Readers on smart bombs.

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Oct. 18 2002 4:16 PM

Duck and Cover II

The Fray on smart bombs and the Supreme Court.

Chain-chain-chain: Reaction to Fred Kaplan's critique of U.S. smart bombs was extremely compelling. Military Guy stressed that while the bombs have gotten better, there are plenty of other ways to screw things up ("For an example of incorrectly identifying a target, look no further than the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade"). RuebenJames agreed, and put a human face on the scenario here:

In the context of our high tech wonder weapons, never underestimate the ability of a highly-stressed, sleep-deprived individual to mangle numbers, words, anything. I can just see some poor grunt who's been awake for 36 hours straight punching in a grid coordinate.

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But the best post came from Kevin Darnell, Col (select), USAF Military Faculty, US Naval War College here. He not only disputes Kaplan's Gulf War stats, but provides this addendum to the usual "air power is not enough" lesson of the war:

The effort against the communications network was an important part of the campaign, but it was not pursued as the "silver bullet" that the article implies. Instead, Air Force generals took the early plan in September 1990, reshaped it, and relegated it from the main effort to simply one of four phases. The remaining phases aimed at the destruction of Iraqi forces in Kuwait and attacks on the Republican Guard, all as part of the preparation for the eventual land attack. And none of the generals ever believed it would be a cake walk.

This is not to say that some corners of the Air Force did not believe or hope that a decapitation strategy designed to cut off Saddam's communications might not end the war quickly. The point to understand is that our top military leaders are a pragmatic group who don't often place all their eggs in any one basket.

Colonel Darnell stresses that the views expressed are his own …

Double Consciousness: Emily Bazelon describes the upcoming battle for Sandra Day O’Connor’s soul between her federalist devil and her feminist angel (reverse the polarity if it suits you). In response, Adam Masin laments the effect her pivotal voice has had on Supreme Court opinions, and foresees this result:

The opinion of the court, written by O'Connor, is announced by 3 Justices, one who writes a concurring opinion which concurs with the result but not the rationale. Three Justices dissent, and two (probably Rehnquist and Scalia in which Thomas joins) write separate dissenting opinions which stress different reasons for dissenting. Three other justices write separate opinions, concurring in part and dissenting in part, but each concurs and dissents to different parts.

Meanwhile, Arrow objects to Bazelon's sky-is-falling anti-federalism here:

Ms. Bazelon suggests that employees of state universities are in the anomalous position of having less protection against gender discrimination than employees in private enterprise.

Bad example. She is assuming that the only kind of "protection" is litigation in federal court. In fact, employees of universities in particular have the far more efficient protection of organizational culture: one sure way to stop any university administrator dead in his (or her) tracks is to holler "sexual discrimination!" Instantly the action is put on hold, inquiries are initiated, committees are appointed, articles are written, meetings are called, banners are printed, and whatever the university may have contemplated, rightly or wrongly, is halted forever.

Duckrabbit: UnderlyingBazelon's article is a longstanding debate over the purview of the 11th Amendment: why should it apply to suits by a citizen against her own state? Beverly Mann offers her usual witty clearheadedness here, where she indicates that she just can't find the "hidden picture." In previous posts, though, both Dilan Esper and Taxlawyer explain how the prohibition can seem so obvious. For DE here, there was no federal question to begin with because when a citizen sues her own state there is no diversity of jurisdiction. Taxlawyer contends here that the fault does not lie with the Rehnquist court: