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A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System 379

Posted by timothy
from the big-badda-boom dept.
Lasrick (2629253) writes It isn't as if real analysis of Israel's "Iron Dome" isn't available, but invariably, whenever Israel has a skirmish the media is filled with glowing reports of how well the system works, and we always find out months later that the numbers were exaggerated. John Mecklin at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists looks at the coverage of Iron Dome in the recent exchanges between Israel and Hamas and finds the pattern is repeating itself. However, 'Ted Postol, an MIT-based missile defense expert and frequent Bulletin contributor, provided a dose of context to the Iron Dome coverage in a National Public Radio interview Wednesday. "We can tell, for sure, from video images and even photographs that the Iron Dome system is not working very well at all,"' Includes a good explanation of the differences between Iron Dome (a 'rocket defense system') and missile defense systems pushed by the U.S.
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A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

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  • by bongey (974911) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @02:06PM (#47438659)

    Ted Postol cannot be, even from being from MIT be considered a realable source for opinion. Postol has a large bias against anti-missle systems, which is down right dumb. The rockets are almost the size of small airplanes, but we don't consider anit-aircraft missles to be completely ineffecitive.

  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @02:38PM (#47438811) Homepage

    You keep using that word. I don't think that it means what you think that it means.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I... [wikipedia.org]
    http://allenbwest.com/2014/04/... [allenbwest.com]

  • Re:Subject bait (Score:2, Interesting)

    by guantamanera (751262) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @03:43PM (#47439105)

    Why the hell are you still living there?

    It's my home.

    And before 1947 Beersheba was a town of mostly Palestinians. Then in October 1948 [wikipedia.org] the Israeli goverment decided to truck the palestinian's to Gaza. Shortly after having displaced the palestinians their houses got occupied by people from the newly formed Israel. I am sure there are still people alive in Gaza who remember when their house was stolen.
    I am sephardi, from mexico. I did the Aliyah and went to israel. I was not happy with what I saw. I found converted indigenous people from Latin america [npr.org] living in the farthest settlements. To me It felt as if they were being used as a shield.

  • Re:Subject bait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wagnerrp (1305589) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @03:46PM (#47439119)

    Stay on topic and discuss the technical aspects of the missile system, at least that is what should be discussed here.

    The article itself hardly touches on the technical merits of the missile system. It mentions how there are hardly any public releases of technical aspect to discuss, and that the handful of images of the system in operation show intercept angles that are highly unlikely to be successful. The core argument of the article is that the whole situation is nothing more than a PR campaign on both sides.

    Hamas fires inaccurate artillery rockets, unlikely to actually hit anything, at Israel, under the hopes Israel counter-attacks and causes lots of collateral damage that looks bad to international press.

    Israel produces a defense system and makes precision counter-attacks to prove their technological and military prowess, and restraint in its use, to international press.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @05:07PM (#47439493) Homepage Journal

    No, in recent history, these conflicts are resolved by pressure from the international community. It's how apartheid in South Africa ended, to a great extent.

    I don't know if you're old enough to remember Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher referring to Nelson Mandela as a "terrorist" and his party as a "terrorist organization". It turned out they were dead wrong. Last year, the philosophical progeny of Reagan and Thatcher hailed Mandela as a hero.

    History is not going to be kind to the government of Israel in the first decades of the 21st century (if not longer).

    It didn't have to be this way.

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @05:44PM (#47439665)

    He "thinks that" because for him, and many many like him, a system that successfully neuters Hamas is very troubling; Iron Dome removes a pain point for Israel and a bargaining chip for Hamas, and Ted Postol and his NPR ilk don't like it. The fact that Israel has created the antidote for Hamas and their ballistic pipe bombs means Israel can exist relatively untroubled, and this reality is so disturbing to these people that they will grasp for and cling to any claim to the contrary.

    In the long run they need not worry. This is an arms race and eventually Hamas will be given something better to use. The qassam rockets themselves were just another step in that progression after Israel isolated itself from Gaza suicide bombers with the West Bank wall, another successful and effective Israeli creation that NPR routinely lambastes.

    Eventually Hamas will be given new weapons, Israelis will start dying again and all will be well. Until then it's all hands on deck at NPR to downplay and discredit Iron Dome, and if you've got a claim that will convince any of the vast hoard of Israel Derangement Syndrome sufferers that Iron Dome doesn't work, they have the air time.

    Israelis have interwebs just as good as you and, unlike the subjects that live in the surrounding dictatorships, theocratic monarchies and failed states, they're allowed to use it. Despite this there is very little video evidence of damage in urban areas and Israeli civilians aren't being killed. Given the quantity of rockets fired and past performance of qassam barrages, it is not possible that the rockets are getting through in large numbers.

    "But they're covering up the deaths!!!!1" you say.

    Ok, well, the burden is on you to prove your conspiracy based argument then; what's the "real" body count and were are you getting it?

  • Re:Subject bait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ultranova (717540) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @06:08PM (#47439771)

    I have a personal connection to this land. So does somebody else. Hence, war!

    I'm starting to wonder if the best thing anyone could do for the Holy Land and its residents was to detonate enough dirty bombs there to force everyone to decide whether living there is worth more than their own lives, rather than just their neighbours.

    Oh well, with any luck climate change will clear the place through desertification.

  • by Latent Heat (558884) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @09:41AM (#47442351)
    The BAS has always been on this tear "oh, noes, missile defense" because they have always been ideologically against any side breaking out of the Cold War Mutually Assured Destruction stand-off. There are always engineering trades in what these defense systems or what defensive systems could do or couldn't do back to the days of walled cities in Mesopotamia (Iraq).

    I remember in the "run up" to the First Iraq War (the "Gulf War') about an interview with some high-ranking Saudi dude being concern-trolled "what about Iraq attacking the oil fields (with Scuds)?" The Saudi official smiled somewhat patronizingly at the news dude and responded, "We are equipped with the Patriot" at the time when the US public didn't know a Patriot from a Tory or that anyone was mad enough to use an ack-ack missile against a Scud rocket.

    War is always about PR (i.e. deception). Everyone knew the Scud couldn't hit anything (except in some lucky for the enemy, unlucky for us shots). The Saudi leaders were just too happy to go along with "the Patriot is a Scud defense shield" because they knew that strategically, the Scud was of no consequence and this way they could tell their people to "just chill, bro, the Americans shared with us the Patriot" as the Scuds rained down. The US hurredly gave the Israelis the Patriot to get them to "just chill, bro", but everyone was coming out of the woodwork about how the Patriot was just a sham defense against an incoming missile not aimed at anything.

    The "Patriot works" fit Saudi propaganda interests, but went against the Israeli propaganda at the time because they Israelis were itchy to get into the fight of "Scud hunting", where air attacks against this mobile platform that couldn't hit anything in the first place were regarded as futile by the U.S.. The Israelis argued that their pilots would press futile attacks against the Scud more aggressively because they were defending their women and children against the largely ineffective Scud attacks, but the US argued this was Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti's war aim, to lob Scuds to draw the Israelis in to fracture the coalition.

    As for Palestinians and the war fighting power they have, suicide bombing are perhaps the most effective thing they have to inflict Israeli casualties, but it really works against them propaganda wise. The singularly most effective thing they had going was the First Intifida, where they were using rock-throwing young people as rubber-bullet sponges. From a propaganda standpoint, that was devastating in its effectiveness of portraying the Israeli troops as hateful goons, whether this was true or not, but the optics on TV were rapidly undermining Israel as a just cause. Why the PLO gave up on a tactic that was working I have no idea, but this may speak to why the conflict has dragged on so long when the Palestinians have demographics and world sympathy in their corner. The Palestinians may simply have bad leaders.

    The rocket attacks are a kind of middle ground tactic in sacrificing your own guys. It is not the casualties inflicted by the rocket attacks, it is the 100:1 casualties of your own people that is a feature-not-a-bug, of rallying your own people and of getting Americans to pray in their Christian churches "for an end to the violence."

    As to why the Israelis are playing along be inflicting so many casualties, maybe that is a feature-not-a-bug. For one thing, they are targeting "the leaders" and trying to be creative in a tactical sense with their tech for giving telephone warnings. Maybe the Israeli calculus is "the leaders talk tough but they are not that keen on being blown up themselves."

    Also, on one hand, Israel is a "Western" country where people get all hand-wringy about the "violence" (I use scare quotes because what is taking place is a war between two sides with irreconcilable national interests and not some unexplained "violence"). On the other hand, Israel is a Middle Eastern country with a substantial Oriental Jewish population displaced from Cairo, Baghdad

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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