Scott interviews Andrew Cockburn about Russia’s supposed new hypersonic missiles, which are said to have the ability to elude conventional missile defense systems, potentially making the U.S. a target for a nuclear strike with little that could be done to defend ourselves. The problem? These missiles almost certainly can’t exist. Cockburn explains all the problems that American engineers have faced in trying to design hypersonic weapons, inferring that the Russians must have come up against the same problems. Instead, he says, programs like this serve two purposes. First, they are good for Putin’s domestic popularity, since he will be perceived as standing up to the Americans. Second, they are a great way to funnel money from the Russian taxpayers to Putin’s friends in the arms industry, just like American politicians do. The good news, says Cockburn, is that the world isn’t under a greater threat than before due to these weapons. The bad news is that the people of America and Russia will continue to get exploited by their governments for the benefit of special interest groups.
Discussed on the show:
- “Andrew Cockburn · Like a Ball of Fire · LRB 23 February 2020” (London Review of Books)
- “Putin Flaunted Five Powerful Weapons. Are They a Threat?” (The New York Times)
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