Who would know if we fired at the Nork missile and missed?
If we could knock it out of the sky, it would take a lot of wind out of Kim Jong (mentally) Il’s sails. But the down side would be the black eye and seeming impotence if the world knew that we tried to and couldn’t.
So does Russia have radar that would see an interceptor launch over, say Alaska? If not, does anyone else? And if not, what would we have to lose in taking a shot? If we take it down, it’s a huge coup, and if we miss, we just don’t mention that we even attempted it.
I should note that I would think the chances of failure small, since we’d presumably be sending multiple interceptors, rather than the single ones we’ve used in previous failed tests. The fact that we have had successful single-shot tests would indicate to me that chances of success for a multi-shot attempt should be pretty high.
By the way, here’s a good overview of the current missile defense situation.
I recall back in the eighties, when people were poo pooing the concept and saying that even if we could knock down some missiles, we couldn’t get them all in a massive Soviet strike. One rejoinder to that (in addition to the fact that even getting half of them would put enough doubt into a Soviet commander’s mind to perhaps preclude the attack at all) was that we needed it against rogue states. Like North Korea. This would result in scoffs by the anti-BMD folks.
“Why would they build a missile that we could shoot down when they could just smuggle the bomb into a container ship?”
I guess that Kim didn’t listen to them. Fortunately, neither did we. At least ultimately, though it’s taken much longer than it should have to deploy, as a result of years of obstruction from the port side of the political spectrum.
[Update on Wednesday at noon]
There’s a long discussion in comments to a post by Jonathan Adler over at Volokh’s.