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The Right Imitates ‘Battlestar: Galactica’

The newest Website to terrify you into resisting Defense Secretary Bob Gates’ defense reorganizations: 33 Minutes, a missile-defense booster site set up recently by the Heritage Foundation, complete with documentary. The film’s trailer makes the following claim: “The longest times are typically around 30 to 33, 34 minutes, and that would be for a long-range missile that would be fired from, for example, North Korea to the United States, or from Iran to the United States,” says a retired Air Force general and head of the Missile Defense Agency. Left unsaid is that neither North Korea nor Iran has such a missile. “Less than 33 minutes away, their whole city — their whole life — could be annihilated,” intones Heritage president Edwin Feulner, while scary music scares you into being scared.

It’s not clear where the 33-minute estimate comes from, but the film’s overtones invoke a classic episode of “Battlestar: Galactica” called “[33](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/33_(Battlestar_Galactica)),” in which the 50,000 survivors of a robot attack on humanity, on the run in spaceships, have to make a faster-than-lightspeed jump into deep space every 33 minutes in order to evade their pursuers. The exhaustion experienced by the survivors leads them to destroy a civilian vessel with 1000 people aboard that may or may not have been controlled by the robotic Cyclons. Point being: reasoning from fear is a dangerous thing.

For a relatively sober view of the North Korea missile threat, here’s Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

There’s two things that we look at on the North Korean missile. One is their ability to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a weapon of mass destruction, and the second is their desire to potentially proliferate that and sell it around the world.

On the first, the technology they were seeking after the first two failures was the ability to stage; in other words, transition from one stage of boost to the next. They failed. On the idea of proliferation, would you buy from somebody that had failed three times in a row and never been successful?

Is Cartwright being irresponsible? We’ll find out in …* 33 minutes.*

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