Bringing A Laser To A Missile Fight

Ackerman doubts that Iron Dome, as currently constructed, can adequately protect Israel:

Hamas is peanuts. Its Qassams and Fajr-5s are unguided systems, unsophisticated compared to the missile arsenals of Hezbollah and Iran, which include ballistic missiles. Even a souped-up Iron Dome would probably be overwhelmed by those. So as encouraged as Israel is by Iron Dome’s success, it’s already scaling upward, to more powerful interceptor-based missile defenses intended to blunt a layered assault from Hamas to Hezbollah to Iran. Some, however, doubt that a bullet is the right instrument for stopping another bullet, and would prefer to use the laser weapons the U.S. is developing.

Oh, great. A laser war in the Middle East. They really are getting creative in that part of the world, aren't there? At the same time, you realize that over sixty years after Israel was born, they need 200 nuclear warheads, an Iron Dome and lasers – and the evisceration of any regional rival – just to stay besieged. The scale of the effort – the huge costs to sustain the security of a tiny, new little state in the Middle East – reminds you of the utopianism of Zionism.

A fanatically pro-Israel friend once told me with some relish that all the isms of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had failed, except one. Communism, fascism, Nazism, and socialism are no longer serious models for a human polity. But Zionism has endured and succeeded. I'd amend that from the vantage point of late 2012 to the fact that Zionism has endured. But it has not succeeded – in gaining full legitimacy from its neighbors, in creating a stable polity with a Jewish majority, and in the past four years has edged toward greater and greater illegitimacy in the eyes of its neighbors and much of Europe.

Isms are as dangerous as all attempts to radically remake the map of human history and culture by force of arms, however well-intentioned they are. Because the damage they do before they finally expire – because the world in reality is different than the world in the mind of an ism – can be immense. Reality always, always has the last word.