Monday, August 11, 2008

Russian Bear Seeks a Slaughter in Caucasus Region

Hitler invaded Sudetenland; now Putin invades Georgia
August 11, 2008

On October 3, 1938, Adolf Hitler's armies marched into Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia. Germany said it was responding to separatist demands from the large German population that lived there and that she was merely honoring their desire for reunion with Germany. Hitler's tanks took over a vital part of an independent country that had largely rejected his overtures and allied itself with the West. Neither Britain nor France nor the United States did a thing to stop him.

On August 7, 2008, Vladimir Putin's armies marched into South Ossetia, a part of Georgia. Russia said it was responding to separatist demands from the large Russian population that lived there and that she was merely honoring their desire for reunion with Russia. Putin's tanks took over a vital part of an independent country that had largely rejected his overtures and allied itself with the West. Neither Britain nor France nor the United States did a thing to stop him.

Encouraged by his occupation of Sudetenland, Hitler continued his designs on Czechoslovakia itself and invaded the rest of the nation a few months later.

Will history continue to repeat itself?

Georgia is one of the two countries that have split off from the old Soviet Union and most firmly reached out to the West. Now Putin is testing whether the west will respond to an overt Russian military attack on a part of Georgia, doubtless paving the way for a full scale invasion, perhaps in the coming days. One immediate Russian move would be to use its new found military leverage to force Georgia to give up Abkhazia, another province with a large Russian population.

Russia has encouraged migration by ethnic Russians into its satellite empire ever since Stalin's days and now is using the provinces with large Russian populations to foment discord in nations that lean to the West.

The United States and the European Union must not turn away at this crucial moment in history. The U.S. should take visible steps to bolster Georgia, including the dispatch of supplies, materials, and other manifestations of our determination not to let this nation be invaded.

Russia's goal in this imperialism is to intimidate any nation on its borders into rejecting overtures from the west and to try to prove that the west will offer no real protection against Russian military designs.

NATO should speed consideration of Georgia's application for admission and should extend its security umbrella to include the struggling democracy.

If the United States appeases Russia now, it will pay the same price British Prime Minister Nevelle Chamberlain paid in the 1930s. This invasion must not be allowed to stand or, at the very least, it must be contained to South Ossetia and not allowed to lap over into the rest of Georgia.


Time To Ban The Bans
In 2008 alone, officials in the U.S. banned -- or tried to ban – a multitude of “dangers” in our everyday lives. A small sampling of targeted items includes trans fats, plastic bags, “fast food” restaurants, helium balloons, camp fires, circuses, homeschooling, baggy pants, spanking, and ice cream trucks among others. The justification for this Good Humor crack down, as regulators spin it, is a “precautionary” approach to public health. But the description one political consultant gave to the London Times more accurately depicts this unsettling phenomenon: “It’s becoming almost like an arms race as to who can ban more things."

For consumers, it’s rapidly becoming a lose-lose situation.

These bans (or “structural interventions,” as the San Francisco Department of Public Health has euphemistically dubbed them) go far beyond educating consumers, veering into the sort of heavy-handed government intrusions that have no place in a free society. Silverware is the only thing that should come between an individual and his dinner plate. And despite all of the lofty promises health officials offer in exchange for our freedom, many experts believe that trans fat bans, calorie-count mandates, and the rest of this dietary nitpicking is unlike to benefit our health. The reason is simple, according to Dr. Roger Clemens, a nutrition professor at California State University Northridge: “We don’t have dangerous foods; we have dangerous lifestyles.”

The World Health Organization estimates that 60 percent of the global population isn’t active enough. Two million deaths each year are attributable to physical inactivity. And the solution to these “dangers” won’t come from City Hall or the Statehouse. It boils down to this: personal health is about individual choices. That means turning off the TV, climbing the stairs, and taking that extra step.

Aegis Triumphant
The U.S. Navy, capitalizing on the success of its SM3 anti-missile missile, wants to equip more ships with it. So far, the seagoing Aegis radar system has used SM-3s to knock down nearly 90 percent of the test missiles fired towards it. This includes shooting down a low flying space satellite. There are 18 U.S. Navy ships equipped with SM-3, and the navy would like enough money to equip all of its Aegis equipped ships (90) with the SM-3. This is expensive, as it costs a few million bucks to upgrade the Aegis radar and install the new software. And then there are the SM-3 missiles, which cost three million dollars each. The navy won't say how many SM-3 missiles are on each ship equipped to handle them, but it's probably something like at least a dozen. So to equip over 80 additional Aegis ships with SM-3 would cost over three billion dollars.

The Aegis anti-missile system consists of a modified version of the Standard anti-aircraft missile and the Aegis radar system, modified to track incoming ballistic missiles. The RIM-161A, also known as the Standard Missile 3 (or SM-3), has a range of over 500 kilometers and max altitude of over 160 kilometers. The Standard 3 is based on the failed anti-missile version of the Standard 2.

Arleigh Burke

The Standard 3 has four stages. The first two stages boost the interceptor out of the atmosphere. The third stage fires twice to boost the interceptor farther beyond the earth's atmosphere. Prior to each motor firing it takes a GPS reading to correct course for approaching the target. The fourth stage is the 20 pound LEAP kill vehicle, which uses infrared sensors to close on the target and ram it. The Aegis system was designed to operate aboard warships (cruisers and destroyers that have been equipped with the special software that enables the AEGIS radar system to detect and track incoming ballistic missiles).

By the end of the year, the U.S. Navy will have completed equipping 18 ships with the Aegis anti-missile system. One reason the navy recently cancelled its expensive new DDG-1000 class of destroyers was because these were built to support amphibious and coastal operations, and did not have a radar that could easily be converted to use SM-3 missiles. The DDG-1000 also cost 2-3 times as much as current Aegis destroyers. With missile defense seen as a higher priority than providing new coastal combat capability, the DDG-1000 was killed, and money saved could be used to build more Aegis destroyers, and convert more current destroyers and cruisers to use SM-3.


Japan also has four Aegis warships being equipped with this anti-missile capability (including the Atago-class). Other nations are equipping some of their ships with Aegis. Currently, five navies operate 108 Aegis equipped ships, and are thus able to upgrade to SM-3. Israel also wants to buy a land based Aegis, which would cost about $50 million, plus the costs of the SM-3 missiles. This is not a problem, as the original development version of Aegis was built on land, and still serves for continuing testing and development.



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