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    Missile Defense

Nazi engineer and Disney space advisor Wernher Von Braun helped give us rocket science. Today, the legacy of military aeronautics has many manifestations from SDI to advanced ballistic missiles. Now there is a controversial push for a new missile defense system. What will be the role of missile defense in the new geopolitical climate and in the new scientific era?

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rshowalter - 12:31pm Nov 5, 2000 EDT (#474 of 475) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Kalter , those are good points.

Tactical nukes ARE the hardest part, as far as negotiation complexity goes, in the interaction between the powers that admit to having nuclear weapons. So maybe taking them down needs to be postponed. Maybe.

But tac nukes aren't going to destroy the world, unless they trigger firing of the "strategic" or "city killing" nuclear weapons - 97+% of which are in American and Russian hands. DEEP, DEEP, DEEP reductions of these strategic nuclear weapons make sense, they make sense immediately, and they make sense to most of the missileers themselves.

Getting rid of these "big" nukes" would do what needed to be done to eliminate the risk to the human race.

I'm also a lot less worried about triggering mistakes on the tactical nukes, because of the way they're controlled, if the great mass of the strategic nukes are down.

A semantic issue. On looking at the tactical nuclear weapons question, I'd surely NOT include depleted uranium rounds as "nuclear weapons." They act because of high density, not fission or fusion.

Very good questions, kalter and I know that this is an incomplete answer. I'll be back to you! And thanks!

rshowalter - 12:39pm Nov 5, 2000 EDT (#475 of 475) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

kalter gave an interesting example: "The sheer power of any one of these systems means that even a new MIL spec issued on tank ammunition could become a potential war-winner, or loser, in certain scenarios.

A central objective of peacemaking, and one that improved information makes increasingly practical, is arranging things so that there aren't any scenarios that hinge on such close technical questions. The DEFENSE needs to be A LOT stronger than the OFFENSE.

That's what stability requires. We can't put our trust in trust, but we can hope to arrange military incentives in ways that are very stable.

Making this stability factually true is at least as important as niceties of negotiation, for tough jobs like getting tac nukes down. Get rid of tac nukes, and increase monitoring at borders, and the stability gets very strong, I believe.

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