July 28th, 2006

Katushas and other VSBMs as emerging terrorist weapons

This quotation has always made great sense to me:

With reasonable men I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter…

The quote came to mind once again when I was reading Daniel Henninger’s opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The column is about Katusha and other very short-range ballistic missiles, or VSBMs. Ever since the current Lebanese war began, it’s been clear that these missiles are a force that Hezbollah has exploited, and I wanted to learn more about them.

According to Henninger, these missiles are emerging as an ideal weapon for terrorists at borders, and there is presently no defense against them. Ordinarily, some sort of state apparatus is required to operate VSBMs, but there are certainly enough rouge states these days, or state-allied terror forces such as Hezbollah, to qualify.

VSBMs are not governed by any existing export-control regime. Since terrorists not only don’t care if they kill civilians, but in fact desire to kill civilians, VSBMs don’t have to be “smart” to be effective. Theoretically, they could be fitted with chemical or biological agents as well, although there’s no indication that’s happening at present in Lebanon.

Unless Hezbollah decides to take up residence in Juarez, it doesn’t seem as though VSBMs pose any direct threat to the US. But they certainly pose an indirect one, through the vulnerability of allies such as Israel or South Korea. Previously, the threat was not considered great enough to warrant implementing a defense system against them (Israel, according to Henninger, nixed plans “to deploy Northrop Grumman’s THEL system, whose lasers routinely have shot down Katyushas at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico”). Now that this vacuum in defense has been exploited by Hezbollah, look for that to change.

And what of the quote that began this post? Henninger writes:

As Robert Kaplan pointed out in the Journal last week in his review of “Terrorists, Insurgents and Militias,” the biggest strategic problem today isn’t past notions of big-power miscalculation but new rogue regimes whose ideology means they “cannot be gratified through negotiations.”

That’s the sad truth that many cannot and do not want to hear. We are now in the situation of dealing with a number of unreasonable and inhumane regimes that are truly tyrannical–Iran being the leading one at the moment. Such regimes do not enter into negotiations in good faith. Reason and pleading are not going to work. Although it’s not altogether clear how to “give no quarter,” it is clear that, once such regimes are armed with the nuclear weapons they seek and crave, the consequences will be far worse.

32 Responses to “Katushas and other VSBMs as emerging terrorist weapons”

  1. gcotharn Says:

    We (in the West) want to be moral. We want to take moral action. But we are shallow. And we’ve been brainwashed. We cannot reconcile that killing an intractable enemy equates to moral action.

    Is there a way to effectively reason with the enemy – in such a fashion as to convince them to join the world of civilized beings? Yes. Yes, there is a way to do that. However, the actual chances of it happening (before we and our children are gravely damaged) are so slim as to make that course of action absolutely immoral. This is the thing we do not(or refuse) see: the almost impossible odds we would have to beat in order to resolve this through conversation, combined with the huge odds of grave damage if we failed.

    We have no moral obligation to put our loved ones into that kind of danger. In fact, we have a very real obligation to increase the odds in favor of their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

  2. johnny c Says:

    “the sad truth that many cannot and do not want to hear” in this case the sad truth is that neo-cons will not accept that the encouragement of yet more fighting (v Iran?) will just make things worse and lead to more deaths, although not in new england so neo has no need to worry. Easy to be carefree in suggesting war in far away places.

    What is the actual solution you see other than declaring war on every arab country?

  3. gcotharn Says:

    This is what I am talking about: johhny c automatically assumes that more deaths – in the short term – is a bad thing. imo, johnny c is looking at this from a shallow + uninformed perspective. More deaths – in the short term – might be absolutely moral. In fact, from what I can see, they are.

    btw, my comment is not intended to advocate any particular action in any particular nation – such as Iran.

  4. harry mallory Says:

    “What is the actual solution you see other than declaring war on every arab country?”

    Im un-aware that neo has called for declaring war on every Arab country. You might want to point out where she has said that.

    Im also not aware of liberals fronting any other solution to terrorism other than appeasement and hoping the problem goes away.

    Maybe you should sit down and let the adults handle the problem for you.

  5. goesh Says:

    Johnny C, your logic is cold-war logic. When a nation like Iran that openly advocates the destruction of another nation, Israel, pursues nuclear weapons, what exactly would you have the West do? Sanctions, when they have massive energy contracts with China? Do you think China will stagnate its economy by agreeing to economic sanctions and boycotting of Iran so people like you can tout the efficacy of reason, rationality and diplomacy and sleep more peacefully at night? People that hang teenagers for being homosexual and simply make dissenters disappear and fund groups that many nations regard as terrorists are not going to listen to your needs however much they may be relfected in the collective you represent. God you are arrogant. And where do you get the idea that war is being advocated “on every Arab nation”? Do you hear Jordan and Egypt and Libya and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and the Emirates and Bahrain for example chomping at the bit for Iran to have nuclear weapons? Do you hear anyone at all calling for war on these nations? Why hasn’t hizbullah listened to the reason and rationality of the UN and disarmed like they were supposed to do, huh Johnny C ? They crossed the border and kidnapped. They have been firing rockets off and on into Israel for quite some time now, yet you only want one side to follow the dictates of your conscience and logic. That is hardly fair, is it? What on earth do you really think would be the consequences if Iran used a nuclear weapon against Israel? And do you really sleep peacefully believing that no terrorist group could ever smuggle a nuclear device or biochemical agent into the US? You need to wake up for heaven’s sake. What do the hundreds of documented islamofacist attacks all over the world really tell you? When Iran flaunts your precious UN resolutions and says Israel needs to be eradicated from the face of the planet and proceeds to develop nuclear bombs, what is your response to them? And what is your plan when they follow through?

  6. nomdenet Says:

    A coalition of the Anglosphere (the USA, Britain, Australia and Canada) plus its cousins India, Japan, etc. can easily win this militarily. The problem is that the enemy doesn’t think the West has the will to do battle. We’ll win as soon as we convince the enemy that we intend to win.

    Paradoxically the best way to avoid an all out war is to convince the enemy that we are prepared to have one.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    You should consider these solutions and scenarios, Neo. If you want to know about how to go about giving no quarter.

    Public Executions, why do it

    Here’s a little scenario I wrote changing history. Not an apocalyptic scenario, rather it is a revamping of history we know to be true, with ingredients of ruthlessness

  8. Don Says:

    the sad truth is that neo-cons will not accept that the encouragement of yet more fighting (v Iran?) will just make things worse and lead to more deaths, although not in new england so neo has no need to worry.

    Not in New England? How do you know?

    Hezbollah is a tool of Iran, and it has links in the US. If bin Laden can strike the US, so can Iran.

    Further, Iran has a nuke program. At some point it will have nukes, and, like NK (thanks Jimmy) the means of delivering them to the US.

    What is the actual solution you see other than declaring war on every arab country?
    johnny c

    Iran isn’t Arab.

    But johnny’s point is cute: moonbat complain when we work with Arab dictators, and they complain when we fight them.

  9. Don Says:

    In the above post I should have said: “Iran will have nukes unless the US or Israel prevent it”. It is not certain that they will obtain them. But the only actors with the ability and intent to stop this are the US and Israel, although the Israeli “ability” is open to debate.

    The UN and “Old Europe” are hopeless (giving them the benifit of not being on the wrong side), China and Russia are on the wrong side . . .

  10. dicentra Says:

    the sad truth is that neo-cons will not accept that the encouragement of yet more fighting (v Iran?) will just make things worse and lead to more deaths

    You seem to be assuming that the violence directed against us is generated by us, that the Islamofascists are only reacting to things we have done, not choosing to act on their own.

    Or in other words, the fact that we have weapons causes others to attack us. Right. Who is more likely to be assaulted on the street: someone who is packing heat or someone who is not? If you were the assaulter, whom would you choose?

    This idea is left over from the Cold War: if we build up our munitions, we will force the USSR into defending themselves against the war we are preparing for but not waging. Guess what? The escalation in our military buildup caused the USSR to invest heavily in theirs, and they ran out of money. And fell. We won without firing a shot.

    That won’t happen with Islamofascism. Those people are determined to become martyrs. They’re attacking us because they have good reason to believe we won’t hit them back, or if we do, we won’t hit them very hard.

    What fighting them does is persuade them that their assaults on our interests won’t get them what they want, which is prestige, power, and martyrdom.

    I’d hate to see you watch surgery to fix a burst appendix:

    “OMG! Did you see what he did? He cut into perfectly healthy skin! Look at the bleeding! The patient wasn’t bleeding before. He’s just making things worse. Stop the surgery! Stop, before you do more damage!”

    And the patient, wound still open, gets wheeled out of surgery on the double, to prevent even more bleeding and cutting.

    Saved the patient, didn’t you? Except for the additional bleeding that results from the incisions not being sutured and the infection getting into the cut. And the burst appendix still sitting there.

    Short, short, short-sighted people. When will you learn that resisting evil makes it go away.

    You should read this. It’ll help you realign your moral compass.

  11. Ariel Says:

    Everybody, johnny c. is a troll that Neo banned. He went by Neoneconned, an obvious insult to the site owner, and went from there. Go to his homepage and you’ll see the childishness, as well as the actual moniker. He will turn very nasty at some point.
    Obviously, he believes the world revolves around him, as he is incapable of following netiquette.

  12. senescentwasp Says:

    dicentra,

    You certainly do not resemble your namesake genus. Thanks.

  13. dicentra Says:

    Heh. I chose the name because I liked how Dicentra spectabilis rolled off the tongue, not because of its common name: Bleeding Heart.

    I grow a lot of dicentras, and they’re actually pretty tough plants, despite their delicate appearance. :D

  14. ZZMike Says:

    … Katusha … no defense.

    Not exactly. It’s almost here – the Mobile Tactical High-Energy Laser (MTHEL). It uses an infrared laser to track and destroy incoming weapons – even artillery shells.

    MTHEL

    There’s a video on YouTube.

    We can no more negotiate with Hezbollah and its ilk that we can negotiate with the next incoming Atlantic hurricane.

  15. Hakim Says:

    I wonder when robots will be smart enough to locate and destroy tunnels? The terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon, and Afghanistan all used tunnels and caves extensively. If robots could seek out and destroy terrorist hiding places and weapons caches, it would change the battlefield.

  16. grackle Says:

     
    These short range missiles are bad but even worse is electromagnetic pulse weapons. All you need is a lot of plutonium, a missile that can climb high and explode – no accuracy is needed. Such a weapon could be delivered and detonated from a harmless looking freighter a few miles off any coast. Very low-tech, very devastating. This is the type of ‘big one’ bin Laden and his ilk are aching to pull off. But neo’s in no danger in New England. Right. We are all probably in more danger than we realize.
     

  17. Tatterdemalian Says:

    “I wonder when robots will be smart enough to locate and destroy tunnels?”

    It’s easy enough to keep people from tunnelling through an area. Just plant, upside-down, a bunch of standard anti-personnel land mines in the area you don’t want people tunnelling through. People can walk over the area freely, but if anyone tries to tunnel through it, you hear a WHOOMP and a six-inch hill pops up to mark the location of some pre-buried, pre-mulched tunnelers.

    Pity land mines are banned by the UN, but as long as Israel is ignoring them anyhow…

  18. morris1782 Says:

    just make things worse and lead to more deaths, although not in new england so neo has no need to worry. Easy to be carefree in suggesting war in far away places.

    Exactly.

    By the way, why haven’t the children or grandchildren of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al enlisted in the military? Both of Bush’s daughters are of military age. Why don’t they enlist in the military and go to fight in Iraq?

    Too easy to send other people’s sons and daughters to faraway places to fight and die in “wars of choice”, I guess.

    – Morris.

  19. senescentwasp Says:

    A robot sled with Ground Penetrating Radar armed with a recoilless weapon capable of firing a shaped charge might be an interesting way to go in countering tunnels. Shaped charges project a plasma jet into spaces that can “set the air on fire”.

    A sled that can pump “chemical agents” such as CS, a non-lethal riot control agent, into below ground spaces would be another option. Having been subjected to annual CS sessions in the “gas chamber” while in the military, I can attest that, after emerging, you are pretty much combat ineffective for quite a while.

    I loved the sessions since they always happened in the spring when my allergies were kicking up. They cleared me right out for about a week. Almost as good as breathing a tank of diver’s air, scrubbed and totally dry, at the bottom of a swimming pool. CS agent is pretty benign regardless of the what the left says about it being “poison gas”.

    And, yes yamr, I am aware of its use in Viet-Nam. In that instance powdered CS was also blown into the tunnels to render them unusable later. A six inch flex-tube attached to a squirrel cage blower was used to disperse the agent. Using a robot would allow counter tunnel ops under fire, always a problem.

  20. senescentwasp Says:

    Oh, morris, give it a rest. Your comment has nothing to do with the topic and only confirms that you are a twit; probably sitting in your Y-fronts in your parent’s basement.

    You don’t even have any edge. You’re like some sort of ‘bot with a tape loop. Boring and irrelevant.

  21. Ariel Says:

    “By the way, why haven’t the children or grandchildren of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al enlisted in the military? ”
    That is really tiresome and specious, most people’s children and grandchildren haven’t been in the military either. Very few serve, I put in my 4 years, morris, did you?

  22. Ariel Says:

    Sorry, I meant to add this but hit too soon. Morris, using that logic no man or woman should ever be elected to the office of the Presidency unless they have children or grandchildren in the military, since it is much too easy to put other people’s children in harms way. Your logic leads to absurdity. Think it through.

    Regarding these ME regimes, the immense wealth through oil is the serpent in the garden. They can pretty much do as they want, with the French, the Russians, and, yes, US, continuing to prop them up. They will become increasingly dangerous, Iran through bellicosity, and Saudi Arabia, quietly through mosque after mosque in the West.

    I find the Saud’s more dangerous in the long run. A moderate Imam in the US has warned the Feds that 80% of the mosques have Wahabbist infections.

  23. Dave the Rabbit Says:

    Sorry, I meant to add this but hit too soon. Morris, using that logic no man or woman should ever be elected to the office of the Presidency unless they have children or grandchildren in the military, since it is much too easy to put other people’s children in harms way. Your logic leads to absurdity.

    I don’t think that logic leads to absurdity. True, most people don’t serve in the army. But most people aren’t declaring war on countries either.

    For those presidents who are committed to bringing betterment to other countries through war, isn’t it reasonable to ask why they aren’t sharing the sacrifice of other parents whose children are in uniform, by asking their own children to enlist, too?

    Back in the old days I used to make fun of Krushchev and Brezhnev because they lived in nice comfy dachas while constantly asking their fellow russians to become “heroic soviet workers making sacrifices”. It’s the same kind of hypocrisy.

    If you’re not leading by example, then you’re not leading, period.

  24. Ariel Says:

    Because I don’t expect anyone to push their children into joining the military so that they will satisfy your absurdities. And, no, it is not equivalent to the Soviet leadership and all their privileges.

    We have a voluntary military, we joined knowing that we could go to war. It is the job. I went into the USCG because of its total mission, but chose a rate that would put me in war if needed. My other choice was the Marines.

    Finally, it is the Job of the President and Congress to put the military in harm’s way when they deem it necessary. You would make it a requirement that they all have children in the military before they could make their decision? This is all totally absurd. I can see it now, the only Senators and Congressmen that could vote to declare war are those that have children in the military.

    I stand by my point, that the logic leads to absurdity. I do not believe your requirement is “leading by example”, it is not leading at all.

  25. Astro-zygote Says:

    dicentra wrote:

    I’d hate to see you watch surgery to fix a burst appendix:

    “OMG! Did you see what he did? He cut into perfectly healthy skin! Look at the bleeding! The patient wasn’t bleeding before. He’s just making things worse. Stop the surgery! Stop, before you do more damage!”

    And the patient, wound still open, gets wheeled out of surgery on the double, to prevent even more bleeding and cutting.

    The analogy is flawed. The skin and muscle cut open can be sutured back after the surgery with no permanent damage.

    But the civilian lives lost in military operations cannot be brought back to life again. Some innocent people are left without mothers, without fathers, without children; forever; because they have became “collateral damage”.

    And that makes this a wholly different matter from your purported analogy.

  26. strcpy Says:

    The other problem with the “chickenhawk” accusation (or a modified on such as above) is that it only disallows the choice that they do not agree with.

    That is – in every case it is perfectly valid to decide to not go to war. Everyone can make it (of course – it’s the correct and proper choice so anyone can do it, right?). But if you think war is the best option you can only do that if you rate some sort of pre-requisite. If you meet that one then it also tends to be set higher next time.

    If you are inacapable of making the decision then you are incapable of making it. If you have to have children or grandchildren in the military to know enough to decide if war is the answer then you *must* do the same to know if it is not called for. How can you know “no” is the correct response if you have no idea what “yes” means.

    It’s simply a ploy to make thier decision the default one. If they truly felt that bar needs to be met they would only proffer thier opinion if they met it and would then abide by what that community decides.

    Further, military personell and military families overwhelmingly support OIF, since this is the case I rather suspect our resident poster(s) doesn’t really agree that it gives them any level of moral authority otherwise they would support OIF. So using that to declare the war invalid is, well, really stupid (well, actually dishonest – that’s why it is a ploy).

  27. rick Says:

    strcpy, i read your post several times but simply could not make sense of many of your sentences… maybe english is not your first language? some of the sentences just did not make any sense grammatically and it’s quite difficult when this happens to make out what you say…sorry.

  28. Dave the Rabbit Says:

    Finally, it is the Job of the President and Congress to put the military in harm’s way when they deem it necessary. You would make it a requirement that they all have children in the military before they could make their decision? This is all totally absurd.

    I think you’re not quite following what I said. Of course there can’t be a “requirement” like that — it would be unconstitutional.

    I am expressing surprise as to why it is that virually *noone* in the current top echelons of our Administration have children or grandchildren serving in Iraq. Strange, no? For such a patriotic group of people?

    This is true of Congress as well. Apparently, only three members of Congress have (or had) children serving in Iraq: Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), whose son Brooks is in the Army; and supposedly representatives Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) and Duncan Hunter (R-California). Kudos to them and their families!

    But *only* three people in the entire Congress are in this situation !!! Isn’t that a bit strange ??

  29. Dave the Rabbit Says:

    As Robert Kaplan pointed out in the Journal last week in his review of “Terrorists, Insurgents and Militias,” the biggest strategic problem today isn’t past notions of big-power miscalculation but new rogue regimes whose ideology means they “cannot be gratified through negotiations.”

    You know — forgive me for saying this but I’m thinking that this also describes Israel. After capturing Gilad Shalit, Hamas wanted to have negotiations — they wanted to negotiate a prisoner exchange. It was Israel which refused to negotiate.

    The writer of this Wall Street Journal article seems to have stumbled into a pool of unconscious irony!

  30. armchair pessimist Says:

    Those squawking the chickenhawk argument are, as always, narcissisic: As it they get to say who can and who can’t conduct a war. Sorry, Lincoln. Too bad, FDR.
    Events have moved far beyond such purile discussions. Unfortunately.

  31. strcpy Says:

    “strcpy, i read your post several times but simply could not make sense of many of your sentences… ”

    Can you give more concrete examples? It makes sense to me and my friends (all of whom are native English speakers).

    There is a handfull of words I mis-spelled (I’m dyslexic, it can be difficult to get them correct) but they are close enough you should be able to figure it out.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Dave, your weasling out of it. My first response was to this by Morris,”Too easy to send other people’s sons and daughters to faraway places to fight and die in “wars of choice”, I guess.” Which is absurd and really just a disguised ad hominem. As I wrote, the job of a President is to put our military in harms way when deemed necessary. Obviously, a bachelor president, or childless, using this logic would have no “moral” right to prosecute any war, choice or not.

    “For those presidents who are committed to bringing betterment to other countries through war, isn’t it reasonable to ask why they aren’t sharing the sacrifice of other parents whose children are in uniform, by asking their own children to enlist, too?” Your quote here is just a reworded synthesis in essence of the Morris quote above and one other. I would not agree that it is morally right to pressure my child into serving in the military just to meet your sensitivities. It is voluntary, and my child is not an extention of me. Nor are those children of any in the legislature or the executive branches their extentions either.

    As far as making it a requirement, we could of course change the Constitution to make it so. Thus making sure that no President would put “other people’s” children(grown men and women who joined voluntarily as I did) “in harm’s way”. Really, this argument of Morris and yours is just a twist on the “chickenhawk” argument that has been defined down, thank you Moynihan, to meaninglessness.

    Finally, this is also an attack by implication on the humanity of this or any President who doesn’t meet your sensitivities. Which I find offensive (not you, the argument).

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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