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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 - 06:44pm Feb 1, 2001 EST (#639 of 644) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Public Lives: Helping Spend a Mogul's Money to Reduce Nuclear Risk By STEVEN LEE MYERS The New York Times Jan 29, 2001 includes these passages:

It is a measure of Sam Nunn and his bipartisan standing in military affairs that his name was broadly bandied about last year as a potential secretary of defense for either Al Gore or George W. Bush. . . . . . .

As it was, Mr. Nunn landed an appointment of another sort but one that is very likely keep him at the center of what may be the most pressing national security issue confronting the government today.

Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, announced here this month that he was donating $250 million to bankroll an organization devoted to stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons and named Mr. Nunn as its chairman and chief executive officer.

. . . ..

What Mr. Nunn and Mr. Turner have in mind is, in many ways, a private extension of a program that Mr. Nunn and Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, began a decade ago to help Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union dismantle their nuclear arsenals.

Since 1992, the United States has spent some $5 billion to destroy Soviet-era weapons and to tighten control over those still in the Russian stockpile.

"There's a huge threat out there," Mr. Nunn said of the risks of accidental or terrorist use of nuclear weapons. "It's been there since 1989, 1990, 1991.

"The United States has done far more than anybody else," Mr. Nunn continued, "but there is still a large gap between the threat and the response, and it will be that gap we'll be looking to address."

But Republicans angered by Russian arms sales to Iran have in recent years tried to cut the financing for the Nunn-Lugar program or to use it as leverage against the Russian government.

"It's not in our interest for their infrastructure to be such that they can't maintain their warning systems and can't tell the difference between a flock of geese and a ballistic missile," Mr. Nunn said of the Russian arsenal. "That's as much our problem as theirs."

. . . . . . . . .

(Nunn's)great-uncle, Carl Vinson, was a representative from Georgia who through the 1950's and early 1960's was the foremost military authority in the House and whose name was given to one of the nation's 12 aircraft carriers.

Mr. Nunn went to work for Mr. Vinson after completing law school in 1962, and in the House and then the Senate he followed in the same footsteps, eventually having just as much influence as chairman of the Senate's Armed Services Committee.

He traces what he calls his "obsession with risk reduction" to a trip to Europe as a senator in the 1970's when a sergeant pulled him aside and warned him about lax security and discipline at an American nuclear weapons base. "You multiply that post-Vietnam period by a factor of at least 100," he said, "and that is what the Russians are going through today."

Mr. Turner approached Mr. Nunn last year, prompted by his own worries about the slow decay of Russia's weapons industry.

They make an odd couple.

Mr. Turner is a media mogul, a philanthropist and, when it comes to politics, a leftist who advocates the abolition of nuclear weapons. Mr. Nunn, by contrast, has changed little since the days in the Senate. He is sober and deliberative, a Democrat but a Southern conservative one.

"We talked in several different meetings, and it was apparent we didn't have exactly the same views," Mr. Nunn said.

Over the year, though, Mr. Nunn oversaw a study outlining the sorts of efforts Mr. Turner's money could buy.

He envisions, for example, helping the World Health Organization finance a global early warning system for biological crises, whether a natural outbreak or a terrorist

rshowalter - 06:49pm Feb 1, 2001 EST (#640 of 644) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Is nuclear disarmament something so far outside the real of the possible so that it is kind of foolish to have a debate on something you cant do anything about ?

No one need doubt the importance of dealing with the other clear and present dangers.

But is nuclear disarmament - actually undiscussable, beyond the pale? Plenty of able people, including senior military people, favor nuclear disarmament Signatories of the Global Security Institute appeal.

If more people were aware of how ugly the situation is, and if, with dialog, more effective ways of proceeding with it were found, there might be much to hope for from such a discussion. Good reason for continuing the discussion.

The American people have changed their minds before. And so have political leaders. If a clear majority of the American people saw a workable, safe way of getting nuclear disarmament, it might well happen.

Ideas can be influential. At times, they are the most powerful influences on events.

I feel that it is reasonable, in a world where many things can indeed be done at once, to have a careful, thoughtful debate about nuclear disarmament. The administration is now betting on nuclear defenses, and is being trusted provisionally by voters on the issue. But the technical case that Star Wars schemes can actually work is still a weak one, so their position is a precarious one.

Other things should be done as well.

But people should keep talking about nuclear disarmament. And talking about the hard, careful persuasive jobs, and moral changes, and practical arrangements, that would be required to make it actually work, and actually happen.

bigred152 - 06:57am Feb 2, 2001 EST (#641 of 644)

The 'Spinifex People' lived in the desert where Australian Nuclear Testing was carried out, in 1952 they were gathered up and taken to a 'mission'. Leaving their natural life behind, alcohol started to figure in their lives - together with the violence it induced.

The Spinifex People started painting a few years ago and their Elders put down on canvas their story which was used for a sucessful land claim of Fifty Thousand Square miles ... their land was returned to them, their culture and lifestyle. Missile and bomb testing left them out of the wilderness for over half a century!

Sydney is currently hosting the exhibition of their art - much of which is already sold. Big Red

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