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Iron Dome, Missile Defense, and scientific ideologues

iron dome

One of the reasons the current Hamas offensive has been such a colossal failure is because of the Israeli anti-missile system called Iron Dome. From the Washington Post, Iron Dome, Israel’s antimissile system, changes calculus of fight with Hamas:

ASHKELON, Israel — The roar of sirens echoed across this sun-kissed city Monday afternoon, and in a heartbeat the woman in the pink bikini was out of the pool, shepherding her three young kids to the nearest shelter.

Up above, the vapor trail of a rocket fired from Gaza, just 10 miles down the coast, ripped the clear blue sky.

And then, a boom: The rocket had been shot down.

The kids jumped back in the seaside pool, and their mother returned to her tanning. Through it all, the lifeguard had barely stirred.

What Iron Dome has accomplished is remarkable. By knocking down over 90% of all Hamas rockets it has reduced both the damage and injuries among the Israel civilian population. Because of the reduction in damage and injuries, the IDF have been able to act in a much more precise manner resulting is less damage and fewer casualties among the Palestinian.

The fact that we can witness the success of Iron Dome day after day one is sort of surprise when someone claims it doesn’t work. From the left wing “tech” website mashable.com.

Even though Israel’s U.S.-funded “Iron Dome” rocket-defense interceptors appear to be hitting Hamas rockets in recent days, they are almost certainly failing in the crucial job of detonating those rockets’ shrapnel-packed explosive warheads, expert analysts say.

As a result, rockets fired from Gaza are probably plunging to the ground with intact explosives. The fact that they aren’t causing injuries or deaths in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities is mainly a matter of luck, the analysts add.

On July 10, the Israel Defense Forces said missiles from the system had intercepted 56 rockets fired out of Gaza, preventing strikes in several cities. Yet Richard Lloyd, a weapons expert and consultant who is a past Engineering Fellow at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, says that because these interceptions had almost certainly not detonated the rockets’ warheads, “it’s pretty much a total failure.”

Ted Postol, the MIT physicist and missile-defense expert who aided Lloyd’s analysis and who in 1991 debunked claims by the U.S. Army that its Patriot missiles were successfully shooting down Iraqi Scud missiles during the first Gulf War (see “Postol vs. the Pentagon” and “Preventing Fratricide”), agrees that they were failing in this crucial warhead-detonation job.

This is just stupidity but it is common of the combination of ideology driven faux-science (see manmade global warming) and gaslighting that the left relies upon to influence public policy.

Gaslighting: a form of psychological manipulation that occurs when an abuser makes a victim doubt their own perceptions, memories, and sanity.

The 1938 stage play Gas Light, known as Angel Street in the United States, and the film adaptations released in 1940 and 1944 motivated the origin of the term because of the systematic psychological manipulation used by the main character on a victim. The plot concerns a husband who attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment, and subsequently, insisting that she is mistaken or remembering things incorrectly when she points out these changes. The original title stems from the dimming of the gas lights in the house that happened when the husband was using the gas lights in the attic while searching for hidden treasure. The wife accurately notices the dimming lights and discusses the phenomenon, but the husband insists she is imagining a change in the level of illumination.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how gaslighting was being used by the left to attempt to convince us of what we encounter on a daily basis, the utter hostility of the US government under Obama to religion. This is another attempt. On the one hand we know that Iron Dome works because the people living under threat of attack witness to its success every day. On the other hand we have two loony left academics who are saying “no, it doesn’t work.”

The second part of the equation is ideology masquerading as science. The clue here is the presence of MIT Professor Ted Postol.

Postol has worked at the Argonne National Labs and in the Pentagon before coming to rest at MIT. One gets the feeling that while at the Pentagon someone peed in his cornflakes and he left unhappy and with a grudge. And an MIT professorship gave him the soapbox to give voice to his bitterness. Since leaving the Pentagon he has been on a jihad to stymie research, development, and deployment of ballistic missile defense systems. Indeed, he has made a career of his monomania:

For 15 years now, Postol has been the leading scientific critic of missile defense, which endeavors to shoot an enemy’s long-range missiles out of the sky. It is Postol’s opinion that the idea did not work when Ronald Reagan proposed it in 1983, does not work now, and will not work in the conceivable future, and he neither minces words nor suffers fools gladly. In the latter category, he has come to include not only the advocates of missile defense but also the highest administrators at MIT, who Postol says have conspired to cover up “fraud” in the testing of missile defense in order to maintain a lucrative relationship with the country’s defense establishment.

The clue that Postol has passed from science into advocacy is the adamant nature of his claim: “does not work now, and will not work in the conceivable future.” Scientist don’t talk like that because a little bit of humility tells you that you don’t know the future. In this case, Postol made this statement in 2005 at which time the BMD system had several successful interceptions under increasingly realistic conditions.

Postol’s disingenuity here is understandable. BMD is passing from the theoretical stage of the Reagan years to fielded systems like Patriot, THAAD, SM-3, etc. Postol has made a career of saying that it is impossible for a missile to hit a missile… something anyone of even mediocre intelligence could tell you is an utter false statement… and every year shows he is more and more wrong. At some point his gravy train will run out.

The are able to say Iron Dome doesn’t work because they define success as the interceptor destroying the incoming warhead. Iron Dome uses a combination of a proximity (radar activited) fuse and fragmentation. Sometimes the interceptor destroys the warhead. Sometimes it causes an explosion of the propellant which destroys the warhead. Sometimes it simply breaks the incoming missile or rocket into segments or destroys its ability to follow its planned ballistic path. According to Lloyd and Postol, if the warhead isn’t destroyed the interceptor failed.

You don’t need a Ph.D. to see the immense flaw in this logic: if someone fires a missile at you and you aren’t hit that is good news. No one tears their hair and screams about how the warhead wasn’t cleanly turned into fine goose down… except Postol and his bootlicks.

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