5% Digest (week 06/04/15)

Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan stated,

It’s a long war, unfortunately. But it’s been a war that has been in existence for millennia, at the same time—the use of violence for political purposes against noncombatants by either a state actor or a subnational group.

Terrorism has taken many forms over the years. What is more challenging now is, again, the technology that is available to terrorists, the great devastation that can be created by even a handful of folks, and also mass communication that just proliferates all of this activity and incitement and encouragement. So you have an environment now that’s very conducive to that type of propaganda and recruitment efforts, as well as the ability to get materials that are going to kill people. And so this is going to be something, I think, that we’re always going to have to be vigilant about. There is evil in the world and some people just want to kill for the sake of killing…This is something that, whether it’s from this group right now or another group, I think the ability to cause damage and violence and kill will be with us for many years to come.”

Micah Zenko summarised Brennan’s whole speech:

To summarize, the war on terrorism is working, compared to inaction or other policies. But, the American people should expect it to continue for millennia, or as long as lethal technologies and mass communication remain available to evil people.

According to the report by the Washington Post,

Even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group. …

“All the decision makers are Iraqi, and most of them are former Iraqi officers. The Iraqi officers are in command, and they make the tactics and the battle plans,” he said. “But the Iraqis themselves don’t fight. They put the foreign fighters on the front lines.”

A Los Angeles Times investigation found that the Pentagon has wasted $10 billion on the Sea-Based X-Band Radar and three other programs that have proved unworkable.

If North Korea launched a sneak attack, the Sea-Based X-Band Radar — SBX for short — would spot the incoming missiles, track them through space and guide U.S. rocket-interceptors to destroy them. …

In reality, the giant floating radar has been a $2.2-billion flop…

Although it can powerfully magnify distant objects, its field of vision is so narrow that it would be of little use against what experts consider the likeliest attack: a stream of missiles interspersed with decoys.

In addition to SBX, the programs were:

The Airborne Laser, envisioned as a fleet of converted Boeing 747s that would fire laser beams to destroy enemy missiles soon after launch, before they could release decoys.

It turned out that the lasers could not be fired over sufficient distances, so the planes would have to fly within or near an enemy’s borders continuously. That would leave the 747s all but defenseless against antiaircraft missiles. The program was canceled in 2012, after a decade of testing.

The cost: $5.3 billion.

The Kinetic Energy Interceptor, a rocket designed to be fired from land or sea to destroy enemy missiles during their early stage of flight. The interceptor was too long to fit on Navy ships, and on land, it would have to be positioned so close to its target that it would be vulnerable to attack. The program was killed in 2009, after six years of development.

The cost: $1.7 billion.

The Multiple Kill Vehicle, a cluster of miniature interceptors that would destroy enemy missiles along with any decoys. In 2007 and 2008, the Missile Defense Agency trumpeted it as a “transformational program” and a cost-effective “force multiplier.” After four years of development, the agency’s contractors had not conducted a single test flight, and the program was shelved.

The cost: nearly $700 million. …

Boeing Co., the agency’s prime contractor for homeland defense, designed SBX. Raytheon Co. built the system’s radar components. Both companies are among the world’s biggest defense contractors and are major political donors.Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Tatyana Shevtsova said April 9 there would be no reductions of personnel or funding for the Defense Ministry, despite the fact that the Russian government had announced a 10 percent reduction in expenses across the board.

In 2013, John Snow wrote that Hans Blixs stated that UK’s Trident plans is  “a completely pointless exercise”.

His most explosive statements centred on Britain’s plan, in an age of austerity, to spend vast billions on replacing Trident with a new “nuclear deterrent”. From a peace and security perspective he described it as “a completely pointless exercise”. …

In the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear massacres, the 1950s saw the rise of the “ban the bomb” movement. Today, all these years on, the “threat” is altogether different, as Dr Blix explained. Asymmetric warfare has no nuclear component. Even if it did it would be very hard to combat with a nuclear bomb.

Then he delivered his own “bomb”, calling upon Britain in most specific terms, to “abandon Trident altogether”. Indeed, to go further and abandon the bomb.