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    Missile Defense

Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI all over again?

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lunarchick - 10:17am Feb 25, 2001 EST (#781 of 785)

Culdesac of faith

rshowalter - 01:40pm Feb 25, 2001 EST (#782 of 785) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Jon Carroll's The Faith-Based Presidency (SF Chronicle .... Feb 22) , cited above, paints an entertaining picture that I think President Bush would cower from deserving. And I see evidence that he does not deserve the treatment. Though it might be a tonic for some of his supporters to read it.

Bush does have the merit, in human and political terms, that he does not run an anti-faith based presidency.

In my dialog with becq , who I believe was President Clinton, I came up against a Hobbesian view that I found disturbing, because it denies a basis for moral action that many find essential.

Here is becq:

My positions can be rest reflected in Hobbes. beckq 9/25/00 4:33pm

and later

I think that even Bill cannot overcome the basic flaws of man. Go back to Hobbes. beckq 9/27/00 11:36am

Dawn Riley found the references that let me find out what Clinton meant: lunarchick 9/28/00 2:04am

Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679): Life

abstract:..Natura Naturans: Natural Law and the Sovereign in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes Condren

Conference: Natural Law and Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe


Hobbes philosophy is deeply pessimistic about the possibilty of good faith on the part of men, and it is radically against religion. A key quote is that "All priests are enemies of the state."

I don't think Clinton was entirely consistent in this position, or completely persuaded by it. But it may explain some of the moral tone-deafness he showed. And it may account for some of the hostility religous people (and not only on the right) sometimes felt for him.

We just had an election where the victorious minority backed Bush, in significant part, because he was not taking an anti-faith position. In matters of public policy and public polity, we need not, and should not, be hostile toward religion, especially in an area involving last and final things. Nuclear weapons policy is an area where religious people HAVE to be interested, if they are to be morally consistent at all.

Anyone who has the courage to look at facts ought to be interested, if she has any human concern at all.

I hope that "priests" in Hobbes' sense do study this matter.

If there are moral imperatives dictating the getting or honest and right answers anywhere in society, there are imperatives here.

rshowalter - 01:47pm Feb 25, 2001 EST (#783 of 785) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Many religious people agree about the seriousness of the situation, and are willing to speak about it. I've posted one sermon rshowalter 2/24/01 9:25am , but MANY other references could be given.

And many secular people do, as well.

Essentially everybody knows how great the danger is, but nobody wants to think about it, because it seems that we are in an unchangeable impasse.

But with the change of a few false assumptions to true ones, and some care in dealing with the real human beings involved, we can find a much better, safer, more beautiful solution to this ugly mess, which could quite easily destroy the world, and which stains us all.

rshowalter - 03:32pm Feb 25, 2001 EST (#784 of 785) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

rshowalter "How the Brain Works" 2/25/01 3:27pm contains this passage:

Groups of people go forward, on the basis of assumptions that are, based on knowledge available, entirely reasonable. But a time comes when the assumptions can be shown, beyond reasonable doubt, to be wrong in some decisive way. If people see no way to stop the work and the patterns they've been engaged in, they ignore the fact that they are no longer acting reasonably, and ignore the problem. I believe that, in the history of the nuclear terror, and in the history of the neurosciences, misakes such as this, which are only human, have been, nonetheless, very expensive.

And can be expensive again. .

_ _ _ _ _ _

We need to find ways where it is easier for people to figure out "right things" to do, and easier for the people involved to actually do them.

mister_shadow - 03:54am Feb 26, 2001 EST (#785 of 785)

Lunarchick said:

"Why not go back to basics and ask what the US is really trying to achieve?"

Exactly. If our goal is to reduce the threat of rogue powers with nuclear missles, a ballistic missle defence is not the effective way to do this.

Arms reduction and fostering high standards of living and democracy in those rogue powers is the way to do this.

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