Daily Archives: November 2, 2021

Hypersonic Missile

I do not often disagree with Fareed Zakaria, but this week I disagree with both his Washington Post column and his CNN GPS commentary. 

In his Washington Post column, Fareed Zakaria says he does not believe that the Chinese and Russian tests of a hypersonic missile is a Sputnik moment.  Gen. Milley did not say that the Chinese test was a Sputnik moment, but was close to it.  Fareed says:

“Sputnik was a revolution in the space race. Hypersonic missiles, on the other hand, are old news. A hypersonic missile travels at five times the speed of sound or faster. Starting in 1959, the United States and the Soviet Union have deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles that travel more than 20 times the speed of sound.”

If hypersonic missile technology is so unimportant, why are the US, China, and Russia working on it.  It may not be a strategic game changer, but it does show where each country stands in terms of developing new weapons technology.  A hypersonic missile could be a precursor of a hypersonic plane, civilian or military.  Or it might be a useless white elephant like “Star Wars” anti-ballistic missile technology has been so far.  Military technology, whether for “Star Wars” or hypersonic missiles, does give some insight into a country’s defense capabilities, even if it is not immediately implemented in deployed weapons.

The hypersonic competition shows that there is some kind of cold war among the big three countries, even if it is different from the old cold war between the US and Russia.    I think hypersonic missiles are more important than Fareed thinks they are. 

Energy Crisis

In his October 21  Washington Post column and his CNN GPS broadcast, Fareed Zakaria discussed how renewable energy sources are failing to completely replace fossil fuels.  His failure to examine the role of nuclear power reactors is a serious oversight.  His only mention of nuclear is to note that Germany eliminated coal, gas and nuclear power sources before it was ready to replace their production. 

Merkel’s decision to get rid of nuclear power in Germany in 2011 because of its bad reputation after the Fukushima nuclear accident, but before she was ready to replace it, illustrates the irrational opposition of environmentalists to nuclear power. 

The New York Times 2011 article reporting on Merkel’s decision reported on the response from German energy companies:

Another factor is the likelihood that Germany, which already gets more than one third of its natural gas from Russia, will grow more dependent. 

The government acknowledges that natural gas and coal-fired power plants will continue to play a big role. They are, after all, able to provide large chunks of power at any time — unlike solar or wind energy, at least with current storage technology. 

Today in 2021 Germany is facing an energy shortage crisis that can be met mainly by importing expensive, climate-warming, natural gas from Russia.