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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 - 05:33pm Feb 4, 2001 EST (#642 of 650) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Much discussion of Missile Defense, including a basic question - is it defensive or offensive - and another question - can it work?

Guardian Talk - Europe __ WE NEED AN INTERNATIONAL MISSILE SYSTEM NOW - Why 'son of Star Wars' is a good idea.

mhunter20 - 09:51am Feb 5, 2001 EST (#643 of 650)

  • Mutually assured destruction (MAD) has helped maintain peace.
  • Limited missile defense to some extent undermines mutually assured destruction. If a rogue nation is more likely to smuggle a weapon in a suitcase rather than launch a missile, building an expensive limited missile defense is illogical.
  • Disarmament also undermines mutually assured destruction. Unilateral reductions in the number of weapons may be desirable however, especially if the weapons are now more mobile and harder to destroy in a first strike offensive.

    rshowalter - 10:53am Feb 5, 2001 EST (#644 of 650) Delete Message
    Robert Showalter

    It is surely true that MAD, ugly as it is, has helped maintain peace, and maybe been indispensible for it. And very many of the people who have worked so hard, so passionately, so self sacrificingly, to make it possible, deserve thanks and praise.

    Even so, MAD is ugly, and if we can find a solution that is less ugly, we should try to. But that solution has to be REAL.

    We should all be on the side of world survival, and I believe we are. That can mean, sometimes, that matters of detail, that need be nobody's fault, but that can nonetheless be matters of life and death, have to be checked effectively, honestly, and completely enough so that we aren't risking more innocent lives than we can count, or even think about. We also want to avoid risking our own.

    mhunter20 - 03:40pm Feb 5, 2001 EST (#645 of 650)

    rshowalter 2/5/01 10:53am

    I am not the only one who believes that a nuclear bomb is more likely to arrive in a suitcase than on a missile.mhunter20 1/31/01 11:19am

    Although MAD does help to prevent this tragedy, it is less effective at preventing a hidden attack than it is at stopping a missile attack. Would a President launch a nuclear attack on a country because agents believe that we were able to thwart a covert nuclear attack on our country? I don't think so.

    The list of countries able to make nuclear weapons is growing.

    If cheap energy runs in short supply (see Hubbert peak for oil but also see Thomas Gold - oil and methane are abiogenic) or if global warming is real then we will need to implement alternate energy technologies to the burning of fossil fuels. (War can be the result of a planet not ready to deal with an energy shortage.) Nuclear energy is one alternative but spent fuel must be processed in breeder reactors which creates Plutonium, a key component of nuclear weapons. I believe that currently, there is only one commercial breeder reactor operating in the world (England). Tesla's World System (if it works) can provide relatively free (economic use of the term) energy but the devices would have to be heavily guarded by an international group of soldiers to prevent a terrorist use of the device.

    MAD is ugly and it is becoming less effective. Trust but verify is the better solution. If we are to give up MAD, we must be able to verify anything to a much greater degree than we can today. There can be no excuse for any national leader to deny access of international teams to any place on Earth. Verify is also a better solution for preventing the use of biological weapons.

    rshowalter - 09:03pm Feb 5, 2001 EST (#646 of 650) Delete Message
    Robert Showalter

    Verify (and with military teeth if necesary - this is military force in a good cause) and make the horriffic immorality of the use of nuclear weapons clear enough, widely enough, that there are MANY watchers, who will stand in the way of the development and use of nuclear weapons.

    The moral issue is crucial for practical enforcement. Worldwide.

    And getting the moral issues clarified is a task for intellectuals, including writers and clergymen, and for political leaders, and for celebrities, and for the media.

    I've listened to sermons on nuclear weapons at my parents church (River Road Church, Baptist, Richmond Va ) - and moral concern about nuclear weapons is widespread among the intelligent, thoughtful clergy - of whom there are very many.

    Here's an issue where Jerry Falwell, and THE NEW YORK TIMES, with proper dialog, ought to agree.

    Islamic clergymen of good faith (and there are many of them) would agree too.

    So would many, many responsible people from all walks of life, including military people.

    rshowalter - 09:08pm Feb 5, 2001 EST (#647 of 650) Delete Message
    Robert Showalter

    A matter of perspective. If the HUGE arsenals of the US and Russia came down, the nuclear menace would "only" be a few tens of times worse than the costs of big earthquakes. With those big arsenals in place, with controls as they are the world could very easily end.

    Taking down the BIG arsenals is important.

    This is not, in any way, to discount to importance of containing nuclear terror.

    But the nuclear terror that fills me with fear is terror of the end of the world.

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