Home / Robert Farley / Foreign Entanglements: Horse, Bayonets, and Iron Domes

Foreign Entanglements: Horse, Bayonets, and Iron Domes


Happy post-Thanksgiving, all. With luck, we won’t have to deal with another holiday situation until Memorial Day or thereabouts. On Monday, I spoke with Bryan McGrath (my co-blogger at Information Dissemination) about the election, asymmetric beliefs, maritime issues, and Iron Dome:

On the Iron Dome point, my contribution at the Diplomat this week concerned the exportability of the model to East Asia:

The apparent success of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system in the latest iteration of the Israel-Hamas conflict has spurred interest in how East Asian states could apply similar defensive technologies. Indeed, an Israeli media outlet reported that South Korea is considering procurement of the Iron Dome system, potentially as part of a reciprocal agreement that would supply Israel with maritime patrol ships. On Sunday, Max Boot argued that the success of Iron Dome effectively justifies Ronald Reagan’s 1980s-era concentration on the Strategic Defense Initiative, a missile defense system expected to defeat a Soviet nuclear attack. Demonstration effects matter; does the success of Iron Dome have implications for rocket or missile defense in East Asia?

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  • Major Kong

    It’s been pointed out before, but there’s a huge difference between intercepting primitive rockets that mostly operate in the atmosphere and intercepting an ICBM.

    Not to mention that any defense can be saturated by sufficient numbers. As the Russians used to say “Quantity has its own quality”.

    • The distance from Seoul to the North Korean border is less, in some places, than the distance from Gaza to Tel Aviv.

      North Korea has plenty of Scuds (or their own homemade version), which are more capable than Hamas’s best rockets but not by much.

      • Major Kong

        I was addressing Reagan/SDI more than the ROK/DPRK situation.

        I can understand why the ROKs would show some interest in a system like this.

  • njorl

    Needs more pictures with water in the background.

  • Alan Tomlinson

    With respect to Max Boot arguing something, I’m reminded of Monty Python: “[A]n argument is an intellectual process . . . .” I have never felt my intellect remotely stimulated by anything Mr. Boot has said.


    Alan Tomlinson

  • Warren Terra

    I think you should have pushed for a stronger defense of Romney’s 1917 taking point. I’ve felt insulted by that talking point of Romney’s since I heard him using it in the Primary debates, and felt the mockery Obama gave it was no better than it deserved. Your interlocutor and co-blogger felt there was some serious case to be made (for a navy with a much larger number of ships, based presumably on an argument other than comparison to 1917), but in this conversation he didn’t actually offer such a case, just said he’d written about such in the past.

    Basically, I’ve always found the 1917 talking point to be just offensively bad, and was disappointed that when he basically insisted it wasn’t so terrible you didn’t press him on this more.

  • Dan Mulligan

    Are we really sure about the “dome”? I recall the highly effective results of our patriot missile batteries in the Iraq war. The intercept rate was quietly “revised” months later to almost zero.

    Just asking.

  • CJColucci

    I always thiought it obvious that a comprehensive, close to leak-proof defense against a large-scale missile attack was impossible. I’ve never been sure whether it might be feasible to build a system — at a reasonable cost — sufficiently good to stop one nut with six missiles.

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