Hypersonic Weapons & National Insecurity

Weapons that move five times the speed of sound  are driving the latest phase of an arms race that not only never ends, but is constantly generating new global risks, writes Rajan Menon.

By Rajan Menon

Hypersonic weapons close in on their targets at a minimum speed of Mach 5, five times the speed of sound or 3,836.4 miles an hour. They are among the latest entrants in an arms competition that has embroiled the United States for generations, first with the Soviet Union, today with China and Russia. Pentagon officials tout the potential of such weaponry and the largest arms manufacturers are totally gung-ho on the subject. No surprise there. They stand to make staggering sums from building them, especially given the chronic cost overruns of such defense contracts — $163 billion in the far-from-rare case of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Voices within the military-industrial complex — the Defense Department; mega-defense companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, and Raytheon; hawkish armchair strategists in Washington-based think tanks and universities; and legislators from places that depend on arms production for jobs — insist that these are must-have weapons. Their refrain: unless we build and deploy them soon we could suffer a devastating attack from Russia and China.  

The opposition to this powerful ensemble’s doomsday logic is, as always, feeble.

The Illogic of Arms Races

Hypersonic weapons are just the most recent manifestation of the urge to engage in an “arms race,” even if, as a sports metaphor, it couldn’t be more off base. Take, for instance, a bike or foot race. Each has a beginning, a stipulated distance, and an end, as well as a goal: crossing the finish line ahead of your rivals. In theory, an arms race should at least have a starting point, but in practice, it’s usually remarkably hard to pin down, making for interminable disputes about who really started us down this path. Historians, for instance, are still writing (and arguing) about the roots of the arms race that culminated in World War I. 

The arms version of a sports race lacks a purpose (apart from the perpetuation of a competition fueled by an endless action-reaction sequence). The participants just keep at it, possessed by worst-case thinking, suspicion, and fear, sentiments sustained by bureaucracies whose budgets and political clout often depend on military spending, companies that rake in the big bucks selling the weaponry, and a priesthood of professional threat inflators who merchandise themselves as “security experts.”  

President Trump holds up Space Policy Directive-3 at the White House on June 18, 2018. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

While finish lines (other than the finishing of most life on this planet) are seldom in sight, arms control treaties can, at least, decelerate and muffle the intensity of arms races. But at least so far, they’ve never ended them and they themselves survive only as long as the signatories want them to. Recall President George W. Bush’s scuttling of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Trump administration’s exit from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in August. Similarly, the New START accord, which covered long-range nuclear weapons and was signed by Russia and the United States in 2010, will be up for renewal in 2021 and its future, should Donald Trump be reelected, is uncertain at best. Apart from the fragility built into such treaties, new vistas for arms competition inevitably emerge — or, more precisely, are created. Hypersonic weapons are just the latest example.

Arms races, though waged in the name of national security, invariably create yet more insecurity. Imagine two adversaries neither of whom knows what new weapon the other will field. So both just keep building new ones. That gets expensive. And such spending only increases the number of threats. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, U.S. military spending has consistently and substantially exceeded China’s and Russia’s combined. But can you name a government that imagines more threats on more fronts than does the U.S.? This endless enumeration of new vulnerabilities isn’t a form of paranoia. It’s meant to keep arms races humming and the money flowing into military (and military-industrial) coffers.

One-Dimensional National Security

Such arms races come from the narrow, militarized definition of “national security” that prevails inside the defense and intelligence establishment, as well as in think tanks, universities, and the most influential mass media. Their underlying assumptions are rarely challenged, which only adds to their power. We’re told that we must produce a particular weapon (price tag be damned!), because if we don’t, the enemy will and that will imperil us all.  

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Such a view of security is by now so deeply entrenched in Washington — shared by Republicans and Democrats alike — that alternatives are invariably derided as naïve or quixotic. As it happens, both of those adjectives would be more appropriate descriptors for the predominant national security paradigm, detached as it is from what really makes most Americans feel insecure.

Consider a few examples.

Unlike in the first three decades after World War II, since 1979 the average U.S. hourly wage, adjusted for inflation, has increased by a pitiful amount, despite substantial increases in worker productivity. Unsurprisingly, those on the higher rungs of the wage ladder (to say nothing of those at the top) have made most of the gains, creating a sharp increase in wage inequality. (If you consider net total household wealth rather than income alone, the share of the top 1 percent increased from 30 percent to 39 percent between 1989 and 2016, while that of the bottom 90 percent dropped from 33 percent to 23 percent.) 

Because of sluggish wage growth many workers find it hard to land jobs that pay enough to cover basic life expenses even when, as now, unemployment is low (3.6 percent  this year compared to 8 percent in 2013). Meanwhile, millions earning low wages, particularly single mothers who want to work, struggle to find affordable childcare — not surprising considering that in 10 states and the District of Columbia the annual cost of such care exceeded $10,000 last year; and that, in 28 states, childcare centers charged more than the cost of tuition and fees at four-year public colleges.  

Workers trapped in low-wage jobs are also hard-pressed to cover unanticipated expenses. In 2018, the “median household” banked only $11,700, and households with incomes in the bottom 20 percent had, on average, only $8,790 in savings; 29 percent of them, $1,000 or less. (For the wealthiest 1 percent of households, the median figure was $2.5 million.) Forty-four percent of American families would be unable to cover emergency-related expenses in excess of $400 without borrowing money or selling some of their belongings.

That, in turn, means many Americans can’t adequately cover periods of extended unemployment or illness, even when unemployment benefits are added in. Then there’s the burden of medical bills. The percentage of uninsured adults has risen from 10.9 percent to 13.7 percent since 2016 and often your medical insurance is tied to your job — lose it and you lose your coverage — not to speak of the high deductibles imposed by many medical insurance policies. (Out-of-pocket medical expenses have, in fact, increased fourfold since 2007 and now average $1,300 a year.)

Or, speaking of insecurity, consider the epidemic in opioid-related fatalities (400,000 people since 1999), or suicides (47,173 in 2017 alone), or murders involving firearms (14,542 in that same year). Child poverty? The U.S. rate was higher than that of 32 of the 36 other economically developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Now ask yourself this: how often do you hear our politicians or pundits use a definition of “national security” that includes any of these daily forms of American insecurity? Admittedly, progressive politicians do speak about the economic pressures millions of Americans face, but never as part of a discussion of national security.

Politicians who portray themselves as “budget hawks” flaunt the label, but their outrage over “irresponsible” or “wasteful” spending seldom extends to a national security budget that currently exceeds $1 trillion. Hawks claim that the country must spend as much as it does because it has a worldwide military presence and a plethora of defense commitments. That presumes, however, that both are essential for American security when sensible and less extravagant alternatives are on offer.  

In that context, let’s return to the “race” for hypersonic weapons.

The Pentagon. (Defense Department)

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

Although the foundation for today’s hypersonic weaponry was laid decades ago, the pace of progress has been slow because of daunting technical challenges. Developing materials like composite ceramics capable of withstanding the intense heat to which such weapons will be exposed during flight leads the list. In recent years, though, countries have stepped up their games hoping to deploy hypersonic armaments rapidly, something Russia has already begun to do.

China, Russia, and the United States lead the hypersonic arms race, but others — including BritainFrance, GermanyIndia, and Japan — have joined in (and more undoubtedly will do so). Each has its own list of dire scenarios against which hypersonic weapons will supposedly protect them and military missions for which they see such armaments as ideal. In other words, a new round in an arms race aimed at Armageddon is already well underway.

There are two variants of hypersonic weapons, which can both be equipped with conventional or nuclear warheads and can also demolish their targets through sheer speed and force of impact, or kinetic energy. Boost-glide vehicles (HGVs) are lofted skyward on ballistic missiles or aircraft. Separated from their transporter, they then hurtle through the atmosphere, pulled toward their target by gravity, while picking up momentum along the way. Unlike ballistic missiles, which generally fly most of the way in a parabolic trajectory — think of an inverted U — ranging in altitude from nearly 400 to nearly 750 miles high, HGVs stay low, maxing out about 62 miles up. The combination of their hypersonic speed and lower altitude shortens the journey, while theoretically flummoxing radars and defenses designed to track and intercept ballistic missile warheads (which means another kind of arms race still to come). 

By contrast, hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs) resemble pilotless aircraft, propelled from start to finish by an on-board engine. They are, however, lighter than standard cruise missiles because they use scramjet technology.  Rather than carrying liquid oxygen tanks, the missile “breathes” in outside air that passes through it at supersonic speed, its oxygen combining with the missile’s hydrogen fuel. The resulting combustion generates extreme heat, propelling the missile toward its target. HCMs fly even lower than HGVs, below 100,000 feet, which makes identifying and destroying them harder yet. 

Weapons are categorized as hypersonic when they can reach a speed of at least Mach 5, but versions that travel much faster are in the works. A Chinese HGV, launched by the Dong Feng (East Wind) DF-ZF ballistic missile, reportedly registered a speed of up to Mach 10 during tests, which began in 2014. Russia’s Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, or “Dagger,” launched from a bomber or interceptor, can reportedly also reach a speed of Mach 10. Lockheed Martin’s AGM-183A Advanced Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), an HGV that was first test-launched from a B-52 bomber this year, can apparently reach the staggering speed of Mach 20.

And yet it’s not just the speed and flight trajectory of hypersonic weapons that will make them so hard to track and intercept. They can also maneuver as they race toward their targets. Unsurprisingly, efforts to develop defenses against them, using low-orbit sensorsmicrowave technology, and directed energy have already begun. The Trump administration’s plans for a new Space Force that will put sensors and interceptors into space cite the threat of hypersonic missiles. Even so, critics have slammed the initiative for being poorly funded.

Putting aside the technical complexities of building defenses against hypersonic weapons, the American decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and develop missile-defense systems influenced Russia’s decision to develop hypersonic weapons capable of penetrating such defenses. These are meant to ensure that Russia’s nuclear forces will continue to serve as a credible deterrent against a nuclear first strike on that country.

Artist’s impression of a waverider by the Chinese National Science and Technology Major Project. (CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The Trio Takes the Lead

China, Russia, and the United States are, of course, leading the hypersonic race to hell. China tested a medium-range new missile, the DF-17 in late 2017, and used an HGV specifically designed to be launched by it. The following year, that country tested its rocket-launched Xing Kong-2 (Starry Sky-2), a “wave rider,” which gains momentum by surfing the shockwaves it produces. In addition to its Kinzhal, Russia successfully tested the Avangard HGV in 2018. The SS-19 ballistic missile that launched it will eventually be replaced by the R-28 Samrat. Its hypersonic cruise missile, the Tsirkon, designed to be launched from a ship or submarine, has also been tested several times since 2015. Russia’s hypersonic program has had its failures — so has that of the United States — but there’s no doubting Moscow’s seriousness about pursuing such weaponry.

Though it’s common to read that both Russia and China are significantly ahead in this arms race, the United States has been no laggard. It’s been interested in such weaponry — specifically HGVs — since the early years of this century. The Air Force awarded Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne a contract to develop the hypersonic X-51A WaveRider scramjet in 2004. Its first flight test — which failed (creating something of a pattern) — took place in 2010.

Today, the Army, Navy, and Air Force are moving ahead with major hypersonic weapons programs. For instance, the Air Force test-launched its ARRW from a B-52 bomber as part of its Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSWthis June; the Navy tested an HGV in 2017 to further its Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) initiative; and the Army tested its own version of such a weapon in 2011 and 2014 to move its Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) program forward. The depth of the Pentagon’s commitment to hypersonic weapons became evident in 2018 when it decided to combine the Navy’s CPS, the Air Force’s HCSW, and the Army’s AHW to advance the Conventional Prompt Global Strike Program (CPGS), which seeks to build the capability to hit targets worldwide in under 60 minutes.

That’s not all. The Center for Public Integrity’s R. Jeffrey Smith reports that Congress passed a bill last year requiring the United States to have operational hypersonic weapons by late 2022. President’s Donald Trump’s 2020 Pentagon budget request included $2.6 billion to support their development. Smith expects the annual investment to reach $5 billion by the mid-2020s.

That will certainly happen if officials like Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for research and engineering, have their way. Speaking at the McAleese and Credit Suisse Defense Programs conference in March 2018, he listed hypersonic weapons as his “highest technical priority,” adding, “I’m sorry for everybody out there who champions some other high priority… But there has to be a first and hypersonics is my first.” The big defense contractors share his enthusiasm. No wonder last December the National Defense Industrial Association, an outfit that lobbies for defense contractors, played host to Griffin and Patrick Shanahan (then the deputy secretary of defense), for the initial meeting of what it called the “Hypersonic Community of Influence.”

Cassandra Or Pollyanna?

We are, in other words, in a familiar place. Advances in technology have prepared the ground for a new phase of the arms race. Driving it, once again, is fear among the leading powers that their rivals will gain an advantage, this time in hypersonic weapons. What then? In a crisis, a state that gained such an advantage might, they warn, attack an adversary’s nuclear forces, military bases, airfields, warships, missile defenses, and command-and-control networks from great distances with stunning speed.

Such nightmarish scenario-building could simply be dismissed as wild-eyed speculation, but the more states think about, plan, and build weaponry along these lines, the greater the danger that a crisis could spiral into a hypersonic war once such weaponry was widely deployed. Imagine a crisis in the South China Sea in which the United States and China both have functional hypersonic weapons: China sees them as a means of blocking advancing American forces; the United States, as a means to destroy the very hypersonic arms China could use to achieve that objective. Both know this, so the decision of one or the other to fire first could come all too easily. Or, now that the INF Treaty has died, imagine a crisis in Europe involving the United States and Russia after both sides have deployed numerous intermediate-range hypersonic cruise missiles on the continent. 

Some wonks say, in effect, “Relax, hi-tech defenses against hypersonic weapons will be built, so crises like these won’t spin out of control.” They seem to forget that defensive military innovations inevitably lead to offensive ones designed to negate them. Hypersonic weapons won’t prove to be the exception.

So, in a world of national insecurity, the new arms race is on. Buckle up.

Rajan Menon, a TomDispatch regular, is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer professor of international relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and senior research fellow at Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention.”

This article is from TomDispatch.com.

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15 comments for “Hypersonic Weapons & National Insecurity

  1. Will
    October 7, 2019 at 10:08

    me thinks that that the real problem that would need top be addressed first is that there we already lack defenses against the earlier versions of these weapons much less the newest and fastest versions of the Silkworm and exocet type anti ship missles-the devices that rained a bit o n the Brit’s Falkland parade. Also, there is yet another type of impact weapon that they began to look into during the bush years: launching impact weapons from the moon…hence the need for a “space force” to keep the Ruskies or Chinee from beating us to placing that sort of system in which titanium “bunker buster” projectiles are hurled fro the ultimate “high ground”

  2. countykerry
    October 5, 2019 at 15:59

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity. W. B.Yeats

  3. October 4, 2019 at 09:10

    “Now ask yourself this: how often do you hear our politicians or pundits use a definition of “national security” that includes any of these daily forms of American insecurity?”

    Rights my good man , rights. The right to protest, the right to freedom of speech. The people who run the country love these rights. They channel them into impeachment procedings, or abortion issues, or gun rights to take the population`s eye of the ball. In the chaos and in the cacaphony of voices, they can run off with the loot to hide in their off shore tax havens. People don`t even notice how they are getting ripped off by the .0001%. The MIC is particularly adept at using freedom of speech to scare the livinbejeezus out of the population so that they can continues their financial rape of the country.

    Now rights like the right to sufficient food. The right to good health care. The right to good housing. The right to a decent retirement. The right to an education. The right to walk the streets of your community without worrying about the gun nut next door going off the rails and killing you and your dog. The right to good highways. highspeed rail.safe bridges, safe drinking water. The right to a life that is not so filled with despair that the only way you can tolerate it is by using chemicals to dull the pain. The right not to think of suicide as the only way to solve your homeless, and or financial problems. These rights, well they are not important. No politician will seriously talk about them. They are off the table. ` The country can`t afford it we are constantly told.

    The most important rights that the Elites allow Americans are ” The right to freeze and starve to death in the dark”. now that, you are free to do. But it is comforting to know that while you are living in your car, or under a bridge, or in your tent on the sidewalk that your country is well protected with the latest gismos that the MIC has sold to your government. And also that you can stick out your chest in pride over the fact that the men and women living on your country`s 800 military bases overseas, are living the American middle class life with swimming pools, golf courses, and the best food money can buy. It is good to know that while you are living your life of rugged individualism and enjoying your freedom of speech and the right to protest, that your men and women in uniform can sit on 11,000 dollar toilet seats etc. It`s a wonderful world at least thats what they keep telling you.

    • CitizenOne
      October 4, 2019 at 23:13

      $11,ooo toilet seats is what Dan Rather on 60 Minutes was granted precious airtime to bitch about 50 years ago. What a creep he was and how easily they ejected him from the media. This is the new-old news after he was me too’d by the Ministry of Information. Today we officially don’t care if that toilet seat costs ten billion dollars. It’s time to see a daring rescue of a penguin floating on a piece of ice or a stranger that saved a lasagna from a flood when the lasagna parade was swamped by torrential rains stranding some lasagna chefs inside their lasagna food trucks trying desperately to win the World Food Truck Help, I’m in Poverty Food Truck Jamboree. Don’t forget to get angry about gender neutral Barbie Dolls as this is a life changing experience not to be missed out on provided by whatever our commercial press has become.

  4. CitizenOne
    October 3, 2019 at 22:18

    The situation that nuclear nations are in has historically relied on the MAD or Mutual Assured Destruction premise that an effective counter strike would inevitably be mounted in response to a first nuclear strike by an aggressor nation. That is the theory that any offensive nuclear first strike action by one nation against another nation would result in the “assured” or certain destruction of the aggressor nation. The MAD doctrine held the promise of preventing nuclear first strikes but it was always threatened by advances in technology. The theoretical development of an effective anti ballistic missile system capable of downing incoming ICBMs was seen as destabilizing. Thus begun a new negotiated treaty between Russia and the USA the ABM treaty which outlawed the development of anti ballistic missile defense systems.

    Another threat to the MAD theory was the potential development of space based nuclear weapons in orbital platforms which could thwart the ability of the attacked nation to effectively launch a counter strike by surprising and outmaneuvering the ability to launch a counter offensive retaliatory nuclear strike which was another reason to sign the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, treaty in 1967. Currently over 100 nations are signed on to this treaty.

    There have been many nuclear treaties including Disarmament, Non-proliferation and Weapons limitation treaties which have been signed since the dawn of the nuclear weapons era. All of the treaties have been proposed and ratified by the major nuclear powers and a host of other nuclear and non nuclear nations for the purposes of reducing the likelihood of nuclear war.

    But technology and materials science have advanced to open up new possibilities that new nuclear capable delivery and defense weapons systems can open up a technological edge for advanced nations to develop new weapons that can defeat existing weapon platforms. This is what we are witness to as the major nuclear capable nations develop new technologies like hypersonic delivery systems.

    What is missing today is the elements that created international arms control treaties that formerly limited or outlawed the development of new and hypothetical technologies and that has allowed a proliferation of new weapons designs based on new technologies to grow into high priority and well funded research projects and strategic goals for national military establishments.

    Adding fuel to the nuclear arms race has been the abrogation of former treaties like ABM and INF and the formation of new agencies like Space Force formerly Space Command. While this negation of former treaties by the US and development of new nuclear capable platforms like hypersonic weapons has not been done without similar flouting of treaties and development of banned weapons systems by Russia it does uncork a full on arms race between superpowers to develop weapons that were formerly banned by international arms control treaties.

    What we are seeing is the abandonment of the treaties that formerly created some assurance that the MAD strategy of nuclear war deterrence through the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction is coming to an end and that the meaningfulness of the consequences of a first strike are largely being overshadowed by a new level of technology that assures that the former balance of nuclear terror is off the table as nations plow their military budgets into MAD busting strategies that could mean a first strike is a winnable scenario.

    The development of the new “brakes are off” and “accelerator is pushed to the floor” nuclear arms race is pushing the limits of the capability of any nation to defend itself by assuring the destruction of the aggressor nation beyond the possibility of mounting a defense against hypersonic cruise missiles deployed by submarines loitering off coastal boundaries or from neighboring countries.

    The window of opportunity to launch a counteroffensive is shrinking and the opportunity for a successful surprise attack is growing by leaps and bounds as military contractors rake in billions for developing the new offensive weapons.

    There is perhaps only one option left available for ultimate retaliatory strike capability and that is a doomsday device that would not have to be launched or aimed or require any precision delivery platform at all. Such devices have been designed in concept and typically are designed around a Cobalt Fusion device or Cobalt bomb. Such a device could be constructed that would unleash so much highly radioactive fallout upon detonation that it would effectively sterilize the surface of the Earth. It is called a doomsday device. While a single doomsday device would not likely sterilize all life on the planet in practicality several devices could accomplish the job if placed strategically.

    The real possibility that a nation can construct weapons without the need for advanced delivery systems that could render much of the planet inhospitable to life should be a clear warning that the time for diplomacy and nuclear arms control is now. Such weapons could even theoretically be built on the cheap by rouge nations and deployed in secret. The possibility exists that several ships parked off the West Coat of America each laden with tons of Cobalt with large thermonuclear triggers could unleash a radioactive cloud that would render North America a lifeless wasteland for years. The radioactivity from the fallout would be prolonged outlasting any attempt to hide beneath the surface and relying on stockpiles of food to survive.

    Nuclear proliferation and the abandonment of nuclear treaties will uncork the genie and make a nuclear arms race between superpowers using expensive high tech weapons will also encourage the development of much lower tech weapons by nations without the need for high tech capability to pose a new and much more lethal version of MAD at much lower cost. There is an axiom of offensive weapons development that states that any offensive weapon will be useless against an adversary if lower cost and effective countermeasures exist that can defeat the offensive threat. In today’s high tech world of super expensive and highly advanced weapons being actively developed by the most powerful nations there exists low cost low tech options to ultimately defeat them all. That is worldwide annihilation of the human race. Such scenarios are currently the realm of science fiction and do not include the threats from biological weapons that are also becoming increasingly easy to make as biotech advances and proliferates to the point that a small laboratory could conceivably create a pathogen that would wipe out humanity.

    Given the inevitability of the convergence of scientific knowledge and the ability to create weapons of mass destruction with increasing ease it seems that the one last defense against these potential outcomes is for nations to realize they are locked in a race they cannot win militarily and the only future is to join in treaties to stop the arms race.

    Albert Einstein said he did not know what weapons World War Three would be fought with but he was sure about what weapons World War Four would be fought with. Sticks and Stones. “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein.

    That will be true if we are lucky at this point and it is becoming more likely that WW4 will never happen at all. The human race will be extinct.

    But we are currently living in an age where economics, geopolitical struggles and profits outweigh such concerns and they are brushed aside just as the threat of climate change and its consequences are brushed aside by our politicians who are in the pockets of global corporations reaping huge profits from burning fossil fuels. If we cannot preserve our environment and we cannot control our technological abilities to destroy life on a massive scale then the probability of a horrific catastrophe or holocaust for humans and all life grows by the day.

  5. Robert Emmett
    October 3, 2019 at 15:13

    Oh fck*. Well, at least the mounded or mounted billions of benjies are going to a noble cause, right? And the sheer speed, destructiveness, gadzooks, the technology, huh? And the salesmanship? C’mon. I mean, who can’t get behind their motto: Guaranteed To Boggle More Than Your Mind! No. I mean that’s the motto. Alright, a tad long, little clunky. How ‘bout, Shazzamm! Or WhamBlammo?

    It’s not like all that cutting-edge, top-o-the-pointy-brain-pan human effort is pointed in the exact wrong direction or anything, right? And just think of the multi-moonshot fallout to come! The Tang™ effect, huh, how ‘bout that? Sprinkles of tang-dust for everyone over everything, right? Wowzer!

    All to protect & nourish & make safe our way of life. Some world, somewhere mad-safe for de-mock-racy, airy-stock-racy or rhinoplasty or sumthin. Well, for a relative few relatives anyway, for as long as it might last or they can hold on. What could be more better or fairer than that??

    *no disrespect intended to the author, CN, nor to the seriousness of this issue

    (would like to hear more on CN from this author or others knowledgeable about weapons systems, especially regarding recent reports of how older and far less expensive, weapons did a number on those Arabian oilfields while supposedly “leveling the playing field” between wealthier countries with their sophist-i-cated weaponry and less wealthy countries with “yesterday’s technology”.

  6. October 3, 2019 at 12:07

    These hypersonic and/or nuclear weapons are a way for the Pentagon to gobble unlimited amounts of cash by manufacturing yet another arms race with Russia and/or China. It’s a scam to make yet even more piles of loot for the merchants of death. Again.

  7. Tony
    October 3, 2019 at 08:17

    “Or, now that the INF Treaty has died, imagine a crisis in Europe involving the United States and Russia after both sides have deployed numerous intermediate-range hypersonic cruise missiles on the continent.”

    People in Europe can still oppose such deployments and help ensure that they do not happen.

    In the United States, people can demand of the Democrat presidential contenders that they will refuse to recognize US withdrawal from the INF treaty if elected. The U S president is abusing his power by withdrawing from a treaty that the US Senate has ratified by a two-thirds majority. Without a similar vote to reverse that earlier decision, the withdrawal should be declared null and void.

    • Eddie S
      October 3, 2019 at 21:35

      Yeah Tony, I always wondered how a POTUS could ‘UN-sign’ a treaty?? Does that mean they can UNsign LAWS also? Can Trump go in and UNsign the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for instance? That doesn’t seem legal to me. I got the distinct impression that these were corrupt interpretations of US law by corrupt Republican administrations and a right-wing Supreme Court…

  8. Zach Waddill
    October 2, 2019 at 23:40

    I can greatly augment these two subjects, a corrolary; Bilateral International Research and Developement(b.i.r.d.) Project Talpiot. Cyber wars span the military as well as the civilian sector, you know, and Intel, Qualcomm, among others have there Research and developement centers in….

  9. Drew Hunkins
    October 2, 2019 at 18:05

    Putin developed his super hyper-sonic weapons in response to Washington abrogating nuke treaty after nuke treaty. Next to be tossed into the dustbin the Washington imperialists will be New START.

    Then we’ll be well on our way to a totally unfettered wild west. Non-revanchist Moscow having little choice but to go along for the ride or be completely out-gunned.

    This is only the greatest threat to humankind in global history. You’d think Dems would be discussing it just a wee bit instead of incessantly focusing on an impeachment process that will go nowhere in the Senate and if it ultimately were miraculously successful we’d be stuck with the worse of the two in Christian-Zionist Pence.

    • Noah Way
      October 2, 2019 at 19:56

      Russia developed hypersonic missiles after the Soviet Union was bankrupted by the Cold War. It was the intelligent and highly efficient defensive response to the massive military threat presented by the US.

      The US meanwhile continues to bankrupt itself by throwing more than a trillion dollars annually at a military complex that makes the world less safe and secure.

      • Drew Hunkins
        October 3, 2019 at 15:41

        Putin introduced the new Mach 20 stuff in spring 2018.

      • Jeff Harrison
        October 4, 2019 at 09:32

        No. In his address Putin was very clear. Russia developed their hypersonic missiles after the US walked away from the ABM treaty so that our ABM systems (read the Aegis naval systems we are currently attempting to surround Russia and China with and their land based variants) could be defeated in the event that we attempted to perpetrate a first strike. While I know nothing of the arms race that occurred prior to WWI, I have watched what has happened since the late ’50s. It has almost exclusively been the United States developing some new nasty weapon and Russia stepping up to develop a counter. China has now joined the fun.

        The real problem is that the US wishes to be the global hegemon. The thing that is funny is that St. Ronnie sank the old USSR by massively boosting US war spending back in the 80’s. It was a real sock it to me for the US national debt but Russia’s finances were in worse shape. Please feel free to go to treasurydirect.gov and look at the monthly statements of the public debt. Back then the public debt was measured in Billions now, of course, it’s $22T. Roles have been reversed and the US is spending massive amounts on offensive weapons while our “adversaries” (who are only our adversaries because we’ve decided they are our adversaries, not because they wish to do us any particular harm) are spending boo by comparison. The US’s official war spending is $649B (which is BS because all that very expensive nuclear weapons stuff is in the DOE not the DOD and the VA isn’t in the DOD budget either), China’s is $168B and Russia’s spending is $63B. You do the math. Compound this with the divestment of the dollar as the reserve currency and while the petrodollar reigns supreme in Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t in China and China is the world’s largest importer of oil. The writing’s on the wall. Sometime in the not that distant future, we will be the USSR of the 1990s unless, of course, some neo-con makes some stupid miscalculation and then we won’t have to worry about much of anything anymore.

    • Zhu
      October 4, 2019 at 00:48

      Civil unrest, rebellion revolution, are the biggest threats to the USA.

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