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    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

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rshowalter - 06:51am Mar 5, 2001 EST (#835 of 11745)
Robert Showalter

I'm 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, we've 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 11745)
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 11745)
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.

lunarchick - 07:52am Mar 5, 2001 EST (#838 of 11745)

Credibility ... and a thousand squabbles going on around the world at any time ...

Seems there's a need for a recipe for success on how to run regions, nations, how to get along in a positive, building manner.

Nuclear approach is 'outside' the real NEEDS of the world that relate to getting child soldiers off the battle fields and into school; maintaining respect for culture - Taliban; stopping the evil of the production, pushing, selling and distribution of drugs via changing the mind-sets of individuals; looking at over population; looking at food production and distribution -- guaranteeing water supplies as and where required, and looking after the 'mother' earth or environment that sustains us.

rshowalter - 03:43pm Mar 5, 2001 EST (#839 of 11745)
Robert Showalter

A big point about credibilty. Deception, lies, and secrecy decrease credibility. They degrade trust, and possibilities of cooperation.

We should find ways to be more open. Militarily, that used to make no sense at all.

Now it does.

The internet, and other electronic changes, are stipping away almost all the powers of concealment nation states used to have. Surprise attacks are a lot harder than they used to be to pull off, and with time they will get harder still.

That can't be reversed.

A time is approaching where it will be safer, in political and military terms, to tell the truth, at least about the big things, than to lie.

With more truth, and less successful deception, it will be easier for complex cooperation to occur.

The world will be a safer place, and nuclear disarmament will be much more enforceable than people now imagine.

Militaries, and intelligence agencies, have some adjusting to do. They don't really have a choice but to adapt to the new information flow conditions - which cannot be reversed. Some reflexes, that used to make military sense, can't be knee jerk responses any longer. Lying is a lot more dangerous than it used to be, because deception is much harder to maintain than it used to be, for anything large, or anything that goes on a significant period of time.

Surprise attacks are much more dangerous, too. A surprise attack, based on a deception, becomes an ambush for the defending force, and a route for the attacker, if the defending side learns about it and reacts effectively.

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