The centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s attempt at resurrecting a modicum of friendship between his administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been that $300 million gift – America’s investment in the super smart anti-missile system, Iron Dome.
While the rockets were flying into Israel, we were told that, save for one time in which a Kiryat Malachi family was killed by a direct hit, the clever rockets, costing $35 to $50 thousand each (a Qassam rocket is estimated to costs about $800) took down around 90 percent of their incoming targets.
The way the Iron Dome works, we were told, is it analyzes the trajectory of the Arab missiles, picks out only those that appear to be headed at an Israeli civilian population, and takes them out. No muss, no fuss, it’s amazing what them science folks is coming up with these days.
Well, not so fast, Mrs. Lincoln, the show has a second act. For one thing, according to a NY Times story this morning (Weapons Experts Raise Doubts About Israel’s Antimissle System), the Israelis have lowered the success rate of the system to 84 percent, as opposed to 90 percent.
“No military system is 90 percent effective,” Philip E. Coyle III, who once ran the Pentagon’s weapons-testing program and recently left a White House security post (file under “disgruntled employee?”) told the Times.
Weapons expert Richard M. Lloyd told the Times his own analyses shows a success rate of only between 30 and 40 percent. “For the remaining targets, he judges that the interceptor was either badly aligned or too far away, at best leaving the rockets wounded or thrown off course…”
According to the critics, those explosions in the sky we’ve watched on You Tube, hailed as evidence of success, were, in most cases, just “interceptor warheads blowing up.”
A senior Israeli official denied that explanation, insisting that Iron Dome system was the best we have, and Israel’s Defense Ministry issued a statement deploring “baseless claims” that relied on “amateur YouTube videos.”
They said they were “more than content with the system’s impressive results.”
Sure, at $300 million and $50 thousand a pop, they’d better be.
The American Iron Dome backers told the Times it wasn’t so much that the Iron Dome was such a mega-futuristic technological success, but because the Dome’s targets are relatively slow, small and unsophisticated.
“They have no guidance system,” explained Riki Ellison, chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, “They’re not as accurate as missiles, so Israel doesn’t have to hit them all.”
That’s a lackluster endorsement if I’ve ever read one.
Immediately after the last Gaza war, in November, 2012, I wrote that the Iron Dome system was morally despicable, because “we are in the business of containing the terrorists and absorbing their attacks. We are definitely not in the business of killing the terrorists and freeing both our own people and the civilians suffering under the terrorist yoke across the border.”
Earlier, in a piece titled “The Morally Reprehensible ‘Iron Dome’ – Hamas’s Best Friend,” I wrote: “Israel has invented a magnificent tool that allows those truly horrible people to continue firing lengthy cylinders full of explosives at civilian men, women and children, without having to confront too often the fact that those are horrible criminals who should be either dead or in prison. We call it the Iron Dome.”
I concluded: “To be perfectly frank, Israel would have been much better off if the Iron Dome had proven to be a flop, like the U.S. made Patriot system, which is notorious for causing as much damage as it attempts to prevent.”
Now you understand why the Israelis and the Americans will be denying the Times’ scathing report to anyone who would listen. Because if the emperor is in dire need of a wardrobe, and the miraculous Iron Dome is kind of average – we’ll have to do something about Hamas.
And who wants that?