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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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rshowalter - 06:48am Mar 5, 2001 EST (#834 of 837) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

The good in the United States government, and in its leaders, needs to be remembered too, and remembered without forgetting the bad, and without discounting the risks. Every form of human merit, every human sensitivity, every sophisticated and beautiful kind of human grace and justice, is to be found, in abundance, among most of the people in the United States government, including especially the selected, loyal, hardworking people near the top of it. We are all animals, special animals - human beings. To use a poetic phrase "a little lower than the angels." Words like "dishonest," "arrogant," and "brutal" only begin, barely begin, to cover the human beings involved. There is much more to the people, the human animals, involved. But these words, at times, can be appled to all people who achieve authority in the world, anywhere, and at anytime.

If the United States is a "bully" it is a very reluctant, careful, tentative one. From top to bottom, Americans try to do the best they can, and try to do the right thing, when they see it, within the limits of their strength, including the limits of their moral and logical strength in the face of temptation.

The United States has always had some limited ability to dictate and rule by force - as all nation states do. The limits have always been important - as every military leader and president has known, and been forced to learn.

The United States is powerful today -- and there is no real risk, so long as the nation and the earth survives, of its forfeiting great power. Anyone who thinks Americans would cower in the face of nuclear blackmail doesn't know human history, and especially doesn't know Americans. Human beings, and especially Americans, don't cower and run when they are threatened -- not if they are threatened enough. They fight. That characteristic of human beings should temper some of our fears, but at the same time, it should make us all careful.

almarstel2001 , I think you are profoundly right that "the current state of affairs already caused tremendous damage to US bu showing its willingness to ignore its pledges and signed laws."

When we degrade the reliability of our national pledges, we degrade the complex cooperation that prosperity and safety takes -- to the dishonor and cost of the United States, and the world at large.

rshowalter - 06:51am Mar 5, 2001 EST (#835 of 837) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Im deeply concerned that the United States may forfeit great power in the most profound sense -- by permitting mistakes or accidents that could destroy all human life.

For technical reasons that could not reasonably have been forseen, and because of human inflexibilities that are so ubiquitous that we forget them, weve converted our world into a powder keg, and ALL of the basic assumptions of safety associated with our nuclear policy are now false.

Is it necessary for us to build new nuclear weapons, either offensive of defensive in nature? Perhaps that can be argued.

But our CURRENT nuclear weapons systems are obsolete, dangerous junk. The Russian weapons systems are similarly dangerous. These systems must be dismantled, to the point where they no longer pose a clear and present danger to the world.

My view (and Ive tried, pretty steadily, to communicate my concerns through channels) is that unless this is done it is PROBABLE that all life on earth will end. It could happen soon. We, and the Russians, and the other nuclear powers, should find ways to take these obsolete menaces down. Soon.

Im not a churchgoer, myself, but I think responsible people, interested in these matters, might well spend 20 minutes well listening to a sermon When the foundations are shaking described at rshowalter 2/24/01 9:25am

rshowalter - 06:53am Mar 5, 2001 EST (#836 of 837) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

There are plenty of challenges the United States must face, to play its necessary role in the world. A strong defense is absolutely essential, absolutely obligatory, in the world as it is.

One mainstay of a strong defense is credibility -- we must be committed to force we can actually use, in the world as it actually is, with both our allies and adversaries clear enough about what we can do, and what we stand for, so that the world is stable. rshowalter 2/9/01 1:53pm

There's work to do, for us to get there. Russia has work to do, as well.

So do other powers.

And the good things of which the United Nations and other international bodies are capable ought to be cultivated, without forgetting the things that these bodies cannot do.

Our safety, and our reasonable hopes for the future, depend on these things. We need to try to find beautiful solutions to a world that is now uglier than it should be, and in peril of destruction.

We can do better than we're doing.

rshowalter - 07:46am Mar 5, 2001 EST (#837 of 837) Delete Message
Robert Showalter


rshowalter 3/5/01 6:44am contains an error.

The first line should read:

" Since 1945, the United States has NOT been able to use nuclear weapons, and conditions where they can be used offensively will probably NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN, a fact thats been clear for a long time, to many people ..... "

1945 was a long time ago.

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