Category: David Feldman Show

Can America Shoot A Missile Out Of The Sky?

 Ever since President Reagan spoke of a Star Wars defense system, the pentagon has been pursuing a nuclear shield to protect us from incoming missiles. As Iran and North Korea continue to develop long range nuclear weapons that could strike the United States, nearly thirty years and one trillion dollars after President Reagan set America on a course towards an anti missile defense what is our anti ballistic missile capability? Can we even shoot a missile out of the sky? For more on this we talked with Hayes Brown who covers national security issues for ThinkProgress.org.

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David: Where does it stand in the multilateral negotiations with North Korea vis-a-vis their nuclear weaponry?

Hayes: Not great. The six party talks have been frozen for years now. The US wants the six party talks, they want the multilateral system with Russia, China, Japan, South Korea backing them up, whereas North Korea wants direct talks with the US as an equal and that’s not just something that we’re willing to go for.

Mutual Assured Destruction was the subject of  Director Sidney Lumet's 1964 classic "Fail Safe" starring Henry Fonda.

Mutual Assured Destruction was the subject of Director Sidney Lumet’s 1964 classic “Fail Safe” starring Henry Fonda.

David: And is China helping us now? Or where do they fit in in all of this?

Hayes: China is interesting. China doesn’t want North Korea to collapse because that’s a couple of million starving North Koreans on their border, but at the same time it’s kind of nice to have this buffer between them and South Korea as well as having a gnat in the United States’ face. So they keep them going, but we have seen them smack them around a little bit when they step out of line too far, like you see them agree to more and harsher sanctions on North Korea, for example, after the last missile test back in the December of 2012.

On March 23, 1983 President Reagan unveiled SDI, the strategic defense initiative, which some say bankrupted the Soviet Union.

On March 23, 1983 President Reagan unveiled SDI, the strategic defense initiative, which some say bankrupted the Soviet Union.

David: North Korea claims to be building an ICBM that could reach Alaska. How close are they to building an ICBM that could actually hit us?

Hayes: Good question. It depends on how much you believe what they say. According to North Korea, they’re really close, but many of the models of the design that would be the ICBM to reach us are actually fake. The ones they tout around and parade, they’re not actually real. They’re very, very clever models. So it’s a toss-up and that’s, again, one of the scariest things about North Korea. It’s so hard to know what’s real and what’s not.

David: Well, it’s also hard to know what’s real and what’s not with the United States. Because I read now that President Obama is installing his anti-ballistic missile system in the Pacific to shoot a North Korean ICBM out of the sky, but I’ve never read of America having an anti-ballistic system that can shoot a North Korean missile out of the sky. I always hear that we’re testing these rockets that can shoot other rockets out of the sky, but they never seem to work. But most Americans assume we have an anti-ballistic missile system, but we don’t.

Hayes: Not a true anti-ballistic missile system in the sense of like the SDI and Star Wars and all that Reagan promised us. We do have a system called THAD, T-H-A-D, which helps you try and shoot down those missiles that they moved to Guam during the last North Korea scare last year. While they wouldn’t be able to shoot down a big boy missile, they are helpful in helping protect some of our assets in the region.

The Missile Defense Agency was establish during the Reagan administration.

The Missile Defense Agency was establish during the Reagan administration.

David: ‘Helpful in protecting our assets in the region.’ Because I always read about how moving our ABM system from Eastern Europe to the Persian Gulf and now to Guam and I keep looking for proof that we actually have the capability to shoot a missile out of the sky. I don’t see it. I know Israel has Iron Dome which works sometimes, but doesn’t really, and I remember in 1991 reading about Israel’s capabilities to shoot Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles out of the sky, but then Bill Safire from the New York Times did some great reporting on this. He reported on the Patriot missiles. The Patriot missiles supposedly could shoot Scud missiles out of the sky and it turns out they did nothing during the First Gulf War.

Patriot missiles are designed to shoot incoming missiles out of the sky and are made by Raytheon.  During the first Gulf War we were told they protected Israel from Iraq's Scud missiles, but later reporting by the New York Times says otherwise.

Patriot missiles are designed to shoot incoming missiles out of the sky and are made by Raytheon. During the first Gulf War we were told they protected Israel from Iraq’s Scud missiles, but later reporting by the New York Times says otherwise.

Hayes: A good part of warfare is trying to make sure the other side thinks you’re tougher than you are. On the other hand, some of these smaller systems like on the Aegis ships, which were also moved into the region during the last North Korea scare, have had some success in actually proving themselves to be a good defense system, not against  the larger ICBMs, but against short and mid-ranged missiles, they have proven themselves to be pretty decent at what they do.

David: Some people have even questioned my patriotism for questioning our anti-ballistic missile defense system, because it’s telling the enemy that we’re vulnerable. But the people who were patriotic in the run-up to World War II, the French said they had a Maginot Line that was impenetrable and to question it would be unpatriotic. The French were convinced they had what amounted to an iron dome to protect them from the Nazis and Hitler said, ‘Yes, our tanks cannot penetrate the Maginot Line so we’ll just fly over it,’ which they did.

Hayes: Or go around them.

David: Yeah, they flew over it. So a false sense of security can be pretty dangerous. Do you think it’s unpatriotic to question whether or not we have an anti-ballistic missile system?

Hayes: No, not at all. I actually don’t think it’s unpatriotic to question whether they’re worth the cost. Actually they tend to be expensive systems and they do tend to require a lot of testing before they’re proven to be accurate. I’m not saying we should cut all missile defense, I’m saying that we should spend our money wisely on it.

David: Up until Reagan, we lived under ‘mutual assured destruction’ and Reagan didn’t like that idea. I don’t think anybody did. But I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that we can do anything after a country has nuclear capability. Once they have missiles I think it’s a stalemate.

The Patriot missile is manufactured by the American defense contractor Raytheon.

The Patriot missile is manufactured by the American defense contractor Raytheon.

Hayes: For the most part, until there’s either a change of government or there’s a change of heart. I mean there have been instances in the past where governments have given up the bomb. South Africa gave up the bomb, Brazil was close and they stopped all pursuit of it after their right-wing dictatorship fell. So it’s entirely possible to see some future where North Korea is able to give up it’s nuclear weapons, but that time is not in the near future unfortunately.

David: Right. But I’m talking about the efficiency of our alleged anti-ballistic missiles. If we had anti-ballistic missiles that worked, then we wouldn’t be so afraid of Iran enriching uranium.

Hayes: Right. Our missile-defense systems aren’t necessarily designed to be anti-ballistic missiles. The big threat is the long-range, the intercontinental ones that Iran doesn’t have capability of yet, North Korea does not have the capability of yet. So what we do have though is the ability to shoot down some of these smaller short and mid range missile systems and that’s what we’re really seeing moved into place and what we see Russia getting all up into arms in eastern Europe and what we see moving into position whenever North Korea raises their hackles.

Israel claims that their Iron Dome missile shield has 90% accuracy.

Israel claims that their Iron Dome missile shield has 90% accuracy.

David: Okay. I would love to see any proof of that because I follow what goes on in Israel and the Iron Dome and those rockets that Hamas fires from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel . . .

Hayes: Right, no one thinks that any defense system is ever going to have a 100% success rate, but compared to what the damage would have been without Iron Dome, I think it’s doing its job pretty decently. And I think that’s the theory with most of these defense systems that we see in place regarding North Korea, that 100% stoppage is not possible, but it’s better than 0% and I think we’re above that point.

David: Right. The Patriot missiles, during the First Gulf War, had 0% accuracy according to Bill Safire of the New York Times. They achieved absolutely nothing, but we were fed a lie that our Patriot missiles had come to Israel’s rescue when Saddam Hussein was lobbing the Scuds there and we later learned that the Patriot missiles don’t work, but there was a lot of money to be made.

Hayes: I haven’t read that Safire piece, so you know more than me on this one.

David: Well, I find that really interesting, and I’m not trying to be arrogant here.

New York Times Columnist Bill Safire, seen here getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, wrote a series of articles questioning whether or not the Patriot missiles actually did what they were supposed to during the first Gulf War.

New York Times Columnist Bill Safire, seen here getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, wrote a series of articles questioning whether or not the Patriot missiles actually did what they were supposed to during the first Gulf War.

Hayes: No, it’s fine.

David: Because nobody has. But I remember the Gulf War, I remember Benjamin Netanyahu wearing a gas mask, he was the spokesman for Israel at the time. He was praising America for saving Israel and how great the Patriot missile was that was shooting these evil Scuds out of the sky. And then a couple of months later, Bill Safire, a conservative, looked into it and said the Patriot missile did absolutely nothing to prevent the Scud missiles from landing on Israel and that story kind of got buried. It’s even hard to Google and find. If you look for it, kind of hard to find. And I wonder, so there’s misinformation coming from North Korea and there’s misinformation coming from the United States when it comes to these missile programs. And I say this as a patriot, not as an investor in the Patriot missile, but I do say this as somebody who loves America and knows that the Maginot Line, that false sense of security, can be very dangerous.

Hayes Brown covers national security issues for ThinkProgress.org.

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What do you think? Can America shoot missiles out of the sky? Is this a capability we should pursue, no matter what the cost is? I’d like to hear your ideas. Please make your voice heard by leaving your comments below.

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Fresh from the oven: NEW Henry’s Kitchen!

Comedian/Musician Henry Phillips is back with a new episode of his highly informative cooking show, “Henry’s Kitchen” with a delicious recipe for Hearty Superbowl Chicken Pot Pie. We got hungry just watching him prepare it! Also, be sure to listen to Henry’s recent appearance on the podcast for more mouthwatering recipes from the master chef himself!

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Florida, Of Course, Cop Shoots Family Dog in Front Of 2-Year-Old

Florida cop not disciplined after shooting family dog dead in front of 2-year-old (via Raw Story )

A Florida family intends to take legal action after a local sheriff’s deputy shot and killed the family dog while the family’s 2-year-old child sat dangerously close by. WKMG-TV reported on Monday that a deputy from the Brevard County Sheriff’…

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Must See Doc: The Act of Killing

  • The Act Of Killing
  • “Disturbing” “Phenomenal”
  • Tells the story of mass murder in Indonesia
  • Running From Crazy
  • “Bravery in the face of…genetic destiny”
  • Mariel Hemingway’s battle with her family’s history of mental illness

Michael Snyder, our resident film critic, stops by every once in a while to tell us what documentaries we should be catching. Today, he has two.

Listen to the original broadcast

David:  Hello Mr. Snyder.  First up, The Act of Killing.

Michael: Well, this is a fascinating, disturbing and wildly original documentary by a director named Joshua Oppenheimer, who decided to do something about the mass extermination of people in Indonesia in 1965 that was initiated by a military coup.

People in charge gathered together a bunch of gangsters and set them out to basically cleanse the country of what they said were Communists, and the Communists could be anything from farmers to poor people to genuine dissidents.

Michael: This film goes back to Indonesia and finds these now elderly killers and asks them to  explain the how and the why of the murders that they committed and also to reenact them for the camera.

Michael: These  guys, apparently, a number of them really love the American movies, and they’re given an opportunity to play act these incidents of killing and torture, and basically try to justify what they did when they did it and express very little remorse. Some of these guys killed hundreds of people, literally hundreds of people, each individually. One guy in particular, Anwar Congo, has bad dreams, and a lot of it must be guilt.

The Act of Killing according to Michael Snyder is "amazing."

The Act of Killing according to Michael Snyder is “amazing.”

David: Does he know that he’s guilty?

Michael: Oh, absolutely. But it doesn’t change the fact that they did it and they tried to justify what they did. Even today, people are frightened of them as we see in the course of their filming and interacting with actual citizens of the northern Sumatra area.

It’s pretty astonishing stuff.

David: After Suharto fell in 1998 did Indonesia have any truth in reconciliation? Did any of these guys go to prison for these atrocities?

Michael: No. No, absolutely not. They walk the streets, they’re still feared and/or admired or cowed before. It’s a phenomenal film, and it’s surreal in places. There’s one particular kind of production number involving the music from the film Born Free with dancing girls and what looks like a gigantic fish. I can’t even – it is like nothing I’ve seen before. It’s disturbing, it’s phenomenal. It’s as if somehow, the Nazis were given a pass and were still around today and were kind of basically strutting down their street in their hometown and nobody gave a damn.

David: Maybe it’s time for another documentary where Henry Kissinger reenacts all the murders he’s committed in Indonesia’s East Timor and Cambodia.

Michael: There’s enough horror on the screen with these old Indonesian gangsters. You’ll be stunned, honestly.

David: And they’re proud of it?

Michael: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And one guy is just happy that he got away with it, another guy is somewhat tormented, some say you just can’t allow yourself to embrace any guilt in the issue. And there’s one guy, he was the stepson of a Communist whose stepfather just disappeared. They took him away. And what’s really remarkable about this is the palpable fear he still has in the presence of these old gangsters.

David: And ‘gangsters’ is the word for them?

Michael:  Yeah. They actually wear it proudly.

David: And they live well, right?

Michael:  I don’t know how standards of living are over there, but yes, fairly comfortably.

There’s also a very perverse moment when Anwar is with what appears to be grandchildren and he’s being gentle about a wounded duck, and meanwhile, completely callous about the people that he killed. One guy talks about walking through the city and encountering Chinese Communists, or people he perceived of as Chinese Communists, and just stabbing them one after another, just going on a tear.

David: President Obama lived in Indonesia for a while, didn’t he?

Michael: He may not have known these guys.

Running From Crazy is another doc Michael says we should all catch.

Running From Crazy is another doc Michael says we should all catch.

David: Maybe he’s responsible for this. OK, Running From Crazy.

Michael:  Well, it’s basically a documentary about Mariel Hemingway and her fear of the emotional, psychological and genetic legacy that has led to at least two suicides in her family and a mentally disturbed elder sister. Mariel’s sister, Margaux, who was an actress and a model, took her own life and was a lovely, vibrant woman.

Mariel seems to have her head screwed on straight and she’s trying to keep her life together, and the camera follows her through her life and she talks about the past. There’s video footage shot by Margaux, and there’s a lot of discussion of the entire family, including Mariel and Margaux’s grandfather, the great author Ernest Hemingway, who had plenty of problems of his own.

Running From Crazy is directed by award winning Director Barbara Kopple,

Running From Crazy is directed by award winning Director Barbara Kopple,

Michael: The director is Barbara Kopple, who did Harlan County, USA, American Dream, and a lot of other pretty renowned, award-winning documentaries. It appears to have been partially financed I think by OWN, or has been shown on OWN, Oprah’s network. But it’s a beautiful depiction of someone basically plowing forward with her life, making sure she’s going to do the very best she can to keep it together. She’s wonderful in that.

David: And she’s turned to yoga and eating properly, and she has either a boyfriend or a husband?

Michael:  She seems like a good person. She seems like someone who has her head screwed on. But it’s interesting to hear her reflect on her family and see the footage from the past, and realize that she’s grappled with tragedy and a fear of her own mind crumbling for much of her adult life. And it’s powerful in its own way. Reflecting on the past can actually prepare you for the future or completely turn your life around. This movie is about family bravery in the face of what could be destiny, genetic destiny, if you will.

David: Great. Michael Snyder, thank you for joining us.

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What do you think? Join the conversation below?

 

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The 5 Biggest Lies You Were Told This Week

liew

West Virginia’s chemical spill demonstrates why we need a more powerful EPA and John Boehner is lying when he says coal is “regulated enough.” The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is the most corrupt man in Washington and is lying when he tell us why he’s retiring. A new documentary reveals that Donald Rumsfeld is delusional and a liar. Is Egypt ready for Democracy? Is America ready for Democracy? And with North Korea and Iran pursuing their nuclear ambitions does America really have the ability to shoot incoming missiles out of the sky? Or is Raytheon lying to us? Today’s show features the following Truth Tellers: Will Ryan, Cactus Chloe Fiorenzo, Westy Westenhofer, Benny Brydern and JT “Tornado Thomas,” Hal Lublin, Mark Thompson, Howie Klein, Hayes Brown and Michael Snyder. Portions of our show are written by Hal Lublin and David Feldman. Please subscribe to this for free as a podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

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