiles of this other worldly presence in our midst," Noah proclaimed.

    (Story continues below)

    Noah added that readers are invited to submit similar details, such as "Obama walking on water, Obama sating the hunger of 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes – from other Obama profiles. And also, of course, to repent, just in case the hour approacheth nigh."

    WND reported how the numerous instances in which Obama has interrupted speeches to attend to a fainting follower has some questioning whether the campaign is employing shills or whether the phenomenon is evidence of fanaticism and cause for concern.

    The "Is Barack Obama the Messiah?" blog features a "Transfiguration" image of the Illinois senator – a photo by Michael Edwards that appeared in a New York magazine story published April 16, 2007

    Some of the estimated 21,000 who came to hear Sen. Barack Obama in Seattle earlier this month (WND photo)

    According to the magazine, the photo was taken at a fundraiser at the Manhattan home of Steven and Judy Gluckerstern. It shows Obama elevated from the crowd, standing on a staircase that ascends to a darkened window above his head.

    George Soros is clearly seen sitting at the base of the staircase to Obama's immediate left.

    The website cites numerous well-known figures under the heading of "Conversions," who represent Obama in larger-than-life terms.

    New Age luminary Deepak Chopra said in a Jan. 5 op-ed piece on the Huffington Post that "the X factor which sets Barack Obama aside as a unique candidate is his hard-won self-awareness."

    "If we are lucky, we will wake up and begin the journey back to self-awareness as people," Chopra wrote. "That happens only rarely, and now it has happened to a junior senator from Illinois."

    Chopra asserted that if Obama "makes it all the way to the White House, it will represent a quantum leap in American consciousness and a promise to restore America's position in the world."

    MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews recently claimed he felt a "thrill going up my leg" listening to an Obama speech.

    Matthews bubbled on, claiming Obama "speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment."

    Oprah Winfrey, after listening to speech Obama gave to a Des Moines audience Dec. 8, told reporters, "When you listen to Barack Obama, when you really hear him, you witness a very rare thing. You witness a politician who has an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth."

    Conservative critics have pondered whether the messiah phenomenon will help or hurt Obama.

    Writing in the American Thinker, consulting editor J.R. Dunn noted the tendency liberals have to see their leaders as transcendent beings, "someone more than human, someone with a touch of the divine."

    Examining how liberals tend to put Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy on a God-like pedestal, Dunn commented that for the American left, "Leaders don't handle tasks, they lead movements, they embody the spirit of the age. They transform. Leaders, to put it simply, are fuehrers."

    Internet blogger Jon Swift, writing critically about the "Obama Messiah" movement, muses "there comes a time in the life of every adolescent girl, and even Chris Matthews, when they peel the yellowing photos of Scott Baio they cut out of Tiger Beat off their bedroom walls and toss them in the garbage bin."

    "Barack Obama will be [47] in August," Swift noted. "Will Chris Mathews and Obama's other devoted disciples still have his picture on their bedroom walls then?"

  18. ...who wants to 'dialogue' with these assholes.

    Sat Feb 23, 02:29:00 AM EST

    We're neck-deep in "assholes." Did you think we were gonna turn around and kill them?

  19. Bob, we are the nano-second generation. Obama has put this caper together too early. His imperious tilt of his head will peak and flame out before November. If I recall Messiah I was welcomed as a saviour and was shortly thereafter crucified.

  20. I sure do hope you are right, deuce. And a 'caper' it surely is. My wife and I are going back to Ohio for awhile, and I am going to change residency for the first time in my life, so my vote finally means something.

    To try and talk philosophy or mythology to a muslim is futile, because the starting point is not the same.

    Perhaps sanity will only survive in caves, among a few, when all this is over.

    But I certainly hope not.

  21. The muzzies have done an excellent job, taking off on that nonsense in Genesis, where poor Eve is put down, one must admit.

    Tomorrow, I will try to post--and it will be a long post--on Joseph Campbell's take on such chicanery.

    It really amounts to a bunch of old men, pulling a fakaroo.


  22. And using violence to get their way.

  23. "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do." -Samuel Huntington

  24. Do you agree with that, cutler?

  25. "Your first loss is your best loss. If a second tier nuclear state attacked the US or attempted to do so and the US did not disproportionately retaliate, the US would concede any credible deterrence against a first line nuclear power."

    I agree, in theory.

    But easily said until you have to start physically picking cities, particularly in country where the government is itself unpopular to some degree.

  26. No, I mean do you agree with Huntington?

  27. Are our ideas attractive? Yes, though, I suspect, also in a much more superficial manner in many places of the world than we'd like to admit. I.e., "Hey, they've got shit, I want nice shit too." (Then again, I think we're perpetually a few generations from barbarism ourselves...)

    I don't think European intellectual influence (good and bad...I never tire of reminding people that Nazism and Bolshevism are as "Western" as liberal democracy) would have spread so far without its economic and military strength. I also don't think our own liberal democracy would exist in this world without our superior military strength. It'd be snuffed out and plundered by someone.

    There's also underlying chicken and the egg problem here. In other words, to what extent does the superiority of our ideas allow the military and economic strength in the first place.

  28. Yeah that wasn't a response to you.

  29. I.e., "Hey, they've got nice shit, I want nice shit too.

  30. You're not an idea man, cutler. At heart.


  31. I think I am, but just aware I'm surrounded by many people who aren't.

    I.e., I'm a libertarian, but the world often isn't.

  32. Well nothing I like more than a libertarian spreading the word by force of arms. Because "having shit" that wasn't there to be had before isn't deep enough.

  33. Don't know what that means.

    Looked a like a hell of a non-sequitor though.

  34. "Hey, they've got shit, I want nice shit too."

    This is somehow shallow.

    BUT we gladly (or glumly) reinforce and spread this with military strength we could not survive without.

    I thought I understood it.

  35. It's almost 5 AM, cutler.


  36. ""Hey, they've got shit, I want nice shit too."

    This is somehow shallow.

    BUT we gladly (or glumly) reinforce and spread this with military strength we could not survive without.

    I thought I understood it."

    Political freedom is about more than getting great HDTVs. You think that's controversial?

    I didn't give any policy recommendations with regard to "spreading," I just described the mechanisms that historically spread of "Western/European" political ideas, as I saw it.

    In that respect, Huntington wasn't talking about libertarianism and neither was I. The West spread socialism and nationalism to the third world just as successfully as it spread capitalism.

    Libertarians haven't "won" the world.

  37. Full Huntington quote (I don't have the book at this apartment, so an internet check is the best I can do):

    "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do."

    Hrmmm, so I'm actually arguing a slightly different pov than Huntington. I do think that many Western (not necessarily liberal-democratic) ideas have taken in other parts of the world, though not at liberal-democratic.

    Though it is hard to tell to what extent Western influences merely reinforced what was already there. Desert Rat made an inciteful comment about a year ago when he noted that many third world nations used authoritarian socialism to buttress already existing social divisions. So I'm still a bit up in the air on this.

    Like Huntington, however, I'm not convinced that the rest of the world has been sold on the desirability of liberal-democracy, if that's what you consider "Western ideas." Of course, I worry about us as well in that respect. Nations and ideas rise and fall. I don't believe in an end to history.

  38. I don't believe in an end to history.

    Sat Feb 23, 05:39:00 AM EST

    How 'bout a short nap, then?

    Have a nice day, cutler. It's not raining here today. I know I will.

  39. "Desert Rat made an inciteful comment about a year ago when he noted that many third world nations used authoritarian socialism to buttress already existing social divisions. So I'm still a bit up in the air on this.
    That's Rat:
    Always there to Incite.
    Insight, be Damned!

  40. The country is damned/doomed to become turd World, mostly thanks to GWB.
    Trish, in her Paulsian Denial State, can't see it.
    Writing on the wall?

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  44. Just call 'em like I see 'em, doug.

    Been watching some cable tv, lately

    Before the Messiah, comes the anti-Christ.

    Or so the story goes.

    What was the message to Iran, or the world, when the Chinese shot down a satellite?

  45. Turning Point for Missile Defense
    By Rich Lowry

    Somewhere 130 miles above the Pacific Ocean, tumbling around the Earth at 17,000 mph, a disabled spy satellite met a fiery end late Wednesday night -- destroyed by a U.S. missile-defense interceptor.

    The spectacular hit marks a definitive turn in the debate concerning missile defense, from whether it's technically possible to whether it's ethically desirable. Many of the same people who had argued for years that missile defense couldn't be done now will complain that it constitutes a nefarious "weaponizing of space."

    The U.S. normally isn't in the business of shooting down satellites. It took out the dead National Reconnaissance Office satellite because it had a full, 1,000-pound tank of toxic rocket fuel that there was some slim chance could fall on a populated area when it re-entered the atmosphere in a few weeks. Now, the hydrazine fuel appears to have burned up in an explosion in space, and small pieces of the 5,000-pound satellite -- about the size of a school bus -- will fall harmlessly to Earth.

    The satellite wasn't a missile launched with just minutes warning, but hitting it is still a major success for our missile-defense system. The window for a successful strike was about 30 seconds, the speeds involved were mind-boggling, and all the same technologies that would be deployed against a missile -- a Standard Missile 3 rocket launched from an Aegis-class cruiser and a battery of radar and sensors -- were in play.

    The Chinese immediately lashed out. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that they will continue to monitor "the possible harm caused by the U.S. action to outer space security and relevant countries." The Chinese commitment to "outer space security" was recently exemplified by their shooting down an aging weather satellite with no warning, then denying that they had done it for two weeks, and doing it at an orbit so high that 1,600 pieces of space debris will clutter Earth's orbit for years.

    The Chinese test -- of a system that is explicitly designed to target satellites -- didn't produce much outrage from arms controllers. It's long been an axiom of arms control that whatever the U.S. does is dangerous and a provocation to other countries, while our adversaries are merely forced into hostile or irresponsible acts by our recklessness. But the U.S. position on space -- like our position on the high seas -- is that everyone should have full and free access to it for peaceful purposes.

    What we have resisted is getting pushed into an unenforceable treaty against weapons in space that could hamper our ability to address threats in the future. So many weapons can be transformed instantly into "space weapons" if they are used against targets above the Earth's atmosphere -- as we've seen with the SM-3 missile -- that banning them is impossible. The real agenda of the Russians and the Chinese is to keep us from ever putting missile-defense interceptors in space. That would enhance our capability against their intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) arsenals.

    This is how deep the Chinese and Russian commitment to the peacefulness of space runs: They want to have the option of launching ICBMs out into space where they will travel undisturbed until they reenter Earth's atmosphere on their way to visiting untold devastation on a target. The Chinese could make a genuine gesture toward peace in space by ending their rapid buildup of ICBMs, but their true interest is in preventing us from checking their missile threat to us and our allies.

    Space has been weaponized at least since the Germans launched V-2 rockets against Britain. Today, we use satellites not just for commercial purposes, but for intelligence and military command and control. That's the reason the Chinese are so keen to be able to shoot them down. Space isn't a pristine last frontier unsullied by human competitiveness and ferocity, but an extension of our flawed world down here below. It can be dangerous, which is why it's a comfort that we are building defenses against threats more serious than a tank of hydrazine.

  46. To blame the Chinese for additional "space debris" is a bit of a strech, though accurate. Their 1,600 pieces, from their shot increased "space debris" by about 20%. The Chinese adding to the debris field at 500 miles in orbit The Chinese military used a ground-based missile to hit and destroy one of its aging satellites orbiting more than 500 miles in space (WaPO)

    Then on the general issue of "space debris" in orbit.

    By Randolph E. Schmid
    AP Science Writer
    posted: 20 January 2006
    10:26 a.m. ET

    WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 9,000 pieces of space debris are orbiting the Earth, a hazard that can only be expected to get worse in the next few years. And currently there's no workable and economic way to clean up the mess.

    Space junk measuring 4 inches or more total some 5,500 tons, according to a report by NASA scientists J.-C. Liou and N. L. Johnson in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

    Even if space launches were halted now - which will not happen - the collection of debris would continue growing as items already in orbit collide and break into more pieces, Liou said in a telephone interview.

    "On the other hand, we are not claiming the sky is falling,'' he said, "We just need to understand what the risks are.''

    The most debris-crowded area is between 550 miles and 625 miles above the Earth, Liou said, meaning the risk is less for manned spaceflight. The International Space Station operates at about 250 miles altitude, and Space Shuttle flights tend to range between 250 miles and 375 miles, he said.

    But the junk can pose a risk to commercial and research flights and other space activities.

    Much of the debris results from explosions of satellites, especially old upper stages left in orbit with leftover fuel and high pressure fluids.

    A 2004 NASA report identified Russia as the source of the largest number of debris items, closely followed by the United States. Other sources were France, China, India, Japan and the European Space Agency.

  47. "How 'bout a short nap, then?"

    Possible, I think. Pleasant, so long as your ideas are the ones that come out on top.

    I don't think we're heading there right now, though. But I also think history's incredibly unpredictable, especially in the moment, so who knows.


    Currently writing midterms. One's fun though.

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  49. Among other things, I think presentism is crippling, and somewhat natural. That one of the reasons I think the study of history is important, it teaches humility.

  50. "I think I am, but just aware I'm surrounded by many people who aren't."

    If I could rewrite this, I'd add:

    "and competing ideas."

  51. (backed by more than just the force of their natural attractiveness)