Wednesday, March 9, 2011

That's not cool

A few days ago I heard reports from some California-based missile watchers that there was an unidentified missile launch off the coast of San Diego. Well, ends up it was a test launch of a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that was not announced publicly beforehand.

There's not a whole lot new here - the US conducts many tests of its nuclear missiles on land (from Vandenberg Air Force Base) and from the sea. What really struck me about this story was a quote in a news report a few days after the launch.

From the Navy Compass story entitled "USS Nevada Successfully Tests Trident II D5 Missile," there is a quote from Caitlin Hitt, co-president of the Naval Base Kitsap Officers Spouses Association. She said, "It was incredible. Nothing that I ever expected, quite honestly I was shocked at how cool it was when it came out of the water."

This quote highlights a major disconnect that many people have when it comes to destructive weapons, including nuclear weapons. Sure, it's cool in the sense that it is amazing that human beings have been able to construct weapons that shoot out of a submarine, break the surface of the water and go on a ballistic trajectory to the other side of the world. What's not cool is what would happen when that missile does what it is designed to do: deliver a nuclear warhead to a target on the other side of the world. And you can't have one thing without the other.

This is not a video game. This is not the 8th grade science fair won by the kid who makes a rocket that can fly 300 feet into the air. This is the world's most destructive weapon, capable of killing millions of people. That's not cool, Mrs. Hitt.

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