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    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

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longiiland - 09:59am Jun 9, 2000 EST (#52 of 11858)

I am glad to see that a forum now exists for the discussion of this topic.

By perusing a concept that attempts to survive nuclear warfare you give nuclear warfare a ‘chance’. That ‘chance’ of survival destroys the very essence of the worldwide deterrence model. That is why the international community has overwhelmingly tipped the scales in opposition to this system. That is why SALT I and the ABM protocols exist between the two largest nuclear powers. Deployment of such a system embraces the theoretical perspective of Nuclear Utilization Theory. It may not be the intent of those who deploy-but every rational state views the system as a total embrace of a theory designed to win a nuclear war. That perspective (NUTS)(grin) implies that not only will nuclear war be fought-but it mussed be fought to survive and win. In such a pursuit, you lower conventional warfare thresholds and lower the crossover points at which conventional conflict goes into nuclear conflict. This is due to the very fact that one has added a chance to something in which no chance existed prior. You cannot posture yourself against the irrational actor- the minority of this world. Doing so only requires the majority if this world (rational actors) to balance against your own actions. You cannot thwart the irrational actor because the irrational actor has no limits or boundaries. The very name implies that the irrational actor is impossible to deter. As noted by the CIA of May 19th 00, the terminology of ‘rogue’ state has no significant in the course of debate regarding missile deference because ‘rouge’ implies that such states are irrational and every state America has labeled rouge is rational. The rational/irrational actor model is core issue regarding deterrence. As the CIA pointed out, rouge state has ‘more political significance then true value to the structure of deterrence’. In short the largest nuclear power embarking on the deployment of a system designed to survive nuclear strikes creates the impetus for every rational actor, depost to allie to do the same. All at varying levels of technological development all at varying levels of effiencey. In doing so-you destroy nuclear deterrence-the very concept that has maintained no use of nuclear weapons against states since 1945. If one recalls our operational experience in Desert Storm is that while missile defense did not work very well, deterrence did work very well. Saddam Hussein had poison gas-tipped Scuds that were available for launch at the time of the war, and he did not use them. Subsequently, after the U.S. military interrogated some defectors and some captured Iraqi leaders, it became clear why not: Saddam Hussein did not want to get blown up. Before the war, the United States, Britain, France and Israel had all stated, both publicly and privately, that if he was the first to use weapons of mass destruction, he would not be the last to use weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein and his kindred despots in other countries that we are worried about have not survived for extended periods of time by being stupid or careless. They are ruthless and cruel and sometimes reckless, but they don't remain in power, despite our repeated attempts in the case of Saddam Hussein to dislodge him, by being careless about the survival of their regime. Saddam Hussein understood very well that if he initiated the use of weapons of mass destruction, our retaliation would annihilate his regime. So the notion that missile defense is the only bulwark we have against weapons of mass destruction attacks from these regimes simply flies in the face of our actual experience, in which deterrence has worked very well and missile defense has not worked very well at all.

mccreary8 - 10:58am Jun 9, 2000 EST (#53 of 11858)

If I were a rouge nation and had only a few nuclear weapons I would put them in large crates labeled as tractor parts and put them into the holds of small freighters. I would recruit crews ready to give their life for the cause (only a few top officers need be in the know) then I would sail the ships into major harbors of my enemies and set them off simultaneously. You do not need high tech delivery systems to get the bombs to the target and the highest technology anti-missile defense can not stop a determined assassin. What secruity does our billions buy us?

longiiland - 11:04am Jun 9, 2000 EST (#54 of 11858)

"What secruity does our billions buy us?"

  • It buys insecurity;)

    giroman - 11:08am Jun 9, 2000 EST (#55 of 11858)

    Missile defense systems should only be deployed after all nuclear powers have scaled down their individual stockpiles to realistic levels. I doubt that current technology can provide the shield the republicans are so fixated upon. I recommend a strategy that would bring nuclear arms reduction to the agenda linked with a missile defense system to defend against the new buzzword in Washington "Rouge States". If one such rogue were to be so bold as to launch against the USA then a missile defense system could potentially eliminate the risk and the retaliatory capacity of even a scaled down nuclear deterrent would be sufficient to destroy the origin of the missile. The current risk is an all too clear upset in the balance of power. If the USA deploys its system the balance is shifted in its favor unneccesarily. The end of the cold war has left only one super power which has the conventional forces to respond to military threats around the plant as well as a nuclear deterent based on the doctrine of mutual assured destruction. With the deployment of the MDS, the USA would then have a first strike capability since the MDS eliminates or reduces the retalitory capacity of the other party.

    In my opinion we should be working for nuclear arms reduction across the board and building multilateral support for verification of disarmament before we pay some huge sum of money for a system that can't perform at least 95% of the time.

    longiiland - 11:11am Jun 9, 2000 EST (#56 of 11858)

    Missile defense systems should only be deployed after all nuclear powers have scaled down their individual stockpiles to realistic levels.

  • Should never be deployed regardless of the progress of START II-III and any future agreements.

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