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Why the US was undefended on 9/11

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by BigRob, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Often conspiracy theorists (read uninformed whack jobs) will scream to anyone that listens about how the United States was unable to defend its own headquarters and cities and therefore it must be a conspiracy. This shows a blatant ignorance of history. So why was the United States so vulnerable to attack on 9/11? The reason lies is how we view nuclear weapons.

    When the United States lost its monopoly on nuclear weapons when the USSR joined them, deterrence became a huge issue that dominates the thinking even today as rouge nations like Iran and North Korea pursue, and have already acquired, weapons of their own. Throughout the Cold War there were two lines of thinking on deterrence.

    The first was promoted by Thomas Schelling. He argued that in order for deterrence to work, you needed a threat that was left to chance. The mere thought of massive escalation would be enough to deter any potential attack, and every actor in the international system was rational at their core. Schelling promoted the idea of the "balance of terror" which called for no defenses, and left US cities open to attack. If you buy into this line of thinking, this makes perfect sense. He argues that defensive weapons upset the balance of terror and therefore actually would lead to more war as opposed to preventing war.

    The other line of thinking was by a man named Herman Kahn. He argued that deterrence would only work if your extended deterrence was credible. The way that you got this credibility was through defensive weapons. Now both of these are simplifications of the theories, and if you want to get more in depth I would be happy to do so. Both lines of thinking are logical and have very good points to back them up. In the United States however, it was Schelling's line of thinking that won out.

    You can see this in the 1972 ABM treaty which basically outlawed defensive weapons and codified the balance of terror idea. It was not until the Bush administration that this line of thinking was changed. However, think about this for a moment. The United States had bought into the idea of no defensive weapons to protect its cities for 30 years.

    If you look at the size of the NE air defense corridor, it is massive. Since the United States has spent 30 years preparing for no defense, it is not surprising that on 9/11 there was no defense. On that day, only 2 (depending on your source) interceptors were able to get airborne, and the 9/11 Report found that "some" of the interceptors that got up were not even armed. Guess what the plan was? They were going to "bump" the plane in an attempt to bring it down. Bump the plane.

    It should surprise no one since we bought into the idea that defensive weapons are not needed and spent 30 years ensuring that we did not build any. It was not some conspiracy that resulted in the slow response to 9/11, it was a culmination of 50 years of Cold War policy and deterrence thinking that eliminated the need for defense to ensure that American cities remained vulnerable to Soviet nuclear weapons to ensure that the "balance of terror" would not be upset.

    Good idea? You be the judge.
     
  2. Andy

    Andy Well-Known Member

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    Boy, I feel better. So there are no defenses for US cities, and strategic sites at all. Joy. :/
     
  3. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    This was the line of thinking that dominated the Cold War. Defenses were not needed because it was chance that was going to maintain the balance of terror. Most people are surprised to find out that the government policy of the day was leaving cities open to nuclear strike to promote deterrence.

    It was cheap, it did not sound warlike, and it answered the question of "how many weapons do you need." The only problem that it did not answer was what happens if deterrence fails, which is a pretty major oversight in my view. You can still see this line of thinking prevalent today in government. Look at the opposition Bush got to pulling out of the ABM Treaty. The point of the ABM Treaty was to ensure that cities did not get defended to ensure the balance of terror. Pulling out of that to put up a missile defense that would not only save lives but ensure the credibility of our extended deterrent cause Bush to blasted as a "war monger" among other things.
     
  4. Mr. Shaman

    Mr. Shaman New Member

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    Very nice cut-'n-paste (by one o' your favorite Right-wing columnists, no doubt).

    :rolleyes:

    Let's get back to Reality, now.....​

    ***

    It's time you "conservatives" admit....mostly to yourselves....that George Bush had an obligation to his campaign-contributors (i.e. old turn-around artists)....to get Saddam Hussein....but, mostly to get his OIL!
     
  5. Mr. Shaman

    Mr. Shaman New Member

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    At that time, the Soviets' missile-count was estimated to be 5,000!

    Doing the math, for Bush-fans.....a 90% kill-rate would leave an excess of 500 missiles; 10, per U.S.-state.

    That's success, huh?

    :rolleyes:
     
  6. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I wrote that Dr. Genius.​
     
  7. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    It is better than 100 missiles per state yes. And in terms of deterrence logic, it is a big success. Anyway, what is the count now? US and Russia going to negotiate strategic weapons down to 1,000 to 1,500. Theater weapons will not be touched. The unclassified number of US theater weapons in a few hundred.. the Russians are estimated to have almost 4,000. That number will be unchanged by arms control.

    Your logic amounts too, "I will take no steps to defend myself because I might still get hurt." That is lunacy.
     
  8. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    9/11 wasn't a failure of defence it was a lack of security and a failure of intelligence. US Aviation was based on the concept of "getting on a bus"; people wanted unrestricted air travel so security was compromised to make travel simple. Result, they exploited a flaw in the system. If someone had told the NORAD guys that they had Islamic friutloops on board planes then the aircraft would have been zapped out of the sky forgetting that they shouldn't have even got near the aircraft in the first place. Gotta love that 20/20 hindsight huh!

    I would have thought that the US defensive capability was its pure and simple offensive might! One US battle group has more power than most countries - thats' gotta be a pretty potent anti-f**k with me argument!
     
  9. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    A lack of "security" is exactly a failure of defense. We did not have the mentality that we had to protect anything based on 50 years of Cold War deterrent logic.

    I am not talking about security to get on the airplane, I am talking about security post hijacking. If someone had told NORAD that these people were on planes all NORAD could do is scramble fighters. We had 2 that were able to respond because we do not believe in "upsetting the balance of terror." As I pointed out, we bought 100% into the notion that we simply did not need defense, because our offensive nuclear capability was enough. We were proved wrong.

    In terms of nuclear weapons that is exactly what it was, and that is a huge mistake. Further, one US battle group does not do you much good when you are staring down the business end of 40,000 nuclear weapons that the USSR had pointed at us. We chose (as a matter of bipartisan policy) not to defend ourselves and bought into the logic that the chance of retaliation with our offensive capabilities was enough to prevent war. When the world changed as the USSR collapsed, our line of thinking did not, and that is why we had nothing available that could stop 9/11, even after we knew the planes were hijacked.
     
  10. Mr. Shaman

    Mr. Shaman New Member

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    Yeah.....sure ya' did.

    :rolleyes:
     
  11. Mr. Shaman

    Mr. Shaman New Member

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    Try re-reading this little blurb....and, then try to convince me you (actually) composed the opening-paragraph. (Still struggling with that ol' to..too..two issue?

    :rolleyes:
     
  12. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    Hi mate....what are you trying to compare? Nuclear deterence based on cold war thinking versus the 9/11 attack or just the number of weapons during the 60s versus the number of weapons in the ought 20s?

    If its numbers of weapons then yes the US has 10% of what it had during the height of the cold war but the significance is no less - its just the the threat has changed.

    If you're just looking at 9/11 and terrorism well I guess the hi-jacking is a function of airline security, internal and overseas intelligence and law and order failures ?

    You've brough a lot to the table mate! :)
     
  13. Mr. Shaman

    Mr. Shaman New Member

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    PLEASE!!!!!

    A failure of INTELLIGENCE??!!!!

    :eek:
     
  14. Mr. Shaman

    Mr. Shaman New Member

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    Gimme a break!!

    It was a battle of EGOS!!!!!!!!!!!!

     
  15. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I certainly do not need your approval to know that I was the one that wrote it. Think whatever you please.
     
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