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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 - 01:59pm Feb 14, 2001 EST (#689 of 690) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

That may be the wrong answer in the end, though I'm not sure it is.

But surely you can see how right that answer looks to the Russians.

Why do we have to be in a perpetual arms-race with the Russians ?

Maybe it is necessary. Maybe. But I haven't seen a good reason why it is necessary.

Anybody got a good reason, that they can set out clearly, for other people to see?

It seems to me that the Russians, strange as they sometimes seem to us, want peace . They want to rebuilt their country, and their lives, in ways that work, practically and emotionally, for them.

Think they're acting in bad faith? Well, people do.

How about negotiating in public with an umpire (perhaps at the UN, perhaps elsewhere) to clarify facts ?

Peace might be possible, after all.

There are other things that the engineers at the defense contractors can do, and if that's not apparent just now, we should work on it.

rshowalter - 04:16pm Feb 14, 2001 EST (#690 of 690) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Nuclear war would be worse than anything the Germans did in WWII.

"Erica Goode's IDEAS AND TRENDS piece Hey, What if Contestants Give Each Other Shocks? deals with issues of concern to most people I know, and shows a case where scientific information can give evidence on an issue about humanity, and one particularly troubling. During WWII, what did the Germans know, and when did they know it? Who was a responsible actor, and in what sense can these words be used?" rshowalter "Science in the News" 8/29/00 7:26am

"Populations with competent militaries know everything they have to in order to support what is done. This goes for Americans, and goes, emphatically, for the German military (all of it) the German bureacracies (all of them) and the German people (just about everybody) during the Nazi era. ...."

"The ignorance defense so many Germans claim, in the fuzzy way in which they claim it, makes no logical or emotional sense to me. To the degree that people were responsible members of German society during this time, they needed to know enough for the complex cooperation, and focused and mutual coercion, that they actually showed. (That is, everybody had to know practically everything, except for details of execution.) rshowalter "Science in the News" 8/29/00 8:03am

In the same way, Americans, and especially Americans responsible for military action, must know - must be responsible for, the risks they take with atomic weapons. In the world we live in, these weapons may be necessary - the most beautiful accomodations must be the ones that fit reality, and are the best, in terms of clear, reasonable, humane priorities, that they can be.

But it is ugly , and immoral in the extreme, to avoid procedures that get right answers that can be checked.

In a sense, everyone knows this. But the terror of nuclear weapons is so great, the temptation to turn away is so great, that the point should be remembered. We have no reason to settle on "trust us" here.

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