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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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vic.hernandez - 09:20am Sep 6, 2000 EST (#247 of 11863)

re: beckq #242. Must be hot where you live. I haven't seen a case of prickly heat that bad in quite a while. But then, until you, I haven't met a man who would refer to an ICBM in a silo as an "overpriced male pecker..."

re: beckq #243. I do believe you have, in #228. "So that view is indeed what I wrote and fits within your narrow dictionary view." If it fits, it is! Please explain that contradiction. If it quacks like a duck, has feathers like a duck and waddles like a duck. It must be a duck.

re: beckq #244. This is not a game. Your argument only works in a bipolar world. How do you propose to handle the challenge of the other nuclear powers that are emerging?

How do you justify MAD against say, China? If intelligence estimates are correct, we only lose 20 cities should China attack us. MAD dictates we retalliate with the total destruction of the attacking country. In this case a totally disproportionate response. How do you justify this? If we respond tit for tat, you are using NUTS. But NUTS is bad and can't be used. Which is it to be? Is this another contradiction in your arguments?

Re: beckq #245. You have only provided a long convuluted argument, #228 and #229, as to why MAD is a view and not a doctrine. In that argument you contradicted yourself by agreeing that it "... fits within your narrow dictionary view." Contradiction?

You provided references to the SALT 1 Treaty which upon reading of the treaty proved your view to be incorrect at best, an outright lie at worst. Contradiction?

You reference a Mr. Brodie, but he is so important to your arguments that you can't even take the time to ensure you are spelling his name correctly or to refer to any specific article or book he has written. By golly, there's "ample background and rather compelling background" and to support your arguments.

beckq - 10:46am Sep 6, 2000 EST (#248 of 11863)

vic.hernandez - 09:20am Sep 6, 2000 EDT (#247 of 247)

Excellent. You are contradicting yourself on a consistent basis. Thus why I told you from the onset that your initial position flaws any reason to discuss this with you. Why? Because you have not a problem altering your positions in every post. Your initial two positions attacked themselves more then me and you attempted to dismiss this with an admission that it was all a 'spelling' and grammatical error. You also it appears seem to not mind altering my words or my phrases. Where do your boundaries end? This argument has been exhausted because your perspective has been answered to with solid counterpoints. Rather then a continued discussion on those points in hopes of salvaging your weak argument, your altering your original positions, attacking myself, and altering my positions. You did not really lose the debate before because if you walk away with a better understanding of the issue and have expressed your points in a professional and consistent manner then we all win. However your obvious inability to comprehend another point of view and your inability to understand the weakness of yours leaves you naked. I’m not interested in your continued personal attacks because your ego has been bruised by a true comment. From now on I answer only your questions as they relate to this issue. Nothing more. In addition if I already answered your questions I will do no more then cut and paste my previous answers. You have a propensity to think that I am going to alter my answers. No, unlike you I have a solid grasp of the position I am taking and am not deviating from that point of view.

wrcooper - 11:11am Sep 6, 2000 EST (#249 of 11863)

The ostensible reason given by the Clinton Administration and the Pentagon for building a limited ballistic missile defense is the threat of a small-scale attack from a rogue nation or a terrorist group. Korea is cited as an example of a nation that will soon possess an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US homeland.

How serious is this threat, and is it any more serious than the threat of a large-scale war with a major nuclear power? I am particularly dubious of the claim that a terrorist group could come into the possession of an ICBM tipped with a warhead. Developing and deploying such a system would be extremely difficult for a small group, even if they had the money. Far more likely would be a scenario in which a group managed to smuggle a small nuclear device into the US and detonate it in a large city. Their chances of success and of not being identified as the perpetrators would be greater.

Similarly, any small rogue nation that launched a missile at the US would face devastating retaliation, since a small-scale strike would have no chance of peremptorily knocking out the US capability of a full-scale nuclear response. It would be suicide. If deterrence worked during the cold war, why would it work any less in the present era? The risks of a small-scale attack against the US would be even greater.

Let me play Devil's advocate for a moment and pretend that the NMD isn't just about boosting the defense budget and feeding the hungry maw of the military-industrial complex. Then what could be the motive for deploying such a system?

It is possible that it's simply a part of the Pentagon's perceived peace dividend for having won the cold war. The ABM treaty was signed to avert a costly arms race with the ex-Soviet Union and because of technical difficulties in making a missile defense system work. Well, guess what? The Soviet Union doesn't exist any more and the Russian Replublic has neither the will nor the resources to match the US in a renewed arms race to develop a defensive system. The Pentagon may feel it is in a commanding position to ram a system down the throats of its former adversaries. The Russian nuclear strike force is aging, and it's expensive to keep it in working order. Russia doesn't have the resources any longer to engage in a major program of nuclear rearmament. The Pentagon may feel that it could actually build a system that would shield the entire US from any threat whatsoever. The putative threat that is discussed—rogue nations and terrorists—is only a smoke screen for the real purpose of the system, namely the neutralization of the remaining nuclear strike capability in the ex-Soviet Union and in China.

Would it work?

Not likely. The technical difficulties are simply too daunting. It would be far easier and cheapter to develop countermeasures that would confuse the guidance systems of the interceptors than it would be to build the defensive system.

This is why this is not about genuine defense. It's about Pentagon ego and fat cat politics and multi-billion dollar contracts.

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